Monday, October 27, 2008

Save Mesfin Itana!

Save Mesfin Itana! Oromo Nationalist and Prisoner Mesfin Itana In Danger of Losing His Life

(OLF News)

Mr. Mesfin Itana was arrested from his home 6 years ago accused of having link to the bombing of Tigrai Hotel in Finfinnee (Addis Ababa). Since then he is reported to have been brutally tortured and beaten on a regular basis in the notorious Kalitti prison, as a result of which he now incurred a fatal illness and he is currently on the verge of death. Caused by infections due to the constant torture and a severe malnourishment in a prolonged detention of over six years, it is reported that Mr Mesfin Itana is subjected to two surgeries of his reproductive organ in just one month. The Wayyaanee "health professionals" later claimed to have made mistakes in the first two surgeries and reportedly tried to make a third one. Feared for his life, Mr Mesfin Itana refused the third surgery of his reproductive organ, and is now in a critical condition.
It is to be noted that one of the torturing methods of the current regime is to hang a bottle of water on the men´s reproductive organ (testicle) and leaving there for a long time causing a severe pain. The idea is to force the victims of the torture "confess the crime" they claim the prisoners have committed and have the victims solicit the names of other Oromo individuals who they think may have participated in the said crime. However, more often, when victims are unable to stand the brutal torture, they simply tell the names of their friends and relatives to get a temporary relief from the severe pain. One such incident is, when an Oromo farmer was asked what kind of weapons he hid in his area, he listed to the TPLF agents all kinds of weapons he knew. But the TPLF cadres are never satisfied, and they continued asking the farmer "what else"? Then the farmer responded that he buried a tank in his backyard. Such is the result of blind brutal torture.

Meanwhile, the beating and torture of Mr Mesfin Itana continued even when he is severely ill, inflicting a deadly wound on his forehead, and he is forced to have three other surgeries on his head just recently. Consequently, Mr Mesfin Itana is on the verge of losing his life in prison, just as so many Oromo prisoners died in Kalitti detention center and many other jails in Oromia and elsewhere in the Empire.

It is to be recalled that several Oromo prisoners such as Mesfin Mosisa, Wako Tola, university students Alemayehu Gerba, Gadisa Hirphasa, Morkata Iddosa, and many other Oromo prisoners lost their lives in detention centers in exactly the same situation as a result of an unbearable beating and torture. Our reporters from Finfinnee alarmed that Mr Mesfin Itana will very likely lose his life soon in the hands of TPLF/Wayyaanee forces.

All Oromo nationals living in Oromia and abroad have been urged to appeal to humanitarian, governmental and non-governmental organizations to save the life of Mr Mesfin Itana and thousands of other Oromo prisoners suffering in several detention centers under Meles Zenawi regime.

For most humans the worst thing they fear is death. But for many Oromo nationals the worst thing they fear, even more than death, is falling in the hands of TPLF beasts who do not have the slightest sympathy not only for any Oromo individual´s life but also for their suffering. Mr Mesfin Itana and many Oromo nationalists who fell in the hands of TPLF forces are simply peaceful civilians who have had unlucky day of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

OLF News (October 23, 2008)

Additional Info to save Mr. Masfin Itana

Mesfin Itana was a young businessman when detained in Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) in 2002 in connection to the bomb blast at Tigray Hotel. The bomb blast was exactly a year later on the same date after the Septembeer 11 bomb blast at New York city trade centre. The blast was delebretely organised on this date by TPLF security engineers in order to blame the OLF as if it was behind the attack and to link this activity with international terrorism. Here I wanted to say that the bomb blast was a sole action taken by the TPLF as a precondition to harass Oromo nationalists and to defame the OLF as a terrorist organisation. Mr.Itana and his other co-detainees are the victims of this TPLF security agents constillation.

Mr. Itana is in detantion under very hard conditions and torture since then, 2002. He spent months in the notorious torture centre maikelawi where he was subjected to cruel and inhuman treatments and was forced to confess the crimes he didin`t actully commited. One can read from the face of Mr. Itana when he was presented on TPLF TV. Sources very close to Mr. Itana asked him in prison about his confession. Mr. Itana replied “ it was for the time being a relief for me to lie and get breath in between those cruel treatments commited at me. What I was saying on Tv was what I was told by TPLF security agents to say. “ he said.

