The following is a press release from the Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organization (Oromo Menschenrechts- und Hilfsorganisation – OMRHO e.V.)*
In a less than two months of time, the Ethiopian court has handed down a death penalty and a life-long imprisonment on Oromo civilians for the second time. It is to our fresh memory that 15 Oromo business and intellectual civilians were sentenced to death and life long imprisonment on 31st March 2010.
Among these was a young Engineer, Mesfin Abebe, who was sentenced to death. Others were condemned to life and long time imprisonment. Most of them served on high business and social responsibilities. A young mother of two children, Lelise Wodajo, was one among those sentenced for long time imprisonment. She had no a crime of her own; she was only accounted for her husband, Journalist Dhabessa Wakjira, who some how managed to escape from prison and TPLF’s persecution. According to the Ethiopian federal court which passed the verdict, all their crime was said to be nothing but their adherence to a different political view from that of the ruling party.
Under similar judiciary circumstances, the Ethiopian federal court handed down this time, 20th of May 2010, death penalty and harsh long time imprisonment on 7 Oromo civilians. These are:
1. Mrs. Dirribe Ettaana, sentenced to death
2. Mr. Deggu Ettaana, sentenced to death
3. Mrs. Urge Abebe, sentenced to death
4. Mr. Daniel Jaleta, sentenced to death
5. Mr. Girma Raggassa, Life imprisonment
6. Mr. Endale Nagari, 10 years imprisonment
7. Mrs. Workinesh Dube, two years imprisonment and 2000 Birr, Ethiopian currency.
As one may recognise from their second names, the first two, with capital punishments, are siblings from a common household. We also came to learn that Mrs. Urge Abebe and Mr. Girma Ragassa are married couples to be separated by thin but iron wall between death and life imprisonment. This is the ugliest and most brutal face of TPLF’s court verdict.
As it has been repetitively reported by various human right organizations, the court in Ethiopia has no independence from the ruling party whatsoever. Most judges are required not only to be functionaries of the EPRDF but also expected to belong to the minority ruling Tigrean ethnic group. Even the politically loyal Oromos are not to be trusted when it comes to such politically motivated death and highly stiff verdicts. So were all three judges of the federal high court Tigreans.
* The Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organisation (OHRRO), better known as OMRHO e.V. (Oromo Menschenrrechts- und Hilfsorganisation) after its German acronym, is a legally registered non-political and non-profitable organisation established in 2005 in Germany, Hannover city. Its main vision is to promote the ideals of humanity through advocating respect for human rights in Ethiopia with a special focus on the Oromo people, whom it considers to be the largest and main victim of human right abuse by the current regime.