Falls Church, Virginia (3/2/2021)—The Oromo Legacy Leadership and Advocacy Association (OLLAA) applauds the German government’s March 1 announcement that it has recalled its ambassador to Myanmar following the military government’s unlawful killing of peaceful protestors. “Such deadly violence against peaceful demonstrators can not be justified,” said German Foreign Ministry spokesman Steffan Seibert, “We summoned Myanmar’s ambassador today to make this position clear.”
OLLAA commends Germany’s commitment to democratic norms and urges the government to similarly signal its support for Ethiopian civilians, who are suffering gross violations of their human rights to life and freedom from unlawful arrest.
The atrocities in the Tigray region are part of an overarching pattern of human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
According to a report by Australian human rights monitoring NGO the Oromia Support Group (OSG), at least 1,342 civilians have been killed by Ethiopian security forces since October 2018. For example, nearly 350 civilians died in extrajudicial killings in the Western Oromia region alone. A 2020 report by Amnesty International documents dozens of horrific extrajudicial killings, including a father of three who was murdered by Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) at a town-wide meeting because his mobile phone rang in the middle of proceedings. In another case, the Oromia Police Special Force targeted and killed a 10th-grade student while he drank coffee at a local cafe.
Aside from the Ethiopian government’s abhorrent and illegal executions of civilians, the state has carried out a campaign of mass arrest and arbitrary detention for the past two years.
Between January and September 2019, Amnesty International reported that at least 10,000 people were known to be imprisoned in a wave of mass detention that targeted anyone believed to be even remotely associated with opposition political parties.
More recently in 2020, amidst the covid pandemic, the Ethiopian government arrested and imprisoned at least 5,000 people, many of whom were journalists, politicians, and student activists critical of the government according to Amnesty international. While the government postponed democratic elections, ostensibly due to covid transmission concerns, state security forces simultaneously placed thousands at high risk of the virus due to “punitive” conditions inside detention centers.
On the same day as Germany’s announcement, a BBC journalist was arrested and reportedly taken to a military detention camp.
OLLAA urges the German government to undertake the following actions:
- Unequivocally condemn Ethiopia’s use of extrajudicial killing, mass arrest, and political imprisonment, and directly call on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to release all political prisoners with no conditions.
- Dispatch representatives from the German embassy in Addis Ababa to monitor the wellbeing of Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, and the dozens of other political prisoners who have not eaten for over 30 days. The detainees are leading a hunger strike in order to demand justice for all political prisoners and their families, who continue to be targeted by Ethiopian security forces for their association with the detainees.
- Recall the German Ambassador to Ethiopia Stephan Auer in response to the Ethiopian government’s flagrant violations of democratic norms and international law.
For more information about the Oromo hunger strike, visit OLLAA.org/hungerstrike.