HRLHA Presents

Human Rights, the Concept of the Right to Self – Determination and the Quest for Independence

2012 Oromo Studies Association Annual Conference

Date: July 14 and 15, 2012

Venue: University of Minnesota

Conference Hall:  Blegen Hall

269 19th Avenue S

Minneapolis, MN 55455

 Presented by: Garoma B Wakessa

                        HRLHA Executive Director

 Introduction: Today, in the 21st Century no reasonably distinctive group of culturally a homo genetic group or nations in a given state raises the question of independence. Yet, pursuit of collective or communal interest is not without conditions.  In international law the concept of pursuing a collective interest is known as “self-determination.”

The fundamental question one need raise is: does pursuit of self-determination automatically lead to a right of independence/freedom?  In this paper we will try to see some facts about the concept of self-determination and its implementation to achieve independence.

 Human Rights, the Concept of the Right to Self – Determination

 Staying in  neutral position for three years after the First World War  has began, the United States of America entered into the war in 1917 to “make the world safe for democracy,” as President Woodrow Wilson put it.  President Wilson has advocated for democracy to bring a sustainable peace among the nations by abolishing the colonialism system. To end the colonialism era and to build democracy, President Woodrow Wilson proposed the idea of self-determination for the first time in the post – World War I. Wilson’s concept of the right to Self- Determination was hinged upon three basic ideas:[1] (I) There is a right of people to be free from other rule and choose the sovereign under which they choose to live (external self-determination or decolonization) (ii) There should be a right of people to choose its own government (Internal self-determination and (iii) there should be a continuous consent  of the governed by way of a representative democratic government

When the First World War has came to an end in 1918,  to prevent the future war and to sustain the relative peace gained among the States, President Wilson has proposed the idea of creating  the first International Organization by which all states will be governed. President Wilson’s idea of creating the new International Organization was not welcomed by the US congress at that time. However, it has been accepted among the others victorious of the First World War and   the League of Nations has been created in 1919 incorporating Wilson’s concept of self-Determination in its charter without the participation of USA[2]

However, the League of Nations lack an armed force of its own and so depend on the great powers to enforce the resolution, it failed to bring long last peace and the states returned to another round of war and the Second World War has exploded in 1939.

In August 1941, when the World War II was on flaming, American President Franklin  D. Roosevelt  (1933 – 1945)[3]  and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill held a conference  and agreed on eight principles,  which they called “Atlantic Charter”,  and announced in joint statement that provided the frame work for a better future world in which the idea of self-determination was incorporated. At their first wartime meeting the two leaders promised to work for a peace by recognizing the roll of the right of self-determination to bring peace among the states.  The idea holds that each nationality should be free to determine its own political arrangements, including establishing its political independence if desired. However, they didn’t succeed to stop the war and it continued until 1945.

In 1945 after World War II has came to an  end a new World Organization, the United Nations was founded by the victorious allied powers with a new hope for peace, security and respect  among world nations. The newly formed UN organization developed its charter recognizing the “rights to self-Determination” in its charter of article 1(2) as “ To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”.  The principle of self – determination enshrined in UN Charter   is generally linked to the de-colonization process that took place in (1960 – 1990) after the promulgation of the UN charter of 1945.

The UN charter underline the implementation of the principle of self-determination is mandatory for every state to promote through joint and separate actions.

For further realization of the principles of peace, security and development ideas planted in the UN charter, the United Nations General Assembly agreed on a comprehensive statement of inalienable human rights and adopted on December 10, 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The preamble of this Declaration states: …recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It was declared that the affirmation of human rights as universal rights common to all humankind, regardless of any differences in race, national origin, religion and class, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Furthermore, the International Covenant on Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 defined in detail the substance of human rights and also stipulated the obligations of each signatory state to promote the observance of human rights. This International Covenant on Human Rights which was entered into force in 1976 is divided into “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” (ICESCR) and “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (ICCPR). The language in Article 1 of both ICESCR and ICCPR shows the same, “peoples’ right of self-determination.”  Article 1, item 1 is as follows: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

In other words,the right to self-determination is the right of a people to determine its own destiny. In particular, the principle allows a people to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development.

The right to self-determination is a fundamental principle of human rights law and it is in disputably a norm of jus cogens[4] (a peremptory norm) or a fundamental principle of International Law which is accepted by the international community of states as a norm from which no derogation is ever permitted.  Exercise of this right can result in a variety of different outcomes ranging from political independence through to full integration within a state or separation. The importance lies in the right of choice, so that the outcome of a people’s choice should not affect the existence of the right to make a choice. In practice, however, the possible outcome of an exercise of self-determination will often determine the attitude of governments towards the actual claim by a people or nation. Thus, while claims to cultural autonomy may be more readily recognized by states, claims to independence are more likely to be rejected by them. Nevertheless, the right to self-determination is recognized in international law as a right of process (not of outcome) belonging to peoples and not to states or governments.

The preferred outcome of an exercise of the right to self-determination varies greatly depending on the issue raised in the state. For some, the only acceptable outcome is full political independence. This is particularly true for occupied or colonized nations. The right to live on and manage a people’s traditional lands free of external interference and incursion is the essential aim of a struggle for self-determination. For others, the goal can elevate up to political, cultural and economic autonomy, sometimes in the form of a federal relationship. For example, the groups fighting against their governments within sovereign states throughout the world operating outside of the decolonization paradigm raised the question of independence using the opportunity of their right to self-determination.

In the UN Charter and others UN documents underlined all peoples should have a set of respected rights within their central state. Governments have duties to protect and promote those rights of its citizens within their territories. As long as those rights are respected by the mother state, the “people” is not oppressed, so does not need to challenge the territorial integrity of its mother state.  On the other hand, if the basic and fundamental rights of the nations are not being respected by the mother state and are often subject to heinous human rights abuse the oppressed peoples demand their right to self-determination to make themselves free from the atrocious oppressors.

Today, the question of the protection and Promotion of Human Rights become a crucial issue in the modern world. The International Human Rights Conventions, Covenants and Treaties that covered a wide range of rights had signed   and ratified at different times by the world leaders are still violated for a number of reasons in many countries. To discuss on such issues in the past three decades many world leader’s conferences had been convened.  It was reported among the many distinctly noticed shortcomings in regards to the implementation of the human rights standards was a clear indication of the lack of genuine political commitment and willingness from the world leaders to abide by the documents they signed and ratified.

In the above discussion, we saw  that the right to self-determination is in disputably a norm of jus cogens[5], which means any attempt made against the implementation of the right of self-determination is not tolerated in international law.

However, in many parts of the world the rights of the people to choose freely their political institutions, representatives and to participate in the process of governance became unexpectedly challenging in the past many years.  In this regard from the two main aspects of the right to self-determination the implementation of the internal self-determination is unsubtly violated.

Relevance of the concept of Self-Determination

Today, the UN has 193 member states, while at the beginning when the organization was established there were only 51 independent member states[6].  The majority of the today’s member states were colonies under the rule and control of some independent states and had no right to participate in the creation of the organization. However, through the implementation of the right of self-determination took place from 1960-1990 more than 2/3 of the today’s states have emerged (de-colonized) from colonialism to become independent states and enjoy sovereign equality with their former colonizers and other members of the international community.

But that is not all. Once the process of external self-determination (decolonization) has being almost fully realized, the international community, become increasingly faced the problem with the implementation of the internal aspect of the right to self-determination. This is the right of peoples within an independent state, freely to choose their political institutions, including the right to break away from their state to form a new state or for that matter to join another existing state of their choice, of course with the neighbor.

Thus, the question arose is whether self-determination was limited to territories under colonial rule only or whether , ethnic groups, and nations or peoples  within the independent states exposed to discrimination, are also entitled to self-determination which obviously could undermine the territorial integrity of such states. It is common knowledge that most of the colonized countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America became independent in 1960. In most of the colonized states, the colonizers split up  the nations and ethnic groups into two or even more states (or merging half of the nation or group of one state into another state) while incompatible peoples and nations were grouped together in states. The artificial boundaries created by the colonizers had left behind the problems between/among states in most cases which brought instability within the state or in between the states.  The OAU member states have made their stand on this matter very clear on the Cairo Resolution of 1964 by approving the validity of the colonial boundaries[7]. This resolution made by African States was on the contrary to the major principle of the UN charter, International Covenants on Economic, social and Cultural Rights, International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and International law which affirms that the rights of external and internal self-determination of the people is absolute (jus cogens).

From the above discussion, it would appear that the Independent States of Africa are as subject to the right of self-determination now, as they were as colonial territories. The Cairo declaration on the sanctity of colonial boundaries has only a prima facie legal and political effect. In other words, in the absence of any overriding factors, the colonial boundaries are valid and inviolable. However, should any of the conditions for the exercise of external self-determination as described above, arise, then of course, the Cairo declaration will be overridden and such a right of self-determination will prevail. The Cairo Declaration cannot condemn any peoples to perpetual slavery, and oppression. This view is projected by Article 20 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights which provides as follows:

“(1) All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable

and inalienable right to self-determination.

(2) Colonised or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the

bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international

community.

(3) All people shall have the right to the assistance of the States’ parties …. In their

Liberation Struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or

cultural.”

As a one could observe, whilst Article 20(2) is specifically directed to “colonized or

oppressed peoples, the other two paragraphs of Article 20, i.e. 20 (1) and 20 (3) are directed and are applicable to all peoples[8]. The distinction is clearly deliberate, for Article 20(2) grants colonized or oppressed peoples the more expansive right of resorting to armed conflict to implement their right of self-determination. This is not expressly granted to other categories of peoples, who are not categorised either as colonized or oppressed. It should be further noted that Article 19 of the Charter which defines ‘peoples’ does not qualify this term with ‘colonial’ or ‘oppressed’. Thus, the African right to self-determination could not have been intended to be limited to colonial territories. In any case, even the terms ‘colonised’ and ‘oppressed’ are used disjunctively in Article 20(2), with the resulting effect that peoples who are not under colonial rule, but are oppressed, have a right of self-determination under the African Charter.

The ease with which Eritrea and South Sudan were recognized by the International Community is only explained on the basis of such an overriding right.

 The Scope of the right to Self-Determination and Independence

There is currently a great controversy as to the present status of the concept. One school of thought accepts the position of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU) that the right to self-determination is applicable to non-self-governing territories and peoples and once state gains independence, the doctrine stops applying to it.

It is worthy of note that even the academics who took the restrictive view of self-determination, admit that under certain circumstances, usually involving grave breaches of human rights, coupled with  the fulfillment of some conditions, there is a universal right of self-determination, outside the process  of decolonisation. Thus, John Dugard who states that self-determination does not normally include a right to secede, provides the following stringent exception to the rule [9]

According to him, where there is no agreement on the part of the component parts of a state to secession, the international community will not recognize the secession unless the following circumstances are present:

(i) The people of the seceding territory constitute a distinct people, having regard to their language, culture and historical experience;

(ii) The people have a clear historical claim to the territory in question;

(iii) The territory occupied by the secessionist group came under the control of the existing State by some unjustifiable historical event (as in the case of the Soviet Union’s annexation of the Baltic States);

(v) The human rights of the people have been seriously violated and they have been denied proper participation in the government of the State from which they wish to secede.”

(iv) The will of the people of the territory has been expressed by means of a referendum or election and shows very clear support for secession;

The opposing school of thought contends that self-determination is a dynamic and versatile principle which is equally applicable to all peoples regardless of whether they belong to a non-self governing territory or a fully independent State.  Thus, Franck notes for example, that both the Covenants on Political and Civil Rights and on Social Economic and cultural Rights, State in their first Article that all peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political Status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. He also refers to principle VIII of the Helsinki accord of 1975 which stipulates that participating States will respect the equal rights of peoples and their right of self-determination, and that “all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference.” Franck then points out that since the end of the cold war era and decolonisation, the meaning of the self-determination entitlement and its: “territorial integrity counterpart has had to be considered in the context of burgeoning post-modern tribalism secessionism, including separatist movements in the disintegrating Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

Conclusion:

As we tried to see above, the right to Self-Determination is unquestionably a self-evident truth based on, and consistent with, basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is a process to implement the right granted to people under International law as jus –  cogens  a peremptory norm – and was codified in various UN decelerations and international covenants. The outcome of the process could be independence, genuine autonomy, federation, devolution of power, voluntarily integration, and etc.

