Ethiopian Prosecutors Charge Oromo Opposition Leaders under Anti-Terrorism Proclamation

OFC-ISG Press Release No. 4  |   April 27, 2016

IMG_0276On April 22, 2016, federal Ethiopian prosecutors charged 22 individuals, including Mr. Bekele Gerba, First Secretary-General of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) with violations of various articles of Ethiopia’s notorious Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). The charges include – but are not limited to – alleged communication with the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), public incitement, encouraging violence, and causing the deaths of innocent civilians, as well as property destruction in cities such as Ambo and Adama during the recent protests in Oromia, Ethiopia.  All prisoners were previously transferred from Makalawi to Qilinxu jail without any notice to their families or lawyers.

“When they arrived at Qilinxu prison, they were offered to take pills by prison administration which all the 22 prisoners refused,’’ according to Bekele Gerba’s daughter Bontu in an interview she gave to Oromia Media Network on April 23, 2016. ‘’Then the prison polices took 4 of the prisoners – Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Addisu Bulala and Gurmessa Ayana – to a dark rooms and they are no more with the 18 others,’’ she added. ‘’We, family members, were no more able to visit them this weekend,’’ said Aynalem Debelo, the wife of the Deputy Secretary of OFC, Dejene Tafa. ‘’When we request their whereabouts and demand to visit them, the police has no answer.  They told us to communicate the prison administrators who are not willing to talk to us,’’ they told Oromia Media Network.

Even when they were in Makelawi, prison conditions were harsh and dangerous. Bekele explained this in his own words in the court the following way:

“መታሰር ምንም ማለት አይደለም። አስሮ ሰብዓዊ መብትን መጣስ ግን የትም ሃገር የሌለ ነው። እንደ ኢትዬጵያ መንግስት ጨካኝ የለም።4 በ 5 በሆነች ቤት የምንኖረው 23 እስረኞች ሆነን ነው። እዛችው ቤት ውስጥ ለሽንት የምንጠቀምበት ባልዲ እና የሁላችንም ልብስይቀመጣል። ይህን ተቃውመን የረሃብ አድማ ብናደርግ ‘ከፈለጋችሁ መሞት ትችላላችሁ’ ነው የተባልነው። እኛም ለመሞት ዝግጁ ነን።”

በቀለ ገርባ, 18/03/16

“Imprisonment is not a big deal. Violating prisoners’ human rights is rare in the world. No one is cruel like the Ethiopian government. We share 4 meter x 5 meter with 23 prisoners. We put our clothes and a bucket for emergency in the same room. When we protested this by hunger strike, they told us, “You can die if you want to”. We too are ready to die”.

– Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairperson of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), March 18, 2016 at his third remand hearing.

Mr. Gerba appealed to the court about the inhumane and degrading conditions in the prison cell, but to no avail. During his fourth appearance in court, on April 15, 2016, he showed his lawyer the rashes on his body resulting from insect bites, mainly bedbugs and fleas. Such detention conditions violate Article 18(1) of the Ethiopian Constitution, which reads: “Everyone has the right to protection against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Mr. Gerba and others committed no crime, neither were they informed about all the charges against them. Above all, Mr. Gerba believes that only a peaceful and nonviolent struggle can guarantee real change and build a truly democratic society in Ethiopia. Mr. Gerba rejects violence and has stated as much in several interviews. He believes in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of non-violent political resistance and has translated one of Dr. King’s books into Oromo so as to better spread this message. The EPRDF government’s accusations of terrorism against these Oromo political leaders are baseless.  Rather, these charges are being used to suppress the basic human rights of Oromos and other Ethiopian peoples who are struggling to bring democracy, freedom, and justice to Ethiopia.  Such acts by Ethiopian government violate Articles 29, 30, and 31 of the Ethiopian Constitution, which guarantees the “Right of Thought, Opinion and Expression; The Right of Assembly, Demonstration and Petition and Freedom of Association.”

The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is saddened by the magnitude of charges brought against Mr. Gerba and other political prisoners. We would like our supporters, friends, and the world to know that these charges are false allegations. As stated by the Chairperson of the OFC-ISG, in an interview with Oromo TV, “What worries OFC-ISG most is the fate of that country.  If such acts of absolute repression crush every peaceful movement and produce radicals, it is advantageous neither to Ethiopia, nor to the West. Therefore, we ask the international community to stand by our side and put pressure on the Ethiopian government to unconditionally free all Oromo political prisoners since the government has already taken accountability for the poor governance that ignited the Oromo protests in Oromia.”