Mr. Itana also exposed “ it is totally unbelievable how human beings treat other human beings and dehumanise in such a way “ to explain the cruelity of TPLF investigators in Maikelawi.

During the arrest the residence of Mr. Itana was stormed by TPLF security agents and his house was searched and everything he had were confisicated including cash money and gold. Accordingly, 30.000 Eth Birr which he took as a loan from the Ethiopian Development Bank for which he had a Bank statement to run his business and 120 gm gold were taken as exhibits as if they were OLF belongings.

After months of detantion and cruel treatments in maikelawi he was transferred to Kaliti prison where he is still treated differently from other prisoners.Mental and physical torture are still commited to him even in Kaliti. As a result he is subjected to different diseases, including epilepsy for which he is taking treatments at a daily bases . On top of this he was subjected to three surgical operations in one month. The first operation on his urogenital organs was considered wrong operation after it was completed and admitted him again for the same operation. After he was operated for the second time on the same organ he was again told that the 2nd operation is also wrong. He was again told to be operated on the same organ for the third time while the first two operations were wrong. Then he realised that the operation was a systematic killing than saving him and rejected the third operation.

Since then he was kept in a dark room with metallic bars on his hands. Putting metallic bars on the hands of a sick person and keeping him in a dark room is very brutal. He is denied acces to friends and families. Recently in this month , October he had another surgical operation on his head. He is now sick and under fear. Mr. Itana is counting six years in prison under such conditions. He is so far not tried. I fear that Mr. Itana is going to sucrifice his life in the TPLFs dirty prison in such a way unless we we make a campain to save his life.

Monday, October 20, 2008

OMRHO Press Release: No Place for Oromos to Flee Persecution

No place for Oromos to flee persecution

Oromo Human Right and Relief Organisation received yesterday very alarming news that Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mahamud was arrested by Somaliland Authorities on October 15, 2008 and handed over to Ethiopian Security. Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamud is an elderly Oromo who fled persecution by the Ethiopian security years a go. His crime was nothing but only his political opinion like thousands of Oromo refugees. At the time of his abduction, Mr. Mahamud was under UNHCR mandate as a legal political refugee in Somaliland. Now Mr. Mahamud is back in to the hands of his persecutors to face physical torture, imprisonment or even death.

It is well known that the Somaliland authorities have progressively become helplessly a stooge of the Ethiopian government since the latter’s military incursion in to the southern Somalia. This fact has had a tremendous repercussion on the lives of thousands of Oromo refugees in Somaliland. The Oromo Human Right and Relief Organisation (OMRHO e.V.) has no doubt that Mr. Mahamud’s tragic fate would soon be the fate of many other Oromo refugees.

It appeals therefore to all international human right organisations to rescue the life of Mr. Mahamud and to follow up the adversary actions of the Somaliland authorities against Oromo refugees in general.

OMRHO e.v.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ethiopia’s Largest Ethnicity Group Deprived of Linguistic and Cultural Sensitive Media Outlets

Newsletter n°29


Ethiopia’s Largest Ethnicity Group Deprived of Linguistic and Cultural Sensitive Media Outlets

The Oromos are the largest single ethnic group in Ethiopia, comprising approximately 40 percent of the country’s 77 million people. Yet, they are severely sidelined in the country’s politics and media representation - by means of cultural and linguistic differences - is gravely imbalanced in the fractured country.

Ethnic tension has been part of Ethiopian reality for over one hundred years, however, pressure and harassment from the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party on the Oromos has exacerbated since Prime Minister Meles Zenawi took office in 1991.

“The current Ethiopian state can only be compared to apartheid South Africa, where similar unjust practices happened,” said a refugee Oromo journalist abroad, who wanted to remain anonymous, to RAP 21.

“As opposed to South Africa [today], our country does not have any respect for the linguistic and cultural diversity of the people. The ruling languages (Amharic and Tigre), which really are minority languages, are imposed on almost 80 percent of the country’s population, including Oromos,” he claimed. The implications on the media, he said, are “Vast and intimidating.”

The journalist spoke of the government as “a debilitating cancer for the Oromo media,” as evidenced with the closure of Wanchif and Seifa Nebelbal Urji newspapers, Tomar magazine and Oromo Television [among a number of other smaller and uncountable publications and broadcasts]. The employees of such media outlets have been forced into exile or have been put behind bars. “There are more Oromo journalists in the Diaspora than there are at home because of the exodus,” he said.

