In a rare undated photo taken from an Ethiopian prison compound, Mr. Bekele Gerba, the Oromo Prisoner of Conscience, is shown in a yellow prison jumpsuit with his characteristic calm yet resolute demeanor. He was arrested by the Ethiopian government nearly a year ago on December 23, 2015. At the time of his arrest, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), whose prominent top leadership, including its Chairman Dr. Merera Gudina, has been put into prison over the last year and half since the onset of the second waves of the Oromo Protests in November 2015. The OFC leadership has been accused, by the Ethiopian authorities, of igniting and leading the nonviolent Oromo Protests, which the authorities have labelled as “terrorist” actions. With Dr. Merera Gudina and Mr. Bekele Gerba, thousands of Oromo young and old citizens (including recording artists) are imprisoned for participating in and/or sympathizing with the Oromo Protests; several thousand others, including the victims of the Bishoftu Irreecha Massacre of October 2, 2016, have been extrajudicially murdered by the government. These abuses of the human rights and the human dignity of the Oromo person continue unabated inside and outside the prison camps in Oromia and Ethiopia.
Photo Credit: Oromia Media Network (OMN)