The process of self-determination is a long journey to reach at its outcome.  Therefore, to pursue their right of self-determination, people first need to know which aspect of the self-determination they should pursue to achieve the desired goal.  As we discussed in the above, the concept of self-determination consists of two fundamental aspects.

(1) The external aspect (De- colonization),  by virtue of which peoples rid off their colonizers and determine their international political status, i.e., whether to enjoy complete political independence, or merely, self-government, merger with another state, or one form of association or another. It also includes the right to decide to retain a dependent or even colonial status.

(2). The internal aspect (independence or freedom),  from UNGA Resolution 1541 (XV)[10] it is clear that a group or nations who are “geographically separate” and who are “distinct ethnically and culturally” and who have been placed in a position of subordination may have a right to secede. That right, however, could only be exercised if there is a clear reason  (see page 9) for doing so and the reason could accepted as justification with the international community.

 Thank you

[1] by C. Lloyd Brown-John, SELF-DETERMINATION AND SEPARATION http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/sep97/brown.pdf

[2] Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series, ©1992 Salem Press, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt

[4] The Concept of Jus Cogens and the Obligation Under The U.N. Charte, http://www.scujil.org/volumes/v3n1/3, (Santa Clara Journal of International law)

[5] The Concept of Jus Cogens and the Obligation Under The U.N. Charte, http://www.scujil.org/volumes/v3n1/3, (Santa Clara Journal of International law)

[6] History of UN, http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/history/

[7] RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE FIRST ORDINARY  SESSION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT HELD IN CAIRO, UAR, FROM 17 TO 21 JULY 1964, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/ASSEMBLY_EN_17_21_JULY_1964_ASSEMBLY_HEADS_STATE_GOVERNMENT_FIRST_ORDINARY_SESSION.pdf

[8] Angela, M. L.: “The Southern Sudan: A Compelling Case for Secession” in No. 2 Columbia Journal (1994), Vol. 32, 430.

[9] “Secession: Is the case of Yugoslavia a precedent for Africa”? in African Journal of International and Comparative Law (1993), Vol. 5, 173.

[10]  UNGA Resolution 1541 (XV),   http://www.scribd.com/doc/34511892/United-Nations-General-Assembly-Resolution-1541

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Bad Governance, Human Rights and the Quest for Democracy and Social Justice in the Horn of Africa – Ethiopia Perspective

Oromo Studies Association (OSA) Mid Year Conference

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

Cambridge, Massachusetts

April 7, 2012

Presented By; Garoma B. Wakessa – HRLHA Executive Director

 This  paper tries to explain how “bad governance” in the Horn of Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular abuses the system of democracy and rule of law in the civil society in the process of decision making and its implementation.

The process of decision making and the mechanism the decisions will be implemented are very important for the overall development and protection of human rights in a given society. The concept of the term “governance” is the process of decision making and the process by which the decisions are implemented (or not implemented).  Government is one of the actors in governance. The performance of government in a process of running the state is judged depending on the decision it makes and the mechanism it uses for its implementation.

To show the distractive behavior of bad governance to the well being of the society, it is very important to start with discussion of the elements of Democracy (Personal freedoms, political freedom, political equality, rule of law, common good, human dignity, being informed and getting involved, and respect) which are the characteristics of good governance. Good governance is characterized by transparency in a process of making decisions and accountability in its implementation.  Other major characteristics of good governance are peoples Participation in the affairs of their countries, Consensus oriented decision making, Responsiveness to peoples demands, Equity and inclusiveness when distributing scare resources, Effectiveness, efficiency, and respect for rule of law by those in position of power.

The respect for the equality of women and men in participation of decision making is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation could be either direct or indirect (through legitimate intermediate institutions such as professional associations, workers union or representatives). It is important to point out that representative of democracy does not necessarily mean that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken into consideration in decision making. Participation needs to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.

In addition to the government, there are several actors of decision making and as many view points in a given society. When such actions are taken it is good governance’s role to mediate the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also promotes a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the long – term goals of such development. This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community.

In a situation of bad governance all or most of the elements of democracy have no role in decision making process. Decision is made by a single leader or a group around him/her who does not consider the wishes of the public.  Any form of Independent organisations, labour associations, political organizations, humanrights organizations, and others formed in civil society have proven to be ineffective. They have been either banned, outright or forced to go underground. The governments are often creating their own official non- governmental organisations, the so-called GONGO (government organised non-governmental organisation) is a related phenomenon

A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well being. Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.

Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only governmental institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to who varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force. Bad governance dislikes legal frameworks based on impartiality. A government that practices bad governance legal services serves only for the interest of the government authorities and their supporters and not for the interest of the society.

The phrase “the Rule of Law” is a concept which is much abused by dictators and totalitarians who do not actually believe in John Adams’ goal of having “a government of laws and not of men”. Essential to this notion is the equality of men before the Law. Dictators and totalitarians cannot rule in a society that respects the equality of all people before the Law as that would undermine their very claim to power, especially absolute power, as exceptional in their case because of their talents and superior attributes.  Thus we have seen many leaders who have changed the constitutions of their countries for their own personal benefit and, to stay in power for years. Of course it should be clear that good governance is an ideal which is difficult to achieve in its totality. Very few countries and societies have come close to achieving good governance in its totality. However, to ensure sustainable human development, actions must be taken to work towards this ideal with the aim of making it a reality.

Bad governance is the opposite process of good governance. All the elements of democracy which are the anonymity of good governance are handicapped or disabled in totalitarian government. The decision making process is monopolized by a group around the government (minority) instead of society (majority) or consensus. The idea of “no person is above the rule of law” in a democratic system is reversed and become ‘an individual is above the law” or a ruling party or the leaders in ruling party are above the rule law” and can make any decision they wish.  This shows that authoritarianism is the nucleus of bad governance. Bad governance results to huge loss in economic growth and not only that, it also affects the human resources, the human ingenuity and the personality of the citizens.  Corruption and humanitarian crises (poverty, political, religious or ethnic conflicts) are also typical examples of bad governance. These are the facts happening under the current EPRDF Government in Ethiopia.

 Ethiopia’s Democratic Façade: Human Rights Abuses Past and Present

Today, we witness when the Government of Ethiopia makes loud voice about flourishing of democracy in that country. The reality on the ground shows that the undemocratic behavior of the regime is overshadowed by the Democratic façade that the regime continued demonstrating for the past twenty years.

When the EPRDF/TPLF Government took power in 1991 in Ethiopia was high expectations from both local and international communities that there would be a drastic change in bad records of human rights situations in Ethiopia under the previous Military regime (1974-1991). Contrary to everyone’s expectations, human rights Abuses in Ethiopia worsened which have been documented by local, regional and international human rights organizations as well as some Western governmental agencies.

Today, in Ethiopia political extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances, mass arrests and imprisonments without court warrants in torturous prison situations, extended imprisonment without trials, tortures, denials and delaying of justice, discriminations in resource allocations and implementations, biased educational and development policies, denials of employment and job promotion opportunities and/or the misuse of such opportunities as coercive political tools, etc. are rampant.

Since the election of May 15, 2005 in which the Ethiopian people showed their determination to exercise their rights of free and democratic election and which ends in violence with the death of more than 194 civilians, the EPRDF Government is very dedicated to not show tolerance for any group it suspects they are a threat to its power. The best example is what has been happened and still happening continuously for many years in Oromia regional state and other areas against young generation College and University  students and against political opposition party members. The University student’s peaceful movement which was started in 2006 against the hidden Ethiopian regime policy to destroy the forests in South Oromia Zone was cracked down by arresting more than 600 students and killing at different colleges and Universities among whom around 300 were released at different times and the whereabouts of the rests are still unknown. Thousands of University and College Oromo students, leaders of political organizations, journalists, and suspected opposition political members are held in penitentiaries without trials for many years. Only in a year of 2011 more than 500 Oromo students were kidnapped from their University and College Campuses (see power point). All students who were released from prison and returned to their campus were not allowed to continue their education, instead all were awarded dismissal certificates from their respective faculties.

On the other hand, the social crises in Ethiopia are becoming deeper and deeper, while the socio-economic gap between the favored (the politically-affiliated groups and individuals) and the disfavored is getting wider and wider. For the majority of Ethiopians, life has become unbearable. It has become very difficult even for civil servants, who could be classified as the middle class, to support their families.

Conclusion:

In the past 20 years of EPRDF Government rule, the intensity and magnitude of Human Rights Violations against nations and nationalities are increasing each year. The recent discriminatory violence against college and University Oromo students, the continued eviction process of hundredth of thousands of Oromo peasants and others from their livelihood prove that the EPRDF regime human rights abuses will continue indefinitely. These facts show that Ethiopia is currently at a crossroads. A Society suppressed by dictatorial regime always seeks justice, equality and freedom of life. The quest for freedom and justice should get an appropriate answer; otherwise it might lead to the conflict between the citizen and the government which will result in instability.

Therefore,

1.  The EPRDF Government first and foremost must obey the 1995 Constitution of the Federal   Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Chapter three “Fundamental Rights, Articles 13-28   and Freedom and Democratic Rights Articles 29-44 under the same chapter.

2. The EPRDF Government must respect the International Human Rights standards and Instruments, convention and Covenants, and treaties which Ethiopia is signatory.

3. Ethiopia should respect the “RtoP or R2P” norm and set of principles to bring sustainable development peace, and stability in the country.

RtoP is UN initiative established in 2005 focuses on preventing and halting Mass Atrocity Crimes (genocide, War Crime, Crimes against Humanity, and ethnic cleansing)

The R2P obligations are

a/ Paragraphs 138 states, “A state has a responsibility to protect its population from mass atrocities”,

b/ Paragraph139 states,“If the state fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the respo nsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions. Military intervention is considered the last resort”.

Thank you

Submission from

Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA)

Committee Against Torture (CAT) on its 45th Session

(1 – 19 November, 2010, Geneva)

Related to the discussion of the country situation in Ethiopia,

Submitted in October 2010

Profile – HRLHA

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) was originally founded in Ethiopia in 1996 by the name “Human Rights League (HRL)”; but silenced from the outset by the Country’s authoritarian regime. It was then re-launched from Diaspora in 2007 by exiled founders and members of HRL.  It was then re-named as 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.

HRLHA is aimed at defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression and assembly or organization. It is also aimed at raising the awareness of individuals regarding their own basic human rights and that of others. It has intended to work on the observances of international and regional treaties, protocols, covenants, instruments, agreements, et cetera on human rights as well as due processes of related laws. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.

The major objectives of HRLHA are to:

1. Endeavor to enlighten citizens of the Horn of Africa on their fundamental human rights;

2. Detect, monitor, investigate, verify and report on human rights violations;

3. Conduct researches on human rights issues with a view to disseminating their findings and/or conclusions, as well as making them available for further researches;

4. Promote the basic concepts and principles of human rights;

5. Lobby the governments of the Horn of Africa to ratify the basic international treaties on human rights;

6. Organize and offer trainings, workshops and seminars on the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms as well as other relevant issues;

7. Work closely with other humanitarian organizations, educational and media agencies especially regarding the promotion of the basic concepts and principles of human rights.

Physical Address:- 210-761 Jane Street, M6N 4B4

Toronto Ontario, Canada

Tel ; (647) 280 7062 or  (416) 767 8784

Fax;  (416) 767 7223

Email;   hrldirector@mail.org

Web site: www.humanrightsleague.com

Introduction

Ethiopia has been a member of the United Nations since the UN adopted its charter in 1945. Three years later, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international system aimed at facilitating the of protection of human rights, was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 10th of December, 1948. Yet, the General Assembly in its resolution didn’t include the formal binding force for the system. However, the UDHR remained an important document and reference on human rights and international relations. The binding documents were prepared simultaneously by experts and adopted as of 1948.

As most of you are well aware, there are ten human rights covenants/conventions adopted by the United Nations, among which seven are known with their additional optional protocols as the core international human rights instruments since 2006. Once a state has ratified or acceded those covenants/conventions, it assumes the obligation to submit initial and periodic reports to the relevant committee within one to two, and within two to five years respectively concerning the measures taken towards implementation. The government of Ethiopia’s failure starts here. As the UN human rights committee documents indicate, Ethiopia has a huge reporting deficit with a long delay or not reporting at all regarding the practicality of the human rights instruments it has ratified. One of the human rights instruments ratified by the Ethiopian Government but with no submission of initial and periodic reports is the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), adopted December 10, 1984. Ethiopia has been a signatory to this convention since 1994. However, it has failed to fulfill its obligation by not filing either the initial or periodic report for more than 14 years. This conscious silence of the Ethiopian Government for this all time was not without reasons. It was to hide from international attention the inhuman and degrading acts committed against ordinary citizens of the Country by its security agents in breach of those international treaties.

