: News

Hawaasni Oromoo Neezerlaand hiriira mormii Dan Haagitti geggeesse

Den Haag – Hawaasni Oromoo Neezerlaand hiriira mormii cimaa Bitootessa 22, 2018 magaalaa Dan Haagitti geggeesse. Oromoonni biyya Neezerlaand baay’inaan bayuudhaan Labsii Yeroo Muddamaa tibbana mootummaan Woyyaanee ummata keenna ukkamsuudhaaf yeroo lammaffaaf labsite balaaleffataniiru.  Labsiin kunis  saffisaan ummata irraa akka ka’us gaafataniiru.

Hawaasni hiriira kana irratti hirmaate dararaan sirna Woyyaanee jalatti lammii isaanii irra gayaa jiru kan isaan yaachisu, ajjeechaa fi gidiraan oromoo irra guyyaa gauyyatti gayaa jiru kan isaani gaddisiisu ta’uus ibsaniiru. Hirmaattoonni hiriira kanaa hanga qabsoon Oromoo injifannoon  goolabamutti karaa danda’amu hundaan lammi isaanii bira kan dhaabatanii fi karaa danda’amu hundaan qabsoo bilisummaa kan tin’isan ta’uus dubbataniiru.

Hiriira kana irratti bakka bu’oonni hawaasaa Waajjira Ministera Haajaa Biyya-alaa Neezerlaanditti argamuudhan aangawoota dubbisaniiru. Akkasumas  xalayaa giiraa Oromooo irra gayaa jiru ibsus galchaniiru. Aangawoonni Ministera Haajaa Biyya-alaa Neezerlaandis haalli Itoophiyaa keessa jirtu yeroo kamuu caalatti kan isaan yaachise ta’uu ibsanii, mootummaan isaanii karaa embaasii isaanii Finfinnetti argamuun dhimicha duukaa bu’ee hordofaa kan jiru ta’uus dubbatan. Rakkoo Itoophiyaan keessatti argamutu fufruufis qooda isaani irraa eegamu  kan gumaachan ta’uus ibsaniiru. Bifuma wolfakkaatuun, Bitootessa 27, 2018 koreen hawaasaa, rakkoo ummanni Oromoo yeroo amma keessatti argamu ibsuudhaaf miseensota paarlaamaa Neezerland, koree haajaa biyya-alaa, dubbisuudhaaf  beella kan qaban ta’uun beekameera.

Suuraa hiriira mormii Den Haag Bitootessa 22, 2018 keessaa hanga tokko.

Vreedzaam protest voor hervormingen Ethiopie

ASMEDIA ( Den Haag) – Donderdagmiddag 22 maart tussen 13.00 uur en 15.30 uur hebben Nederlandse Ethiopiërs in Den Haag geprotesteerd tegen het Oost-Afrikaanse regime.

De menigte protesteerde tegen het staatshoofd en diens regime in Ethiopië. Via leuzen en protestborden eisten ze onder andere: gelijke rechten voor iedereen; het stoppen van gedwongen migraties van de etnische groep van de Oromo’s; de vrijlating van de politieke gevangenen; en het stoppen van het bloedvergieten in het land. Hierbij riepen ze het EU en Nederland op om te stoppen met financiële steun aan het land en de steun aan de dictatuur.

Een kleine honderd man was aan het demonstreren. De demonstratie startte bij de Bezuidenhoutseweg en rond 14.30 uur vertrok de stoet onder politiebegeleiding naar het Lange Voorhout. De demonstratie verliep rustig.

Read original article on ASMEDIA

Ethiopia: New Spate of Abusive Surveillance

Spyware Industry Needs Regulation

Ethiopian authorities have carried out a renewed campaign of malware attacks, abusing commercial spyware to monitor government critics abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately cease digital attacks on activists and independent voices, while spyware companies should be far more closely regulated.

On December 6, 2017, independent researchers at the Toronto-based research center Citizen Lab published a technical analysis showing the renewed government malware campaign aimed at Ethiopian activists and political opponents. These attacks follow a long, documented history of similar government efforts to monitor critics, inside and outside of Ethiopia.

“The Ethiopian government has doubled down on its efforts to spy on its critics, no matter where they are in the world,” said Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These attacks threaten freedom of expression and the privacy and the digital security of the people targeted.”

Based on analysis of attacks starting in 2016, the Citizen Lab report identified several targets who received phishing emails, including several ethnic Oromo activists and scholars, one of Citizen Lab’s own research fellows, and Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo activist and executive director of the US-based Oromia Media Network (OMN). During the period of the infections described in the report, there were widespread protests in Ethiopia, beginning with Oromo protests over development plans around the capital, Addis Ababa, which culminated in a 10-month state of emergency that was lifted in August 2017. Security forces responded to those largely peaceful protests with lethal force, killing over one thousand protesters and detaining tens of thousands more since November 2015.

The government has gone to various lengths to restrict OMN – an independent media network that covers current events in Oromia, Ethiopia – and other diaspora media outlets. Given Ethiopia’s stranglehold on independent media and access to information, diaspora media outlets provide an important source of information that is independent from government, albeit often heavily politicized.

OMN played a key role in disseminating information during protests in 2015 and 2016. The government has routinely jammed satellite television programs, arrested informants, pressured satellite companies to drop OMN, arrested people who show OMN in their places of businesses, and charged OMN under the antiterrorism law in October 2016.

Identified targets in the most recent round of malware attacks were commentators on Ethiopian affairs, who received emails that were tailored to their interests. The emails invited the targets to download and install a software update, which contained malware, to view the content. The phishing attacks, if successful, would have infected their personal computers with spyware. The Citizen Lab report also uncovered dozens of successfully infected devices belonging to other targets in 20 countries, including in the US, UK, Eritrea, Canada, and Germany.

