Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – Mr. Bekele Gerba’s betrayal of faith! (27.03.2021)

The 1th anti-terrorism and constitutional issues in the federal high court, March 13, 2013 Meee
Honorable court, I wish I had done a short answer for the crime I have been accused of or not. But what I have not done, what I have said, what I said, what I haven’t done or what I have done, so I have to list my thoughts a little bit.
Most of the crimes against humanity in the case are my political positions that can’t make me sue.
Using 1. different medias to make nations conflict.
2. people in order to rise up against the government
3. Government says the time of power will end September 30
4. is the soul that was killing and killing Oromo people. When you wake up saying you shouldn’t be governed under the nef _ hachalu’s death, they say you are the cause of death and destruction of many people.
First of all, I am present to the crime that says you have made ethnicity conflict. I just want to express the number one accusation that we have made for nations and nationalities to live in equality and peace. Jawar Mohammed, I don’t want to repeat what he has raised, my political stand, faith and actions will not apply to this. I spent my childhood and followed my elementary school with my friends who were sitting at home and studying in our church. One of the reasons we forced us to go to the place to solve the problem between Oromo and Gumuz people. Since I believe that human beings are created equal and free in my religion, I have been given to learn their language and culture. In a country where some people don’t speak the language of the community in which they live forty and forty years ago, I have been able to cure the pains of Gedeo Zone in one year. I have been invited to have important political meetings when many nations celebrate their holiday. I am a follower of peaceful struggle of Martin Luther King who believes in democracy and discussion. Let’s learn from the famous civil rights activist Martin Luther King’s book to translate it to Amharic and Afan Oromo not by his color. I have never done anything that humiliates any ethnicity before or after I get into politics. No one can confirm this for me. But I don’t know there is a hate campaign that is missing by the name of this falsely.
The 2th crime says you have motivated the people on the government and I don’t deny that I have no good relations with the behavior of the government. The time is over from the military government Sangbaba. I am here for the third time before EPRDF holds power. In 2002 E. C During election campaign, I was teaching Addis Ababa University about land invasion and farmers in 2003 They called me from class and told me that I have been in Solo and took OLF’s military training. I have been released for four years in prison. If what I did then is considered to motivate the people of the government, I have done it.
Again in 2008 E. C. When the robbery of the land, Gidata, Adelaw, Adelaw and E-Democracy took place in jail again. I have really tried to motivate the people during a peaceful struggle. Since the party in power can’t stand the wave of the people, the change forces in the media came to court and supported the idea of the people, we are the terrorists, the people have no fault, we have made a mistake, we have stolen it, the people have started saying that they have come to the court to testify the ideas of the people and they have started saying ′′ we have done wrong, they have started to come to tell the leaders of the leaders of the ministers of the ministers. We have been sentenced to death because of the change that the party has made in its appointment and we are out of prison. When the change was made, the whole people had a great hope and I was one of those who thanked God. God heard our prayers and took it as a good people. When I hear the speech of the prime minister and others, I was very educated. From here I am invited to abroad to support this government in all the platforms I have been found. From Washington to New York, from Atlantic County to State departments, I have argued that the change group should be strengthened and supported to conduct a successful election. From one time on this group, after we found good leaders like this, it is not necessary for me to stay in opposition politics, so I have decided to just decide on my normal job. It was so innocent.
I didn’t expect that the change will end the Hadid so quickly. I didn’t think people would go to jail where they came from. I didn’t expect that all schools will be in central prison closed. I didn’t think that the youth who fought in front of a tank will be killed as an adventure on the media. I never thought the mother of Oromo will cry again. I didn’t think that the diaspora will teach him about struggle in this country while there was a scholar who lived in this country. How can I guess there will be a government armed forces who dance while burning farmer s’ houses?
How do I guess the ruling party will open our doors for the second time when the military fights for each other and our military will open like this? At least all our offices were closed before we were told that they are ‘ competitors ‘ and we didn’t think that we will be removed from the election. I didn’t expect that more than nine hundred government supporters and private media will be controlled by one ethnic group. I didn’t think that we will practice cruelty and corpse in an unusual manner. In general, truth and lies, everything has changed in this speed. (Power, wealth, knowledge, faith and institution) I can’t see the opposition that I can hear from the government. As a political party, we are going to organize and create peaceful demonstration by making such kind of government actions, informing the people, publicly revealing and criticizing. As a citizen and a political party these are not only my right but also my duty.
