Ethiopia: Group demands freedom for Bekele Gerba and all political prisoners in Ethiopian prisons

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The following is a statement of the Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) …
OFC-ISG Press Release No. 4 – April 27, 2016
“Ethiopian Prosecutors Charge Oromo Opposition Leaders under Anti-Terrorism Proclamation”
Bekele Gerba
On April 22, 2016, Ethiopian federal prosecutors charged 22 individuals, including Mr. Bekele Gerba, First Secretary-General of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), with violations of various articles of Ethiopia’s notorious Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). The charges include – but are not limited to – alleged communication with the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), public incitement, encouraging violence, causing the deaths of innocent civilians as well as property destruction in cities, such as Ambo and Adama, during the recent protests in Oromia, Ethiopia. All prisoners were previously transferred from Makalawi to Qilinxu jail without any notice to their families or lawyers.
“When they arrived at Qilinxu prison, they were offered to take pills by prison administration – which all the 22 prisoners refused,” according to Bekele Gerba’s daughter Bontu in an interview she gave to Oromia Media Network (OMN) on April 23, 2016. “Then, the prison police took 4 of the prisoners – Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Addisu Bulala and Gurmessa Ayana – to a dark room and they are no more with the 18 others,” she added. “We, family members, were no more able to visit them this weekend,” said Aynalem Debelo, the wife of the Deputy Secretary of OFC, Dejene Tafa. “When we request their whereabouts and demand to visit them, the police has no answer. They told us to communicate with the prison administrators who are not willing to talk to us,” they told OMN.
Even when they were in Makelawi, prison conditions were harsh and dangerous. Bekele explained this in his own words in the court the following way:

“መታሰር ምንም ማለት አይደለም። አስሮ ሰብዓዊ መብትን መጣስ ግን የትም ሃገር የሌለ ነው። እንደ ኢትዬጵያ መንግስት ጨካኝ የለም። 4 በ 5 በሆነች ቤት የምንኖረው 23 እስረኞች ሆነን ነው። እዛችው ቤት ውስጥ ለሽንት የምንጠቀምበት ባልዲ እና የሁላችንም ልብስ ይቀመጣል። ይህን ተቃውመን የረሃብ አድማ ብናደርግ ‘ከፈለጋችሁ መሞት ትችላላችሁ’ ነው የተባልነው። እኛም ለመሞት ዝግጁ ነን።” – በቀለ ገርባ, 18/03/16
“Imprisonment is not a big deal. Violating prisoners’ human rights is rare in the world. No one is cruel like the Ethiopian government. We share a room of 4-meters by 5-meters with 23 prisoners. We put our clothes and a bucket for emergency in the same room. When we protested this by hunger strike, they told us, ‘You can die if you want to.’ We too are ready to die”.
– Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairperson of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), March 18, 2016, at his third remand hearing.

Mr. Gerba appealed to the court about the inhumane and degrading conditions in the prison cell, but to no avail. During his fourth appearance in court on April 15, 2016, he showed his lawyer the rashes on his body resulting from insect bites, mainly bedbugs and fleas. Such detention conditions violate Article 18(1) of the Ethiopian Constitution, which reads: “Everyone has the right to protection against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Mr. Gerba and others committed no crime, neither were they informed about all the charges against them. Above all, Mr. Gerba believes that only a peaceful and nonviolent struggle can guarantee real change and build a truly democratic society in Ethiopia. Mr. Gerba rejects violence and has stated as much in several interviews. He believes in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of nonviolent political resistance and has translated one of Dr. King’s books into Oromo so as to better spread this message. The EPRDF government’s accusations of terrorism against these Oromo political leaders are baseless. Rather, these charges are being used to suppress the basic human rights of Oromos and other Ethiopian peoples who are struggling to bring democracy, freedom and justice to Ethiopia. Such acts by Ethiopian government violate Articles 29, 30, and 31 of the Ethiopian Constitution, which guarantees the “Right of Thought, Opinion and Expression; The Right of Assembly, Demonstration and Petition and Freedom of Association.”
The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is saddened by the magnitude of charges brought against Mr. Gerba and other political prisoners. We would like our supporters, friends and the world to know that these charges are false allegations. As stated by the Chairperson of the OFC-ISG, in an interview with Oromo-TV, “What worries OFC-ISG most is the fate of that country. If such acts of absolute repression crush every peaceful movement and produce radicals, it is advantageous neither to Ethiopia nor to the West. Therefore, we ask the international community to stand by our side and put pressure on the Ethiopian government to unconditionally free all Oromo political prisoners since the government has already taken accountability for the poor governance that ignited the Oromo protests in Oromia.”
The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is a non-profit organization established in 2010 with the mission to bring an end to the brutal oppression, injustice and inequality with a view to advancing human rights, rule of law, good governance, protection of the environment and sustainable development in Ethiopia by supporting the struggle of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) through advocacy, education and financial contributions.
Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group
Minneapolis MN