Citizen Lab’s analysis of the attacks and logfiles places the operator inside Ethiopia and links the software to Cyberbit, an Israel-based cybersecurity company. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, an Israel-based defense company. The analysis suggests that the spyware in use is Cyberbit’s PC Surveillance System (PSS), which the company may have recently rebranded as PC 360.

Cyberbit’s marketing materials describes PSS as a “comprehensive solution for monitoring and extracting information from remote [personal computers].” Once a computer is infected, the spyware’s operator would gain access to virtually any information available on the device, including files, browsing history, passwords, emails, and what the target types into the computer. The spyware can also take screen shots and activate a computer’s microphone and camera for live surveillance. The marketing materials indicate that PSS was created for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to “reduce crime” and “prevent terrorism.”

Citizen Lab’s report also identifies potential Cyberbit product demonstrations to possible clients in several other countries, including Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rwanda, Serbia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.

This is the third known spyware vendor that the Ethiopian government has engaged since 2013. Human Rights Watch and Citizen Lab previously wrote about the government’s use of malware sold by UK/Germany-based Gamma International (reorganized as FinFisher) and Italy-based Hacking Team to target journalists and activists in the Ethiopian diaspora. Authorities continued to misuse Hacking Team’s product through at least 2015, when a widely covered breach of the company’s corporate data confirmed its business in the country.

The government also has a history of abusing other surveillance technologies, which has facilitated a range of human rights violations. Inside the country, Ethiopian authorities have frequently used mobile surveillance to target independent voices. Human Rights Watch has documented how security agencies would play intercepted phone calls during abusive interrogations in an effort to intimidate critics and political opponents into silence.

Spyware companies often market their products to government agencies tasked with fighting crime or preventing terrorism. However, the Ethiopian government has a documented history of abusing its counterterrorism laws to target journalistsbloggers, protesters, and government critics. At least 85 journalists have fled into exile since 2010 as a result of the government’s ongoing crackdown on independent media. Ethiopia’s laws lack meaningful protections for the right to privacy, and the country’s broad security and law enforcement powers are not adequately regulated to prevent arbitrary, unlawful, or disproportionate surveillance.

Human Rights Watch wrote to Cyberbit to request comment on Citizen Lab’s findings, the company’s approach to assessing the human rights impact of spyware sales to government customers, and what steps the company would take if it uncovered government abuses linked to their product. In a December 5 response, the company stated that it is “a vendor and it does not operate any of its products. Cyberbit Solutions customers are the sole operators of the products at their sole responsibility and they are obliged to do so according to all applicable laws and regulations” in their jurisdictions.

The company also stated that it offers its products only to government authorities, and any sales of “lawful interception and intelligence products are subject to export control due to their nature and they were sold only after obtaining all relevant authorizations,” including specific approval of a designated government end user.

Finally, the company stated that while it cannot confirm or deny any specific transaction or client, the company appreciates the concerns raised and is “addressing it subject to the legal and contractual confidentiality obligations Cyberbit Solutions is bound by.”

Cyberbit should immediately investigate misuse of its products by Ethiopian authorities, publicly disclose its findings, and end any plans for future sales and any ongoing support it may be providing, Human Rights Watch said.

Despite some progress in recent years, the sale of commercial spyware remains poorly regulated at the national and international level, as Ethiopia’s repeated purchase of such tools demonstrates. Since 2014, the European Union and 41 member countries to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies have begun to introduce regulations to control the sale of systems like those sold by Cyberbit. However, even where they exist, national implementation of such export controls has been uneven. Some governments do not adequately consider the risk to human rights when evaluating a company’s application to export spyware to repressive regimes.

While Israel does not formally participate in the Wassenaar Arrangement, it nonetheless incorporates the Wassenaar control lists into its national regulations. Exports of spyware systems from Israel’s thriving cybersecurity industry to foreign governments for security purposes require approval from Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency. Though the agency consults with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is unclear whether the government requires an examination of the end-user’s or destination country’s human rights record and whether the sale might facilitate violations of rights.

According to 2016 media reports, the agency had previously approved the sale of similar spyware by the Israeli technology company NSO Group to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite its record of surveillance abuses. The UAE later used this technology to target a prominent human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor. In October, the export agency announced that it will loosen some export restrictions, though how the changes will apply to spyware systems remains unclear.

The latest Ethiopian malware campaign raises significant questions about whether Israel’s export controls are adequate to prevent human rights abuses linked to spyware sales, Human Rights Watch said. Israel and other governments should ensure that such sales are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and evaluate the end-use and human rights record of the end user.

“It is troubling if Israeli authorities allowed the sale of Cyberbit’s spyware to Ethiopian security agencies, given their established record of using malware to violate rights,” Wong said. “Spyware should be kept far from known human rights abusers.”  Source

‘We Are Everywhere’: How Ethiopia Became a Land of Prying Eyes

FENDIKA, Ethiopia — When he is away from his fields, Takele Alene, a farmer in northern Ethiopia, spends a lot of his time prying into the personal and political affairs of his neighbors.

He knows who pays taxes on time, who has debts and who is embroiled in a land dispute. He also keeps a sharp lookout for thieves, delinquents and indolent workers.

But he isn’t the village busybody, snooping of his own accord. Mr. Alene is a government official, whose job includes elements of both informant and enforcer. He is responsible for keeping the authorities briefed on potential rabble-rousers and cracking down on rule breakers.

Even in a far-flung hamlet like Fendika, few of whose 400 or so residents venture to the nearest city, let alone ever travel hundreds of miles away to the capital, Addis Ababa, the government is omnipresent.

