News: OLF,OFC urge gov’t to take report by Amnesty seriously; heed recommendations to reverse troubling human rights abuse record

In a report released today, Amnesty International said “Ethiopian security forces committed horrendous human rights violations including burning homes to the ground, extrajudicial executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sometimes of entire families, in response to attacks by armed groups and inter-communal violence in Amhara and Oromia.”
Graphic design: Amnesty International

Addis Abeba, May 29/2020 – In a joint statement released by opposition parties Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) on Amnesty International’s Report, the parties urged “the federal and regional authorities to take the report by Amnesty International seriously, heed the recommendations put forth and promptly reverse the government’s deeply troubling record on rights and liberty.”

“In a new report, Beyond law enforcement: human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara and Oromia, Amnesty International documents how security forces committed grave violations between December 2018 and December 2019 despite reforms which led to the release of thousands of detainees, expansion of the civic and political space and repeal of draconian laws, such as the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which were previously used to repress human rights,” Amnesty International.

Below is the full text of the joint statement sent to Addis Standard.

In its first comprehensive report since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government came into office, Amnesty International has presented a detailed account of the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Ethiopian security forces against dissidents and perceived political opponents particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions. The report titled “Ethiopia: Beyond Law Enforcement” and released on May 29, 2020, has precisely exposed the wanton destruction of property, rampant extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of members of the opposition, mass detentions and forced political indoctrinations, and the application of torture and gender-based violence by state actors as a means of stamping out dissent in the last two years.  The report is a further proof that the new administration has not parted ways with the practice of forcefully stifling dissent, committing egregious human rights violations and carrying out extrajudicial killings common under its predecessor-the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front- despite taking over in April 2018 off the back of a much touted promise to reform itself.

Although the report provides a very good and consolidated highlight of the continued human rights violations under the current regime, it doesn’t come close to disclosing the full extent of the horrendous abuses and gruesome atrocities committed by the security forces. The report covers mostly the period up to the end of 2019. However, the situation in Oromia region specifically has gotten progressively worse this year (2020), with a substantial rise in mass incarcerations, extrajudicial killings and destructions of property in provinces that were not previously affected. The Amnesty Report highlights abuses carried out by the federal army. Nevertheless, the regime has also been using newly trained regional militia forces named ‘Liyu Police’ (Special Police) which have unleashed a reign of terror in parts of Oromia. As we speak, these forces are carrying out gross human rights violations against political prisoners and perceived political adversaries, with some being held without due process, the whereabouts of many is still not known after their abduction and on several instances relatives are finding the human remains of some of the abductees in the bushes. Reports of systematic disappearances and gruesome killings at the hands of security forces is a daily occurrence, not only in western and Southern provinces  but also in Central and Eastern Oromia. Far worse, in what appears to be to terrorize others, killing and leaving dead bodies of the victims on the streets or throwing away to the bush where they were being eaten by hyenas  have become a disturbing reality.  We condemn with the strongest terms these wanton killings and terrorizing of citizens, and we appreciate Amnesty International  for investigating and exposing  them.

Amnesty International’s reports warn that such violations and abuses could exacerbate out of control as the election nears and advises the government to take corrective measures. Indeed, as we were the election and before it was postponed due to Covid-19, crackdown on the population, restriction of movement and assembly by opposition was worsening. Although the election has been postponed, restriction of movement of the opposition, incarceration of our  leaders and members has continued unabated. 

Therefore, we 

  • Urge the federal and regional authorities to take the report by Amnesty International seriously, heed the recommendations put forth by it and promptly reverse the government’s deeply troubling record on rights and liberty of citizens;
  • Would like to remind the government that continuing along this dangerous path of wanton disregard for human life and dignity and rampant violation of rights will have far reaching consequences for the country and its people;
  • Challenge the Ethiopian government to stop denying the blatant violations of human rights in broad daylight and create an independent Inquiry Commission to absolve itself;
  • Demand the Ethiopian government to immediately release all political prisoners held at federal and local detention centers. 
  • Call upon local and international human rights organizations to conduct further investigations and expose the worsening situation across the country, particularly in recent months;
  • Call upon the United Nations Human Rights Commission to review the ongoing human rights violations in Ethiopia.
  • Call upon the international community to hold Ethiopian authorities to account for clearly reneging on their promise to help the country’s transition towards a peaceful and democratic order, and for choosing to chart an authoritarian path in keeping with the tradition of previous regimes.  

Finally, we would like to remind all stakeholders that human rights violations, the use of extrajudicial killings, torture and intimidation is what got Ethiopia into the current multifaceted socio-economic and political crisis. We believe continuing with such abuse will only deepen the crisis, fracturing the society, paralyzing the economy and paving the way for potential disintegration of the country itself. Therefore, we urge the government to refrain from repeating mistakes by past regimes and ask internal development partners to exert maximum pressure to ensure the transition towards a democratic state so as to put it back on track before it’s too late. 

Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)

Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)

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