The crime that was presented to me on the 3th is saying ′′ the ruling party will end September 30 ′′ Our country has constitution. The constitution is our promise document. No one is going to be violated the way they want. It is written that it is intended to lead dictatorship leaders, the constitution can only stay in power for five years has no reason and meaning. But because the ruling party doesn’t want to resign, the government has postponed its time to make a meaning on the constitutional issue.
According to the constitution, most of the government’s time will end September (30) and after that the government should also advise other parties. I believe that the government that is in power continues illegally holding its power. This can’t make me laugh. I was the one who should have sued and should have sued.
In the 4th grade there is a crime that says ′′ the life of Oromo is killing the people, we shouldn’t be governed under the nef _ rule ′′ If there is anyone who says the system of the soul does not do this, this is not where we are, we will struggle to understand. Because of the killings and crimes committed by the soul _ of _ the _ war is enough to look at the works of professor Bahru Zewde, Richard Pankrest, Mohammed Hassen and Lapiso Gedelebon. It is good to see the difference between the difference between the two people and the Amharas.
A person with a soul is a leader who invaded the people of one area, killed the one who killed him, sitting on the ground by force and buying his language without his will. This is the system of the 19th century that has been implemented in Oromia and South of our country. Most of you may know the system of the soul _ of the soul only in history, you may read it or hear it from people. But I know it in action, I live it. I have seen a human being eating the red land where his people lived, being humiliated, underneath people but you are the one who came with the beard. I know when our ancestors bought their cattle from where they came from, I know when we went to carry the land of white shilling with my father. So what are those who didn’t fight this system? What causes you not to be willing to run under this kind of system? I still don’t want to be ruled under this kind of system.
As I mentioned above, Nef Tegnna and Amhara are different. For the paradise of the Lord.
In 1., where I was born, where I grew up and where my family lives, many Amhara farmers come to search for jobs every year. Like any other person, many will find their weaknesses and return to where they came from. Some will respect, some will marry, some will give birth. These land are not those who came to forcefully put their identity on the people of my country, so these are Amhara not soul.
2. I followed my higher education in Amhara region in Bahir Dar teachers college. My first friends are Amhara people. My colleagues were Amharas when I was at work. They are not those who haven’t caught, they are not displaced, they have never told us to buy you, they were not those who want to put their identity on others, they are not _ haters. After working, I have visited Amhara rural and cities. I have watched the lives of the people. Farmer’s lifestyle has no difference from where I was born. Saying this people is not only political ignorance but also sin.
3. I also have friends of this ethnic group who are administered by business. Is it the place where they run their business or they have worked with their weaknesses or they have rented it. They didn’t use anyone, they didn’t put their identity on anyone else. These are Amharas, not haters.
As a system of rural land is related to land, the war has been established in the rural land proclamation which was declared on 1967 Even though it is known that it has changed because of (mode of production) recently, it is known that they are not educated by thinking and covering their own identity by representing the country’s language, culture, religion and history in general. Counting the world as a shameful history has started wearing a t-shirt that says ′′ I am a child of life ′′
The modern mind  of  the  soul is reduced by many sectors and the campaign is held in government office, by the people who are victims of this thought, by government and private media, activists, human rights activists, associations, associations, by associations, by the authoritarians, scholars and the country It’s a mask.
Today the country’s politics is paid by two sides. One of the institutions I mentioned now wants to destroy the federalism and respecting the constitution by changing the previous system (one side language, culture and history) to destroy the rule of the other side. The first stop is trying to make the second round of the political field strong by expanding its campaign and making it out of the political field. For this false accusation he is heading to the destination. This is part of that strategy. And his objective is political too. So I have committed no crime.
Honorable court, if the attempt I made with my friends is considered a crime by our oppressors, I wouldn’t regret it if you were arrested forever to hide the body of Artist Hachalu Hundessa’s body and attend the funeral. Thank you so much.
March 13, 2013 Meee
Bekele Gerba
Finfinee, Oromia, Ethiopia

