Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Title World Report 2009 - Ethiopia
Publisher Human Rights Watch
Country Ethiopia
Publication Date 14 January 2009
Cite as Human Rights Watch, World Report 2009 - Ethiopia, 14 January 2009. Online. UNHCR Refworld, available at: [accessed 30 April 2009]

World Report 2009 - Ethiopia

Events of 2008

The Ethiopian government's human rights record remains poor, marked by an ever-hardening intolerance towards meaningful political dissent or independent criticism. Ethiopian military forces have continued to commit war crimes and other serious abuses with impunity in the course of counterinsurgency campaigns in Ethiopia's eastern Somali Region and in neighboring Somalia.

Local-level elections in April 2008 provided a stark illustration of the extent to which the government has successfully crippled organized opposition of any kind the ruling party and its affiliates won more than 99 percent of all constituencies, and the vast majority of seats were uncontested. In 2008 the government launched a direct assault on civil society by introducing legislation that would criminalize most independent human rights work and subject NGOs to pervasive interference and control.

Political Repression

The limited opening of political space that preceded Ethiopia's 2005 elections has been entirely reversed. Government opponents and ordinary citizens alike face repression that discourages and punishes free expression and political activity. Ethiopian government officials regularly subject government critics or perceived opponents to harassment, arrest, and even torture, often reflexively accusing them of membership in "anti-peace" or "anti-people" organizations. Farmers who criticize local leaders face threats of losing vital agricultural inputs such as fertilizer or the selective enforcement of debts owed to the state. The net result is that in most of Ethiopia, and especially in the rural areas where the overwhelming majority of the population lives, there is no organized opposition to the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The local-level elections in April 2008 were for kebele and wereda administrations, which provide essential government services and humanitarian assistance, and are often the institutions used to directly implement repressive government policies. In the vast majority of constituencies there were no opposition candidates at all, and candidates aligned with the EPRDF won more than 99 percent of all available seats.

Where opposition candidates did contest they faced abuse and improper procedural obstacles to registration. Candidates in Ethiopia's Oromia region were detained, threatened with violence by local officials, and accused of affiliation to the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Oromia, Ethiopia's most populous region, has long suffered from heavy-handed government repression, with students, activists, or critics of rural administrations regularly accused of being OLF operatives. Such allegations often lead to arbitrary imprisonment and torture.

War Crimes and Other Abuses by Ethiopian Military Forces

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) personnel stationed in Mogadishu continued in 2008 to use mortars, artillery, and "Katyusha" rockets indiscriminately in response to insurgent attacks, devastating entire neighborhoods of the city. Insurgent attacks often originate in populated areas, prompting Ethiopian bombardment of civilian homes and public spaces, sometimes wiping out entire families. Many of these attacks constitute war crimes. In July ENDF forces bombarded part of the strategic town of Beletweyne after coming under attack by insurgent forces based there, displacing as many as 75,000 people.

2008 was also marked by the proliferation of other violations of the laws of war by ENDF personnel in Somalia. Until late 2007, Ethiopian forces were reportedly reasonably disciplined and restrained in their day-to-day interactions with Somali civilians in Mogadishu. However, throughout 2008 ENDF forces in Mogadishu participated in widespread acts of murder, rape, assault, and looting targeting ordinary residents of the city, often alongside forces allied to the Somali Transitional Federal Government. In an April raid on a Mogadishu mosque ENDF soldiers reportedly killed 21 people; seven of the dead had their throats cut.

ENDF forces have also increasingly fired indiscriminately on crowds of civilians when they come under attack. In August ENDF soldiers were hit by a roadside bomb near the town of Afgooye and responded by firing wildly; in the resulting bloodbath as many as 60 civilians were shot and killed, including the passengers of two crowded minibuses.

In Ethiopia itself, the ENDF continues to wage a counterinsurgency campaign against the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in the country's restive Somali region. The scale and intensity of military operations seems to have declined from a peak in mid-2007, but arbitrary detentions, torture, and other abuses continue. Credible reports indicate that vital food aid to the drought-affected region has been diverted and misused as a weapon to starve out rebel-held areas. The military continues to severely restrict access to conflict-affected regions and the Ethiopian government has not reversed its decision to evict the International Committee of the Red Cross from the region in July 2007.