Today, nineteen years after the end of the military regime, we observe with concern the continuation of widespread human rights abuses, unnecessary use of force and brutality including torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons by the TPLF/EPRDF government security agents and police forces. Such situations have been affecting various sectors of the general population; particularly the relatively educated peoples, students, civil servants, advocates of democracy and human rights activists, supporters and/or members of opposition political organization who attempted to simply exercise their fundamental democratic rights. These all fundamental rights are recognized not only by international covenants that Ethiopia has ratified, but also in Ethiopia’s Constitution and other legal documents.

When the EPRDF/TPLF Government took power in 1991, there had been very high expectations from both local and international communities that there would be a drastic change in regards to human rights situations compared to the previous Dergue regime. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, human rights violations continued not only to occur but also to worsen from time to time. As has been being documented and reported by local, regional and international human rights organizations as well as some Western governmental agencies, political extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances, mass arrests  without court warrants and extended imprisonments without trials even in unofficial and secret prisons, tortures, very poor and torturous prison situations, denials and delaying of justice, etc became rampant. In addition to extra-judicial killings, many innocent Ethiopians became victims of tortures, a good case in point being that of Mrs. Qamariya Shabbo of Robe Town in Bale Zone, a then eight-month expecting mother who was arbitrarily arrested in exchange of her allegedly wanted husband and tortured to death. Her baby son, who was born immaturely due to the beatings inflicted on his mother, also died instantly. Although Mrs. Qamariya’s case was widely reported on both locally and international, no single EPRDF/TPLF official of any rank was made accountable. According to a local newspaper called URJII, EPRDF/TPLD security agents tortured Mrs. Qamariya in order to coerce her into confessing the whereabouts of her allegedly wanted husband.

A. Ethiopian Constitution and Other Documents about Corporal Punishment

In principle, torture as well as inhuman or cruel and degrading treatments and punishments have been banned by virtue of the laws of the State. The Criminal Procedure Code, the FDRE Constitution and the recently enacted criminal code prohibit the practice of any kind of corporal punishment.

I.The 1994 Constitution

The following declarations have been made under various sections in the Constitution:

Article 9 – Supremacy of the Constitution

All international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are integral parts of the laws of the land.

Article 28 – Crimes against Humanity

  1. Criminal liability of persons who commit crimes against humanity, so defined by international agreements ratified by Ethiopia and by other laws of Ethiopia, such as genocide, summary executions, forcible disappearances or torture shall not be barred by statute of limitation. Such offences may not be commuted by amnesty or pardon of the legislature or any other state organ.
  2. 2. In the case of persons convicted of any crime stated in sub-Article 1 of this Article and sentenced with the death penalty, the head of state may, without prejudice to the provisions herein above, commute the punishment to life imprisonment.

II. Criminal Code of May 2005

Article 270 – War Crimes against the Civilian Population

Whoever, in time of war, armed conflict or occupation organises, orders or engages in, against the civilian population and in violation of the rules of domestic and international laws and of international humanitarian conventions:

a)      killings, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments or any other acts involving dire suffering or bodily harm, or injury to mental or physical health

b)      is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to twenty-five years, or, in more serious cases, with life imprisonment or death.

Article 271 – War Crimes against Wounded, Sick or Shipwrecked Persons or Medical Services

(1)   Whoever, in the circumstances defined above, organizes, orders or engages in:

(a)                killings, torture, withholding medical care and attention required by their condition or inhuman treatment or other acts entailing direct suffering or physical or mental injury to wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons, or to members of the medical or first aid service;

(b)   is punishable in accordance with Article 270

Article 272 – War Crimes against Prisoners and Interned Persons

Whoever, in the circumstances defined above: a) organizes, orders or engages in killings, acts of torture or inhuman treatment or acts entailing dire suffering or injury to prisoners of war or interned persons;

b..is punishable in accordance with Article 270.

Article 424 – Use of Improper Methods

1) Any public servant charged with the arrest, custody, supervision, escort or interrogation of a person who is under suspicion, under arrest, summoned to appear before a Court of justice, detained or serving a sentence, who, in the performance of his duties, improperly induces or gives a promise, threatens or treats the person concerned in an improper or brutal manner, or in a manner which is incompatible with human dignity or his office, especially by the use of blows, cruelty or physical or mental torture, be it to obtain a statement or a confession, or to any other similar end, or to make him give a testimony in a favorable manner, is punishable with simple imprisonment or fine, or, in serious cases, with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding ten years and fine. Nothing in this Article shall affect the concurrent application of the relevant provision where the act constitutes an additional crime.

(2) Where the crime is committed by the order of an official, such official shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years and fine.

III Criminal Procedures Code of 1961 (Proclamation No. 185, 2 November 1961

Article 31 – No inducement to-be offered

(1) No police officer or person in authority shall offer or use or make or cause to be offered, made or used any inducement, threat, promise or any other improper method to any person examined by the police

2) No police officer or other person shall prevent or discourage by whatever means any person from making or from requiring to be recorded in the course of the police investigation any statement relating to such investigation which he may be disposed to make of his own free will.

B. International Instrument

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (10 December 1984), one of the international document that Ethiopia has ratified, under article 2 clearly states the absolute prohibition of torture, and requires parties to take effective measures to prevent it in any territory under its jurisdiction. Although this prohibition is absolute, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever”.

Despite these all facts, hundreds of thousands of civilian Ethiopians have been subjected to torture; and hundreds have fallen victims. The Ethiopian Government, by ignoring laws that it has enacted and international conventions that it has ratified, widely practices deliberate and well planned acts of torture that are causing losses of lives as well as extreme physical sufferings on non-consenting defenseless citizens.

Tortures and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishments practiced in Ethiopia

  • Credible domestic and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as national and regional governmental agencies like the US state department and EU member countries, have witnessed, and in different ways at different times given their confirmations that the Ethiopian Government is one of the top  few countries who, in contrary to the UN convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, uses torture for the purpose of coercing its own citizens into confessions to obtaining information or a confession from her/him or a third person.

Summary of Torture Reports on Ethiopia

No Reported By Year Torture Victims Direct Death Resultant Death
1 URJII News Paper 1994 – 1997 184 95 89
2 HRLHA 2007 – 2010 345 6 8

Notes:

–          Details could be offered on these figures, if need be.

–          Documents could not be obtained on situations between the years 1998 and 2006

–          The above data is obtained only from two sources, URJII News Paper and HRLHA

Some of the very common ways of the commission of tortures

  • Continuous and strenuous involuntary physical exercises.
  • Locking in in isolated, usually underground, dark rooms.
  • Suspending from the ceiling while handcuffed on the back.
  • And many others.
  • Sleep deprivation by forcing to stay in standing position for extended hours until the person faints and/or loses consciousness.
  • Forcing to walk barefooted on smashed bottle/glass pieces.
  • Prolonged solitary CONFINMENT and interrogation
  • Inserting needle in to fingers under the nails.
  • Extracting finger nails by pliers.
  • Electronic shock all over the body, especially on fingers, legs, buttock, and ears
  • Threatening at gun point by taking the person to top of a cliff and telling them that they would be thrown off.
  • Shaving hair dry with broken sharp glass/bottle or razor.
  • Forcing to drink or lick one’s own blood after causing to bleed by beating
  • Tying/Suspending water-filled bottle on testicles (males).
  • Inserting water bottle in to genitals (female).
  • Forcing to consume one’s own waste products. stool or drink own urine

Reasons for the Torture

  • Being a member and/or supporter of any opposition party.
  • Advocating freedom of speech and opinions as well as other fundamental human and democratic rights such as that of assembly and organization.

When and where torturing takes place

  • In Ethiopia, there are only few prison facilities known to the public. More than half of the total detainees in the country are kept in military camps, prison-turned public offices and/or institutions such as schools and health centres in rural areas, underground buildings, etc. Detainees held in such places are always at risk of being tortured or even killed any time,
  • Maikelawwi – the well known detention center is the center for the torture. In Maikelawi torturing usually take place after mid night after every detainee lies down to sleep.

Recommendations

§  The Ethiopian Government should respect Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984, which it ratified in 1994
  • The government of Ethiopia should respect what is written in the nation Constitution, in its penal code for all forms of torture, fully incorporating all elements of the definition
  • We recommend that the government of Ethiopia establish machinery for a systematic review of interrogation rules, methods and practices, particularly in police premises, in order to honor its commitments under article 11 of the   Convention.
  • We recommend that, while paying particular attention to the protection of the rights of persons arrested and detained, state party intensify the educational, training and information programmes provided for in article 10 of the Convention, for all concerned officials and other stakeholders.
  • We recommend that the Ethiopian authorities undertake and expedite serious investigations into the conducts of the police forces in order to establish the truth of the many allegations and/or f acts of torture and, if the results of the investigation are positive, bring the persons responsible before justice; and give the police
    specific and clear instructions designed to prohibit any act of torture.
  • We recommend that the government allowed a neutral human right committee to make random visits to jails, custodies, detention centers and any other places where the authorities keep detainees.
  • We recommend that the government of Ethiopia give full statistical information about the number of detainees from the 1991 until 2010 as well as the number of those killed under torture.
  • We recommend that the government of Ethiopia compensate those families who lost their relatives under torture or through excessive force used by the police or security agents.

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Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA

Human Rights Abuse in Ethiopia

The Plight of Oromo Refugees in Somaliland, Puntland and Yemen

By Garoma B. Wakessa;- Executive Director ,

OSA conference August 2010

Dear Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a pleasure to be here. First of all I would like to express my thanks for the invitation to this prestigious event and the opportunity to speak at this Conference about the human rights abuse in Ethiopia.

Dear Friends, this paper will catalogue;-

  1. The crimes committed against Oromo refugees in Puntland, Somaliland, and the frustrating challenges they face in Yemen.
  2. The paper will also examine why the massacres committed against Oromo refugees in Puntland Somaliland, and the continuous mistreatments of Oromo refugees and immigrants in Yemen did not attract the attention of Oromos in Diaspora and International Community?

Introduction: It is very unfortunate and saddening that the peoples in Ethiopia have been unable to detach themselves from authoritarian rules, and the resultant miseries such as underdevelopment, poverty and starvation, despite the sacrifices they have paid in the last ten so decades under different regimes. Whether it was revolutionary or military, even those who launched and carried out campaigns in the name of the ordinary citizens, the vectors ended up repeating the histories of their predecessors. The same fact applies to the political groups currently holding power in Ethiopia.

After the defeat of the Dergue regime in 1991, the Transitional Government dominated by Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) publicly announced its commitment to political democratisation and economic freedom. The commitments were reflected in both the Transitional Charter and the new Ethiopian Constitution, which reaffirmed that human rights and fundamental freedoms will be respected. . But, the promise never got close to be seen in reality. Suppressions and atrocities continued in the same way; some of them in their worst forms.

Today Ethiopia is at the top in the list of countries with the highest records in violating the fundamental freedoms and human rights of its citizen. Ethiopian government’s worst human rights record has been criticised by International human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others. Western Governments and agencies including  EU and US state department and United Nations Human Rights Council have expressed their deep concerns regarding the human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Government’s Human Rights Abuse Beyond Its Territory

The Ethiopian government commits all forms of human rights violations, mass and extra-judicial killings, detentions with out trial, arbitrary arrests, torture, kidnappings and disappearances, displacement and etc.. Because of this, in the past 19 years, hundreds of thousands of Oromos and others were killed, arrested and imprisoned, kidnapped  and thousands fled to neighbouring countries like Puntland and Somaliland to save their lives.  Sadly, both Somaliland and Puntland are infested by soldiers and secret agents of the TPLF/EPRDF regime.  Consequently, these refugees in those countries have been subjected to repeated genocidal massacres, which are a serious crime against humanity, without any protest from international communities including fellow Oromo nationals in Diaspora. In order to escape such massacre in Somaliland and Punt Land, thousands of Oromo refugees continue their journey to Yemen. Thousands are thrown into the ocean before reaching Yemen; and the very few and fortune ones who manage to reach Yemen again face another round of harassments by policemen and secret agents of the  government of Yemen mainly because of TPLF regime’s  pressure. Some are deported to Ethiopia, where they may be secretly executed.