In this case, its presence is felt in the form of Mr. Alene, a short, wiry man wearing a turquoise turban and plastic sandals. As a village leader, he said, his duties include serving as judge, tax collector, legal scribe for the illiterate and general keeper of the peace.

But one of his most important roles is to watch who among the villagers opposes the government and its policies, including a top-priority program encouraging farmers to use fertilizer. When a neighbor refused to buy some, Mr. Alene pointed a gun at him until he gave in. He has had others jailed for a similar offense.

In a country whose rugged landscape is larger in area than France and Germany combined, Ethiopia’s ruling party — which, with its allies, controls every seat in Parliament — relies on a vast network of millions of party members like Mr. Alene as useful agents and sources of information, according to current and former government officials and academics who study the country.

This army of on-the-ground operatives, who push the government’s policies, help purvey its propaganda and act as lookouts, is especially valuable at a time when the country is being rocked by protests over access to jobs and land, and a failure to advance democracy.

Security forces in Ethiopia cracked down on protesters last year, some of whom had attacked domestic and foreign businesses, which had resulted in hundreds of deaths. The authorities recently lifted a state of emergency after almost a year, but tensions continue to simmer, particularly in Oromia, a region traditionally neglected by the central government.

Mr. Alene’s loyalty to the governing party has earned him handsome rewards. He was given the title of “model farmer” and has been granted plots of land and other benefits like farm animals, a cellphone, the gun he turned on his neighbor and a radio, which he keeps under lock and key.

“I am No. 1,” he exclaimed recently in the village pub, sitting against a wall stacked with sacks of fertilizer and drinking home-brewed beer poured into what used to be a can of chickpeas. “I feel great happiness,” he added.

Ethiopia is unlike many countries in Africa, where the power of the state often reaches beyond the capital in name only. More organized, more ambitious and more centrally controlled than a lot of governments on the continent, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (a coalition of four regional parties), which controls this mountainous, semiarid but spectacularly beautiful land of just over 100 million people, intends to transform it into a middle-income country by 2025.

Achieving that goal, in a country that 30 years ago was a byword for famine, means realizing a plan of rapid industrial and agricultural growth modeled on the success stories of Asia. Ethiopia is relying on state-driven development rather than the Western-style liberalization that in the 1980s and 1990s hurt many economies across Africa, like Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

It also means, in the government’s view, exercising control down to the level of neighborhoods in cities and villages in the countryside.

Many Western donors have praised Ethiopia for its advances in health, education and development, all made in a single generation. The government recently opened Africa’s largest industrial park, with plans for more, and is building what is expected to be the continent’s biggest hydroelectric dam.

But the government’s economic agenda often goes hand in hand with control over people through party membership and surveillance, a strategy modeled on China, somewhere officials have gone regularly for how-to training, according to former government members.

“Everyone is suspicious of each other,” said Ermias Legesse, an ex-government minister who left the country in 2011. He spent three weeks in the Chinese countryside in 2009, he said, learning about party indoctrination.

“You can’t trust your mother, brother, sister,” he said about his homeland. “You can imagine what kind of social fabric is formed out of such a system.”

Party members across the country are assigned five people to monitor, whether in households, schools, universities, businesses or prisons. Called “one-to-five,” it is a system so pervasive, Mr. Legesse said, that it even existed in the Ministry of Communications, which he headed.

“The one-to-five’s major objective is to spy on people,” Mr. Legesse said.

Being a party member and a participant in those networks gives you jobs, promotions and even access to microfinance, some of which is funded by international institutions, Mr. Legesse said. “But if you’re against the system, you’ll likely be miserable.”

The government network is so entrenched that many in the country, which suffered years of repression under the previous, Marxist government led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, which fell in 1991, are deeply suspicious of talking to strangers and avoid discussing politics for fear of who might be listening.

“They are the person you least expect,” a shopkeeper in Addis Ababa said in a low voice, his eyes darting around the store. Like many Ethiopians, he asked not to be identified because he was afraid of the consequences of talking openly to a foreign journalist. “It could be the shoeshine boy or the waiter serving you coffee.”

Because most Ethiopians are struggling financially, they are easily brought into the network, said Tsedale Lemma, an Ethiopian journalist currently living in Germany, adding that teachers who joined got salary raises, businesspeople got easier access to loans and high-school students got pocket money. “Ethiopians think this is shameful,” Ms. Lemma said, even though they found it difficult to resist. “It’s a moral rock bottom.”

Habtamu Ayalew Teshome, a prominent opposition leader who was tortured for months and jailed for two years, discovered that even in prison, he was assigned to a group with a leader who watched his activities.

Twice a day, this monitor would organize meetings, and Mr. Teshome said that when he refused to participate, he was denied communication with his lawyers and family. He was repeatedly beaten, mentally tortured and taken to solitary confinement for months, he said. “We are the police, we are the prosecutor, we are the judge,” a prison commander told him. “We are everywhere.”

Spying is not the only purpose of the one-to-five system. It is also a way to recruit new members and push policy objectives.

The ruling party has “a great will and vision to transform the country and realizes that it needs to mobilize the grass roots in order to succeed,” said Lovise Aalen, a political scientist and longtime observer of Ethiopia at Chr. Michelsen Institute, an independent research organization in Norway. “It’s impressive, but it also exhibits a very authoritarian state present on the ground to an extent unseen in Ethiopian history.”

In rural areas, “one-to-fives” allow a designated model farmer, like Mr. Alene, to teach best practices, including the merits of using fertilizer, and be rewarded when output increases.

Village women also organize themselves into groups to prevent other women from falling into prostitution or to teach each other about health issues.