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Ethiopia: UNHCR reaches destroyed camps in northern Tigray (26.03.2021)

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has gained access to the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region for the first time since November 2020, amid ongoing security concerns.

During a joint mission to the area with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, we found both camps completely destroyed, and all the humanitarian facilities looted and vandalized.

In Hitsats, most of the shelters in an area known as zone A, as well as UNHCR’s offices and staff guest house, were found burnt to the ground. The mission confirmed what satellite imagery and accounts from refugees had indicated at the beginning of this year.

UNHCR is deeply concerned for the well-being of the Eritrean refugees who had been residing there, all of whom have fled the camps.

The joint mission was also able to visit Shiraro town; refugees are understood to be scattered in the area and in urgent need of safety and support. A subsequent mission will seek to identify the numbers living there and assess the possibility for UNHCR and Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugees and Returnee Affairs, ARRA, to deliver assistance and plan for voluntary relocation.

Of some 20,000 refugees that lived in the two northern camps of Hitsats and Shimelba prior the crisis, more than 7,000 have either made their own way or were assisted by Ethiopian authorities to reach the other two Eritrean refugee camps, Mai Aini and Adi Harush. In addition, we have so far been in contact with more than 2,000 refugees from Hitsats and Shimelba in Shire, Mekelle, Afar, and Addis Ababa.

In Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps, food and core relief supplies have been provided to the relocated refugees. They are currently living with relatives, in schools or other communal buildings in the camps which are already over-capacity, as well in some 500 newly-built emergency shelters. While another 100 shelters are under construction, they will not be sufficient. Urgent identification of alternative locations to accommodate more refugee arrivals is a priority, especially with the coming rainy season.

UNHCR’s individual reception, counselling and registration services have reopened in both camps. UNHCR and its partners are scaling up child protection and gender-based violence support services.

Local authorities have reported the presence of some 95,000 Ethiopians who are internally displaced within Shiraro’s administrative area. About 47,000 people were registered by authorities last month while the rest are estimated to have arrived since. To date, the vast majority of internally displaced people (IDPs) are living within the host community, and some 30,000 are living in five settlements. In Shimelba camp, the humanitarian team found over 2,000 IDPs and vulnerable host community members who had sought sanctuary in the camp.

All of the displaced people in Shiraro and Shimelba are in dire need of urgent life-saving assistance, including food, shelter, health care, water and sanitation. UNHCR reiterates the joint UN call for all parties to urgently enable the free and safe movement of affected people in search of safety and assistance, including across international and within national borders, regardless of their ethnic identification. We call for the right to seek asylum to be fully respected.

Ethiopia: Office of the Prime Minister – On Discussions with President Isaias Afwerki (26.03.2021)

Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – Hamza Borana Pleads Not Guilty: Full Statement He Delivered in Court (22.03.2021)