I want to show some details of harassments in those areas depending on the information collected by HRLHA Reporters in three years

Puntland State of Somalia


Puntland is a region in north-eastern Somalia centered on Garowe, whose leaders declared its autonomy in 1998.

Killing Refugees in Puntland

  1. 1. Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA reported in February 2008 on mass murder in Bossaso, where 65 young Oromo refugees were killed by a grenade and more than 100 others were seriously injured.

The deadly attack was planned and executed jointly by security forces from Ethiopia and Puntland. A three-member mercenary group organized in Ethiopia was sent out to neighboring countries were refugees from Ethiopia are believed to have been staying to take such actions against suspected members of opposition political organizations.

  1. HRLHA reported on November 2009 that, in Puntland (Garowe), an  Oromo refugee named Obbo Tana Kaballe, 30,  was killed and another Oromo refugee obbo Isa Mohamed Osman was seriously wonded.
3.      Another Oromo refugee, Mrs. Samira Ahmed Musa, a mother of five, was gunned down in her own temporary shelter in Bosaso, on 23rd on November, 2009. This brings the total number of the victims of extra-judicial killing in a one month time to four. The killing of Mrs. Samira Ahmed Musa, which came following that of her husband a year ago, left behind five orphaned children refugees.
4.      In Bosaso, Puntland, one refugee was killed and twenty six others injured in December 1st 2009 at around 7:30 PM with what was believed to have been a hand grenade thrown by unidentified group of people. This attack, which happened in the town of Bosaso/Puntland, Halo Kismayo #1 area, only three weeks after the gunning down of two Oromo refugees in Garoowe/Puntland, targeted Oromo and Somali refugees from Ethiopia who were at the time watching television at a local snack bar. Among the twenty six wounded refugees were eighteen Oromos and eight Somalis.

  1. Four Oromo refugees from Ethiopia have mysteriously been poisoned to death on the 12th of December, 2009 at a local farm in Bosasso, Puntland in Somalia, where they were doing a casual job. They were:
  2. Mahaddi Abdurrahman Ali

2. Abdi Mohammed Omar

3. Jibril Hassan Ahmado, and

4. Gasalli Ganota.

HRLHA correspondents in Bosasso reported that the poison was added to their food that they were cooking for their lunch in the kitchen on the work site. The four refugees died instantly after they consumed the poisoned food.

Somaliland

Somaliland is considered a de facto independent state. The breakaway republic, which declared its independence on May 18, 1991, remains unrecognized by  any state or international organization. Although many foreign governments maintain informal ties with the state, with an increasing number of foreign delegations and embassies having been established in the capital Hargeisa, it does not have full diplomatic recognition. Somaliland is bordered by Ethiopia in the south and west, Djibouti in the northwest, the Gulf of Aden in the north, and by the Somalian region of Puntland in the east, covering most of the territory of the former  British Somaliland Protectorate.

Killing, Torture and Abduction OF Oromos in Somaliland

  1. An Oromo Refugee called Yadata was killed by unknown gunmen in Hargeysa, Somaliland, in October 2007; and Abbas Abdalla Said was abducted. In the same Month and year, three defected Ethiopian solders, two Oromo nationals and one Tigre national were apprehended and given back to the Ethiopian government.
  2. In January 2008, four Oromo refugees living in Hargeysa, namely:

2.1  Abba Cali Abba Biyya, age  45, born in Hararge

2.2   Riyad Haji Kamal, age  31, born in Bale / Gassara and father of two

2.3  . Jamal Wallaga; and

2.4  Another refugee whose name was not identified at the moment were arrested and handed over to the Ethiopian security forces in the border town of Wacale. The whereabouts of these refugees is not known since then.

  1. In April 2008, Bayan Muktar Mohammed was kidnapped by members of the Ethiopian army deployed in Wachale, Somaliland on Febrauary 2nd, 2008 and taken to a nearby military camp where he was severely tortured. Bayan Muktar Mohammed, who is originally from Western Hararge of Oromia region, is a UNHCR-registered refugee seeking asylum. Bayan was forced to flee his homeland due to continuous harassments and intimidations. He is a father of five; and head of a family of six, all of whom are dependent on him. Bayan Muktar, who managed to return back to Wachale, Somaliland after escaping from the military detention, remained in a critical condition for the first couple of months due to the severe torture inflicted on him; and one of his hands was paralysed. Abdumalik Adam , 23, another Oromo refugee was kidnapped by Somaliland Security agents and handed over to Ethiopia Security on February 15, 2008.

Abdumalik Adam

  1. 4. Somaliland Security forces apprehended twelve Ethiopian Oromo refugees on October 15, 2008 and deported them to Ethiopia. All twelve refugees were picked up from different places and taken to the military camp in Hargessa by the security forces of the Somaliland

The government of Somaliland, in violation of international treaties, arbitrarily apprehended

  1. Yasin Adam Ahmed, an Ethiopian Oromo refugee [UN file number 03/RF/SOMHA/050) and, (Canada Immigration file numberB049951893), on February 10, 2010; and deported him to Ethiopia.  Yasin was tortured while he was in the detention centre.  Finally, he was handed over to Ethiopian security forces 0n February 13, 2010.

Yasin Adam Ahmed

  1. The following six Oromo refugees were abducted from various locations in Somaliland on different dates in a joint operation by security forces of the governments of the Somaliland and Ethiopia.
  2. Fahmi Kalif Adam,
  3. Mohammed-saani Mohammed,
  4. Abdi Yuusuf Adam, and
  5. Raajuu/Jeylan Jibril Kadir
  6. Abdurahman Ibrahim
  7. Bontu Sharaf (a female Oromo refugee engaged in private retail business), was abducted on the 5th of June, 2010 in the border town of Wacale on the Ethio-Somalian border. All are believed to have been deported to Ethiopia.
Although it has been difficult for the HRLHA to officially document and report on it, there are other worst forms of human rights violations to which Oromo refugees in Somalia States have been subjected; and that HRLHA wants to everyone’s attention. It is so pain full and difficult to believe it to exist in the 21

st

 century. You could find your own terms to describe what happened; but, in HRLHA’s terms, Oromo refugees in Puntland, Somaliland and Yemen, specially youth and children in particular, are being reduced to the level of commodity; and are being exchanged for money. The most shocking aspect of this kind of human rights violation is that parents are brutally eliminated in the first place in order to get hold on the  kids.
A good example is the sause of Aadde Samira Ahmed Musa’s murder. 
Adde Samira Ahmed Musa, a mother of five was gunned down in her own temporary shelter in Sub rub Bosaso, on 23rd on November, 2009. The killing of Aadde. Samira Ahmed Musa was following that of her husband a year befor here death, which left behind five orphaned children refugees. We believe It was the well planed crime get hold on the five kids of age 1-13years.
After here death the orphans were owned by their parents employer. The request of Oromo elders living in Bosasso to take the children was not success full. HRLHA received this information from its reporters. We interfere in the case to free the kids after many round of negations by the help of local authorities and police the five kids were freed.

Despite its high magnitude and severity, the plight of Oromo refugees in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden has not been able to win the attention of not only the international communities, but also that of the Oromos in Diaspora. Lack of strong network and communication among the various communities of the Diaspora Oromos in North America and Europe could be taken as one of the reasons why the plights of their people could not attract their attention. But, more than that, lack of the feeling of belongingness, and the resultant lack of feelings of concern and responsibility are pulling back the majority of the Oromos in Diaspora from coming forward and share the plights of their brothers and sisters; and fight on behalf of those who are helpless, voiceless and defenceless. This is what needs to be overcome prior to any other undertaking if we really believe that this is our collective issue worth tackling collectively.

Thank you,

====================================================

UN Human Rights Council 19th Session

HRLHA REPORT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ICCPR

(COUNTRY – ETHIOPIA)

Prepared and submitted in May 2010 by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA

Profile – HRLHA

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) was re-launched from diaspora by exiled members of an agency called Human Rights League(HRL), originally formed in Ethiopia; but silenced from the outset by the suppressive regime in that country. HRLHA is registered as a non- profit and non-Political organization in Ontario, Canada on the 14th of June 2007.

HRLHA is aimed at defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression and assembly or organization. It is also aimed at raising the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and that of others. It has intended to work on the observances of international and regional treaties, protocols, covenants, instruments, agreements, et cetera on human rights as well as due processes of related laws. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.

The major objectives of HRLHA are to:

1. Endeavor to enlighten citizens of the Horn of Africa on human rights;

2. Detect, monitor, investigate, verify and report on human rights violations;

3. Conduct researches on human rights issues with a view to disseminating their findings and/or conclusions;

4. Promote the basic concepts and principles of human rights;

5. Lobby the governments of the Horn of Africa to ratify the basic international treaties on human rights;

6. Organize and offer trainings, workshops and seminars on the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms as well as other relevant issues;

7. Work closely with other humanitarian organizations, educational and media agencies especially regarding the promotion of the basic concepts and principles of human rights.

Physical Address:-

210-761 Jane Street, M6N 4B4

Toronto Ontario, Canada

Tel :  (416) 767 8784 or (647) 280 7062

Fax:  (416) 767 7223

Email – garoma@humanrightsleague.com

OR          hrldirector@mail.org

Web site: www.humanrightsleague.com

______________________________________________________________________

Introduction

When the EPRDF/TPLF Government took power in 1991, there had been very high expectations from both local and international communities that there would be a drastic change in bad records of human rights situations in Ethiopia under the previous Dergue regime. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, human rights violations continued not only to occur but also to get worse and worse from time to time. As has been being documented and reported by local, regional and international human rights organizations as well as some Western governmental agencies, political extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances, mass arrests  without court warrants and extended imprisonments without trials, tortures, very poor and torturous prison situations, denials and delaying of justice, etc became rampant.

Confusing, biased and discriminatory policies encouraged widespread and blatant discriminations in access to and allocations of resources, denials of education and employment opportunities as well as misuse of such opportunities as coercive political tools, loss and denial of jobs due to differing political stands and opinions became very common.

The end results of these all democratic, political and legal deficits happened to be ever deepening social, economic and political crises.

Implementation of Civil and Political Rights in Ethiopia

One of the International Bills of Human Rights is the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its optional protocols. In its preamble, CCPR recalls the obligations of states under the UN charter to promote and protect human rights of their citizens. Under articles 1, 3, and 5 of ICCPR, it is stated that the rights to self-determination, equal rights of men and women, and civil and political rights are granted; and that it is the duty of the governments to realize them in their territory. These have been far from happening in Ethiopia.

The Right to Self-Determination

Article1(1) of the ICCPR states that all peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. The Ethiopian Constitution, too, reaffirms these rights under Article 39 (1).  However, political choices and elections in Ethiopia could never be free from government-sponsored violence, threats, harassments and intimidations against members and supporters of opposition political organizations as well as ordinary citizens. A good case in point is the May 2005 federal election, which was described by both local and international observers as the first ever contested national election mainly because of the relatively adequate participation of a good number of opposition political organizations; but, the results of which were unlawfully and unconstitutionally reversed, giving rise to a terrible political violence in which 200 people were killed by government special squads, 700 wounded, and about 30,000 others, including leaders and members of opposition political organizations, were sent to prison. Besides, this election the steeling of the results by the ruling party was followed by a serious crackdown on local civic, human rights and media organizations that resulted in the silencing and paralysis of a lot of independent publications and advocacy groups.

Recommendation

  1. The National Election Board, formed by the ruling EPRDF party and has been serving its interests, should be replaced by a non-partisan election commission elected by all stakeholders from independent individuals, or delegated by all political organizations operating in the country;
  2. Stricter and well organized election monitoring system involving neutral regional and international bodies may help minimize or even fight off riggings;
  3. Election monitoring reports should be used for giving decisions of approvals or disapprovals.