The Ethiopian government denies all allegations of abuses by its military and refuses to facilitate independent investigations. There have been no serious efforts to investigate or ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Somali Region and in neighboring Somalia in 2007 and 2008. Nor have ENDF officers or civilian officials been held accountable for crimes against humanity that ENDF forces carried out against ethnic Anuak communities during a counterinsurgency campaign in Gambella region in late 2003 and 2004.

Regional Renditions

In early 2007 at least 90 men, women, and children from 18 different countries fleeing conflict in Somalia were arrested in Kenya and subsequently deported to Somalia and then Ethiopia, where many were interrogated by US intelligence agents. An unknown number of people arrested by Ethiopian forces in Somalia were also directly transferred to Ethiopia. Many of the victims of these "regional renditions" were released in mid-2007 and early 2008, but at least two men, including a Kenyan and a Canadian national, remain in Ethiopian detention almost two years after their deportation from Kenya. The whereabouts and fate of at least 22 others rendered to Ethiopia, including Eritreans, Somalis, and Ethiopian Ogadeni and Oromo, is unknown.

Civil Society and Free Expression

The environment for civil society continues to deteriorate. In 2008 the government announced new legislation the Charities and Societies Proclamation which purports to provide greater oversight and transparency on civil society activities. In fact, the law would undermine the independence of civil society and criminalizes the work of many human rights organizations. At this writing, the law looked set to be introduced to parliament.

Alongside a complex and onerous system of government surveillance and control, the law would place sharp restrictions on the kinds of work permissible to foreign organizations and Ethiopian civil society groups that receive some foreign funding barring such organizations from any kind of work touching on human rights issues. Individuals who fail to comply with the law's Byzantine provisions could face criminal prosecution.

A new media law passed in July promises to reform some of the most repressive aspects of the previous legal framework. Most notably, the law eliminates the practice of pretrial detention for journalists although in August, the prominent editor of the Addis Ababa-based Reporter newspaper was imprisoned without charge for several days in connection with a story printed in the paper. In spite of its positive aspects, the law remains flawed it grants the government significant leeway to restrain free speech, including by summarily impounding publications on grounds of national security or public order. The law also retains criminal penalties including prison terms for journalists found guilty of libel or defamation.

In March 2008 civil society activists Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie were released from more than two years of incarceration, but only after the Ethiopian Federal High Court convicted them of "incitement" related to the 2005 elections.

Key International Actors

The United States and European donor states provide the Ethiopian government with large sums of bilateral assistance, including direct budgetary support from the United Kingdom and military assistance from the US. The US is Ethiopia's largest bilateral donor and has also provided logistical and political support for Ethiopia's protracted intervention in Somalia, and provides bilateral assistance to the Ethiopian military. Donor governments view Ethiopia as an important ally in an unstable region and, in the case of the US, in the "global war on terror."

The US, UK, and other key donors and political allies have consistently refused to publicly criticize widespread abuses or to demand meaningful improvements in Ethiopia's human rights record. The sole exception in 2008 lay in donor government efforts to lobby against the repressive civil society legislation introduced by the government. No major donor made any significant effort to raise serious concerns about or demand a concrete response to war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ethiopia or ENDF atrocities in Somalia.

Ethiopia remains deadlocked over a boundary dispute with Eritrea dating from the two countries' 1998-2000 war. The war in Somalia is another source of tension between the two countries, with Eritrea backing and hosting one faction of the insurgency Ethiopian troops are fighting against in Somalia. Eritrea also plays host to other Ethiopian rebel movements, notably the OLF and ONLF, with the aim of destabilizing the Ethiopian government.

China's importance as a trading partner to Ethiopia grows year by year. According to official figures Chinese investment in Ethiopia totals more than US$350 million annually, up from just $10 million in 2003.

Ethiopia is due to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council in December 2009.

Source: UNHCR Website

Monday, April 27, 2009


Oromo call for Justice in Ethiopia and the Bringing To Account of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Brussels, 27 April 2009 – Democracy, justice and pluralism remained illusory in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Government, led by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) continues to intimidate opposition parties and civil society whilst muzzling a mass media that as a result is neither free nor fair. Heavy-handed state responses to legitimate protests have left scores dead and many more injured – and their families have no recourse to adequate justice.