Read Aloud:   ESAT Daily News - May 24, 2013


  1. It is a very sad news and story that I hoped I should never hear. This gentleman Obbo Bekele Gerba has the qualities of being a very smart person and I never got an impression that is a violent individual at least from the interview he gave on PBS(NPR). What people are telling me now that when he was here in the USA last year so many people have contacted him and discussed various issues. Some of those were from those groups who have been hell bent on violence and currently scavenging at the dump sites in Asmara. All those contacts and discussions were being closely followed by the regime’s agents embedded in those organizations. This meek and gullible son of ours was taken for a long ride when he was here. We should all never forget the fact that leaders of these so called ‘national liberation fronts’ were once most favored cadres of the demonic Mengistu regime in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They were having field days on everyone who they thought was anti-Mengistu’s socialist revolution. They worked for him as snitches and advisers. So their double crossing and blackmailing skills go back a long way. They now sit here in their comfy homes and incite gullible individuals like this family man and young people who have not yet known any better. Now they are all in jails well built by their own Oromo compatriots. Now the entire Oromia is silent. You can hear a pin drop. This is not the 1st time this happens. Those with a burning ambition to one day carve out a territory they will call it their own have incited my proud Oromos to reckless violent confrontation just to end up on the badly bloodied and losing side. Didn’t these same leaders and their lambasting cadres abandoned more than 20,000 armed members to waiting voracious wolves and cut and ran to their Minnesota and European safe havens? Didn’t they? Now my relatives back home are telling me that the regime has a full account of this family man’s itinerary when he was here in the USA. We still hear them berating ‘Ethiopia out of Oromia’. They are aroused fit to rip harmonious people apart in a very violent way having field days on everyone standing in their way. They are dreaming for that day when they will be able to settle ‘old’ scores on everyone they are now saying had done the Oromo people wrong during the last 150 years. They are hallucinating for the day they think will come in their favor when they will let loose their brain washed foot soldiers steeped with unimaginable hatred toward others so strong that will make Idi Amin a smitten. They have done that in the 1990’s and they will do it again if they ever have the chance again. And they will blame it on the victims or may be on the Bloods and Crips from LA, the long gone their idol Che Guevara! Now this family man is going to waste away in those unkempt prisons for a long time to come. And there will be nothing that can be done to stop this from happening because he is being prosecuted by the same Oromo officials.

  2. Ittu,
    You are Typical TPLF lapdog. TPLF greed, deception, torture, false imprisonment and killing is gift that keeps on giving. Keep up the good work! You are the best thing ever happened to Oromo people. Your relative live in gated community blinded by wealth they have accumulated by looting. When time comes you and your likes will be responsible for what is coming your way.

  3. Ittu;
    You are a well known TPLF “a_s licker”. We know you from your past comments. How about the rest of 100+ thousands of Oromos languishing in Qalittii, Qilinxoo, Ziway, Dhedhessa, Xolay, Huursoo, etc…. detention camps? 99% of them have never been in the USA or Europe. BUt they are still suffering. Blame your masters, the Weyanes than pointing your dirty fingers to others.

  4. TPLF and their goons aren’t as invincible as they would like us to think. We don’t even need AK47, we just need to follow the suggestion that was given by our high esteemed strategist.Make Oromia ungovernable for TPLF. Oromo professionals, business persons, skilled workers, farmers, laborers, and military should join Qeerroo led revolution; Oromia roads should be cut off from any form of land transportation; Food items and consumer goods should not be sold or exchanged with TPLF and its affiliates under any condition; Oromia towns surrounding Finfinnee should block any form of transportation, particularly food items from reaching the epicenter of TPLF power. Complete blockage can choke TPLF and force residents now hesitant to rise up against TPLF. If TPLF intensifies the jailing, and murdering of our people, strategic and large infrastructure supply lines that the country can’t function without should be put out of service.