Freedom of Association

As an extension of the crackdown on civil, human rights and advocacy organizations, the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which was declared and issued in January 2009, is the most recent tool that the ruling EPRDF party has created with the intention of criminalizing all kinds and forms of human rights activities by both foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations independent of itself. The discriminatory proclamation enormously reduces the number of civil organizations and weakens their abilities to educate ordinary citizens on their democratic as well as overall human rights. It makes discriminations between indigenous and foreign civil organizations based on their financial resources and the amounts they could receive. According to this new Charities and Societies Proclamation, any organization receiving more than 10% of its fund from foreign sources is deemed a “Foreign NGO”. Given that local NGOs cannot raise adequate fund from local donors in a poor country like Ethiopia, this proclamation is a deliberate campaign launched to systematically get rid of local civic organizations. And, in order to strengthen this discriminatory provision and assure its effectiveness, foreign NGOs have already been banned from engaging in anything relating to the advocacy of human and democratic rights as well as women and children’s’ rights, disabled persons, ethnic issues, and conflict settlement and resolutions.

In spite of this, civil society can have an organization monitored by the government. The governments are often creating their own official organisations with a view to mobilising the population in public support of goals formulated by the regime themselves. The so-called GONGO (government organised non-governmental organisation) is a related phenomenon.

Recommendations

The Ethiopian government should:

  1. Refrain from implementing the new CSO Law in order to abide by its obligations of international bill of Human Rights /ICCPR which it has signed and ratified.
  2. Demonstrate and reaffirm its commitment to encourage the activities of civic societies instead of engaging in discouraging, discriminatory and destructive activities
  3. Encourage and protect all local NGOs especially who engage in human rights activities.

Right to Life; against Torture, inhuman and degrading treatment

The violations of the right to life can be expressed in Ethiopia in different forms including the failure to abolish death penalty, murder, political killings, extra-judicial killings, torture resulting in death, extremely poor prison situations and denial of access to health care while in prison, both of which result in death.

Death Penalty

The Ethiopia Government implements the death penalty. Under the current regime, there are 119 inmates in the death row; and in the last eighteen years, since the ruling EPRDF/TPLF party took power, three convicts have been punished with execution. Almost all of these inmate in the death row were given the death penalty because of their political stands and outlooks and their attempts to exercise their democratic rights, despite the constitutional provision that everyone has the right to pursue political beliefs of their own. Even in March of this year, 2010, a civil engineer called Mesfin Abebe has been added to the death row after being convicted of being a member of the opposition political organization OLF (Oromo Liberation Front).

Corporal Punishment

In principle, torture as well as inhuman or cruel and degrading treatments and punishments have been banned by virtue of the laws of the State. The Criminal Procedure Code, the FDRE Constitution and the recently enacted criminal code prohibit the practice of any kind of corporal and mental punishments.

However, such provisions remaining only on paper, in reality, security personnel use corporal punishment as the best method of coercing suspected political prisoners into false confessions, and of extracting information to be used for pretentious legal purposes against the suspects. HRLHA has repeatedly reported on repeated cases of tortures committed by the Government’s securities against suspected political prisoners.

Example, HRLHA (in Press Release 16, May 2009) reported on torture case that lead to the death of Abdurashid Ibrahim Adam on 8 May. The 38 yr-old farmer was held in Burqaa Tirtiraa prison in E. Hararge and subjected to repeated whipping and beating while suspended upside down with arms and legs tied behind him, b cause of his alleged involvement with the OLF.

Extra – judicial killing, disappearance, Arbitrary Arrest and Detention

Since 1991, reports from different sources indicate that a lot of extra-judicial killings were committed against civilians by Ethiopian security forces. Oromia Support Group reported in its 2008-2010, #45 press release, that 4,185 extra-judicial killings and 944 disappearances of civilians suspected of supporting groups opposing the government have taken place. Most of these have been Oromo people. According to a report by American Journal of  Health, published on Ethiomedia website (www.ethiomedia.com), 99% of Ethiopian prisons are filled with Oromo political prisoners and, as a result, “Ethiopia prisons speak Oromo language’. Tens of thousands of civilians have been imprisoned. Torture and rape of prisoners is commonplace, especially in unofficial detention centres such as public offices and military camps.

Former judge, Ms Birtukan Mideksa, now 36, and chair of the opposition UDJ, was detained for the second time on 29 December 2008 and currently serving life sentence in solitary confinement. She remains a prisoner of conscience and  focus of international human rights campaign.

Recommendations

The government of Ethiopia should:

  1. Adhere to the principles of the International Bill Human Rights/ICCPR;
  2. Halt taking politically motivated action, and honor the independence of the judiciary and court rulings;
  3. Open up the political space for a genuine multi-party democracy to thrive in Ethiopia;
  4. Release all political prisoners, including Ms. Birtukan Mideksa;
  5. Provide access by families, friends, and reporters to prisoners of conscience.

Press Freedom

It is everyone’s knowledge that informed consent is the essence of any genuine democracy; and that freedom of expression is the most fundamental human rights that is needed for the realization of all other rights. Especially in emerging and struggling democracies like that of Ethiopia, press freedom that allows the existence of independent media is required to speed up the democratization process by educating citizens on the overall democratic traditions and their constitutional rights. Ordinary citizens need freedom of expression independent of interference not only to make reasoned choices, but also to participate in the decision-making processes through their representatives.  Also, in today’s information era in particular, independent media have become the most influential tools of sustainable economic growth and development. Unfortunately, Ethiopians have been deprived of these all opportunities.

Press freedom in Ethiopia is said to be regulated by the vaguely defined Press Proclamation No. 34/1992, which the government officials abuse to the maximum by subordinating it to the criminal law in order to intimidate and harass journalists as well as publishers. Media practitioners in Ethiopia face charges such as treason and terrorism simply because of putting pen to paper and, by doing so, attempting to allow ordinary citizens to exercise their freedom of expression.  With such charges, a lot of journalists and publishers have been subjected to repeated long term imprisonments and prohibitive fines. Even bailable charges require depositing a huge amount of money, which in most cases is not refundable even after cases are settled. Financial punishments are specifically aimed at weakening the independent media and pushing them out of existence, besides harassing and intimidating the media practitioners like other forms of punishments. As a result, dozens of independent newspapers and magazines have already gone out of publication, and a lot of journalists and publishers have fled the country. And those who stayed in the country live under constant atmosphere of fear and insecurity – an atmosphere that is very unfriendly to free press and critical journalism, a climate that is against the promotion of democratic cultures, openness, transparency and political accountability.

Journalists in Ethiopia are not allowed even to attend government press conferences. Government officials do not allow access to information in public offices controlled by them, despite the fact that not only the Press Law, but also the Ethiopian Constitution (under Article 29) require the government official to allow access to public offices by those seeking information. Even the door of the Parliament, the place said to be the seat of people’s representatives, is closed against independent media.

Distributions of the very scares independent press are almost restricted to the Capital specifically due to the harsh violence by local government officials not only against distributors, but also consumers. Internet connection in Ethiopia is the last and the lowest first or second in the world with less than 100,000 customers out of about 80,000,000 populations, getting access to Internet. Yet, most of these figures are members of international and diplomatic communities, and members of the politically privileged groups. This is not because Ethiopians could not afford the connection fees. It is rather part of the denial of access to any source of information, that has been delegated to and being executed by the government-controlled Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority, the only Internet service provider that has been allowed to exist; while many interested independent entrepreneurs have been discouraged from entering into the business. When the world peoples are enjoying the maximum benefit of such technological advancements, it is not difficult to estimate how much the Ethiopian ordinary citizens are losing in this regard not only politically, but also socially and economically.

Continued condemnations and criticisms by regional as well as international advocated of press freedom and human rights organizations have been falling on deaf ears.

Recommendation

The Ethiopian Government should:

  1. Abolish direct and/or indirect censorships and self-censorships;
  2. Abide by and honor the provisions of the Constitution as well as the Press Law
  3. Refrain from harassing and intimidating media practitioners by abusing the Press Law and the Constitution;
  4. Respect the independence of the judiciary, and refrain from direct and indirect interference.

Conclusion

In general, the human rights situation in Ethiopia would be of a grave concern to all of us for so many reasons. It has strangled the democratization process. Besides, in the absence of human dignity, equality and the rule of law, and in an environment in which political and economic discriminations have reigned, peace and stability are unexpected, development efforts are fruitless. Where freedoms such as that of speech and association are restricted, development is hindered. Human experience has clearly shown as that there is a direct link between the respect of human rights and the achievement of sustainable human development. The fact that Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa in which monitoring and/investigating human rights abuses are very difficult, as confirmed by various regional and international human rights groups, makes the situations more worrisome.

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Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA

Statement on Item #3 of 13th Session of UN Human Rights Council

Promotion and Protection of all human Rights, civil, political, economic,    social and cultural rights, including the rights to development

( Geneva March 1-26, 2010)

Massive Land Grabs and their Consequences

in Sub-Saharan Africa Countries

Presented by ;  Garoma Wakessa,  Executive Director

“Vast, fertile, irrigable land … abundant water resources, cheap labour, and warmest hospitality … available at bargain-basement prices” wrote Washington Post in its November 29, 2009 edition, describing the scramble for agricultural lands that is going on in Ethiopia and some other Sub – Saharan African countries.

With such varied and abundant natural resources, Ethiopia in particular could not separate itself from famine, starvation and poverty for about five decades, mainly due to lack of concerned, responsible and accountable governments. But, sadly enough, those same governments who have never had the courage, concern, and the feeling of responsibility to secure the basic necessities of survival such as food, have now become very courageous to sell the most fundamental resources such as fertile lands to foreign states and transnational companies. More saddening and even equivalent to insult to that country and its people is that some of the foreign countries from Persian Gulf statesare buying lands from Ethiopia, a country that is infamous for its synonymity with famine, to maintain food security for their own citizens. And, indeed, transnational companies to sell crops to Ethiopians at prices that are set on international markets, prices which Ethiopians in no way could be able to afford. In other words, the crops that are grown in poor countries like Ethiopia will eventually end up in rich countries. Which means, they are not going to solve the problem of shortage of food that is threatening millions of lives?

What is more, as a result of the massive land grabs that are going on, hundreds of thousands of local farmers are being displaced from their gardens, farm lands and water for their cattle without any compensations, only to be reduced to daily laborers; all dependants losing the hope of getting bread and milk on their table; as 60 cents per day that comes through the family head who might get the chance of employment by the new landlords means nothing to a family of five, seven or ten members. For Example eighty family heads from Bako Tibe/ Western Shoa were imprisoned in February 2010 because of the protest they made  against the unlawful sell of their land to Karuturi Indian company.

These land deals, which involve 50 to 99 years contract, are being struck with no slightest public consultations and public input. As a UN official with FAO put it, “[We] see statements from ministers where they’re basically promising everything with no controls, no conditions.’’

There are other concerns that relate to the depletion of natural resources. The Misuse and overuse of natural resources, including the use of poisonous chemicals have led to enormous environmental destructions and pollutions. It has also been witnessed that such chemicals has been the causes of acute chronic illnesses that resulted in death.   A living example is the effects that the flower plantations have caused to the local communities in Ziway- Southern Shoa.  The local community remains voiceless and powerless in such unjust activities of foreign companies that operate under the protection of the Ethiopian Government.

HRLHA requests the concerned UN Human Rights Commission get involved before the whole situations reach an irreversible stage.

Thank you,

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Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA

United Nations 13th Session Human Rights Council       Agenda Item #4: (Geneva 1-26,2010)

Human Rights Situations in Ethiopia that Require the Council’s Attention

It is very unfortunate and saddening that the peoples in Ethiopia have been unable to detach themselves from authoritarian rules, and the resultant miseries such as underdevelopment, poverty and starvation, despite the sacrifices they have paid in the last ten or so decades under different regimes. Whether it was revolutionary or military, even those who launched and carried out campaigns in the name of the ordinary citizens, the vectors ended up repeating the histories of their predecessors. The same fact applies to the political groups currently holding power in Ethiopia.

Not only the Ethiopian peoples, all the remote and close friends of Ethiopia around the world expected a profound change when the Dergue regime was toppled and the EPRDF party came to power in 1991. But, the expectations never got close to be seen in reality. Suppressions and atrocities continued in the same way; some of them in their worst forms. The simple and good proof is the ever deepening and worsening socio-economic crisis in the country. Even famine and starvation, which has become very synonymous with the name Ethiopia, and which has been the major reason for the downfall of the last two previous regimes, continued to occur in a larger extent than in the past, threatening the lives of up to 12,000,000 (twelve million) Ethiopians. Once again and as usual, the recurring famine and all its components are being blamed on lack of adequate rain and irregularity of seasons. Ironically, however, some responsible foreign states are leasing agricultural lands in Ethiopia to grow crops, and feed their own peoples. So, why are Ethiopians caught in the cycle of poverty and starvation, when foreign states look towards Ethiopia to ensure the food security of their own countries? To us, the answer to this question has a lot to do with fundamental human rights.