Your Honours,
I, Hamza Borana, plead not guilty to the charges levelled against me. I am innocent of all the charges and I consider the case political. I am charged with:
(1) Inciting violence between nations and nationalities
(2) Inciting the people against the government
(3) Inciting the Oromo people against the Amhara and Orthodox Christians,
(4) Stating that the Neftegna will not govern us and that the Neftegna system has been killing the Oromo people
(5) That I have stated that people should not carry the federal flag during national holidays in Oromia and agitated for measures to be taken against those found carrying it
(6) That I have stated that Oromo nationalists are being killed and the Oromo people should arm itself and rise up.
Before I enter a plea on these charges, I would like to take a few minutes to tell the court about myself.
This is the first time in my life that I have been accused of a crime and stood before a court to plead to a criminal charge. Unless we work towards building a democratic order, I don’t believe this will be my last. Politically motivated legal proceedings against political foes will continue until we address the central political challenges and practices. If we fail to address our country’s original political sins and continue on this path of manipulation and oppression, innocent citizens will continue to be victims and the oppressor will continue to oppress.
I am here today before this court accused of committing a crime because I wanted to play my part in the struggle against this politics of manipulation and domination.
I was not surprised by the detention and the charges. Before joining this struggle, I knew quite well that there is always a risk of detention, suffering, and being killed like my forefathers. I was not surprised because I joined the struggle after preparing myself to pay the necessary sacrifice. Before becoming a politician, I was forced to flee my country and live-in exile for seven years because I fought for equality and justice. Within those seven years, I founded Radio Daandii Haqaa (RDH) and served as its director and journalist to amplify the voice of my people.
The whole nation and the programs we did and the guests we invited are a testament to the fact that I used the Radio to lead the people’s struggle by peaceful means only, while building bridges between communities, and focusing our energy on the dictatorial system. The dictatorial system was eventually overthrown by the bitter struggle of our people and the sacrifice of more than 5000 youth. When the government changed in April 2018, I was one of those who returned home. Having said that much about myself, I would like to address the accusations:
First, I was accused of inciting violence among nations and nationalities. Before I address the issue, let me provide a quick background about myself. I was born and raised in Borana, Southern Oromia. Borana shares a large border with the Southern Peoples region and I grew up and attended school among multi-ethnic groups. I was shaped by the Gadaa system and values of tolerance and accommodation is an integral part of our culture and way of life. After returning to Ethiopia, I traveled to Gambella for peaceful discussion between the nations and nationalities. We had fruitful discussions with representatives of both sides to establish peaceful relations between the people of Gambella and the Oromo people. I was also invited by both sides to contribute to the peace process between the Afar and Wollo Oromos, which I attended in Batte, Wollo. I also attended a peace conference convened by the leaders of the Oromia and Somali regions as part of the ongoing dialogue to resolve the conflict between the Oromo and Somali people and tried to fulfil my civic duties. Similarly, I attended the Oromia Conference in Ambo by the invitation of the President of the Oromia Regional State and supported the efforts to establish a solid foundation for relations between the Somali and Oromo nations. Finally, in the event of ethnic clashes in the universities, I was able to hold an emergency joint meeting with Amhara Region activists to discuss the steps to be taken to prevent the conflict from spreading to the public.
Second, I am accused of inciting violence between the Oromo, the Orthodox Christians and the government. I do not think it makes sense for religion to be the basis for social and political conflict because I view faith as primarily a private matter. I was born to an Orthodox Christian family. My parents and all my relatives were and still are followers of the Orthodox Christian faith. I learned the Amharic language I speak today at a church. For someone in my position to want to instigate violence against Orthodox Christians or Orthodox churches would mean encouraging violence against my mother, who is today attending this very trial travelling more than 600kms from Borana. She should not have been here to see her son if I were in any way capable of even imagining such a thing. The same goes for my father and my brothers.