  5. My conclusion, TPLF will go into the dustbin of history sooner or later. Why? It is corrupt, tented with blood and it can not fix itself. it has wasted 25 years now and the people can not take it anymore. TPLF time is up now whether you like or not. It is natural everything gets old and TPLF is old and behind time. It can’t work with the vast majority of young Ethiopians. So whether you hold and imprison 100+ thousands including true leaders like Bekela,
    nothing will change Anyone who can not see all these is too dumb to realize the reality on the ground.

  6. am not interested in talking about this particular man,but what i want to make it clear is that,justice must be served.Innocent lives have been lost by lunatic extremists led by the diaspora,most of this innocent lives lost by these sub-human bandas,they have killed ppl simply for a reason that they claimed the did not support their fake revolution,or for a presumption of government supporter.They have killed ppl in Arsi,walaga just for not joining them,or for standing by.So,now time has come when justice should be served.Nobody is going to fool the intelligence of the Ethiopian ppl,they have learned what the intention of that nominal “peaceful protest”,and how they experienced.They have burned churches,charity organizations,public properties,…and so on.Nobody should escape justice by the level of his education,or by the organisation he is affiliated,or whatsoever,but should receive the full force of the law.

  7. This is an example of what happens when a country fall under leadership of villagers. Especially, villagers from Tigray – the most hated people in Ethiopa. As Dr. Getachew , famous veterinarian described these villagers as ” human , but subhuman or non human.
    ” Bring it on!

  8. I want to talk to you the wider audience and I want to talk to you about these two individuals above who resorted to using vile words to call me. Do you think these two individuals are the right products our cultured and glorious people we all left behind? You name any ethnic group and you will find them all as people who use words free of foul in talking to others. But there are some ‘eyal-al-souqs’ like these two whose only way of communication is using filthy terms. You will find such impudent elements only among those who grew up in the bazaars of Cairo and Riyadh. I am sure all of you except those like these two had the chance to read my so many comments on this and other websites. My opinion about the current regime is quite clear. I have made that very clear that the current government back home has all the hallmarks of a dictatorship. At the same time I had condemned those who had murdered innocent and poor farmers and the elderly just because they were from different ethnic group. I have talked in utter contempt about those groups who marched into Asmara seeking ‘supernatural’ guidance and assistance from a proven jailer and murderer. They have been scavenging at his dump sites for almost 30 years for going no where. in stead they have been waging ‘independence’ war in one of the friendliest and most docile nations around, Kenya. This is the mother of all military tactics and strategies. When I asked one of their die-hard ‘think-tanks’ about the merit of this operation, he told me that it would be much easier to overwhelm the meager Kenyan defense forces, establish a strong base from where the ‘liberation army’ will steamroll all the way into Finfine with all the momentum they get from there. They still think that is the right strategy. What do you call this? Madness and fantasy? But I know they have one lingering fantasy that one day they will be able to slice out a territory by sheer bloodshed that will call their own fiefdom. Then they will be able to hold a monthly straw skirt party to choose the right bride for their anointed leader whoever maybe. This is ‘what’ they are. And there is nothing you or I can do to have them snap out of their deeply entrenched fantasy and hatred they harbor against others. They are sworn bigots getting worse by the day. Just imagine their current battle cry ‘Ethiopia out of Oromia’. Just the extent of bloodshed that will entail on all ethnic groups!!! But these narrow minded bigots don’t give a hoot about that just like one of them told several years where he attested as ‘If it takes the sacrifice of half the population of Oromia still it will be worth it’. Wow!! Wow!!!

  9. The kangaroo court ordered by tplf had no evidence to charge B.Gerba and the other activists but as usual to use its draconian anti-terrorism law.,Attention: what ever the so called court’s decision, we will not be intimidated or divert our attention for a fraction of a second from struggling our killers. A luta cotinua!

  10. why can’t tigray survive on its own without taking the lands of others?
    how long do u think tigray will be able to forcefully hold the lands of others?
    do you know tigrayans are the most hated ethnic group in ethiopia?
    How long are you going to lie to yourselves ? You can’t lie to Ethiopian people anymore.

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