To bring these abuses to the attention of the European public and decision makers, the Oromos residing in Europe will hold a demonstration on Friday 22 May 2009 beginning at the Schuman station from 10.00am moving to the European Commission (Berlaymont Building), European Parliament (Place Jean Rey), UK Embassy and final stop will be at USA Embassy where activists will stay until 13:00pm.

The demonstration will urge the European Union and advocates of justice around the world to take note of, and act against, the atrocities being committed against the Oromo people and other nationalities of Ethiopia.

Activists will also call on all nations and nationalities in Ethiopia to stand in unity on behalf of the country’s innocent and voiceless peoples whose lives and livelihoods are being constrained by an unrepresentative and minority government.

Note: There will be media opportunities during the demonstration and activists with first-hand experience of the situation in Ethiopia will be available for comment.


10:00am - 10:30am

European Commission

(Berlaymont Building)


10:30am - 13:00pm

European Parliament (Place Jean Rey), UK

Embassy (Rue d’Arlon 85), USA Embassy

(Regentlaan 27)


For media enquiries, contact

Andrew Swan (UNPO Project Coordinator)

+32 (0) 472 577 518 /


Mr. D. Gabissa +32 485597255 /


Union of Oromo Students in Europe

(Tel/Fax: +32 (0)32972427 ; E-mail:

Dambruggestraat 109, 2060 Antwerpen, Belgium)


Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

(P.O. Box 85878, 2508 CN, 2060 Antwerpen, Belgium. The Hague, The Netherlands.

Tel: +31 (0)70 3646504 ; Fax: +31 (0)70 3646608 )

Attachment: Oromo_Demonstration_Press_Release_2009(final)-1.pdf

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Oromo Protest Against TPLF's Prime Minister At G-20 Summit in London (Pictorial Report)

Photo by abbeydesta

The Oromo and the Ogaden protested during the G20 summit in London against the attendance of Ethiopian Genocide Minister Meles Zenawi on Thursday, 2 April 2009. They demanded the G-20 countries to stop financing the brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia. The Oromo and the Ogaden peaceful protesters got large media coverage by all Western media outlets such as the BBC, CNN, ABC, CBC and many other European and Arab medias. (Watch the Video) (News: MOA)

by willbremridge

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Oromo Journalist Nuhamiin Biqila Yadataa exiled to UK

Nuhamiin Biqila Yadataa exiled to UK

Nuhamiin Biqila Yadataa Known VOA journalist exiled to UK after suffering under Ethiopian security forces. Nuhamiin Biqilaa was targeted by Ethiopia Government because of her fact based report which was exposing the dictator government human rights abuses. She had saved so many innocent peoples life in Ethiopia by her active journalist investigations and fast reporting for world community. In return we believe she got today the world community and all countries support.

First I got an opportunity to work with the Ethiopian Television in1999 after working as a reporter for five years; I was fired for starting class in my free time with out getting permission from ETV officials. I had an ambition to upgrade my diploma level education.

The ETV officials can send their workers depending on race and member of the ruling political parties for further education including abroad. But I’m not the member of the ruling party but I’m an Oromo tribe which is in fight for its freedom for more than 35 years!

After three months become jobless, I joined the VOA (voice of America Radio) as a freelance correspondent for Afaan Oromo and Amharic service in October 2005. I got

the chance to join VOA when the East and Horn of Africa director of VOA Mr. Timothy Spence come to Ethiopia, and speak with other journalists to hire more journalists for VOA. And other journalists give my name to Mr. Timothy and he asked me to send my CV, and after looking at my work experience, he interviewed me and ask me to prepare reports on three different issues (political, social and Economical situations of the country) and after that they call me from America and told me how to call the studio peoples and after I do that they gave me Voice exam and finally they assure me that I passed the Exam successfully!

VOA created an opportunity to satisfy my passion.

I had opportunities to cover various human right abuses and conflicts. Among others is the 2005 Post Election when more than 192 protesters were shot dead by the government army in Addis Ababa , and other hundreds in Oromia regional state including member of parliament. Moreover I have reported Oromo –Somali conflict which is created by TPLF when more than 300 people were murdered by the government –supported Somali militants.

One way or another, the Ethiopian government was not happy with my reporting and snatched my VOA license and refused to renew it.

