By Kasembeli Albert
In the recent past, the rendition of Oromo refugees has been in the news. Kenyan authorities have been accused of illegal rendition of Oromo refugees to Ethiopia under the pretext of cracking down on the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) militias. While in Ethiopia, the individuals are allegedly arraigned before special courts where they are handed heavy jail sentences ranging from death to life in prison.
The fundamental objective of the Oromo liberation movement is to exercise the Oromo peoples’ right to national self-determination and end centuries of oppression and exploitation. The OLF believes the Oromo people are still being denied their fundamental rights by Ethiopian colonialism. According to Terfa Dibaba, head of the Oromo Relief Association (ORA) based in Germany, 21 Oromo refugees have been adducted in Nairobi and Moyale and illegally shipped to Addis Ababa where they have been locked in custody.
Kenya, the host state to the refugees has been accused of violating the 1951 UN Convention and 1967 Protocol on the status of the refugees. According to the Convention, refugees are people who have fled their homes and crossed an international border to escape persecution or conflict.
The Kenya government officials however maintain that those arrested were Oromo Liberation Front militias. According to Francis Kimemia, Internal Security Permanent Secretary, OLF is a gang proscribed in Kenya. However, only a section of refugees have been targeted for illegal repatriation.
“We are demanding that the due process of extradition be put through a court of law,” cautions Dibaba, who blames the entire operation to a section of individuals within the Kenyan government who are operating in cahoots with Ethiopian spy agents. According to the Association, two Nairobi based civil engineers Mesfir Ababa and Tesfahun Camada, were adducted in Nairobi and flown to Ethiopia where they were sentenced to death and to life in prison respectively.
The accusation comes in the wake of a similar backlash after the Kenyan government came under heavy criticism by human rights organization for illegally handing over Kenyans to Ugandan authorities over a bomb blast in Kampala during the recent FIFA World Cup games. The Kenyans were linked to the incident but shipped to Uganda without the due extradition process.
The ORA accuses the Ethiopian government and some elements within the Kenyan government of gross violation of the basic human rights of the Oromo refugees and Kenyans shipped to Ethiopia. Some of the people abducted in Nairobi and Moyale and clandestinely whisked to Ethiopia nad languishing in jail include: Jatani Kuuno, Liban Wario and Milki Doyo. These, ORA alleges, were abducted in a friend’s house in Moyale on August 23 by kenyans enlisted by the Ethiopia authorities and ferried in two Kenya government’s Land Rovers to Ethiopia. Dabaso Kutu, Libani Jatani and Deban Wario were arrested on November 2. They are currently on trial in Ethiopia. Impeccable source have confided that a Kenyan, Abrhim Dambi, the head of the head of Ethiopian Spy network detailed to track down political dissidents has now fled to Addis Ababa where he is hosted by the government after he was exposed.