Third, with regard to the accusation that I have incited people against the government, I would like to raise two points. As soon as I returned to my country, I was engaged in widespread efforts to encourage people to support agents of reform in government to the point that I was perceived by the public as a member of the ruling party. But as events on the ground shifted and Oromo nationalists began to be arrested and killed and killings become widespread and the transition process went off the rails, I approached leading members of the ruling party and offered my advice. When this failed, I then began to publicly criticise the government’s handling of the situation, and once this too failed, I was forced to join the opposition. There is no doubt that Oromo nationalists have been killed; many human rights reports confirm this, many farmers’ houses have been burnt down. Does anyone deny this? How can anyone who advocates for victims gets detained and made to stand trial while the murderers remain free? Because I am a peace-loving person, I had a 12-day discussion with Abba Gadaas and prominent elders in Borana, in an effort to bring peace to the forces that are sincerely in power and fighting in the name of peace. I was fulfilling my civic duty as a caring citizen.
Next, I would like to raise the issue of the flag: I am basically a citizen who believes in the rule of law, legality, the constitution & constitutionalism. I also believe that the rule of law should be upheld until it is changed or amended. We have a flag that is enshrined in our constitution. Green-yellow-red with a yellow star in the center of the blue circle indicating the equality of nationalities and religions. We also have a law that says where, when, and why we should use this flag. In recent times, we have seen the use of the old Ethiopian flag in different ways and often to incite conflict. As a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen, I have expressed the view that during public holidays only the federal flag should be used and that other symbols that reflect the interests of a single group or provoke conflict should not be allowed, which is well within my constitutional right to free expression. As you know, I am not a government official, I do not have an army to command. I argued that the problematic symbols and insignias should not be carried because remaining silent in the face of an illegal use of the old Ethiopian flag that symbolises ideas contrary to our present constitution would have been a dereliction of my duty. However, my respect for the flag is never in doubt. Lastly, the message I want to convey on this agenda is that I see artists posting the same banner in different ways on music videos and films. For me, this is the illegality that should be condemned. One ethnic group’s view doesn’t represent the rest of Ethiopia and their ideas shouldn’t be imposed on other ethnic groups.
Finally, I was accused of stating that it was the Neftegna who were executing the Oromo people and that the Neftegna will not rule over us. While agreeing with the points made by the second defendant, Bekele Gerba, I will add the following on what Neftegna means for me.
For me, the Neftegna violently displaced my father’s grandfather, Obbo Dhana (Dhaanaa) Roba Gunjo, and his family from the Tulama land and forced him to settle among Gujii Oromo. The Neftegna massacred my mother’s father family in the Dharra District of Salale (North Shoa) and they too similarly fled to Borana. My mother’s father great grandfather Gayo Kumsa, has been uprooted by the evil Neftegna system from the South West of Sheger and forced to flee to Borana. I am the offspring of these displaced families. Yes, this is the system that committed ethnic cleansing on the Oromo people. That is why I am fighting hard to keep this system from coming back. Is it those who support this system or those who opposed it who should be accused? We are forever grateful for the debt of Borana, Guji, Arsi, Bale and Itu-Hubbena (Hararge) Oromo, who reached out and embraced the Tulama Oromo during the displacement of Oromos at the time. I would like to use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and respect.
Honourable Court, those of us who returned to our country after the process of democratic transition commenced – former activists, journalists, politicians – many of them chose to turn a blind eye to clear evidence of a slide-back to authoritarianism because they were provided with resources such as land belonging to our farmers, power, and temporary state rents. I felt that the only way I can make a meaningful contribution to the ongoing struggle of my people is by joining a viable opposition party, and I joined the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). My comrades, my organisation and I were seen as an enemy because the ruling party know of the acceptance and support we have among our people and decided to lock us up because they knew they cannot win an election against us. A clear evidence of this is the current situation where the ruling party has jailed us all and removed our party from the election so that the ruling party will run for the election on its own. Therefore, Honorable court, I want to express with great respect, that I am innocent of all charges and I am here because I am falsely accused by the government, so that they can win the election and impose their views on us all.
It was Haacaaluu. They killed him and they prevented us from attending his funeral and properly mourn our loss. It was while I and my friends were on our way to the burial of our hero that we were arrested from the street and jailed. We have not committed any crime.
Thank you.
March 22, 2021
Hamza Borana
Finfinne, Oromia, Ethiopia