I became jobless again, VOA tries to intervene the ministry of information of Ethiopia but unsuccessful. They didn’t respond on it,

And I asked three times the ministry of information to renew my job license, but remained unsuccessful. And I reported my case to Amnesty international, frontline defenders, and East and Horn of Africa human right defenders Project.

East and horn of Africa Human Right defender Project and Frontline defenders granted me money when I was pregnant and after delivered a baby.

Then, on night of 21 June 2007, three armed federal police men entered to my house and at that time my younger brother who is 16 years old was living with me.

They took him to one class and locked inside. And turned back to me, I was sitting on the chair by holding my three month baby. They ordered me to live the baby on the bed and I did what they ordered me. Then they said” we will burn you including your baby if you don’t respond what we will ask you! One of them approached me and hit me until my ears changed brown! The other solder opens his bag and takes one sharp metal and can you see this object? I will put it inside you (calling my reproductive organ) now tell us the truth! And I stared crying .The third solider asked me do you know Yonatan Debisa, I replied don’t know him. The first solider said don’t cheat as we know that you are working for OLF with him. He ordered you to Shout for the Oromo, and the second continues “tell us the truth; what is your objective to wards the government? Who orders you to cover the conflict issues? We as solders didn’t try to go to the place you go in most cases the place which is occupied by the OLF groups, so by any means you are not an independent journalist, you are working for OLF. We know that they will help you after you stop job? You will give them information!”. I denied for their questions

One of them slaped me continuesly and the other show me that sharp metal! The third solider only said, “tell us the truth if you want relief!” And I started crying and I asked them, “Please leave me by the name of God! I’m not the member of any political party, I’m a journalist but I’m Oromo as I can’t choose my race by will.” and tried to hold my baby. Then the first solider said if you need we can kill your baby in front of you! And I kneiled on their feet and tried to beg them!

And they continued their question, “if you are not the member of OLF why are you shouting by opposing the government activities and you are a single woman why don’t you kept quite by respecting the rule and regulation of the government?”

And I replied I didn’t oppose the rule and regulation of my country but it is my responsibility to report on facts, as a journalist it is not you that evaluates my job. You may interfere wrong activities but can’t evaluate reporting contents, I replied and the first solider hits me by his foot on my belly. And they said “don’t speak to us like this!” And the second continued, “She is filled by OLF ideology! She dreams to see free oromiya! And they chat to each other and continued their question!

We know that you bought house from government? Where did you get that much money?” I replied “as you know I was working for VOA and during that time I paid for the cost of the house!” They said “you want to live in a government house on the other hand you are opposing its activities! What does this mean?” They said! “I’m not opposing the government but I’m opposing any human right abuses” I said. “by the way who are you to speak beyond your capacity, it is this government that gives you to speak in front of people, but you move beyond your capacity, now on wards, we would like if you shut your mouth and stops your activities with the OLF members, for now give us some dollars from that you collect from your OLF and the white peoples!”. And I replied “I have no money in my house for a time being”. they searched every document and took away and they ordered me, “by any means you have money and you will give us money”, and I gave them one 300 ET birr that I kept for my baby and family food, and they ordered me not to tell this to any body and if i do that they will be not far from me! And they will urinate in your mouth. Finally they left me and went away!

Then I left jobless, I became so desperate, and I tried to move away to Uganda but finally got a serious mental problem and joined a rehabilitation center for people with mental problem .I left the center after one year and stayed with my 68 year old mother for some time with my baby.

I applied for scholarship by the help of opposition political party called OFDM (Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement) and got a chance to come to UK. And my life is in danger I have no right to live in my country. They can kill me! I know that UK is a democratic country where freedom for human right emerged before 1000 years, so I need your support for my self and for my oppressed Oromo peoples!

Source: GPO/OPC

Friday, April 03, 2009

Oromo Protest against Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi at the G20 Summit

Oromo Protest against Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi at the G20 Summit

(April 2, 2009) The BBC reported that demonstrators have gathered near the G20 Summit venue in London’s Docklands for a second day of protests. Among them were members of Oromo Community in the UK in support of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and against human rights violations by the regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The Oromo community in UK opposes the invitation of dictator Meles Zenawi to the G20 summit, atrocities caused by his leadership to the Oromo and other people of the Ethiopian empire.(Watch the Video). Full Report