The verdict is a deliberate attempt to silence the Oromo people

In March 31st 2010, the Ethiopian Federal High Court bench three has handed down a death sentence to an alleged Oromo political prisoner Mesfin Abebe Abdissa, a life prison sentence to another Oromo nationalist and political prisoner, Tasfahun Camadaa Gurmessaa and given stiff prison terms to 13 others innocent Oromos in the pretext of “plotting to overthrow the government.” A three-judge panel (two are Tigreans and one from southern Ethiopia) passed this death penalty and stiff prison terms in the alleged reason of “conspiracy to wage war on Ethiopia’s government as part of a plan to establish a separate Oromo state.”

However, according to the Advocacy for Oromian viewpoints the verdict was given based on the anti-Oromo racism position. Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest nation, comprising about 40 percent of the country’s population. Racist attitudes towards Oromo became more integral to Abyssinian culture when Oromia was colonized in the late 19th century. The lessening of Oromo identity, especially those with nationalist views, is still inbuilt in ‘Ethiopian’ society. Therefore, we can say that the ‘Federal High Court’ awful capital punishment is the verdict given based on arbitrary and capricious anti-Oromo attitude on the following Oromo political prisoners:

  1. Mr. Mesfin Abebe Death penalty
  2. Mr. Tasfahuun Camada Life Imprisonment Sentence
  3. Mrs. Abarash Yadata (mother of) four children) 12 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  4. Mrs. Lalisee Wadajo (mother of three kids) 10 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  5. Kol. Olaanii Jabeesa 12 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  6. Mr. Roba Degefa 10 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  7. Mr. Dejene Dhaba 10 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  8. Mr. Bakele Negeri 10 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  9. Mr. Bayisa Hussen 10 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  10. Mr. Hailu Delessa 10 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  11. Mr. Dejene Boranaa 13 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  12. Mr. Bakele Jiraata 13 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  13. Mr. Kabade Borana 12 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  14. Mr. Isheetu Kitil 12 Year Imprisonment (without parole)
  15. Mr. Wabee Hajii 12 Year Imprisonment (without parole)

The Advocacy for Oromia strongly opposes the decision given blindly on these innocent political prisoners. The decision has violated the Ethiopian constitution that embellished itself as the safeguard of individuals’ rights and freedoms. The verdict is a deliberate attempt to silence the Oromo people in the country and to deny them impartial, evenhanded and fair treatment by the law.

The Advocacy for Oromia is also strongly condemns the unlawful and injustice court decision passed based on anti-Oromo racism attitude on innocent Oromo political prisoners by the Ethiopian Federal High Court on March 31st 2010. This death penalty and capital punishment clearly violate the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of the laws in that country. It is applied randomly at best and discriminatorily at worst on Oromo. It is imposed unreasonably upon the defenseless individuals from one nation by the power backed minority court rule of the current Ethiopian system.

Advocacy for Oromia calls on all human rights organizations, governments and individuals to speak out against the inhumane treatment that is being imposed on the Oromo political prisoners by the Meles Zenawi’ regime. We urge all Ethiopians and human rights advocates to contact their local representatives and brief them on the deteriorating condition in the country. Furthermore, we ask that pressure be put on the Ethiopian government to immediately release both political prisoners in the country and find holistic political solutions for the ongoing political problems in the country.

A discordant government

Meles Zenawi came to power in 1991 when his rebel army ousted the brutal Derg regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. Despite presiding over strong economic growth, improving health and education services, and developing a multi-party system, Meles’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) remains hugely divisive. The EPRDF includes four ethnically-based parties, but the strong dominance of Meles’ Tigray ethnic group, who constitute only 6% of the population, over all key aspects of government, is one source of great resentment, particularly among Oromos and Amharas, who together account for 60% of the country’s 80m people.

The public discontent was obvious from the beginning to the present. The 2005 election result also proved the public dissatisfaction in which the opposition groups swept the seats in the capital Addis Ababa and made gains nationwide. In anti-government demonstrations that followed police killed at least 193 civilians and tens of thousands of people were arrested. The EPRDF, which accuses opposition leaders of fomenting ethnic hatred, says it is confident that the upcoming election in May will be peaceful.

The Ethiopian government, using its extensive and sophisticated security apparatus, is deliberately and systematically destroying all serious political opposition. The Oromo and other southern peoples believe themselves to have been colonized and oppressed since the incorporation of their territory into Ethiopia at the end of the 19th century. They were initially represented in the transitional administration, established at the downfall of the Derg military dictatorship in 1991, by their nationality-based liberation fronts. Since 1991, Oromo nationalists have been targeted for human rights violations. Oromo peasants, academics and businesspeople who are suspected of supporting the nationalist movement have been killed, disappeared, tortured and detained.

The Oromo region is being impoverished and its environment degraded. The Oromo people, who number 25-30 million and constitute at least 40% of the population of Ethiopia, have been further persecuted by famine, fire and forced conscription. The Oromia Support Group (OSG), a non-political organization which attempts to raise awareness of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, has, as of August 2008, reported 4,185 extra-judicial killings and 944 disappearances of civilians suspected of supporting groups opposing the government. Most of these have been Oromo people. Scores of thousands of civilians have been imprisoned.

Urgent ACTION:

The Advocacy for Oromia appeals to all concerned groups to save the lives of these innocents. Please show your support against the capital punishment, life sentences and long-term imprisonment without parole decisions of the court, and pressurize the Ethiopian government to invalidate this unjustified decision, and to end the brutal attack on the lives and human rights of these people.  By sending letters and calling on, you can insist on the international community in order to press the Ethiopian government to:

  1. Revoke the unjust sentences handed down to these people;
  2. Endorse of effective laws guaranteeing and promoting freedom of human beings;
  3. An end to the trial of these guiltless people under grossly unfair procedures and irregularly-constituted court decisions;
  4. Rigorous obedience of the court to the international human rights treaties as well as customary international law;
  5. An end to discriminatory treatment and harassment of Oromo people in Ethiopia, and clear legal protection of their basic human rights, including the right to live their lives as the rest of the human beings in the country do.


Advocacy for Oromia

1. Amnesty International Australia, Victorian Activist Resource Centre
Suite 8, 134 Cambridge Street, Collingwood VIC 3066
Tel: 03 9412 0737, Fax: 03 9412 0720

2.  Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
Tel: 1-(212) 290-4700, Fax: 1-(212) 736-1300

3. Unrepresented Nation and People Organization
UNPO Secretariat
P.O. Box 85878
2508CN The Hague
the Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)70 3646504
Fax: +31 (0)70 3646608

4. Human Rights Watch
1630 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
Tel:1-(202) 612-4321, Fax:1-(202) 612-4333

5. Amnesty International
+1 212 807 8400
+1 212 463 9193\1 212 627 1451
5 Penn Plaza – 14th floor
New York, NY 10001