June 29, 2014
We are reaching out to you as the Board of Officers of the International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA) whose nation is in turmoil back in Oromia, Ethiopia. Recently, Oromo students have been protesting against the new Addis Ababa “Integrated Master Plan” which aims at incorporating smaller towns surrounding Addis Ababa for the convenience of vacating land for investors by displacing millions of Oromo farmers. As a political move, this will essentially result in the displacement of the indigenous peoples and their families. Oromo farmers will be dispossessed of their land and their survival both economic and cultural terms will be threatened. The Oromos strongly believe that this plan will expose their natural environment to risk, threaten their economic means of livelihood (subsistence farming), and violate their constitutional rights.
The Ethiopian government is executing its political agenda of progressive marginalization of the Oromo people from matters that concern them both in the Addis Ababa city and the wider Oromia region. The master plan is an unconstitutional change of the territorial expansion over which the city administration has a jurisdiction. The government justifies the move in the name of enhancing the development of the city and facilitating economic growth. The justification is merely a tactical move masked for the governments continued abuse of human rights of the Oromo people. While the Oromos understand that Addis Ababa itself is an Oromo city that serves as the capital of the federal government, they also consider this move as an encroachment on the jurisdiction and borders of the state of Oromia.
The protesters peacefully demonstrated against this move. University students and residents have been in opposition to the plan, but their struggle has been met by a brutal repression in the hands of the military police (famously known as the Agazi). It has been reported that shootings, arrests, and imprisonments are becoming rampant. It is also reported that the death toll is increasing by the hour. Recently, sources indicate that over 80 people have been shot dead, others severally injured and thousands arrested. In addition, Oromo students have been protesting peacefully for over three weeks now, despite mass killings and arrests by Ethiopian security forces. University and high school students from more than ten universities have been engaging in the Oromo protests. The peaceful rally has now spread across the whole country and is expected to continue until the Ethiopian government refrains from incorporating over 36 surrounding smaller towns into Addis Ababa. It is stated to be displacing an estimate of 6.6 million people and violating constitutional rights of regional states.
As an organization subscribing to broader democratic engagement of the Oromo youth, we oppose the brutal violence that the Ethiopian government is meting out on innocent, unarmed young students who are peacefully protesting. As leaders of the Oromo community, we support and stand in solidarity with Oromo protests in Ethiopia. The human rights volitions being carried out by the Ethiopian government against innocent students are unacceptable. Continuous assaults, tortures, and killings of innocent civilians must be stopped. We urge you to join us in denouncing these inhumane and cruel activities carried out by the Ethiopian government. We believe it is imperative that the international community raise its voice and take action to stop the ongoing atrocities that are wreaking havoc to families and communities in the Oromia region.
We urgently request that such actions be taken in an attempt to pressure the Ethiopian government to stop terrorizing and killing peaceful protesters:
- The US government and other International organizations should condemn the Ethiopian government’s brutal action taken on unarmed innocent civilians. Furthermore, we demand over 30,000 innocent protesters to be released from prisons, as they will be subjected to torture and ill treatment.
- The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is currently terrorizing its own electorates/nation. Under the law of R2P in the UN constitution, the international community is obliged to protect a nation that is being terrorized by its own government and EPRDF should be taken accountable.
- We demand Ethiopia to be expelled from any regional and international cooperation including and not limited to AU and UN for its previous and current human rights violations. The International community should stop providing support in the name of AID and development to Ethiopia as it is violating the fundamental and basic needs of its nation.
- The Ethiopian government should be stopped on immediate effect; its forceful displacement of the indigenous peoples across Ethiopia is unjust and unconstitutional. We ask the United States, European Union, and the United Nations to stand in solidarity with peaceful student protesters who are condemning such injustice.
- The onus is on the international community to act in favor of the innocent and civilian populace that is seeking its fundamental right. Punitive actions towards this government should be taken for cracking down on freedom of expression and other democratic rights being expressed by its citizens.
We believe it is in the interest of our common humanity to take responsibility, to pay attention to this problem, to witness the plight of the voiceless victims, and to raise concerns to the Ethiopian government so it can desist from its brutal acts of repression.
We count on your solidarity to help the Oromo youth be spared from arbitrary arrest, incarceration, and shootings.
International Oromo Youth Association