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Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – Jawar Mohammed Pleads Not Guilty: Full Statement He Delivered in Court (22.03.2021)

Your Honours,
I, Jawar Siraj Mohammed, plead not guilty. But before I offer my views on the specific accusations against me, I would like to make two general observations of central significance to me and my colleagues. We believe the accusation against us is politically motivated and that our arrest, detention, and trial were driven by two main political objectives.
First, the government fabricated the charges against me and other leading members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) to prevent us from running in the forthcoming election. Because the ruling party knows that it has very little chance of winning seats against us in the Oromia regional state, it decided to pre-emptively remove us from the political space by concocting a trumped-up charge that has nothing to do with me and my colleagues. That is why we are here today.
Second, we see this trial as a trial of the collective aspiration of the Oromo people and our ongoing struggle for political emancipation and self-governance. The nature of the charges chosen by the prosecution and the narrative that accompanies those charges demonstrate that the case is not simply against us, the defendants named in this case, in our individual capacity. This is a charge deliberately put together by the government to defame, belittle, delegitimize, and denigrate the struggle of the Oromo people.
Having said that, I want to comment briefly on the specific charges against me and some issues raised the state prosecution. In summary, the charges against me include (1) ordering attacks against Orthodox Christian clergies, (2) inciting violence among nations and nationalities, specifically against ethnic Amharas, and (3) conspiring to overthrow the government through force.
Your Honours, these accusations are not only false and wholly untrue, but they also contradict my world views, background and track record as an activist.
First, I am a product of a marriage between a Muslim father and a Christian mother. My father, Siraj Mohammed Tufa Jillo, is a Muslim Arsi Oromo. My mother, Fantu/Shemsi Tola Buli Bune, is a Christian Tulema Oromo. I married to Arfase Gemeda, a protestant Christian whose parents are from Borena and Mecha Oromo. Arfase has been a tenacious and unfailing defender of the Oromo people who has been on the Oromo political scene long before me.We have a son who we named Oromo.
In addition to being a product of a marriage between a Muslim father and a Christian woman, I also work with people of diverse religious backgrounds. I could not have the kind of irrational and bigoted religious animus against Christians when I grew up in a religiously diverse household and working with people of diverse religious background or fighting for a religious diverse community. But the reality is that this accusation is false and inconsistent with my background and track record. For me, religious equality, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence are not just important principles that I uphold in my public and private life but also an integral part of my lived experience. For me, respect for diversity and plurality is a way of life, not some facile gesture I talk about because it is politically convenient.
I find this accusation ludicrous and so wildly outlandish. I will leave the ultimate judgement to the court, but I want the honourable court to know that these accusations were not new and they were part and parcel of a broader campaign against the Qeerroo movement and the Oromo quest for self-determination. This campaign has been ongoing for decades but intensified in recent years. As an individual who played a key role in this movement over the last decade, I have been targeted by a well-coordinated and financed campaign by the government and its supporters. A key part of this campaign is to vilify and demonise me by conjuring an image of a violent and radical Muslim. What makes the current situation different is that these same allegations are being levelled against me at an official level camouflaged as a question of law and justice. I want to make it clear that this accusation, which draws on deep-rooted Oromophobic and Islamophobic tropes, is deliberately manufactured by those on power to construct an alternative image of a violent Muslim fanatic to advance their goals of delegitimizing my cause and disparage the struggle of the Oromo people.
I was also accused of inciting ethnic violence, particularly against the Amhara. Again, this is simply not true. Everyone who has followed my political career over the years knows that this allegation is completely untrue and contrary to the political strategy I have pursued and the alliances I have managed to build. I do not deny the fact that I have spoken out in defence of diversity, plurality, and multi-ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, and that my vocal defence of these values has angered those who do not like the idea of diverse communities existing side by side in peace and harmony. I never believed that the interest of any society would be advanced by attacking any other society for any reason whatsoever.