In recent years, the fall of Oromo media houses has especially followed major humanitarian crises including famine, wars and prior to and after major and national and local elections that had confirmed the EPRDF’s power.

“It is hard to keep track of these numbers. It became a big problem to the extent that some media watch groups have been overwhelmed with cases of journalists from Ethiopia and declined to assist them. There is a growing fatigue and passivity both on the part of Oromo/Ethiopian journalists and on the part of the international community. It is a nerve-racking issue to deal with,” he said. Furthermore, many of the attacks are enigmatic - the government tries to conceal them and media professionals who fear exposure will endanger their lives and people close to them remain in silence.

“Often, newspaper owners like the Jimma Times, for example, are accused of being sympathizers of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) even when they are not and clearly deny any involvement with rebels or opposition. That becomes a very common excuse that is cited before a media house is shut down or before a journalist is arrested or killed. That is besides the financial challenges that are overwhelming to the independent press,” he continued.

Currently, Qubee Afaan (the most widely spoken language in the country) Yeroo newspaper, which is owned by the Jimma Times, is grappling with the seemingly innate consequences of serving the Oromo audience. Printing barely into its second month, the management of the paper reported that the network agencies, which deal with newspaper distribution, have had little trust in the paper. “[A newspaper] in Afaan Oromo was a big turn off for many agencies whose workers either don’t understand the language or saw it as too risky, since it has OLF connotations,” said staff at the Jimma Times.

In a bold attempt to overcome these judgements, the paper tried to set up its own distribution network. However, financial constraints compounded with police intimidation and harassment of street vendors in rural parts of the Oromia region has stalled this effort.

A pending press law is also augmenting problems for the narrowly surviving Oromo media. According to the Jimma Times, newspaper editors are wary of what new hurdles the law will pose amid already high newspaper production costs and longstanding discrimination.

Already, the ministry has apparently placed all new newspaper licence applications on hold until the official promulgation of the law, which is unknown at this time. Meanwhile, Yeroo has asked the ministry to amend its registration and change the names of its assistant editors. However, the ministry standstill extends to the existing press.

“Whether it is a country or a small organisation, the fact that an entity will pass a new law in the future should not mean that it becomes lawless temporarily, so it should operate in the transition period,” said a statement on behalf of the paper.

Alongside the waning Oromo print sector the broadcast media is also suffering. On 12 September, the only Afaan Oromo television programme broadcast through ETV, was arbitrarily taken off the air, leaving approximately 60 journalists unemployed and reportedly placed under government surveillance and 40 million people without a television programme they can understand. The programme was launched in 1991 following the demise of the Communist Derg regime as a step towards democracy.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) reported that the programme was closed under a new practice called “localizing” television programmes. The HRLHA has interpreted this trend as discriminatory and political in that the similar Tigriga programme has been spared. A program called STVO, which is a product of the OPDO (a wing of the ruling coalition), has replaced the program.

As the Oromo media continues to disappear, the journalist told RAP 21, “What remains in the market as “Ethiopian media” are Amharigna and Tigrigna language newspapers, which are allowed to operate freely and also receive a huge preferential treatment to grow, to be mass-produced and distributed. Broadly speaking, the political oppression and segregation against the Oromo people undoubtedly form part of the media crackdown in Ethiopia.”

Source: African Network for the 21st Century (rap21)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Take Action Against Human Rights Violation in Ethipia! Support this Bill by writing or calling your Senator in USA


Against Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia

SENATOR FEINGOLD of Wisconsin has introduced:

Senate Bill #3457 (Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia Act of 2008)

This bill focuses on human rights violations in Ethiopia. It urges the government to form a multiparty system, release political prisoners, and allow freedom of the press.

YOU CAN DO SOMETHING!! Support this bill by writing or calling your senators and representatives.

