Appeal to the UN Secretary – General Mr. Ban Ki – moon
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017
October 20, 2016
First of all, let me introduce to you to the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA)
“The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) was originally founded in Ethiopia in 1996 under the name “Human Rights League (HRL)”; it was silenced at the outset by the country’s present authoritarian regime, which jailed its officers- including myself. It was then re-launched from the Diaspora in 2007 by exiled founders and members of the HRL. It was then re-named the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), and registered as a non – profit and non – political organization in Ontario, Canada on the 14th of June 2007.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa wants to express its deep concern about what is happening in Ethiopia to its citizens. On October 8, 2016 a state emergency was declared to allow the government to deal freely and brutally with continued protests in Oromia and Amhara Regional States that began over eleven months ago.
The Oromia Regional State human rights crisis began in November 2015 when the Ethiopian government began a brutal crackdown on growing peaceful protests against marginalization and injustice throughout the Oromia regional state. The Agazi force- the specially trained killing squad- was used against protesters. There was widespread torture and execution of children. The protests spread and all walks of life in Oromo became involved in the protest. The merciless attacks of the Agazi force against the protests did not stop the angry protesters- rather the attacks escalated into a full-conflict between the TPLF dictatorial government and unarmed Oromo civilians. The crisis continued for over eleven months in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured and hundreds of thousands of detentions have been documented.
On October 2, 2016 the government’s inhuman and genocidal action against the Oromo people at the Irrecha Festival dramatically changed the situation in Oromia for the worse. The TPLF government used live lethal ammunition on the ground and, with air gunship support, killed hundreds on the spot and pushed the crowd to the ditch where hundreds of women, children, seniors and youth died in a stampede on Oromo’s Thanksgiving Day festival. This deliberate and horrific action of the government against absolutely unarmed and innocent citizen left over 700 deaths and over 1000 others wounded.
Dear Secretary – General,
This TPLF government’s genocidal actions have turned the continued peaceful protests to violence and government linked properties have been destroyed in several locations in Oromia, including small towns around the capital city Sebeta, Alem Gena, Kara Qore and other towns. Instead of calling for negotiation with the stakeholders, the government has recklessly waged a full- scale war against unarmed civilians under the pretext of the “the State of Emergency” declared on October 8, 2016. The State of Emergency declared on October 8, 2016 bans among other things: Social media, Broadcast Media, Protests, Gestures ( well-known Oromo gesture, Crossing hands above Head)Diplomats, Guns, strikes, walking or talking in groups etc. As well, there is a curfew.
The TPLF Government immediately deployed its Killing squad Agazi in towns and even deeper into small villages in Oromia, Amhara, Konso and other regions to absolute silence all dissent. But people continue to protest in Oromia region in different places and in Amhara regional state ignoring the state emergency bans. For example, in Bahr Dar city, the dwellers made a three day strike after the state emergency and the strike is currently spreading to the City of Gondor.
In the name of hunting the individuals who destroyed the government and government linked investments, the government has detained thousands people in Oromia in various places.
For example, the government has admitted that 1000 people have been arrested in Sebata the small town near the Capital city. Arsi and Gujii zone (Bulee Hora ) are the most repressed zones in the southern part of Oromia where a wife and husband have been killed in their home in Arsi zone and over 200 people have been arrested.
Dear Secretary – General
It is difficult to receive information from the country since all means of communications are banned by the state emergency declaration- as well, the internet and telephone lines are denied to the public. This has made it difficult to get the facts on the ground. However, we managed to obtain some information from social media and through Viber calls. According to our informants the youth and family heads from almost all villages in Oromia left their homes and are living in Oromia forests to hide from the killing squad of Agazi.
Running from villages and homes poses more problems primarily that of getting food for themselves as well for their family members left behind. In Ethiopia from November through January is the season when the crops are harvested. As we all know, the Ethiopian agricultural system is agrarian where people come together to help each other to harvest their crops. Since coming together for any reason is banned by the government, this makes it very difficult for people to harvest their crops.
In the name of territorial sovereignty and integrity, the TPLF government has closed its territory and is committing atrocities against its own people. Since the diplomatic community is included in the state emergency declaration, even the diplomatic community, including the International Red Cross in Ethiopia, cannot freely travel beyond 40 km to regional states. This has been done intentionally to hide the atrocities taking place in Ethiopian regional states from the world community.
As we all know, the Ethiopian TPLF led government has regularly turned down the requests of governments, government agencies (UN Human Rights Commissioner, UN Human Rights Experts, EU parliament, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right) and International human rights organizations requests to allow an independent body to investigate human rights violations in the country. The rejections of the Ethiopian government clearly show that the government of Ethiopia is committing atrocities against its citizens behind a secret curtain- and wants to keep it that way.
On behalf of the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, I sincerely urge you to use your mandates:
• “The Secretary-General is a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesman for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them.
• The Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security
• One of the most vital roles played by the Secretary-General is the use of his “good offices” — steps taken publicly and in private, drawing upon his independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading”
To bring the human catastrophe in Ethiopian to the attention of the member states and the main organs of the UN including to the UN Security Council:
• To intervene to stop the looming genocide using their mandate of the R2P before it is too late.
• To urge the ICRC to travel to the victimized areas to give necessary humanitarian aid to the victims using the ICRC’s Mandate and Mission “The ICRC is an independent, neutral organization, ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence”
Garoma B. Wakessa
Director – HRLHA