Human rights violations in Ethiopia are gross and widespread. But, due to the limitation in the time allotted for this presentation, I would like to focus on the components that I believe are very determinant.

Press Freedom

It is everyone’s knowledge that informed consent is the essence of any genuine democracy; and that freedom of expression is the most fundamental human rights that is needed for the realization of all other rights. Especially in emerging and struggling democracies like that of Ethiopia, press freedom that allows the existence of independent media is required to speed up the democratization process by educating citizens on the overall democratic traditions and their constitutional rights. Ordinary citizens need freedom of expression independent of interference not only to make reasoned choices, but also to participate in the decision-making processes through their representatives.  Also, in today’s information era in particular, independent media have become the most influential tools of sustainable economic growth and development. Unfortunately, Ethiopians have been deprived of these all opportunities.

Press freedom in Ethiopia is said to be regulated by the vaguely defined Press Proclamation No. 34/1992, which the government officials abuse to the maximum by subordinating it to the criminal law in order to intimidate and harass journalists as well as publishers. Media practitioners in Ethiopia face charges such as treason and terrorism simply because of putting pen to paper and, by doing so, attempting to allow ordinary citizens to exercise their freedom of expression.  With such charges, a lot of journalists and publishers have been subjected to repeated long term imprisonments and prohibitive fines. Even bailable charges require depositing a huge amount of money, which in most cases is not refundable even after cases are settled. Financial punishments are specifically aimed at weakening the independent media and pushing them out of existence, besides harassing and intimidating the media practitioners like other forms of punishments. As a result, dozens of independent newspapers and magazines have already gone out of publication, and a lot of journalists and publishers have fled the country. And those who stayed in the country live under constant atmosphere of fear and insecurity – an atmosphere that is very unfriendly to free press and critical journalism, a climate that is against the promotion of democratic cultures, openness, transparency and political accountability.

Journalists in Ethiopia are not allowed even to attend government press conferences. Government officials do not allow access to information in public offices controlled by them, despite the fact that the Press Law requires the government to be accessible to those seeking information; thus directly violating the law that guarantees the availability of information about government activities to the press as well as to the general public. Even the door of the Parliament, the place said to be the seat of people’s representatives, is closed to independent media.

Distributions of the very scares independent press are almost restricted to the Capital specifically due to the harsh violence by local government officials not only against distributors, but also consumers. Internet connection in Ethiopia is the last and the lowest first or second in the world with less than 100,000 customers out of about 80,000,000 populations, getting access to Internet. Yet, most of these figures are members of international and diplomatic communities, and members of the politically privileged groups. This is not because Ethiopians could not afford the connection fees. It is rather part of the denial of access to any source of information, that has been delegated to and being executed by the government-controlled Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority, the only Internet service provider that has been allowed to exist; while many interested independent entrepreauners have been discouraged from entering into the business. When the world peoples are enjoying the maximum benefit of such technological advancements, it is not difficult to estimate how much the Ethiopian ordinary citizens are losing in this regard not only politically, but also socially and economically.

Continued condemnations and criticisms by regional as well as international advocated of press freedom and human rights organizations have been falling on deaf ears.

Political Freedom

The whole world is well aware of what happened in Ethiopia following the May 2005 election. Hundreds of Ethiopian paid the maximum sacrifice simply for attempting to exercise their basic political rights by voting for and supporting whom they trusted. And thousands of others, including political leaders, human rights activists, journalists and publishers, faced extra-judicial apprehensions and imprisonment. One of them was Miss Birtukan Midaksa, the first female political leader who also beat her contestants in the election, and who is still languishing in prison.

And, as of the beginning of February 2010, a new wave of violence against the leaders, members and supporters of the officially registered and operating political parties is going on in an attempt to clear the way for another round of election rigging.

The most recent constitution provides for a federal democracy; and the country has been re-structured into regional states, where it has been said the various ethnic groups, nations and nationalities could exercise the right to self-determination. But, paradoxically, what we have witnessed in the last seventeen or so years is the consolidation of a centralized party rule along with the formalization of a federal system. The EPRDF government established a political system of dual-nature at all administrative levels. One is the formal structure of democratic institutions that is aimed at keeping the promises it made to the Ethiopian peoples as well as the Western donors, and meeting the expectations of global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The other side is party structure that is aimed at maintaining a tight control at all levels and making sure that no one can effectively exercise even the constitutionally provided rights and challenge its political power.

Active membership is one thing. From what the world has witnessed so far, we could undoubtedly say that even being perceived as a sympathizer of an opposition group makes an individual vulnerable to incremental persecution, up to and including loss of jobs (in the case of civil servants), denial of the right to work (for example by denying or revoking licenses for private businesses), extra-judicial arrests and long periods of detention with or without trail, tortures, and even disappearances and extrajudicial killings, etc. In such a manner, most of Ethiopians have learned that attempts of freely, openly, and peacefully opposing to the ruling EPRDF party is a life-threatening undertaking. Even members of the legally operating political parties and organizations have been and are facing the same fates for engaging in politics and expressing their political beliefs.

Independent civic society organizations are not allowed to exist. They are infiltrated by political cadres. Any organization that is out of the EPRDF’s radar; and not controlled from above by the party’s political cadres is deemed dangerous and dealt with vehemently. The two bold cases in point are that of the independent Ethiopian Trade Union and Ethiopian Teachers’ Association. Anyways, thanks to the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation, the final nail has been hit into the coffin; and the venue for the existence of such trade or social and human rights organizations has virtual been eliminated, leaving behind a huge impact on the realization of a true democracy.

Economic Freedom

It is said that the command economy of the Dergue time has been replaced by a privatized, free and market-oriented economy. It has also been announced that the state has sold most of the former state-owned and party-controlled companies and parastatal enterprises. But, what has happened is that those companies and enterprises came, directly or indirectly, under the control of another party – the ruling EPRDF party – and its affiliates in the name of privatization through individual members and what are known as endowment and/or development agencies. Except for a very few pockets that might have been deemed not so lucrative or politically not so significant, almost all kinds of import, export, production and distribution of essential goods and services in all economic sectors have been consolidated into strong party-controlled business conglomerates, through which the ruling party exercises not only economic monopoly but also political influence. In short, it has become what Ethiopians describe as parastatals converted into “para-party organizations”.

It will not be difficult to imagine what kind of a powerful political tool this could become in an impoverish country and society like Ethiopia where anything, let alone political support, could be offered in an exchange for even job opportunities. That is not all. For example, following the highly contested 2005 election, the ruling party targeted and punished farmers who supported and voted for opposition parties by denying them access to fertilizers, the import and distribution of which it monopolizes, and other farming supplies. There is no doubt that such politically-motivated biases and discriminations have enormously contributed to the prevailing starvation and overall poverty; and would continue to have a damaging effect to the country’s socio-economic growth and development.

Conclusion

In general, the human rights situation in Ethiopia would be of a grave concern to all of us for so many reasons. It has strangled the democratization process. Besides, in the absence of human equality and the rule of law, and in the presence of political and economic discriminations, development efforts are fruitless. Where freedoms such as that of speech and association are restricted, development is hindered. In short, human experience has clearly shown as that there is a direct link between the respect of human rights and the achievement of sustainable human development. The fact that Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa in which monitoring and/investigating human rights abuses are very difficult makes the situations more worrisome.

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A Call for Collective Humanitarian Action

From: HRLHA

Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) was formed in June 2007 in Toronto, Canada by exiled members of a human rights organization called Human Rights League (HRL), originally from Ethiopia.

The Human Rights League (HRL), on the other hand, was founded in December 1996 in Addis Ababa/Finfinne, Ethiopia by nationalist Oromos and others from all walks of life.  The idea of forming HRL was conceived in URJII newspaper’s office. It was a non-governmental organization established with the aim of not only monitoring the observances of the nationally, regionally and internationally recognized human rights laws, declarations, covenants, and treaties but also promoting them in that country. Although HRL existed only for ten months, it managed to attract hundreds of members and mobilize thousands of supporters, and soon won international attention.

Unfortunately, after ten months of its formation and operation – in 1997, the board members and the executive committee members of the League, including its secretary general, were arrested and sent to prison, its office was ransacked, documents and computers were confiscated and, finally, the office was shut down. Its president, who was on international tour at that moment, remained in exile; later to join his comrades in re-launching HRL from Diaspora.

Those human rights activists faced all kinds of human rights abuses in prison for almost four years, only to eventually be acquitted, as they were all innocent people imprisoned wrongfully.

The peoples, nations and nationalities in Ethiopia always expected changes and improvements, especially following a regime change. Without going back deep into history, even the most recent replacement of the Dergue regime by the TPLF/EPRDF guerrillas, came with enormous expectations of political and economic freedoms. Unfortunately, that has not happened. If there have been changes that the peoples in Ethiopia have experienced in the last eighteen years, it is only the deepening and worsening of all kinds of crises – social, economic, political, legal, etc. Not only the Ethiopian peoples, but also the whole world, through the eyes of various human rights, humanitarian and development agencies, witnessed extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances, mass arrests and imprisonments in torturous prison situations, denials and delays of justice, discriminations in resource allocations and implementations, biased educational and development policies, denials of employment and growth opportunities and/or the misuse of such opportunities as coercive political tools, etc.

When analysed, these all point at one core issue both as a cause and an effect – human rights. These all have been consciously designed and systematically executed human rights violations, the results of which have continued to be further violations of human rights.

Consequently, the social crises are becoming deeper and deeper, while the socio-economic gap between the favoured (the politically-affiliated groups and individuals) and the disfavoured is getting wider and wider. For the majority of Ethiopians, life has become unbearable. It has become very difficult even for civil servants, who could be classified as the middle class, to support their families. Some of those favouritisms, discriminations and human rights violations, which are causing such socio-economic crises, are open and policy-based. But, the citizens could in no way express their discontents, dissatisfactions and/or protests, as the system is so suppressive; and if they attempt to do so by crossing the line of suppression, the punishment would be very harsh, as has been witnessed at different times and places in the last eighteen years.

Most of the power abuses, injustices and crimes committed in these regard have been proven by evidences from various local, regional and international sources, particularly from human rights groups and diplomatic agencies. Nevertheless, from among the culprits and the perpetrators, not a single government or party official or institution has been held accountable for what they have committed. The ordinary peoples of various nations and nationalities have been denied political representations, both regional and federal parliaments becoming camouflages built based on revolutionary democracy. As a result, their voices are not being heard, and they have no slightest role in policy and decision-making. The overall situation is very threatening not only to the present but also to the future generation.

What is more, these crises are spilling over to the neighbouring countries such as Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and the Sudan chasing those who flee their country in an attempt to escape the injustices and human rights violations. Places where they are running to for safety and protection are becoming hell to refugees from Ethiopia in general, and to women and children in particular. They are being subjected to crimes such as child labour, human trafficking, and extra-judicial imprisonments (Please, refer for details to HRLHA’s press releases and urgent actions on: www.humanrightsleague.com).

All that we witness from day to day are very far from allowing us to sit back and watch them happening, multiplying and worsening. They are also becoming too much to be handled with a few hands. The very recent news that the chief engineer of these all crimes, PM. Meles Zenawi and his TPLF/EPRDF party are clearing the way for another five-year term in power by itself is a very powerful alarm that those situations are going to continue unabated, or even worsened. That is why we (the very few individuals in the HRLHA) decided to send out this call for action so that those of us who understand and feel the grievances of our brethrens out there could join hands in fighting on behalf of the voiceless, the defenceless and the powerless.

What HRLHA has witnessed in the last thirteen years is that fighting against human rights violations in countries like Ethiopia is not just a mere advocacy. It is a job of saving threatened and endangered lives of the innocent. Not only that the job is so big and demanding. The extreme suppression, denials of access to sources of information and of the right to exchange information, above all, the silencing of civil society organizations, human rights groups and press agencies in particular by the recently issued Civil Society law, make the activities of monitoring, detecting, investigating and reporting on human rights violations extremely difficult.

