OFC deputy chief & other Oromo leaders arrested; disappearances of political activists intensified; TPLF-slain Oromos figure reaches 86; prisoners continue to die in TPLF prisons

25 Dec

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Ato Bekele Gerba, vice-chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested last night. While no official charges have been made,  if the past is any guide, he is being held on suspicion as one of the alleged organizers of the #Oromoprotests that rocked Ethiopia for five weeks in November and December 2015.

So far, three OFC executive members have also been imprisoned;  one member was seized in the afternoon and released in the evening after severe beatings and some physical abuses, according to ESAT radio interview by Prof. Merera Gudina.

Bekele Gerba, a university lecturer by profession, was released from four years of imprisonment on March 31, 2015 for similar charges, which he rejects and claims that he only speaks out against abuses and human rights violations.

In August 2015, during a visit to the United States Bekele Gerba criticized President Obama’s solidarity “with [the TPLF regime], which is repressive, very much authoritarian and very much disliked by its own people.”

Bkele Gerba told NPR: “Nobody is actually sure in Ethiopia what will happen to him anytime,” he says. “Anytime, people can be arrested, harassed or killed or disappeared.”


Prof Merera Gudina worries that the mistreatment of Ethiopians by the minority ethnic regime and thus its violation of the human rights of the people of Ethiopia has started deepening the country’s vulnerabilities, intensifying by the day its instability, as the Oromo uprisings of the last five weeks and Amhara struggle in Gondar have shown.

Medrek deputy chairman Merera Gudina says the TPLF wants to rule Ethiopia with medieval means. He urged the TPLF regime to give particular attention to the country’s future and the interests of its people, instead of relying on weapons and destroying the lives of its citizens.

Although exploratory at this stage, efforts are currently underway to activate the United Nations Special Procedures to facilitate visit to Ethiopia to investigate the bloody crackdown against Oromo protesters.
Ethiopia’s opposition blames TPLF regime for deaths of 86 people in protests against land plan; requests investigation

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of Dinka Chala, a teacher who family members said was shot dead by security forces during a demonstration against a government land plan, in Wolonkomi town, Oromia, Ethiopia December 17, 2015 (foto: TRT world)
An Ethiopian opposition party on Wednesday called for an investigation into the deaths of 80 people caused by government forces in the country’s Oromia region in the past four weeks.

“We are still discovering disfigured bodies in various locations. The government has continued its brutal killings so we call on the international community and donors to step in and force the government to stop these inhumane actions,” Beyene Petros, president of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (EFDUF) told reporters.

The opposition leader also said the government has rejected their request to hold a public demonstration on December 27 for a second time.

Protests that led to violent clashes between the Oromo people and security forces have spread to several towns since November, after students spoke out against government plans that will expand the capital Addis Ababa into Oromia territory, which they consider to be a land grab that could displace thousands of farmers.

But the government has rejected claims that the 25-year development plan aimed at creating a new zone to attract business will take lands from the farmers and accused the protesters of working with “terrorists.”

The opposition party’s charge comes after Human Rights Watch condemned the Ethiopian government for the killing of at least 75 people in a statement released last week.

Other rights groups have also criticised the move, with the US expressing concern over the violence and urging the government to “commit to a constructive dialogue.”

TRTWorld and agencies

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