Contact the Following People:

Minnesota Senator

Minnesota Senator

Senator Norm Coleman

2550 University Ave. W., Suite 100N

St. Paul, MN 55114

651 645-0323

Toll free: 800- 642-6041

Senator Amy Klobuchar

1 Federal Drive

Whipple Federal Building, Suite 298

Fort Snelling, MN 55111

612 727-5220

Committee on Foreign Relations

Committee on Foreign Relations

Senator Joe Biden

210 Russell Senate Building

Washington DC 20510

202 224-5042

Senator Richard Lugar

306 Hart Senate Bldg.

Washington DC 20510-1401

202 224-4814

OMRHO Press Release on Oromo Refugeen in Kenya

OMRHO Press Release 29 Sept 2008

(from information received 25 September)

Press release on Oromo refugees in Kenya

It is very well known that Oromos are the most persecuted people in Ethiopia under the EPRDF regime. The underlining reason for this fact is just the demographic strength of the Oromos, who constitute about 40% of the entire Ethiopian population in contrast to the tiny minority of the Tigrean ethnic group which only amounts about 7%. EPRDF’s rule is best characterized by its ethno-centric ideology of using brute force in subduing all the rest of Ethiopian peoples with the aim of establishing Tigrean hegemony.

What makes the plight and suffering of the Oromos even more unique, is the fact that their lives is not safer in foreign countries like in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and the Sudan than in their home country from which they flee for survival. There has been enough documentation on EPRDF’s trans-boarder persecution, abduction and killings of the Oromos in these countries for a number of times in the past.

Very recently, the Ethiopian security agents started another cycle of hunting Oromo refugees in Kenya. According to the first hand information OMRHO received, the following individuals have been abducted by the Ethiopian security agents from Gidorahi section of Nairobi and their whereabouts remain unknown:

1. Mr. Seifu Magarsa

2. Mr. Mika’el Gabre Bayyisa

3. A pilot who recently fled to Kenya, whose name was not specified.

OMRHO received further information that another two persons are under the surveillance of the Ethiopian security agent for further abduction. These are:

Girma Ittafa and his friend, whose name is not yet specified.

OMRHO pleads all concerned human right organizations and democratic forces to trace and rescue the lives of the mentioned persons.

30 September 2008

In Ethiopia violations of human rights has continued unabated. This is truer particularly as far as the Oromia region is concerned, as new spiral of mass harassment, detentions, torture and systematic uprooting of the Oromo people is taking place in the region. The recently well concerted massacre of the Oromos in Western Oromia by the militia from Gumuz ethnic is a case in point, which left about 400 civilian people dead, 40 injured and about 12000 displaced.

Since then the Federal Police Force was stationed in the region with the pretext of maintaining order and security. But instead of safeguarding the lives of the victims, the federal police started to engage it self in harassing, abducting and torturing the Oromo victims themselves. OMRHO e.V. recently received an authentic report from Eastern Wollaga, Sassiga district, Anger Haro Wata, Oda Guddina and Mada Jala qabelles that the following individuals are only some of the Oromos who are abducted, jailed and tortured by Ethiopian federal police:

1. Ittafa Dheressa

2. Temesgen Birratu

3. Hambisa Badhasa

4. Bogale Ofga'a

5. Iddosa Waqgari

6. Gamme Nagari

7. Bantihun Shure

8. Caalaa

9. Xilahun

10.Barka Dereje

11.Sintayehu Basha

12.Gutama Biranu

13.Beqele Zewude

14.Dula Gammada

15.Sintayehu Aragawu

16.Hambisa Beqele

17.Dhibbirra Badhasa


19.Badhasa siyyum

20.Mulugeta Siyyum

21.Temesgen Hambisa

22.Mitiku Abdissa

23.Tsegaye Oli'ana

24.Seifu Awwal

25.Desaleny Mallasa

26.Hirpha Tujuba

27.Waqjira Xafa

28.Dingata Beyene

29.Zelalem Beyene

30. Faris

According to the information OMRHO e.V. received, all the mentioned individuals were picked up by the federal police in the mid night from their home under extremely frightening and terrorising atmosphere for their families. No legal explanations or judicial order were given for their imprisonment. Our source further confirms that all the jailed individuals have been severely tortured by the federal police to the extent that some of them developed Haematuria (urinating blood).

As a result of this overall condition, many Oromos continue fleeing their home. The OMRHO e.V. urges all human right advocating agencies, organizations and governments to use all their influential powers to stop the Ethiopian government from such gross human right violations.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ethiopia/Kenya: Account for Missing Rendition Victims

Ethiopia/Kenya: Account for Missing Rendition Victims

Secret Detainees Interrogated by US Officials Are Still in Custody

(Washington, DC, October 1, 2008) – At least 10 victims of the 2007 Horn of Africa rendition program still languish in Ethiopian jails and the whereabouts of several others is unknown, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Several of the detained men were interrogated by US officials in Addis Ababa soon after they were secretly transferred from Kenya to Somalia, and then to Ethiopia in early 2007.