Some of this has yielded positive results, government officials say. Ethiopia’s economy has been growing at 10 percent for more than a decade, according to official figures. Agricultural output has risen dramatically, they say, although critics say that has not been enough to offset the food aid that Ethiopia continues to receive.

Khalid Bomba, a former investment banker who leads the government’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, said “one-to-fives” were all about empowerment. “It’s participatory deep democracy,” he said.

The networks have played a significant role in expanding membership to about seven million, mostly in the countryside, in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, the ruling party that critics say is controlled by Tigrayans, an ethnic group that makes up just 6 percent of the population.

Fendika, where Mr. Alene keeps watch, was largely insulated from riots last year, partly thanks to his diligent work of converting half the village, made up of ethnic Amharas, to the ruling party.

“Even in these violent times, this kebele has been peaceful,” Mr. Alene said recently, referring to his village. When a person makes trouble, “we know who he is,” he added. “We send the elders, the priest, to try to sort it out with him or the group and persuade them not to do anymore wrongdoing. If that doesn’t work out, we report to the police.”

Mr. Alene, who has been a member of the ruling party since it swept to power in 1991, recruits villagers to join. He even recruited the local priest, who in turn, has preached to his congregation about the party’s virtues.

“When I’m recruiting, I tell them, ‘If you’re a member, you can have different rights,’” Mr. Alene said. “The right to ask questions, the right to have whatever they want.”

For his efforts, he owns three hectares of land (most farmers have less than one) and livestock.

He has enough savings, unlike many other farmers, to send all nine of his children to university. Being a party member is “very good,” he said, though he added with candor: “You have to stand with the government. There’s no choice.”

Mr. Alene had made amends with the neighbor he forced to buy fertilizer at gunpoint, and the two men recently sat next to each other at the village pub. The neighbor, who is missing a leg, clucked disapprovingly as Mr. Alene talked about serving the community.

“The kebele is not good! It doesn’t support the poor people. He’s lying!” the neighbor finally shouted, hobbling furiously out the door.

Also in the pub was the village priest, Adugna Asema, draped in a traditional white cloak and wearing a white turban, who said he encouraged congregants to join the party.

“I preach peace,” he said, as he periodically stood up to bless villagers wandering into the pub with a large wooden cross.

“You’ll benefit in heaven and on earth,” he tells them, “if you join the party.”

Source

The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled

Ethiopia’s Refugees Unsafe in Kenya and Elsewhere

HRW | “Wako” fled Ethiopia for Kenya in 2012, after his release from prison. He had been locked up for two years after campaigning for the Oromo People’s Congress, an opposition party that has often been targeted by the government.

In Kenya, he hoped to be safe. But six months later Ethiopian officials kidnapped him in Nairobi and brought him to Ethiopia’s notorious Ziway prison, where he was mistreated and tortured, before being released. He fled to Kenya a second time.

When I spoke to him in Kenya, he said he planned to travel overland to South Africa. He hoped for better safety there.

Human Rights Watch has documented numerous cases of harassment and threats against Ethiopian asylum seekers in Kenya and elsewhere since 2010. In a recent letter to the Kenyan police, to which they have not responded, we describe how asylum seekers were assaulted, detained, and interrogated before Ethiopian officials in Nairobi, and forced to return to Ethiopia. Many also received threatening phone calls and text messages from Kenyan and Ethiopian phone numbers.

In private, some Kenyan police told us that Ethiopian Embassy officials in Nairobi have offered them cash to arrest Ethiopians. Ethiopian refugees said Ethiopian officials tried to recruit them to inform on others, promising land, protection, money, and resettlement to the US or elsewhere.

Threats to fleeing Ethiopians are not limited to Kenya. Community leaders, social media activists, opposition politicians, and refugee protection workers have been harassed in other countries. Human Rights Watch has documented abductions of Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers from Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti, and elsewhere.

High-profile opposition figures with foreign citizenship have also been handed to Ethiopian authorities without a legal process, including a British citizen detained in Yemen, a Norwegian citizen in South Sudan, and a Somali national handed over last month by Somalia’s government.

In Somaliland, we recently spoke to 10 asylum seekers who were forced back to Ethiopia during one of the frequent roundups of Oromo in Somaliland. Eight said they were tortured upon their return to Ethiopia. Many described harassment from Ethiopian embassy officials and indifference from the UN refugee agency.

All this creates a climate of fear and mistrust amongst Ethiopian refugees, preventing them from living normal lives, going to working or even applying for asylum.

The UN refugee agency and host countries should work harder to ensure Ethiopians fleeing torture and persecution can safely access asylum processes and be safe from the long reach of Ethiopian officials.

Source HRW

The role of Women in the Oromo National Liberation Movement

  1. Introduction
  2. The role of the Oromo women during the early liberation struggle led by OLF
  3. The aftermath of the occupation by the Abyssinians and its effect on the behavioral patterns of the Oromo women and men
  4. The obstacles to emancipations
  5. Conclusion

 

  1. In any given liberation movement the role of women is equally important as the role of men to make the objectives of the movement a reality. Without women’s participation in the struggle for political, socio-economic and cultural freedom, independence cannot achieve its goal in the shortest possible time. Roughly the Oromo women constitute 50% of the population. Therefore, we cannot expect a genuine national liberation struggle if we ignore or marginalize half of the Oromo population.

For us the Oromo women, taking part in the Oromo national liberation movement is our right as well as our duty.Our fate is intertwined to who we are. We the Oromo women suffer from the same political persecution, economic oppression, and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Abyssinian regimes on men. In addition to the national oppression, we also face gender discrimination which denies us equal access as men to political, economic and social rights. Therefore we also have a great desire for freedom from tyranny.

