By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
Ethiopians learned Friday August 19, 2016 from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) four things:
Firstly, the High Commissioner has received a letter from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) regime, offering to undertake ‘independent investigations’ into the several hundred Ethiopians it has massacred and over ten thousand it has imprisoned for demanding their rights since November 2015.
Secondly, as usual, the TPLF has promised the investigation to be independent.
Thirdly, while a diplomatic gesture, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has welcomed the TPLF regime’s offer of so-called independent investigation. He has also promised his office’s assistance “in ensuring that the investigation is undertaken in line with international human rights standards.”
Fourthly, the human rights law guiding his actions and as a very experienced person in the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and as a United Nations Political Affairs Officer in the United Nations Protection Force for the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR), the high commissioner has made his acceptance of the TPLF proposal contingent on the following:
(a) the independent investigation would have “a mandate to cover allegations of human rights violations since the unrest in Oromia began in November 2015, that it is indeed independent, transparent, thorough and effective, with a view to establishing whether the use of excessive force occurred and with a view to bringing to justice the perpetrators of any human rights violations.”
(b) the ‘independent’ investigation would ensure “access to the affected areas, as the situation on the ground makes it very challenging for independent civil society actors to operate, particularly given the tense situation in parts of the Oromia and Amhara regions, where a large security presence has reportedly been deployed, and there are reports of ongoing arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of people in the regions.”
(c) the ‘independent’ investigation would “ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are protected and that those detained for exercising these rights are promptly released. Protests must be handled by security forces with full respect for international human rights laws and standards on the use of force.”
(d) the high commissioner on behalf of the United Nations has called on the TPLF regime “to work towards opening up the political and democratic space. This should include a comprehensive reform of the security sector, as well as legislative and institutional reforms.”
Why has this become necessary?
Without even having the time to fully read the high commissioner’s August 10, 2016 appeal to the TPLF regime to allow international investigation into the situation of shooting of peaceful protesters, the regime impudently rejected his call. The fact of the matter is that the steps taken by the high commissioner are in concert with international human rights laws Ethiopia has accepted.
Unfortunately, on his August 11, 2016 interview on Aljazeera the TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda laughed off the high commissioner’s request for access to international investigators. He thus scoffed laughably stating: “The UN is entitled to its opinion but the government of Ethiopia is responsible for the safety of its own people.”
By this, one would only be reminded of the sly fox that pretends to be a responsible caretaker for a lonely and helpless lamb.
Not surprisingly this arrogant remark came from a killer regime’s spokesperson, trained only in insulting the nation and its citizens. He even repeated his dishonor of those slain Ethiopians by his regime; the action has pained the nation. Its only equivalence in our history is Fascist Italy’s efforts to occupy Addis Abeba about eight decades ago, when it had to machine-gun thousands within a short period, because of which ever since Ethiopians have been annually observing Yekatit 12 to honor their memories.
Why this change of heart in the TPLF?
This TPLF ‘politeness’ now in formally responding to the law-based and concerned criticism by High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on August 10, 2016 in response to the TPLF’s violence is indication of its desire to buy more time to do its next dirty things.
Recall that the high Commissioner in an interview with Reuters stressed:
“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromiya and Amhara, the towns there of course would be a very serious concern for us.”
This legally nuanced statement, which may not be clear to the TPLF, was not the only thing he raised before the international community.
In this interview with Reuters, the high commissioner made it his point to remind the international community that the second round of the killings of Oromo protesters began last year. He regretted that his office had “not seen any genuine attempt at investigation and accountability” on the part of the regime.
I like that part of his statement! The TPLF imposed on Ethiopian, read from parliament by TPLF member Dr Addisu Gebreegziabher, who engineered TPLF’s May 2015 electoral thievery, told the nation that the security forces were very considerate in being softer to the protesters. By its admission over 400 Oromos were massacred.
Yes, as head of the nation’s human rights high commissioner, Ato Gebreegziabher’s criticism of the soft actions of the security forces has helped the TPLF, one could argue, since this time they have massacred hundreds in one weekend!
For Ethiopians, this whole thing is extremely revolting!
In the light of the situation’s seriousness now, and on behalf of the United Nations, High Commissioner Al Hussein has demanded two things:
(a) international investigation into the excessive violence the state has used in the execution of protesters; and
(b) the release promptly of “any detainee who had been peacefully protesting.”
Here are the words of the UN official from August 10, 2016:
“So I do urge the government to allow access for international observers into the Amhara and Oromiya regions so that we can establish what has happened and that the security forces, if it is the case that they have been using excessive force, that they do not do so and promptly investigate of course these allegations.”
The above question why this change of heart, even after Getachew Reda’s man eat man statement, it appears that the mass protests have increased and the determination of the Ethiopian people have started sending the right message. The protesters have have made clear their single goal now is to get rid of this killer and oppressor regime once and for all.
As far as the TPLF proposal to the high commissioner is concerned, the Front has now moved a meter distance to accommodate the August 10 OHCHR requests, out of several marathon lengths. For Ethiopians that know the TPLF as the palms of their hands, it is the sly fox once again trying to wiggle out of a difficult situation.
Ethiopians have been deceived for 25 years, including in all elections the TPLF has organized since 1991. Through those political deceits, cruelty and through the violence, state power has been stolen from the people and today, Ethiopians in their own country in these past years have become second class citizens!
Don’t laugh – in 2016 even participation in the Rio Olympics has become TPLF family affair. In the same manner, businesses lost and jobs snatched, homes destroyed on the heads of poor families and lands seized in the name of development. What happened in reality is that the TPLF officials and members turned around to put the lands to auction and get richer, etc. What is there to reform in the through and through mafia organization the TPLF has been?
It would take only a miracle for Ethiopians to be able to trust anything the Front does.
Full text of Friday’s OCHCHR statement on Ethiopia
“Given the extremely alarming reports that emerged earlier this month about serious human rights violations in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, the High Commissioner reached out to the Ethiopian Government, seeking access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation. We have now received a reply from the Government, indicating that they will launch an independent investigation into the events.
We welcome the decision to launch an independent investigation, and we urge the Government to ensure that the investigation has a mandate to cover allegations of human rights violations since the unrest in Oromia began in November 2015, that it is indeed independent, transparent, thorough and effective, with a view to establishing whether the use of excessive force occurred and with a view to bringing to justice the perpetrators of any human rights violations.
We stand ready to assist in ensuring that the investigation is undertaken in line with international human rights standards. We also reiterate our request for access to the affected areas, as the situation on the ground makes it very challenging for independent civil society actors to operate, particularly given the tense situation in parts of the Oromia and Amhara regions, where a large security presence has reportedly been deployed, and there are reports of ongoing arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of people in the regions.
We call on the Government to ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are protected and that those detained for exercising these rights are promptly released. Protests must be handled by security forces with full respect for international human rights laws and standards on the use of force.
We also call on the Government to work towards opening up the political and democratic space. This should include a comprehensive reform of the security sector, as well as legislative and institutional reforms.”