Oppressed Nations in Scottish parliament
Dr. Shigut Geleta
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the Third Generation Project (TGP) and MSP Willie Rennie (Scottish Liberal Democrats), held a conference entitled ‘Sharing Perspectives on the Rights of the Unrepresented on the Eve of UNPO’s XIII General Assembly’ on 26 June 2017.
During the opening remarks, Co-host MSP Willie Rennie reminded the audience that human rights are embedded in the DNA of the Scottish Parliament, which reaffirms human rights in its daily work. Third Generation Project Executive Director Prof Alison Watson, stressed the importance of working directly with the people who represent communities that are facing stigmatisation and discrimination and the need to create policies that reflect their concerns. UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin, then professed that even though the international community is often calling for the respect of the rights of unrepresented minorities, their rights and freedoms are still to be consolidated. In that sense, UNPO fulfils the important role of advocating for the respect of these rights and fostering a political answer to minorities’ concerns. Lastly, Mr Hanno Schedler, Deputy Head of the Asia/Africa Department of the Society for Threatened Peoples, declared that human rights violations and minority oppression are prevented from accessing the public debate in democratic States as well.
Video of full speech: https://www.facebook.com/UNPOintl/videos/1343679522345934/
Opening the first panel on “State-sponsored oppression against unrepresented communities” moderated by Third Generation Project Policy Director Bennett Collins, Prof Dr Hermann Kreutzmann, Professor of Human Geography at Freie Universität Berlin, enlightened the audience about the dangers of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Mr Enghebatu Togochog, Director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights and Information Centre, denounced the Chinese plan to resettle nomadic people to assimilate them in the Han Chinese population and eradicate their nomadic lifestyle. He claimed that this plan makes nomadic people homeless and jobless and, above all, constitutes a massive cultural genocide. Then, Dr Shigut Geleta, Deputy Head of Foreign Relations for the Oromo Liberation Front, made note of the Ethiopian government’s oppression of the plethora of peoples in Ethiopia today and the threat to democracy in this increasingly instable country. Lastly, Dr Fiona McConnell, Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, then took the floor to speak about the State repression suffered by minority communities at international decision-making fora and explained that the intimidation of minorities by States prevents them from making their voice be heard at the United Nations.
The second panel, moderated by Prof Alison Watson, began with Ms Roseanna McPhee, Human Rights Activist from the Gypsy Travallers Community, who gave a moving account of her experience as a discriminated and stereotyped Gypsy woman. She also described various and intersecting forms of discrimination towards women pertaining to minorities. Ms Mona Silavi, Representative of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation in Brussels and Co-founder of Ahwazi women organisation Niprasu, then stressed the importance to legally recognise women’s right to be able to tackle the strong and varied discriminations they are suffering from. Lastly, Ms Khalisa Mahad Mohamed, Human Rights, and Women’s Rights Activist from the Ogaden National Liberation Front, explained that, as conflict in Ethiopia intensified, women became the first victims of State-sponsored persecution, finding themselves subject to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Thousands were and are still detained and humiliated to terrorise their families and destabilise their communities.
On the third and last panel, moderated by Mr Tommaso Nodari, UNPO Programme Director, Mr Matteo Angioli, Secretary of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law Marco Pannella, claimed that “the rule of law is not in good shape around the world” and expressed the concern of NGOs representatives regarding the rise of authoritarian regimes. To conclude the last panel, Sen. Paul Strauss stressed UNPO’s role in promoting the right for the unrepresented to vote within their constituency, giving the example of the U.S. District of Columbia.