Let me offer a few examples to support my point here:
(1) During the struggle against the EPRDF regime, I and my fellow activists were able to develop an inclusive and accommodating strategy that is focused on putting pressure on the ruling elites than targeting civilians living in Oromia. We collaborated with activists with Amhara nationalist movement. We enabled and provided support for the OPDO and ANDM to work together to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. I have played an important role in the formation and implementation of the cooperation between the two nations, known as Oromara. We prevented horizontal communal conflict that targets minority ethnic groups who lived in Oromia, and we showed that our struggle was with the oppressive government regime instead of individuals belonging to one or another ethnic group. No Tigrayan was targeted in Oromia.
(2) On my return to Ethiopia in August 2018, I travelled to Bahir Dar, the Amhara regional capital, to explore fostering collaborative and constructive relationships with representatives and elites of the region. I advised the youth to push for a peaceful and democratic transition by resolving the historical and contemporary divisions between the Amhara and Oromo political communities through dialogue. During my stay in Bahir Dar and after I returned to Finfine, I met with senior officials and tried to create a forum for political scholars to continue negotiations between the two nations. Although the allegation against me is that I exposed the Amhara people to attack, I did the opposite. My accusers today are well aware that I have long been trying to bring the Oromo and Amhara people together for a peaceful and prosperous future.
(3) The border clashes between Oromia and Somalia a few years ago is another evidence demonstrating my commitment to bring together communities and resolve disputes by peaceful means. After returning to Ethiopia, I worked hard to bring peace between the two nations and renew the solidarity between them. I invited tribal leaders from both sides of the border for dialogue. I travelled to the area and countries around the world where influential figures from these communities were located such as Kenya, Minneapolis, Djibouti, and Dubai, where I worked with others to bring people together in a spirit of solidarity and reconciliation. These efforts have helped foster a more peaceful co-existence between the two communities.
(4) I have also travelled to Harar to help resolve the dispute between the Harar city administration and the rural residents of the Harar region. I met with Harari and Oromo elders and religious leaders and discussed with regional and neighbouring zone leaders, to find a peaceful and timely resolution to the crisis. Similarly, I have played a vital role in the process of bringing peace to Dire Dawa city where I worked tirelessly with the city administration and local elders to create an environment of understanding to solve the issues.
(5) Nearly two years ago, a large-scale ethnic conflict broke out in Western Oromia. Leading to the collapse of the government structure and leaving the local population vulnerable and without protection. Bekele Gerba, the second accused in this case, and I went to the area to find an amicable resolution to the problem. And through dialogue and stabilization, we have been able to reunite the people who were cut off from the rest of the country, reopen closed government institutions, and restore social and economic ties. After the visit, we have returned back to Finfinnee and reported the grievances we had heard from the public in the form of a report to the federal government officials and military leaders. Also, we have proposed a solution and begged the concerned bodies to address the matter immediately. But our pleas have been ignored, and the situation in the area has now escalated.
Honourable court, I spent my entire political life – my time, knowledge, and energy – to bring people together and make peace. Contrary to the allegation, I strived for equality and justice rooted in mutual respect and co-operation.
The third and final allegation against me is that I armed Oromo youth to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means. This is entirely false and concocted by the authorities to give substance to the image of a violent Muslim Oromo nationalist the administration tried to depict to scare its supporters. In my political career, I never advocated armed struggle as a means of political struggle. I am known for advocating for peaceful change. I also practised what I preached in public. This is known by the majority of Ethiopians, including my accusers. I believed and continue to believe that peaceful resistance is a more resilient and safe method to bring about a positive and democratic change in societies.