The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is a non-profit organization established in 2010 with the mission to bring an end to the brutal oppression, injustice, and inequality with a view to advancing human rights, rule of law, good governance, protection of the environment, and sustainable development in Ethiopia by supporting the struggle of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) through advocacy, education, and financial contributions.

5 Responses to Ethiopian Prosecutors Charge Oromo Opposition Leaders under Anti-Terrorism Proclamation

  1. Sibro April 28, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    Atleast these politicians got due process unlike tens of thousands of Oromo students currently in concentration camps being tortured even sodomized and raped by Agazi Commandos without no chance of seeing a judge.

  2. Dhuga dubata April 29, 2016 at 3:36 am #

    Our thougths and prayers are with them. Their struggles are not just for us(Oromos) but for all the oppressed nationalities in the country. Our struggle continues till we bring freedom and justice for the oppressed. It’s time for the aiding countries to realize we are the answer to bringing peace and stability in East Africa.

  3. Bariisoo April 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

    What the world knew /knows , feard/ fears and worried/ worries about is only those rebellous and destructive personalities.look kim il ung ,Dr Machiar what they are doing infront of their opponents and internatonal community.The world doesnt care about your suffer, pray and tomorrow to recognize;priestly and sheeky way is a long journey to democratization and a block to decolonization.I share their pain;suffer,humilation but not their method of resistance.

  4. hawwinee barii April 29, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    You failed to fight like a man and die like a hero. Cowards die like a rat always.

  5. Serkale April 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

    The quality of the nutrients the prisoners get, makes a huge difference on the results of their performances in defending themselves. The prisoners need qualified nutritionists experts on their legal team .the new scheme of food manipulation came out this week. after Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa police department gave out a nationwide warning on suspected poison dealers pausing as foodstuff suppliers. .Police arrests 15 for mixing Teff flour with sawdust in Capital on April 28, .2016 in Akaki Woreda , Addis Ababa , Ethiopia . 15 were arrested by police suspected of mixing Teff flour with earth, sawdust and other cereals’ waste products and baked Injera using unpurified flour. A microenterprise known as Belayneh Kinde and His Friends S.C. was associated with the crime.
    Imagine what the prisoners are being fed while the public even in diaspora get exported sawdust mixed with teff.

    We hear some business people owning supermarkets and restaurants in diasporas claiming they bring baked injera from Ethiopia. Many other diaspora restaurants , stores and home made gourmet bakers say they bring the teff from Ethiopia and bake the Injera in diaspora themselves. If people sell sawdust mixed with teff for consumers in Ethiopia eventhough the consumer can physically inspect the teff as they purchase it, imagine what they could be selling to export TO North America injera warehouses like http://WWW.ETHIOPIANGOURMET.COM . Exporters in Ethiopia are accused of Capital Flight stealing 3 billion dollars out of Ethiopia each year IN COLLABORATION WITH THEIR DIASPORA/FOREIGN PARTNERS so how can we thrust these export business people not to export sawdust or any other harmful chemicals mixed with teff especially when it comes all ready to eat from Ethiopia ? We recently heard on many news medias that numerous Ethiopia meat exporters are in jail in Dubai, U.A.E. after trying to sell spoiled meat.I urge Ethiopian diasporas in the U.K., Canada, and in U.S.A. states to start buying injera and teff from wholefoods Supemrarket. Wholefoods has been selling quality healthy injera since OCTOBER 2013 without getting as much consumers as expected for almost the last 3 years, right now most stores are thinking to stop selling injera because there is very little or no sales of injera/teff. 3 years is review time if injera is a waste or do people really buy it at wholefoods per mamagement.. Wholefoods is inspected by Federal Foods Adminstration Authority of the USA , UK and Canada while most that diasporas eat are not inspected even by the once that serve the injera in their restaurants. We should buy wholefoods before the management decides to stop selling it in their supermarket leaving us no choice but to eat sawdust in diaspora .Let us make this FASIKA/Ethiopian easter Wholefoods injera eating so the store keeps selling injera.

    http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/content/exporters-ethiopian-facing-delayed-meat-export

    http://addisfortune.net/articles/slow-rescue-mission-for-meat-export-detainees/

    https://plus.google.com/+MikeElgan/posts/Ao9nKvUYEe9

    reports that $26 billion left country in 10 years
    http://aa.com.tr/en/economy/ethiopia-feeling-pinch-of-illicit-financial-outflows/522507

    http://www.diretube.com/shocking-fifteen-arrested-over-mixing-teff-flour-with-saw-dust-and-bake-injera-to-sell_38027af50.html

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