2, During the first two decades after the formation of the OLF in 1974 there were a few Oromo women who broke the barrier of gender discrimination and joined the struggle for freedom from oppression. They consciously and actively participated in Oromo politics and directly or indirectly contributed to the struggle. I would like to give a few examples to pinpoint the role played by these women to show not only the contribution but also the limitation.

The late Addee Tsahai Tolasaa who staunchly supported her husband’s participation in the struggle provided logistics and humanitarian help to the families of imprisoned members of the organization. She also witnessed the terrible sight of her husband’s abduction. Finally, she herself tasted the harsh interrogation, torture, and humiliation under Mengistu’s regime. And after 9 years and 8 months of imprisonment without trial was set free in1989.

Addee Demeqech Bekele was the backbone of the logistics. She took great risks by allowing her house as a meeting place and as an archive of the OLF’s documents. She also helped the liberation movement procuring and supplying medicine for the Oromo liberation army. She ended up in prison in 1980 leaving two small children to their fate of being brought up ”for almost ten year” without mother and father.She was released in September 1989.

Addee Kuwee Kumsa was left to fulfill the heavy burden of bringing up her three children after her husband joined the struggle. Even then she became a member of the publication committee and contributed a lot to the Oromo literature in which she has a great talent. She was arrested in 1980 and released in September 1989.

Addee Addis Alem Geneti participated in the logistics and humanitarian help up until she was arrested in 1980. While she was in prison she was confronted with the most painful experience of the loss of her second child Melba. She was released in September 1989.

However superfluous it may seem to speak about one’s accomplishments, I would like to say few words about myself. Almost from the very beginning, I became the first Oromo woman to work in the central committee. I was assigned to the foreign relations and logistics affairs. I tried to establish contact between the OLF and the diplomatic circles, in some of which I succeeded. This relation enabled us to send to and receive from the OLF foreign office important documents and information.Working with the coordinating committee in Finfinnee  I also contributed to logistics. After being arrested during pregnancy in 1980 I gave birth to my son Mossissa whose health is permanently affected due to lack of timely help during delivery. Even my unborn son had to pay a price for his country.I was released in1989.

During the same period, there were many Oromo women who joined the Oromo Liberation Army. According to my source whom I interviewed, Oromo women participated in military, medical and communication sectors.There were also combatants. They have made great contributions and sacrifices, including their irreplaceable and precious lives to their country and the freedom of their people.

Under a dictatorial regime like in Ethiopia, no one has the right to organize. Therefore, Oromo people could only participate in underground work and the backbone of these organizations was logistics. Specially Oromo women have provided the bulk of the logistics to the struggle for freedom. They have allowed their houses as meeting points, fed and sheltered the freedom fighters, relayed information and materials, took the responsibility of bringing up the children and took care of the elderly family members of the absentees.

Most of the Oromo women whose family members have been arrested have equally suffered as those in prison. They had to provide the prisoners with food, clothes and other necessities. During visits to their relatives in prisons, they faced all the arrogance of the security guards, verbal and physical abuses and inappropriate bodily contacts. Even these humiliations did not deter them but made them stronger and stronger. It gave them the stamina to go on supporting the freedom fighters and women’s hunger for freedom increased each day. All the above mentioned, unknown by name but deeds are the heroes of the then struggle for liberation from tyranny.

Last but not least, I would like to mention the Oromo women in the diaspora who supported the movement by playing active roles within The Oromo Student movements. Some Oromo women have also allotted their knowledge, time and energy for Oromo humanitarian help.

I mentioned the contribution of the above few Oromo women to give you an insight not only of their contribution but also the type of assignment allotted to them.

3. When the Oromo nation ruled itself through the Gadaa system the Oromo women had a small window of participation which was the management and responsibility of the family. But they were excluded from the political and military structures. After Oromia came under the Abyssinian occupation even that small window was closed. The Oromo patriarchal society totally adopted the most repressive Abyssinian system which denied women from playing a role in political, and socio-economic activities in the society. Women were reduced to domestic help and sex objects.

4. The obstacles to the emancipation of women are complicated and come from different aspects of the society.

(a) lack of education and poverty

(b) traditional cultural repression

(c) luck of Oromo women’s organizations

(d) family responsibility

(e) religion

(f) total irresponsible behavior of  OLF

(a )  Education plays an important role in the general political economic, social and cultural development of a society. Boys are generally given priority over girls as far as education is concerned because most parents especially who had low income and education thought that girls could get married and be financially supported by the husband. By doing so they condemned their daughters to the kitchen and the household job; while they promoted the boys to be educated to be self-sufficient. Even when girls get the chance to go to school and become one of the best they are considered as the exception rather than the norm. When boys find out that girls could be smarter than them they try to destroy their reputation. Every step forward for a woman is blocked one way or another. Therefore, the number of Oromo women who could get the chance to get formal education to develop their talent politically, economically and psychologically self-sufficient is very limited. This has negatively contributed to their low level of political consciousness and lack of self-confidence, which has, in turn, limited their participation in Oromo politics.

(b)  Occupiers not only exploit the occupied land and subjugate the people but impose their language, culture, and religion. The Abyssinian culture is the most backward and repressive system which reduces women to nothing. Through time the Oromo men who lost control on their own lives became tyrannical abusers of women. They deprived them of the little right they were given by Gadaa political institution.They put them down used them as punch bags. Finally, they simply became control freaks.The women themselves went along with it, lost their confidence, accepted the abuse, and became submissive.  A self-confident woman is considered as unfeminine by men and laughed at by women for being the vanguard of women’s rights.

