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Oromo Canadian Community Open Letter to Amb Linda Thomas-Greenfield

To: H.E Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

UN Security Council President

Permanent Representative of U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York,

799 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017

E-mail: usun.newyork@state.gov

 

March 15, 2021

Your Excellency,

The Oromo Canadian Community Association of Atlantic Canada and the Oromo Community Association of Nova Scotia appreciates the timely intervention plan by the UN Security Council to bring peace and stability in Ethiopia. We strongly urge the planned peaceful dialogue to be an all-inclusive effort that accommodates all opposition political parties & actors operating in the largest regional state, Oromia, where the peace and stability situation is equally, if not more, worse like that of Tigray and Benishangul- Gumuz regional states. The fundamental problems of the country that resulted in this vicious cycle of violence and dysfunctional political atmosphere is partially due to the lack of comprehensive understanding by the stakeholders pertaining to the root causes of Ethiopia’s political problems. Facts were ignored; giving way to fabrications of the incumbent successive regimes of Ethiopia that dominated the state-owned media outlets. The voices of opposition political parties and other dissenting views were successfully suppressed by the Ethiopian ruling elite to no avail. Specifically, this is true for the Oromo people, the single majority citizens that constituted half of the over 82 ethnic groups of Ethiopia, who are socially, economically and politically marginalized and whose quest for self-rule has fallen on deaf ears. The ongoing debate of UN Security Council members is the beginning of a very important step to diagnose and subsequently cure the chronic and endless political failures of the country. It is our belief that for such conflict resolution debate to have any success, the fundamental problems ravaging the country must be addressed. The outcome of the debate needs to draw a mechanism in which the incumbent Ethiopia’s ruling party commit itself to undertake a genuine dialogue and reach an accord with all major opposition party leaders including the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Oromo Federalist Congress OFC), Ethiopian Democratic Forces, and other stakeholders to forge a lasting solution to chart the way forward.

 We believe that the international community has an obligation to exert diplomatic pressure on the Ethiopian government to resolve the current political crises in Ethiopia peacefully for sustainable peace and stability to reign. The intermittent Internet blackout as well as telephone disconnections in Oromia that also happened in Tigray are clear indications of Ethiopian authorities trying to hide information about the atrocities being perpetrated in these regions from both national and international spectators. The hopeful statements for the liberalization of the political space promised by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his inaugural address turned out to be the opposite of what has been promised.

Your Excellency,

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The euphoria of promises by the Prime Minister started diminishing soon after he put parts of the Oromia Regional state under the military command post that resulted in mass killings of thousands of Oromos, burning their crops or properties and the subsequent internal displacements. The military command posts were fully authorized to arrest, torture, loot, and rape violating all the fundamental human rights of the Oromo citizens, indiscriminately. The government restricted the free movement of legally registered political parties such as OLF and OFC to operate in Oromia. The regime unleashed acts of terror on top leaders, members, and supporters of the organization. Additionally, the military commanders vandalized and closed the opposition party offices in the entire Oromia Regional State. The research that Amnesty International (AI) released on May 29, 2020 clearly indicated the widespread killings of civilians in Southern Oromia especially in East and West Guji zones as well as in Western and Central zones of Amhara region. Similar brutal killings mentioned in the AI report were also rampant in other places. Not only AI but also other credible Human Rights groups have reported on similar instances.

Our fear is that the situation poses an immediate threat to regional peace and security with international implications while staggering the fledgling democractic process in the Horn of Africa region. The arbitrary mass arrest included individuals ranging in age from young school children and University students to the elderly civic society leaders. The occupational background of these detainees is also very diverse ranging from farmers, businesspersons, government employees, students, as well as members and leaders of civic and political organizations. The grave situation under discussion was further aggravated and reached its boiling point after the assassination of the prominent Oromo artists, Haacaaluu Hundeessa by government agencies on June 29, 2020. Since then the country has gone from bad to worse and the downward spiral Ethiopia’s political trajectory is on now would lead to total chaos unless timely action is taken by the UN Security Council. While the assassination of this prominent Oromo artist is blamed on the government security structure itself, the government has used the incident as a pretext to unleash strategically pre-conceived mass arrests of prominent Oromo political leaders and journalists on fabricated charges of conspiracy around the Artist’s assassination. Evidently, Abiy Ahmed’s regime has renewed the systematic and structural marginalization of the Oromo by terrorizing citizens and by putting most part of Oromia regional state under command post ruled by the military & security police. As a loyal surrogate to his former party bosses of the now defunct Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Abiy Ahmed has clearly inherited the totalitarian governing tenets of his former EPRDF manual, while venturing on a “one-man rule” approaches of Eritrea’s lifetime President, Isaias Afeworki. This is very worrisome and makes the situation very alarming for the entire region.

Your Excellency,

The political crises in Ethiopia that started in Oromia Region is spilling over to all the regional states while a full-fledged war in the Tigray Regional state is still raging. This war has also attained an international dimension in which credible sources already confirmed the involvement of the Armed forces of the State of Eritrea. If Abiy’s plan to narrow political space by eliminating credible political parties & leaders can continue unabated, Ethiopia will, inevitably, be immersed into chaos with far reaching consequences, even, beyond its borders. Therefore, we urge that atrocities and genocidal killings committed on Oromo people as well as Ethiopian citizens in Benishangul-Gumuz and Tigray regional states be investigated by independent entities and hold the perpetrators accountable for the crimes against humanity.

Finally, we appeal to your good office as a member of UN Security Council to use your diplomatic leverage to stop the ongoing war between regional state of Tigray and Federal government of Ethiopia, the undeclared war in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regional states as well as an immediate release of political prisoners that included leaders of the OLF and OFC.

In summary, we demand Abiy Ahmed’s regime to release all political prisoners, unconditionally, and to hold an All-inclusive political dialogue with all stakeholders for the political solution of the country, immediately. It is our firm belief that the consultative debate among all political parties and the resultant consensual political settlement to be the only alternative for resolving the current stalemate and avert Ethiopia’s current trend on the path of being a failed state.

We appreciate the efforts of the various Human Rights groups, Democratic Governments, and the International Community that expressed their concerns about the current alarming situation in Ethiopia.

Hoping for your utmost consideration,

Respectfully,

Leta Etafa 

President of Oromo Canadian Community Association of Atlantic Canada  oromocanadacommasso@gmail.com

Abdulfetah Abawajy 

Chair of Oromo Community Association of Nova Scotia addezem@yahoo.ca

 


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