For the last two years, since it was re-launched from Diaspora in June 2007, HRLHA operated with volunteer resources. All its personnel in its main office in Toronto, Canada and its reporters in different countries in the Horn have never been paid. They have never asked even for the refund of what they spent for communication, transportation and other related purposes. Except for the very little amount of money contributed by its very few members, HRLHA didn’t receive any financial support from any source in the last two years. But, as everyone has their own personal and family lives to look after, it has become difficult for the HRLHA to pressurize its volunteers to continue to sacrifice. It has also become difficult to recruit other volunteers. Even if it is easy to recruit, it has not been easy to delegate to volunteering manpower as much duties and responsibilities as the job requires. Indeed, most of these volunteers are individuals in exile. The only difference among them is that some have resettled, while some are still on the road with their fates in the hands of a third party (we mean refugees from Ethiopia who are still in the neighbouring Horn of African countries, and who are collaborating with HRLHA).

The Need for HRLHA

Countries in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia and its neighboring countries, have become homes of widespread human rights violations. The reasons for the abuses are either political, religious, ethnic, gender or all. Even those of the victims who have already fled their homes and homelands as a result of those human rights violations, and ended up in one of the neighboring countries, could not have a safe and secured life as refugees. Because, they are chased after and, in some cases, arrested, sent back and face further persecutions. In the worst cases, they would be killed in the country where they resided. Good cases in point are a mass murder in Bossaso (Puntland, Somalia) in which 65 Oromo refugees were murdered and more than 100 others were injured in February, 2008, and the assassination of two former university students – Endalkachew Teshome and Meles (a Sidama refuge whose father’s name was not know) by Ethiopian security agents in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2007. In this regard, the governments in those countries, especially those who are friendly with each other, cooperate and conspire against refugees. Even those of refugees who managed to avoid the arrests and deportations still face a lot of problems relating to their refugee lives mainly due to lack of adequate knowledge of their rights and responsibilities as a refugee.

Female refugees in particular are the major victims of such problems. In addition to what they share with other fellow refugees, they are exposed to gender, religious and cultural humiliations as well as rape. Actually, such socio-cultural, religious and gender problems were some of what forced them, in the first place, to flee their homelands. These and other similar issues are what necessitated the re-launching of HRL as HRLHA.

HRLHA’s Accomplishments and Their Impacts

In spite of its multiple problems, HRLHA has done a remarkable job in the past two years. It has attempted a lot to cover and bring to light the human rights violations in the Horn of Africa with very limited human and financial resources obtained from its members. It has published and disseminated press releases and urgent actions on torturing, kidnapping, killings, and abductions committed against Oromos and other citizens by government security forces in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Sudan, Puntland and Somaliland. It has also traced, investigated and reported on deportations and attempts of deportations of refugees by host governments; and in some cases avoided and/or delayed the deportations. Some of HRLHA’s accomplishments and their outcomes in the past two years are listed below:

Reports

  • Twenty  human right abuses were investigated and  reported as press releases;
  • Six urgent actions and one special report (voice of the voiceless from behind the bar) were issued and disseminated;
  • Research paper under the title “Voice against torture-the case of Ethiopia” was presented at an international conference organized by Torture Abolish Survivors and Service Coalition (TASSC) on June 26, 2009;
  • Letters of support were issued for refugee claimants whose case were delayed or denied (those reported before by HRLHA).

The Effects of the Reports;

  • Refugee prisoners were released (from prisons in Djibouti, Sudan and Yemen),
  • Refugee deportations were delayed (in Sudan  and in Djibouti),
  • Rejected refugee claims were reconsidered,
    • Managed to attract other (international) human rights groups such as Haman Rights Watch to some relatively complicated issues (e.g. one case in Yemen) so that extra actions could be taken.

We would like to bring to everyone’s attention that all those works were accomplished by volunteered HRLHA staff members in Diaspora and reporters back home as well as in neighbouring countries. HRLHA would like to express its deepest appreciations for their invaluable efforts; and say thank you on behalf of the targeted peoples.

Our Future Plan

In order to effectively and adequately fight the ever worsening deepening human rights violations in Ethiopia and other Horn of African countries, HRLHA has a plan to:

  • Build its capacity  to be more operational and competent
  • Continue monitoring, detecting, investigating, verifying and reporting on human rights violations against Oromos and other people in the Horn of Africa, and communicating the reports to concerned national, regional, international human rights organizations and  others
  • And, to this effect, open branch offices in the Horn of Africa Countries, priorities being Uganda and Kenya.

We would like to remind each other one more time that this job is too big and too heavy to be handled with a few hands. And we all understand that the peoples back home, on behalf of whom we are fighting, are in no position, particularly politically and economically, to do a lot. That is why HRLHA is turning its face towards those of us who are in Diaspora, who are free to act and react, and who are in a relatively better socio-economic and political situations to participate in saving threatened lives. This is the collective job to be executed collectively; but participations could be personal and in different ways. HRLHA is looking for support, financially or in kind, from organizations and individuals.

For those of us who are willing and ready to participate, let’s thank each other for joining hands for such a common goal of fighting for and defending human rights in order to save threatened human lives.

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Human RightS LEAGUE OF THE HORN OF AFRICA/HRLHA

ANNUAL REPORT June 2008

Human Rights Abuse in the Horn of Africa

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA is a non-political organization which attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the peoples of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa.

Beside its specific objectives, HRLHA is aimed at:

· Defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and organization.

· Raising the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and that of others.

· Working on the observances as well as due processes of law.

· Promoting the growth and development of free and vigorous civil society.

It is one year since HRLHA defined its mission as a “… commitment to making continuous and strenuous humanitarian effort to ensure that citizens are protected against the violations of their fundamental rights, that they live in freedom and dignity, free from arbitrary arrest, beatings and imprisonment.” It has also made a commitment to offer extensive programs of civic education to raise the awareness of citizens about their democratic and civil rights.

This report does not include human rights violation, those which are reported by other human rights organizations.

With the help of its dedicated reporters in different countries of the Horn, HRLHA has reported on extrajudicial killings, disappearances, forceful deportations of refugees and civilians suspected of being members or sympathizers of opposition groups. Our coverage includes the following countries:

– Ethiopia

– Sudan

– Djibouti

– Kenya

– Somaliland

Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Government takes the lead in committing human rights abuses in the Horn of Africa.In the name of fighting terrorism, the Ethiopian Government is committing gross violations of human rights within and beyond its territory. The Ethiopian Government continued to harass and intimidate suspected members and supporters of opposition political organizations suspected members in the country, undermining their ability to solve some of the country’s most urgent political, economic and social problems.Human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian government against innocent and defenseless civilians, on which HRLHA reported in the past year, include extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances, severe tortures, inprisonments without trials, denials of employment and job opportunities and others. Extrajudicial Killing – Eastern Oromia: 1.Abddii Abrahim, age 30 years, from Dire Xiyara /Kombolcha District in East Hararge was shot with three bullets and killed on October 30,2007 by the Ethiopian government solders. Abdii Abrahim was shot dead near Ethiopian military camp found in a place called Didiibbo in Eastern Hararge. He was killed in a car he was driving. HRLHA reporter has confirmed that Abdii Abrahim was a businessman and a father of four children. 2. Abdala Osman Adam ,a 19-year youth from Ilillii Darartuu/ Baddano District in Gara Mulata, Eastern Hararge Region in East, was tortured and beaten to death by Ethiopian soldiers. He was arbitrarily arrested on October 28, 2007 on his way to Jijjiga for business purpose, HRLHA reporter in Eatern Hararge Confirmed. Abdala Osman was thrown into the bush after severely beaten and injured on his head. Although the culprits damped Abdalla with the belief that he was already dead, Abdella was fortunately found alive after two days in the bush.
Abdala Osman told HRLHA reporter that he was accused by the Ethiopian government solders of allegedly being a member the OLF.

Abdela Osman

Mass Arrests and Imprisonments in Western OromiaIn a continuous mass arrest and imprisonment that has been taking place for months all over Oromia, HRLHA reporters confirmed that, in and around Mettu Town of Illubabor Zone in western Oromia, dozens of people have been sent to prison. Most of those individuals who were arrested January 12 & 13, 2008 are teachers and students. Among those whose names have been obtained were:1. Namarraa Addaamuu (a high school teacher),
2. Zelaalem Amaanu’el (an elementary school teacher),
3. Eliyaas Nyaaroo (a teacher),
4 Bulaa Kuraa (a businessman),
5. Kaasahun Fidaa (a student),
6. Biruk Sewunet ( a student),
7. Balaxee W/semayaat (a student)
8. Another student known by a nickname “Giraany”.Some of those detainees (for example Obbo Elias Nyaro) have been targeted for so many years and subjected to repeated arrests, imprisonments and other forms of harassments. None of those recent detainees were taken to court and charged. HRLHA reporter confirmed that, the reason for their arrest and imprisonment is the very common allegation that they sympathized with opposition political organization OLF. Torture and Disappearance

One of the victims of torture and disappearance in the past year was Dirirsa Biqila. Although HRLHA learnt a couple of months later, it has been a serious concern for both families and friends that the whereabouts of Dirirsa Biqila was not known since the end of December 2006. The eventual disappearance of Dirirsa Biqila, a fresh graduate of Law from Mekele Univeristy, happened after passing through a very inhuman situation in the hands of the Ethiopian security agents.

According to HRLHA reporter, Dirirsa was one of the fourteen Oromo students who have been denied their degrees and diplomas upon graduation from the same (Mekele) university for allegedly organizing what was termed as “OLF-affiliated anti-government movement” within the university. Dirirsa, who came to Addis Ababa immediately after the graduation in July 2006, was first kidnapped by unidentified men in civilian clothes on November 30 2006 around 2:00p.m from the area known as Megenanya in Addis Ababa. HRLHA reporter has later confirmed in an interview with Dirirsa’s family that his kidnappers were government security forces. Dirirsa, after being kidnapped, was taken to an underground prison (handcuffed and blindfolded), where he was severely beaten up and tortured (please see the picture). Dirirsa’s family told HRLHA reporter that he temporarily lost his consciousness as a result of the severe torture. After two days, he was taken to the Air Force base in Debrezeit/Bishoftu, where he was subjected to further torture and harassments. Then, Dirirsa was brought back to Addis

Dirirsa Biqila

Ababa and held at Lafto Sub-City police station before he was driven to and dumped in Walo Safar area in the Capital very early in the morning on December 5, 2006.

Dirirsa’s family still believes that he is rearrested by Ethiopian Scurity. Dirirsa Biqila, age 25 was born in West Wallaga/ Western Oromia

Also, during its first year of operation, HRLHA reported on many cases of abductions and deportations of refugees by Ethiopian Government security agents deployed in the neighboring countries where those refugees were temporarily staying. After retuning back to Ethiopia, those refugees would undoubtedly be subjected to all kinds of harsh and dangerous situations including torture and killing. The deployed security agents were also given the task of killing the Ethiopian refugees suspected as members of other opposition organizations. In this manner, in 2007/2008 alone many Oromo refugees were killed by the Ethiopian government security agents in Nairobi/Kenya, Hargessa/Somaliland and in puntland/Somalia. Sudan

Sudan was one of the Horn African countries on which HRLHA reported human rights abuses in its 2007/2008 physical year.

Detention and Torture;-

Seven Oromo refugees living in the Sudan: Adunya Shiferaw, Gammachis Nado, Shantam Amsalu, Harun Idiris, Abdala Suleman, Ibrahim Itana, Kamal Kalbessa were detained in September 2007 by the Sudanese Government even though they had the UNHCR attestation papers, HRLHA reporter in Khartoum confirmed.

First, these refugees were held and tortured in Dabki detention center approximately 150 Km North of the capital Khartoum. They were then transferred to KOBAR detention center located in the Capital in the fourth last week of December 2007. The families and friends of the detained refugees were asked to pay bribes of 100,000 Sudan pounds each to visit their loved one.

Refugees Handed Over to Ethiopian Government

Despite their having the UNHCR attestation papers, the following refugees have been handed over by the Sudanese Government to the Ethiopian Government Security Forces in Ethio- Sudanese border town of Gadarif in the end of September 2007: Wendimu (Adam Bisil), Milkessa Lema, Teshome (father’s name Unknown)

Djibouti;-

Detention

Many Oromo and other Ethiopian refugees with refugee status they obtained from the UNHCRwho have refugee status and living in a refugee camp set up by the UNCHER have been forced to flee the camp as a result of repeated threats and attempts of arrest by Djibouti security forces. According to HRLHA reporter in Djibouti, the refugees started to flee their camp upon learning that the intention of the Djibouti security forces is to hand them back to the Ethiopian government. The pretexts were that they might be members or supporters of opposition political groups. Although many of them have managed to escape, two refugees have been detained. Tamaam Ahmed Bashir, born in Iluababora and Tesfaye Eshetu, born Jimma, Western Oromia were arrested in Djibouti on October 16,2007 by Djibouti police and taken to Gaboti central prison, confirmed HRLHA reporter in Djibouti.