My fierce support and defence of peaceful resistance were based on extensive research into various resistance movements from the anti-colonial periods to the present. I have gained theoretical and practical knowledge studying at world-leading academic institutions such as Stanford, Oxford, and Columbia Universities and their scholars who have done extensive research in the field. I travelled from India to Serbia to work in think tanks and develop my understanding of non-violent resistance methods and the conditions for a successful peaceful resistance in a country like Ethiopia. I had the opportunity to serve as a consultant and analyst for organisations working on the causes, and consequences of the Arab Spring.
We were able to peacefully change the dictatorial system in our country within a short period because we pursued a strategy that took account of Ethiopia’s past and present as well as the various actors operating within the political space.
Given what we have achieved through a peaceful means in 2018, Your Honour, there was no reason for me or my comrades to change our strategy. Indeed, after I decided to get involved in formal politics, I decided to join the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), which participated in peaceful struggle for the last two decades despite conditions that rendered a peaceful struggle impossible.
After I returned to Ethiopia, I spent considerable time trying to find a way to get Ethiopia beyond a culture in which political power is gained and secured through the gun. I urged the government to implement the DDR (Disarm Demobilize Reintegrate) program as organizations that were struggling to achieve their political goals through armed struggle returned to the country. Your Honour, another notable moment is two years ago when as a result of the large-scale conflict and the collapse of government structures in Western Oromia made the entire population extremely vulnerable. The second defendant, Bekele Gerba, and I, along with the Abba Gadaas, Haadha Siinqees, and Oromo scholars, were able to accept the mission of both sides and travel to the conflict zone to resolve the conflict. Although the attempt to bring lasting peace has failed due to the failure of the government to implement the DDR, we made a concerted effort to resolve the differences between the warring factions and to end the vicious cycle of war in our country.
In conclusion, Your Honour, this case is not about accountability or justice. This case is not about legality or rule of law. We are not charged because we committed a criminal offence. We were arrested and detained because the ruling party felt that it could not win an election in Oromia if my party is allowed to participate in a free, competitive and fair election as mandated by the constitution. As I stated at the outset, this case is also goes beyond me and my party. This case is designed to squash the dignity of the Oromo people and besmirch the Oromo national struggle for self-determination. Since the beginning of Emperor Haile Selassie’s rule, the Oromo have been the victim of systematic economic exploitation and political oppression. Subsequent Ethiopian governments did the same. They humiliated the Oromo people and denigrated the Oromo national struggle. The case against us and other Oromo leaders bear the hallmarks of such an attack against the Oromo aspiration.
It is important to note that it was the Oromo people who lost the precious voice of freedom, artist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, on 29 June 2020. It was the Oromo people who were accused of killing their icon and imprisoned in thousands. It was the Oromo who were subjected to an unprecedented propaganda campaign by the government and its supporters, accusing our tolerant community of massacring minorities that lived among us for nearly a century where the reality is that the overwhelming majority of those killed in the violence were Oromos. Contrary to the toxic propaganda by callous forces who unashamedly used the violence to galvanise support for their campaign of dismantling multinational federalism, most of those who lost their lives were killed by government forces.
Therefore, Your Honour, the case before this court is an extension of these political campaigns against the Oromo cause and those of us advocating to advance this cause. We are being tried for acts of incitement only because the ruling party wants to seize power without a democratic challenge and impose its ideology on the Ethiopian people without any real option. As events over the last few months have demonstrated, it is now clear what lies behind these charges and our unjust detention and why such an approach is leading our country down a dangerous path.
Lastly, Your Honour, I am not before this court because I committed a criminal offence. I am here because I stood for and vigorously defended the cause of my people. I am a political prisoner standing trial because I unapologetically fought to advance the wishes and aspirations of my people, which the authorities found threatening.
Jawar Siraj Mohammed
March 22, 2021
Finfinnee, Oromia, Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Global Scholars of Tigrai Scholars (GSTS) letter to Permanent Representatives of US to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield – A Call for the Security Council to Reverse the Decision of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Conduct a Joint Investigation with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (23.03.2021)