Mr. Abdirahman Mahdi ONLF Foreign Secretary addressing the public
General Assembly RESOLUTION on Human rights situation in Ethiopia
UNREPRESENTED NATIONS AND PEOPLES ORGANIZATION (UNPO)
13th General Assembly Resolution of UNPO on ever deteriorating Human Rights situation in Oromia-Ethiopia, Edinburgh, Scotland 26-28 June 2017
The UNPO General Assembly,
Having met at the XIII UNPO General Assembly in Edinburgh, Scotland from 26-28 June 2017; Concerned about the Ethiopian government’s extension, on 30 March 2017, of its six-month nationwide state of emergency, for another four months and hailing it as successful in restoring stability after almost a year of popular protests and crackdowns that cost hundreds of lives;
Underlining the persistent violations of human rights in Oromia, Ethiopia that include wanton killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, detention without charge, torture, life-threatening prison conditions, lengthy pre-trial detentions, violations of privacy including illegal searches, eviction from land without compensation, the abolition of freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression and movement, Internet shutdown, violence and discrimination against women being inflicted upon the Oromos and other nations and nationalities in Ethiopia;
Having regard to the universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Union Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
Noting that Ethiopia’s Civil Society Law (CSO No. 621/2009), Anti-Terrorism law (No.652/2009), the Freedom of the mass Media and Access information proclamation (No, 590/2009), the Political Parties registration proclamation (No. 573/2008), 5) the Amended Electoral Law (No, 532/2007) and the Electoral code of conduct for political parties (No. 662/2009) are designed as a tool to stifle dissent. All of them are used by the Ethiopian Government to silence its critics. The Anti-Terrorism laws are being used by the Ethiopian government not against the terrorists, but to curb the human rights of its own citizens. The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation led to the arrest of students, land rights defenders, artists, journalists, indigenous leaders, opposition politicians, religious leaders and more for exercising basic freedoms;
Considering the persistent and systematic act of State violence and repression in Ethiopia by shooting peaceful protestors to insure the political hegemony of EPRDF,
Emphasizing that if the international community remains passive regarding the situation in Ethiopia, it could lead the Horn of Africa toward a major international disaster, thus posing grievous peril to the international community. The situation in Oromia-Ethiopia could easily turn into a civil chaos that could threaten the region’s economic and political security, since Oromos are demographically and geographically at the center of Ethiopia;
Aware that Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of US and western development aid;
Fully believing in the need for development aid, especially during major humanitarian crises like the current drought in Ethiopia. Yet it is counterproductive if donor aid is supporting the destruction of natural resources on which the poor directly depend and enables projects that lead to human rights abuses;
Appreciating that the AU and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights both issued statements expressing concern, while the European parliament released a strong resolution on 18 May 2017 (2017/2682(RSP), and resolutions were introduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives (H.RES 128). The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations human rights experts publicly stressed the need for an international and independent investigation into human rights violations on the Ethiopian soil;
Condemning the ever more frequent attacks of armed forces, police, and security agents on peaceful demonstrators.
Deploring the murderous crackdown by security forces on civilians during the annual Irreecha festival on 2 October 2016 in Bishoftu, Oromia region, which caused the death of several hundreds of participants in the festival.
Expressing our concern regarding the Ethiopian government’s lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of conscience;
Therefore, we, the UNPO General Assembly:
- Solemnly reaffirm that the government of Ethiopia systematically commits massive human rights violations against the Oromo people and other nations and nationalities in Ethiopia;
- Call the Ethiopian Government for an immediate end to violence, human rights violations, political intimidation, persecution, and the release of political prisoners who have been languishing in prisons for many years;
- Urge the international community to press the Ethiopian government to carry out a credible, transparent, and impartial investigation into the killings of protesters and other alleged human rights violations perpetuated against protests and to prosecute those responsible, regardless of rank or position;
- Request the international community to take swift action to denounce the state of emergency and the continuous repression of basic human rights in the country;
- Call on the EU, the UN, the AU, and democratic governments to reconsider their approach to Ethiopia if no progress is made towards compliance with the essential elements of various international agreements on core human rights issues;
- Deplore the unlawful use of lethal force by the government security forces. Sexual aggressions that destabilize the families and the eviction of Oromos from their ancestral land are designed to uproot the indigenous peoples.
- Insist that the AU, IGAD, UN, USA, European Union, and the international community participate in resolving the political problem of the country
- Urge the Ethiopian authorities to review the press law, Civil Society Law and Anti-Terrorist proclamation adopted in 2009
- Insist for the government to immediately invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly and other UN human rights experts to visit Ethiopia to report on the situation;
- Instruct UNPO, its President and General secretary to forward this resolution to the Ethiopian government, to the Council, the Commission, and Parliament of EU, to the Pan-African Parliament and the Executive Council of the African Union, to UN and some democratic governments.
- Encourage the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, EU parliament, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations human rights experts, US Congress, Legislative bodies of Member States of the EU to urge their respective Executive bodies to call for the above-mentioned political changes in Ethiopia.