Refugees who have been on the run in Djibouti are:

No. Name Sex Age Place of origin
1 Adam she Ali M 45 Bale/Agarfa
2 Abdala Muhamed Abba husen M 32 Jimma/Western Oromia
3 Amin Ali Hasan M 37 Miesso/Hararge
4 Muhamed Ahmed Abdashakur M 33 Chafaa Roobi/ Wallo
5 Ahmed Muhadiin M 35 Arsi/Southern Oromia
6 Tesfaye Eshetu M 35 Jimma/ Western Oromia
7 Tamaam Ahmed Bashir M 35 Iluababora/Western Oromia
8 Gali Nuradin Husen M 40 Jimma/ Western Oromia
9 Tayib Husen Mussa M 35 Iluababora/Western Oromia
10 Hailu Halake Culuko M 36 Borana/Southern Oromia
11 Talila Biri Tolera M 34 Gimbi/ Western Oromia
12 Jafar Abduljalil Muhamed M 31 Bale Robe/ Southern Oromia

 

Kidnappings and Disappearances

Two young Oromo refugees who were forced to do very heavy child labor in a harsh situation on a construction site are reported to have disappeared, according to HRLHA reporter in Djibouti. Umar Aliyye, age 16, born in Boke Xiqo, in Hararge/Eastern Oromia and Abdulfattaah Abdullaxiif, age21 born in Harar Town keble 03/Eastern Oromia, were taken to the Ethiopian border and dumped after about three weeks of forced labour at the construction site. Their whereabouts is not known. The two youth were initially picked up by Djibouti police on their way to their refugee camp from school which they have been attending. The school was established by the Catholic Church of Djibouti particularly to help children of the refugees. Umar and Abdulfattaah were held at Lagaad prison in Djibouti town for some time before they were taken to the construction site. It was believed that Umar Aliyye and Abdulfattaah Abdullaxiif were handed over to the Ethiopian Security forces by the Djibouti Government.

Kenya

Refugees Targeted by Gunmen in Nairobi

Three refugees were killed and three others seriously wounded by unidentified gunmen on November 4, 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya. Two former university students, Endalkachew Teshome (a 25-year old Oromo refugee from Ethiopia) and Meles, whose father’s name is not know, (a Sidama refugee from Ethiopia) were killed by unknown gunmen who were wearing masks in the Easliegh area of Nairobi in Kenya. Also a Kenyan named Jaferson has become one of the victims of the assassination. The three were shot dead after they were dragged out of their homes.

Another three refugees, Gashaw Teshome, Girma Teshome and Dadi Raba, all of whom were Oromos and university students from Ethiopia, were seriously wounded during the attack by those unidentified gunmen. The three wounded refugees, one of whom has lost his right eye as a result of the severe attack inflicted on him, have been receiving medical treatment at the Referral Hospital of Nairobi.

Prior to that, unidentified armed men also held four exiled Ethiopian journalists at gunpoint, tied their hands behind their backs, dragged them out of their home when violence-wary neighbors cried out for help and stopped the progress of the crime.

Ethiopian refugees who held a demonstration November 6, 2007 in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Nairobi office, appealed to the UN body for protection against what they described as, “… the death squads of the dictator in Addis Ababa frequently sent to Kenya to hunt down even those who have fled their native countries and sought sanctuary in foreign lands.

Arrests and Deportation

Despite the fact that Ethiopia is one of the countries that imposes and implements death penalties, the Kenyan police have arrested and deported two alleged members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), one of the Ethiopian opposition groups. This is happening at a time when the Ethiopian government is holding in prison more than one alleged members of the same opposition group who have already been sentenced to death penalties. It is very likely that those deported Oromos are going to face torture and other inhuman treatments in the hands of the Ethiopian Government.

The Kenyan police have also announced, according to Reuters, that they have 19 more alleged members of OLF in custody who are being investigated and who might eventually be deported to Ethiopian. The Kenyan police didn’t even take into consideration the comments by local Kenyans that those individual, too, were local Kenyans who lived with them and couldn’t do anything similar to the allegations the police are making against them. Local Kenyans were quoted by Reuters as saying, “The police are just picking on them.”

Somaliland

Killing and Abduction

Killing: Yadata, an Oromo man living in Hargessa/ Somaliland, was killed on October 06, 2007 by two unknown gunmen on his way to the home of his friend called Muktar.

The two gunmen disappeared after killing Yadata with four bullets, said the reporter. These gunmen were believed to belong to the Ethiopian insurgencies sent to hunt down the suspected members of Oromo Liberation front (OLF) and Ogadenian National Liberation Front(ONLF).

Abduction: Abbas Abdala Sa’id, a worker in Hargessa/Somaliland was abducted by Somaliland Government security personnels on October 07, 2007 from his workplace and handed over to the Ethiopian Government troops searching for OLF and ONLF supporters in Somaliland. Abbas Abdala Sa’id was handed over to the Ethiopian troops together with more than ten men and women, all of whom were alleged members of Ogadenian National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Three Ethiopian Soldiers, Ilala Mohamad, Geremu Tesfaye and another soldier whose name is unknown, who defected from Ethiopian army based in a Camp situated on the Ethio-Somalian border, were given back to the Ethiopian government by the government of Somaliland after they reached the Somaliland town of Wachale. This defection, arrest and handover took place in the last week of September 2007.

The fate and whereabouts of Abbas Abdala Sa’id, the three former Ethiopian Solders and the ten Ogaden nationals is not known.

Abduction and Deportation (Continued);-

The Somaliland security forces abducted four Oromo refugees living in Hargessa, and handed them over to the Ethiopian government in January 2008. According to the HRLHA reporter in the region, the four refugees were handed over to Ethiopian security agents operating in Somaliland on the 13th of January 2008. The four deported Oromo refugees were:

1. Abba Cali Abba Biyya, age 45, born in Hararge ,

2. Riyad Haji Kamal, age 31, born in Bale / Gassara and father of two,

3. Jamal Wallaga; and

4. Another refugee whose name was not identified at the moment. They were handed over to the Ethiopian security forces in the boarder town of Wacale. The whereabouts of these refugees is not known since then.

Kidnappings and Torturing

Two Oromo refugees remained in a critical condition after they were kidnapped and tortured by Ethiopian solders operating in Somaliland.

1. Bayan Muktar Mohammed was kidnapped by members of the Ethiopian army in Wachale, Somaliland on Febrauary 2nd, 2008 and taken to a nearby military camp where he was severely tortured. 2. Bayan Muktar Mohammed, who was originally from Western Hararge of Oromia region, was a UNHCR-registered refugee seeking asylum. Bayan was forced to flee his homeland due to continuous harassments and intimidations. He was a father of five; and head of a family of six, all of whom were dependent on him. Bayan Muktar, who managed to return back to Wachale, Somaliland after escaping from the military detention, was in a critical condition due to the severe torture inflicted on him; and one of his hands was paralyzed.

2. Abdumalik Adam Abdulahi age 32, born in Hararge/Dadar was kidnapped by unidentified armed groups in Hargessa on February 15, 2008 and handed over to Ethiopian soldiers. Abdulmalik was kidnapped at gun point from a place where he was working as a watchman. He was taken into the Ethiopian border to Jijjiga military camp, where he was held in solitary confinement for about one Month. He was subjected to continuous interrogations and torture while he was in custody. He was finally released on grounds that he was mistaken and kidnapped wrongly. Abdumalik Adam also remained in critical condition due to the severe torture.

Puntland, Somalia

Mass Murder in Bossaso (Puntland, Somalia)

65 Oromo refugees from Ethiopia were killed and more than 100 others were seriously injured when two grenades were thrown at two different hotels owned by two Oromo refugees, Melaku and Jamal Arsii, in port town of Bossaso in Puntland, Somalia. The victims were watching a video game produced in Oromo Language by the time the attack took place on the 5th of February, 2008.

According to HRLHA informants in the area, the deadly attack was planned and executed jointly by security forces from Ethiopia and Puntland. A three-member mercenary group organized in Ethiopia was sent out to neighboring countries were refugees from Ethiopia are believed to have been staying to take such actions against suspected members of opposition political organizations. Relatives and family members of the victims in particular give the following proofs to substantiate their claims:

1. One day prior to the attack in Bossaso, houses of Oromo refugees living in Borama and Buro towns of Puntland were searched by the joint Ethio-Puntland security agents.

2. 30 seconds before the happening of the attack, the power was turned off from its source and the whole town remained in absolute darkness; domestic and international telephone networks were disconnected.

3. The town of Bossaso was fully surrounded by heavily armed security forces and all roads leading into and out of the town were blocked.

4. After the attack took place, the bodies of the victims were immediately loaded onto two trucks and taken to unknown places.

5. The vehicle of the Ministry of Interior of Puntland was identified at the place of the attack.

The names some of the injured Oromo refugees were:

1.Abrahim Siraj Abrahim 28,born inRobe/Arsi

2. Abdusalam Mustaffa 28,born in Baroda/Hrarge

3. Abdala Kamal Tuse 20, Sude/Arsi

4. Siraj Kadir Mohamed 20,Arsi

5. Abdul Fatah Abubakar 18, Arsi,

6. Suleyman Ahmed,

7. Mohamed Usmael Kasim 18,Machara/Hararge

8. Mohamed Usmael Aliyu 20, Wallo

9 Jamal Mohamed Saali,

10. Ali Mohamed Bashir

11. Fadluu Haji Abdoo 20,Arsi

12. Amin Hussen Abdulqadir

13. Mohamed Aloo

14. Nagawo Abdoo Alliyyi

15. Ture Aman Abdo

16. Mohamed Yasin Ibro

17. Abdujabar Mohamed Abdo 24 Jaju/Arsi

18. Umar Taka

19. AliyyiiAhmed Musa

20. Gidana Muse Dade

21. Umar Aadam Umar raya 23, wallo

22. Jamal Mohamed Ulula 53

23. Mohamed Amin Kadir 22, Robe/Bale

24. Mustafa Salii Abdalla 23,Baddanno/Hararge

25. Abdiugafar Abdulahi Jabran 18, Wakkite Burka/Shwa

26. Abdulle Biluu Ahmed 19, Shirka/Arsi

27. Ziyaad Ibrahim Hassan30,Galamso/Hararge

28. Ahmed Bakar Birka

29. Obsaa Aman Sheeko

30. Abdo kalifa

31. Nagash Mohamed Idris

32. Mohamed Said 21, Marti Abomsa/Arsi

33. Mohamed Gazali Sh. Aman

34. Arabu Hussen Abdurahman

35.Nura Abdurahman Sheka

36. Muhaddin Kamal Aman

37 Mohamed Amade Ulume

38. Umar Mahamud Umare

39. Aliyyi Mohamed Aliyyi 20, Wallo

40. Xahir Hussen Abdilkariim25, Bale

41. Ahmed Mahamud Kalil, Wallo

42. Hassan Umar Duqaa 20, Wallo,

43. Qasim Kadir 22, Lole/Arsi

44. Abdiltif Shubbe Mohamed 42 Bale

45. Redwan Kadir23, Jaju/Arsi

46. Daud Kadir Hussen 20, Jaju/Arsi

47. Abdulmajid Abiti Mohamed 22, Jaju/Arsi

48. Husseen Jara Sulte

49. Umar Ahmed Tarafa, Wallo

50. Abama Nyalata Abit

51. Mohamed Dhere

52. Abdallaa Ahmed Malu ,Sambate/Wallo

53. Nagahu Abdi Ali 38 Robe?Arsi

54. Usmael Hasso Sh Aadam, Machitu/Arsi

55. Alamu Bayana

56. Mohamed Bile Ahmed Yusuf

57.Wandwoson Baqalaa

58. Sulayman Ma’alim Warsame

59. Melaku (hotel owner); and the names of more than 40 victims who were in critical condition were not included

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