The 54-page report, “‘Why Am I Still Here?’: The Horn of Africa Renditions and the Fate of the Missing,” examines the 2007 rendition operation, during which at least 90 men, women, and children fleeing the armed conflict in Somalia were unlawfully rendered from Kenya to Somalia, and then on to Ethiopia. The report documents the treatment of several men still in Ethiopian custody, as well as the previously unreported experiences of recently released detainees, several of whom described being brutally tortured.

“The dozens of people caught up in the secret Horn of Africa renditions in 2007 have suffered in silence too long,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Those governments involved – Ethiopia, Kenya and the US – need to reverse course, renounce unlawful renditions, and account for the missing.”

In late 2006, the Bush administration backed an Ethiopian military offensive that ousted the Islamist authorities from the Somali capital Mogadishu. The fighting caused thousands to flee across the border into Kenya, including some who were suspected of terrorist links.

Kenyan authorities arrested at least 150 men, women, and children from more than 18 countries – including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada – in operations near the Somali border and held them for weeks without charge in Nairobi. In January and February 2007, the Kenyan government then rendered dozens of them – with no notice to families, lawyers or the detainees themselves – on flights to Somalia, where they were handed over to the Ethiopian military. Ethiopian forces also arrested an unknown number of people in Somalia.

Those rendered were later transported to detention centers in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and other Ethiopian towns, where they effectively disappeared. Denied access to their embassies, their families, and international humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the detainees were even denied phone calls home. Several have said that they were housed in solitary cells, some as small as two meters by two meters, with their hands cuffed in painful positions behind their backs and their feet bound together.

A number of prisoners were questioned by US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Addis Ababa. From February to May 2007, Ethiopian security officers daily transported detainees – including several pregnant women – to a villa where US officials interrogated them about suspected terrorist links. At night, the Ethiopian officers returned the detainees to their cells.

“The United States says that they were investigating past and current threats of terrorism,” Daskal said. “But the repeated interrogation of rendition victims who were being held incommunicado makes Washington complicit in the abuse.”

For the most part, detainees were sent home soon after their interrogation by US agents ended. Of those known to have been interrogated by US officials, just eight Kenyans remain. (A ninth Kenyan in Addis Ababa was rendered to Ethiopia in July/August 2007, after US interrogations reportedly stopped.) These men, who have not been subjected to any interrogation since May 2007, would likely have been repatriated long ago but for the Kenyan government’s longstanding refusal to acknowledge their claims to Kenyan citizenship or to take steps to secure their release.

Human Rights Watch recently spoke by telephone to several of the Kenyans in detention in Ethiopia, many of whom complained of physical ailments and begged for someone to help get them home. Although Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga made a campaign pledge to help repatriate these detainees, little progress has been made to date. In mid-August 2008, Kenyan authorities visited these men for the first time. The officials reportedly told the detainees they would be home within a few weeks, but more than a month and a half has now passed.

“The previous Kenyan government deported its own citizens and then left them to rot in Ethiopian jails,” Daskal said. “The new Kenyan government should reverse course, bring these men home, and show that it is not following the same shameful path as the old.”

The Ethiopian government also used the rendition program for its own purposes. For years, the Ethiopian military has been trying to quell domestic Ogadeni and Oromo insurgencies that receive support from neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia’s archrival, Eritrea. The Ethiopian intervention in Somalia and the multinational rendition program provided them a convenient means to gain custody over people whom they could interrogate for suspected insurgent links. Once these individuals were in detention, Ethiopian military interrogators and guards reportedly subjected them to brutal beatings and torture.

Detainees said Ethiopian interrogators pulled out their toenails, held loaded guns to their heads, crushed their genitals, and forced them to crawl on their elbows and knees through gravel. Several reported being beaten to the point of unconsciousness.

The Human Rights Watch report calls upon the Ethiopian government to immediately release the rendition victims still in its custody or prosecute them in a court that meets basic fair trial standards. It also urges the Kenyan government to take immediate steps to secure the repatriation of Kenyan nationals still in Ethiopian custody, and the US government to withhold counterterrorism assistance from both governments until they provide a full accounting of all the missing detainees.