The following is a press release from the Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC) on the Amnesty International’s Report: “Because I Am Oromo”
Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC) is a Minnesota based, non-profit organization set up, among others, to expose human rights violations against the Oromo people and influence the policy of the U.S. towards Ethiopia. Minnesota is a state with the highest population of Oromos outside Africa.
OACC collaborated with the Advocates for Human Rights in the 96-page report issued in 2009 under the title, “Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of The Oromo Diaspora.” That Report documented the experiences Oromos in Diaspora faced when they lived in Ethiopia. In May 2005, the Human Rights Watch also issued a report entitled, “Suppressing Dissent: Human rights Abuses and Political Repression in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region.” This report, for the first time, exposed the mechanisms used the Ethiopian government to control rural communities in Oromia through the Gott and Garee Systems. Furthermore, the periodic U.S. State Department’s own annual reports have documented rampant human rights violations against the Oromos over the years.
Amnesty International’s report, ETHIOPIA: BECAUSE I AM OROMO: SWEEPING REPRESSION IN THE OROMIA REGION OF ETHIOPIA, is the most researched and the most comprehensive report ever conducted about human rights violation against the Oromos. The vivid descriptions of tortures conducted against Oromos, the long imprisonment without trial, the murders by security forces, the harsh actions taken against peaceful protests are all well documented with irrefutable evidences. The report further disclosed that any act of Oromo nationalism that is not controlled by the government, such as the Oromo language and the culture development movement, results in detentions and tortures. For that, we want to take this opportunity and congratulate and thank Amnesty International.
While appreciating the efforts and achievements in documenting human rights violations against Oromos under the circumstances, we also want to reiterate that this is only the tip of the iceberg; the reality is much worse than what is documented in this report. Furthermore, we want to warn all stakeholders that this is not a time to rest on our laurels. Especially, as the 2015 election is approaching, the human rights violations will get worse. We, therefore, call up on:
(a) All Oromo and Ethiopian civic organizations to come forward and work on the recommendations of the report mostly in mobilizing the communities and in putting pressure on the government. We need to get united and make our voices heard opposing such violations together as this is an issue that unites all of us.
(b) All other international human rights organizations, based on this report, to put pressure on donor countries to make the respect of human rights a precondition to further assist the Ethiopian government.
Nagessa Dube, Executive Director
Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC)