October 14, 2017
Appeal To: The President of Somaliland
The Honorable Ahmed M. Mohamoud Silanyo
Tel: +252 252 0913
First of all, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its appreciation to the people of the Republic of Somaliland and to its government for their hospitality and kindness towards thousands of Oromo refugees and asylum seekers who have fled their homes to escape government persecutions in Ethiopia. Since the TPLF Government came to power, thousands of Oromo nationals have run away from arbitrary detentions, degrading tortures and violent killings in Oromia to save their lives by seeking refuge in Somaliland and other neighbouring countries.
However, HRLHA recently received a worrisome and disheartening report that the Somaliland Government security and police forces opened a wide ranging campaign against Oromos living in Hargeeysa, a move meant to expel all Oromo refugees and asylum seekers from Somaliland. According to the Oromo asylum seekers that HRLHA interviewed, the Oromo nationals who lived peacefully in Hargeeysa for many years are under police and security attacks and over 4000 young men and women Oromos have been picked up from their homes and loaded on trucks and sent to the border of Somalia and Ethiopia, near Wichale. In addition, the Oromo asylum seekers also said that there is a wide- ranging hate campaign going on, undertaken against Oromos by the Somali people, which was deliberately instigated by the government and which had resulted in the loss of Oromo lives- two men were killed by police and three children have been burned in their home in Hargeeysa town at a place called Sheeda 23. This deliberate crime was committed against the family of Ahammed Suleyman Musa; his three children, Nuredin Ahammed Suleyman age 6, Salmaa Ahammed Suleyman, age 4, and Imraan Ahammed Suleyman, age 2 were set on fire in their home and burned to death on October 5, 2017 at 9:45 am.
I am sure that your government is well aware of the current political crisis in Ethiopia in general and in Oromia in particular. The regime in Ethiopia has particularly targeted the Oromo nation simply because they have demanded their fundamental rights, and have been expressing their grievances for the past 26 years. In the past four years (2014 to present) of continuous peaceful protest against the authoritarian regime in Ethiopia, the Oromo nation has lost over 3500 brilliant sons and girls at the hand of the killing squads Agazi force- among them, about 700 were murdered in only one to two hrs at the Irrecha Festival on October 2, 2016, tens of thousands have been jailed and other hundreds have been forcefully abducted by the security forces and have essentially disappeared.
HRLHA would also like to bring to your attention that these events have already attracted international attention, including that of Ethiopia’s Western allies. For example, in its 2016 Country Report on Ethiopia, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor acknowledged that:
The Ethiopian government’s crimes against the Oromo nation were also condemned around the world by governments and government agencies (UN, EU) and human rights organizations. Among those recent reports are:
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
o The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled (Sep 20, 2017)
o Ethiopia: Exercise Restraint at Upcoming Festival (Sep 19, 2017)
o “Such a Brutal Crackdown”, Killings and arrests in Response to the Oromo ( is a word missing here? ) (June 15, 2016)
o Arrest of Respected Politician Escalating Crisis in Ethiopia (January 9, 2016)
Amnesty International (AI)
o The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency on 9 October 2016. Protests in Oromia, which later spread to Amhara and other regions, had been ongoing since November 2015.
o DEMANDS FOR JUSTICE GREETED WITH REPRESSION
HUMAN RIGHTS LEAGUE OF THE HORN OF AFRICA (HRLHA)
O The never ending horror against the Oromo nation, Ethiopia is descending into civil war (Sep 9, 2017)
O Harrowing accounts of deaths, torture, and inhuman conditions in Ethiopia’s notorious prison (Aug 10, 2017)
O The deeply rooted Oromo nation’s grievances require a sustainable solution (July 3, 2017)
The charade of democracy, rule of law, and justice in the Oromo nation in Ethiopia hrlha’s release (June 25, 2017)
USA: Stand Up for Ethiopians as Government Stifles Protests, Jails Journalists (March 9, 2017)
February 9, 2016, John Kirby, spokesperson Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC on 140 Oromo peaceful protestors killed by Ethiopian Government Security force
21-01-2016, EU Parliament resolution in connection with the killing of 140 Oromo peaceful protesters
21-01-2016, UN experts press release urging Ethiopia to halt a violent crackdown on Oromia protesters, ensure accountability for abuses
Historically, Oromo and Somali nations have a lot in common. They share history, tradition, and language (in some degree), respect each other, and have lived together as nations for over a century. There are thousands of Somaliland- born Somalis live in Oromia right now without fear, especially in the eastern part of Oromia including the capital city Addis Ababa. The Oromo people and Oromia State government embrace them and they live peacefully with their Oromo brothers and sisters. So why is your government targeting the Oromos who came to your country seeking desperate help from your government, looking to be safe from prosecution by the Ethiopian regime?
By killing, deporting and harassing the Oromo refugees and asylum- seekers residing in Somaliland your government is collaborating with the Ethiopian authoritarian regime which is responsible for massacring thousands of Oromos, forcefully disappearing many and jailing others. By collaborating with the Ethiopian regime in killing, deporting and abusing Oromos in Somaliland, your government is violating:
1. The constitution of Somaliland approved by referendum on 31 May 2001, Foreign Relations article 10 (#1-5) which describes the commitment of Somaliland foreign relations based on the local and international laws.
2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR);
article 14 (1), Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
3. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1465 U.N.T.S. 185) Somaliland has an obligation not to return a person to a place where they face torture or ill-treatment. Article 3 of the Convention against Torture provides:
3.1. No state party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
3.2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
Despite the fact that Somaliland declared its independence in 1991, the HRLHA is fully aware that Somaliland is not yet a signatory to international human rights treaties. Even though Somaliland declared its independence in 1991, it has not yet been recognized by the world community as a country separate from Somalia yet. Even though the request of your government for recognition by the World community is still on hold, the Somaliland government still has a duty to respect at least the above mentioned core human rights treaties and international law. Violating them could badly damage the reputation of Somalilad as a state seeking a recognition from the World Community. The HRLHA strongly urges the Government of Somaliland to respect these international human rights treaty obligations and international human rights law for the just-mentioned reasons.
The HRLHA therefore calls upon the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner – through the UN member states- to put pressure on the Somaliland government to abide by the core international human rights, obligations and international law halt the expulsion, return (“refouler”) or extradition of Oromo asylum seekers and refugees to Ethiopia where they could face all sorts of human rights violations , including prison and torture.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please telephone, send an email or airmail letters in English, Somali language or your own language:
– Expressing serious concern about the Oromo and other asylum seekers and refugees, and the human rights violation in Somaliland;
– Demanding assurances that the Oromo and other refugees and asylum seekers will not be returned to the country where their lives will be endangered.
The Honorable Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo
The President of Somaliland
Tel: +252 252 0913
Dr. Saad Ali Shire
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Tel: +252 (2) 518 458
The HRLHA is a non-political organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works to defend fundamental human rights, including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and those of others. It encourages respect for laws and due process. It promotes the growth and development of a free and vigorous civil society.
• UNHCR is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
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Tel: +41 22 739 8111 (automatic switchboard)
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• UNHCR – Hergeisa
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• Africa Union (AU)
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Western Region, P.O. Box 673 Banjul
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• The US Department of State
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