(c)  Due to the above-mentioned reasons, Oromo women never learned how to organize themselves and combat suppression in any shape or form. The only organization they understand is the social ones. As I have already mentioned, individually, there were Oromo women who broke the cultural barriers and participated in different activities, from humanitarian to armed struggle. There are many who sacrificed their lives to the cause. Unfortunately due to the lack of organization “Without organization, the best intentions of the most talented individuals can yield only scattered results.” (Eisen,Arlene,Women and revolution in Vietnam, 1984:119) so we go back to square one.

In the Oromo family framework even though the bread winner of the family is the father, the mother plays a much more important role in the lives of the children. She not only looks after their material needs like cooking washing and housekeeping but also their emotional problems. Therefore the children believe that their mother will always be there for them if and when they needed her. Consequently, Oromo children find it easier to open up to their mother when they are faced with problems. Because of the responsibility bestowed upon them and the motherly feeling most Oromo mothers are hindered from leaving their children to be cared for by someone else and join in active politics.

(e) As is well known in the past history of the world religion is one of the most ruthless tools of occupiers. In Oromia, the appearance of the foreign religious beliefs has influenced the fate of the Oromo women. These religions neither gave prominent religious positions nor allowed women to become religious scholars. In a patriarchal society like present Oromia religious institutions teach the submission and inferiority of women. Because of their belief, women endorse it and the men applaud it because it gives them more advantage over women.

(f) The inability of the OLF to implement its own program had a detrimental effect on the promotion of the participation of women which has resulted in its slow pace to success.

5. In order to promote the participation of Oromo women in the National Liberation Movement and the building of the future Oromia; their equal rights have to be recognized not only on paper but in deeds by OLF. The current stereotype allotments of duty like logistics and humanitarian help have to be replaced by more inclusive aspects of all other responsibilities. They should be recruited encouraged, supported and promoted according to merit so that women could reach the highest level of the leadership hierarchy. But not blocked and discouraged from aiming and reaching higher. It is the responsibility of the OLF to organize, politicize and mobilize the Oromo women in a way that they could be more effective in their contribution to the Oromo National Movement.

Within the family structure, equal opportunity to education should be given to members of both sexes. This would enable women to continue higher education, exploit their talents and practice their skills and participate in the building up of their country.

Men should be educated to recognize that an Oromo woman is more than a sex object, domestic servant and inferior to Oromo men. They should learn to be more than sperm donors because their children will be the generation who would carry the responsibility of ruling Oromia. The Oromo society has to free itself from the alien culture which allows men to treat women to be used and misused as their personal effect. The pretext of the division of labor, men as breadwinners and women nannies and domestic help is a story of the past. Women have proved that they could be educated and have achieved the same level as men, in education, science, and technology when they get the opportunity to do so. And that is why they should fight for it. Women should organize themselves to prove to oneself that anything is possible if one tries hard.

The equal rights of women as men would accelerate the achievement of our goal which is to liberate the Oromo people from the existing suppressive government. Other wise we would have lost 50% of our potential and lengthened the duration of occupation.

Freedom is never a gift. It is the result of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Oromo women also have to assert themselves and fight for their rights. They should come to the for front support each other and organize themselves instead of looking for the shortcomings of the ones who try to liberate themselves as well as other Oromo women. The way to emancipation is believing in oneself and being open to work on ones belief make mistakes and learn from it. Unless Oromo women shake off the pressure of the society they will never achieve their goal.

The Gadaa system should not be allowed to remain only as the most democratic system of its time but must be upgraded and brought up to the level of the 21st century and include women in its political and military structure. As I have already mentioned if the ideology of division of labor based on gender:  housekeeping and child upbringing remain women’s domain whereas politics, economics and military matters are reserved to men Gadaa system will loose the respectable position it occupies and be only a history of the past. It would be a dream come true if it could be upgraded to suit the present and go on living forever as a treasure and heritage of all Oromo men and women.

Finally, emancipation does not solely belong to women. It has to be shared by both men and women.We Oromos could be examples to humanity if we could work on the emancipation of women and men simultaneously. Emancipated men don’t hinder the emancipation of women which will help women to take their rightful place in all walks of life. This would finally accelerate the appearance of the dawn of freedom of Oromia from political, socio-economic, and military occupation.

Naamat Issa

15-05-2017

 

Ethiopia admits 2016 unrest death toll reached 669

The official death toll from last year’s civil unrest in Ethiopia came to 669 people, according to a report to the parliament in Addis Ababa this week.

Euractiv | Long-standing grievances over land-allocation and political marginalisation in the Oromia and Amhara regions saw spontaneous ‘illegal’ protests and the killing of some 600 civilians by security forces, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

That lead to a six-month state of emergency in one of the few stable states in Horn of Africa, and a major beneficiary of EU and NGO aid.

At first the official figure for the dead was 177, although groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were already saying the number was closer to between 400 and 500.

The EHRC report, appointed by the government and given to parliament on 18 April, gives a total of 669 deaths, with a detailed breakdown.

It finds that 495 people (465 civilians, 33 security personnel) died in Oromia, 140 people (110 civilians and 30 security personnel) in Amhara and 34 people in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNP) regional states.

However, it finds that security forces only used tear gas and “proportionate” force at the religious Irrecha festival in October 2016.

In previous interviews with EURACTIV.com, the Ethiopian ambassador the EU blamed ‘outside forces’ for the unrest and subsequent deaths.

In this week’s report, Dr Addisu Gebregziabher, Commissioner of EHRC, admitted that “problems of good governance, failure to implement the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa as per the Constitution and the Addis Ababa Master Plan were the main causes for unrest in Oromia regional state.”

But the Commission also stated that illegal demonstrations orchestrated by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromia Media Network caused ethnic-based attacks, ruined religious equality, violated the right to life and inflicted physical injuries on people.

