Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – Dejene Tafa, High Ranking OFC Official, Pleads Not Guilty at Federal High Court Hearing (15.03.2021)

March 15, 2021

Mr. Tafa’s statement:

The charges brought against me aren’t clear and are not sufficient to plead guilty. The Criminal Code provision I am being charged with states the use of a firearm was used to incite violence. Yet, the content of one of the charges brought against me is inciting violence by the use of stones and sticks. The charges against me and the Criminal Code provision I’m being charged with are unrelated. I was arrested one week after Hacaaluu Hundessa’s assassination. I was surrounded and arrested in my home, not on the way to the funeral home. The weapon charge has already been dismissed by this court. The prosecutor presented stones and sticks to charge Oromos with possession of weapons. We believe that the only nuclear weapon Oromos have is to use our farming products, including wheat and other crops, for peaceful struggle.

I am also being charged for saying “the government, particularly the House of Peoples Representatives, would lose its legitimacy on Sene 30th (July 7th, 2020).” It’s my right to say that and I will repeat it without hesitation: the current government has finished its term and there is no legitimate government in place currently. The incumbent, knowing very well that Dr. Abiy’s government term has expired, has interpreted the law to accommodate the expiring term.

The other thing I’m being charged with is for saying, “there needs to be a transitional government.” Yes, I still believe there needs to be a transitional government. For many years, the struggle of the people for freedom and democracy has been aborted by successive oppressive governments. Now, we don’t want another fake election, like the one Prosperity Party is currently preparing. We need an inclusive transitional government. The way things are going currently, it is inevitable that a transitional government will be established.

Thank you.

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