Whilst Ethiopia is a strategic geo-political ‘anchor’ in the troubled Horn of Africa region, and also struggles with repeated severe droughts that put up to 10 million people at the mercy of emergency food aid, NGOs and aid agencies in Brussels will privately criticise the government in Addis Ababa for its authoritarian nature.

With the help of Chinese investment, such as a new Metro line in the capital, the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile, and a new rail line to the coast, GDP has seen impressive increases – whilst the O Oromia and Amhara peoples complain they are sidelines by the Tigran political elite.

Despite the 1 to 10 ratio in civilian to security force deaths, the Commission said that “in most cases, measures taken by security officers were legal and proportionate.” it also indicated that security officers used unnecessary force in several cases.

The EHRC recommended solutions “ to ensure good governance, create employment opportunities for young people, rehabilitate those affected by the unrest, avert ethnic-based attacks, bring responsible security forces to justice, respect and promote people’s rights and prevent movement of illegal weapons.”

Yesterday (20 April) the Oromia and Somali state leaders within Ethiopia signed a conflict-resolution agreement.

The unrest hit headlines around the world after Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa made the ‘cross arms’ symbol of his Oromia people at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Ethiopia is an important partner in the EU’s new Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, its controversial ‘migration pacts’ and a major recipient of Official Development Aid (ODA.)

Hawaasni Oromoo Nezerlaand Ebla 15, 2017 Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo kabajate

Hawaasni Oromoo Nezerlaand Ebala 15, 2017 Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo bifa oo’aadhaan magaalaa Amstardaamitti kabajate. Guyyaa kana miseensonni hawaasaa bay’inaan  wolitti dhufuudhaan gootota Qabsoo Bilisummaa Oromoo irratti wareegaman yaadataniiru.

Guyyaan Gootota Oromoo bara kanaa mata duree ‘shoora dubartoota Oromoo Qabsoo Bilisummaa Oromoo keessatti’ jedhu jalatti kan kabajame. Sirna kabaja kanaa irratti addee Na’amaat Iissaa, miseensa koree ABO kan turan, qooda dubartoonni Oromoo qabsoo keessatti qaban irratti haasawa bal’aa godhaniiru.

Guyyaa kana irratti hawaasni Oromoo waa’ee qabsoo Oromoo biyya keessatti geggeeffamuu irratti marii taasisanii jiru. Akkasumas hawaasni dinqisiifannaa fi kabajaa dhaloota ammaa isa qabsoo biyya kessatti geggeessaa jiruufis qabu ibsateera.

Hawaasni Oromoo Nezerlaand qabsoo Oromoo biyya keessatti geggeeffamaaru tin’isuudhaaf deeggarsa fi gumaacha barbaachisu hunda godhuudhaaf waadaa galaniiru.

HRW: Letter on Ethiopia to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs / Vice-President of the European Commission Mogherini

Federica Mogherini

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs /
Vice-President of the European Commission
Rue de la Loi, Wetstraat 200
1049 Brussels

Brussels, March 23, 2017

Dear High Representative Mogherini,

Human Rights Watch wishes to express our deep disappointment over the one-sided statement issued by your office during your official visit to Ethiopia last week. In the public statement of March 17, 2017, you focus only on the important European Union partnerships with Ethiopia on humanitarian assistance, migration, refugees, and economic growth, and reiterate your support for the dialogue with the political opposition currently underway.

In our view the statement was a missed opportunity to state publicly and unequivocally that Ethiopia’s repressive response to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly –  illustrated by the government’s brutal crackdown on protests– is not conducive to Ethiopia’s long-term stability or the EU’s ability to partner with Ethiopia on areas of mutual interest.

As you are aware, Ethiopia’s widespread human rights violations against its citizens means that Ethiopia is a country producing refugees and asylum seekers seeking safety.

Since November 2015 state security forces have killed hundreds and arrested tens of thousands of protesters, plunging Ethiopia into a human rights crisis. A state of emergency, called in October 2016, prescribes sweeping restrictions that go far beyond what is permissible under international law, eliminating what little space there was for the peaceful expression of critical views. The government has detained over 20,000 in “rehabilitation camps” since the state of emergency was declared, according to official figures. Widespread and long-standing restrictions on media and civil society groups continue to be enforced. Opposition leaders remain in detention on politically motivated charges, including Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) leader Dr. Merera Gudina, who was arrested following his attendance at a briefing on November 9 in Brussels organized by an MEP. Just three weeks before your visit, he was charged with “outrages against the constitution” and faces up to life in imprisonment.

Harassment through criminal charges, arbitrary detention of political opposition members and supporters, restrictions on financing, and registration problems have decimated opposition parties since the 2010 election. Actual or perceived members of opposition parties have difficulty accessing the benefits of development and humanitarian assistance, including that provided by the EU and its member states. This partisan system ensures that Ethiopians in rural or drought-vulnerable areas of the country are dependent on the government, bolstered by EU support, for their livelihoods, food aid, employment, and health care. This further constricts the space for political expression, dialogue and further undermines the effectiveness of opposition parties. From the government’s perspective, the strategy has been successful — the ruling party and its affiliates won 100 percent of the seats in federal parliament in 2015 despite strong anti-government sentiments in many parts of the country as the protests would later illustrate.

Dismantling opposition parties, imprisoning critical opposition voices, and then inviting whomever remains to engage in a dialogue is not the “right direction,” as your statement said. Nor is having such a dialogue in the shadow of a state of emergency with wide-ranging restrictions on free expression rights. Moderate, yet still critical opposition voices, including Dr. Merera, should be part of any credible dialogue with the opposition, and this should have been stressed privately and publicly to the prime minister as critical for any meaningful dialogue. Your expression of support for political dialogue without acknowledging the systematic destruction of legally registered opposition parties and the suppression of basic human rights is not constructive to the EU’s partnership with Ethiopia.

Discussing economic partnerships during the state of emergency that followed 18 months of brutality partly triggered by the government’s abusive economic development approach illustrates our concern with your recent statement. The Ethiopian government has ignored the rights of those displaced by investment projects, failing to properly consult and compensate them. It begs the question: what polices or safeguards is the EU insisting are in place to ensure that economic development occurs with professed EU commitments to human rights respected?

In this light, the EU-Ethiopia Business Forum should be postponed until the abusive provisions of the state of emergency are lifted. Moreover, the government should make progress on implementing reforms that are crucial for a rights-respecting business environment, such as the repeal or substantial amendment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation.

The contrast between recent statements by the European parliament and the European Union could not be more stark. Parliament has consistently issued strong statements about the government’s brutal crackdown, including a resolution adopted in January 2016 that stated “respect for human rights and the rule of law are crucial to the EU’s policies to promote development in Ethiopia.” The resolution also stressed that the “EU should measure its financial support according to the country’s human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian Government promotes reforms towards democratization.” Parliamentary subcommittee hearings on Ethiopia followed in October. European Parliament actions signaled to the Ethiopian government and its people that there are repercussions for brutality against their own citizens – brutality that undermines European priorities in the Horn of Africa.

In contrast, the EU’s tepid approach, epitomized by your recent statement merely sends the message to the Ethiopian government that its repression and brutality carries no consequences or public condemnation from its most trusted friends, donors, and partners.

As all recognize, Ethiopia is an important partner of the EU in the areas of migration, development and economic growth. But these partnerships are dependent on long-term stability in Ethiopia and, thus, should be dependent on respect for basic human rights.

A further downward spiral in the human rights situation in this country of 100 million people could lead to dramatically increased humanitarian needs and out-migration from Ethiopia, all of which would contravene European and Ethiopian interests. This is where the EU’s focus should be.

We strongly urge you to use future meetings with Ethiopia’s leadership to publicly and unequivocally call for the release of key opposition leaders such as Dr. Merera and Bekele Gerba, the lifting of abusive provisions of the state of emergency, an international investigation into the crackdown on government protests, and the repeal of longstanding restrictions on media and civil society. And as stated in the European parliament resolution, it would be beneficial to clarify what progress on human rights you expect from Ethiopia to maintain ongoing EU support. The European Union’s interests in Ethiopia are best served by taking a principled stance on the importance of human rights protections.

Kind regards,

Lotte Leicht
EU Director
Human Rights Watch
CC:

Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ms Helga Schmid
Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, EEAS, Mr Jean-Christophe Belliard
Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Global Issues, EEAS, Mr Christian Leffler
Chair of the EU’s Political and Security Committee, Ambassador Walter Stevens
Managing Director for Africa, EEAS, Mr Koen Vervaeke
Director, Deputy Managing Director for Africa, EEAS, Ms Birgitte Markussen
Head of Division, Horn of Africa, East Africa and Indian Ocean, EEAS, Ms Claudia Wiedey
Managing Director for Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues, EEAS, Ms Lotte Knudsen
Director, Deputy managing Director for Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues, EEAS, Mr Marc Giacomini
Head of Human Rights Division, EEAS, Ms Mercedes Garcia Perez
Chair of the Council’s Africa Working Party, Mr Riccardo Villa
Head of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia, Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht
EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis
Head of Cabinet of the High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini, Ms Fabrizia Panzetti
Deputy Head of Cabinet of the High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini, Mr Oliver Rentschler

See the source

Politically Motivated Charges Against Ethiopian Opposition Leader

HRW| Three months after Ethiopian security forces arrested opposition leader Dr. Merera Gudina upon his return to Ethiopia, following his participation in a hearing at the European parliament about the crisis in his home country, prosecutors on Thursday charged the prominent 60-year-old politician with rendering support to terrorism and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.” Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lelisa and the head of the banned opposition group Ginbot 7, Dr. Berhanu Nega, had also participated in the hearing that had been hosted by Member of the European Parliament Ana Gomes, and which was to inform delegates about the protests that have swept through Ethiopia since November 2015. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands detained since these protests began. Merera is now at Maekelawi, a prison where mistreatment and torture are commonplace.

Merera is the chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a legally registered political opposition party. He joins many other senior OFC leaders facing terrorism charges over the last 18 months. Among those presently standing trial is OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba. Prosecutors included as evidence of his crimes a video of Bekele at an August 2016 conference in Washington, DC, where he spoke of the importance of nonviolence and commitment to the electoral process. Like Merera, he has been a moderate voice of dissent in a highly polarized political landscape.

Merera and Bekele join a long list of opposition politicians, journalists, and protesters charged under the 2009 anti-terrorism law, regularly used to stifle critical views of governance in Ethiopia. Acquittals are rare, credible evidence is often not presented, and trials are marred by numerous due process concerns.

During the state of emergency – called by the government in October 2016 in response to the crisis and to crush the growing protests – the Ethiopian government publicly committed to undertake “deep reform” and engage in dialogue with opposition parties to address grievances. Instead of taking actions that would demonstrate genuine resolve to address long-term grievances, the government again used politically motivated charges to further crack down on opposition parties, reinforcing a message that it will not tolerate peaceful dissent. This raises serious questions regarding the government’s commitment to “deep reform” and dialogue with the opposition. Instead of responding to criticism with yet more repression, the Ethiopian government should release opposition politicians jailed for exercising their basic rights, including Bekele and Merera. Only then can a meaningful and constructive dialogue with opposition parties take place that can begin to address long-term grievances.  (more…)