(OPride) – The Ethiopian regime should immediately stop the mass killing and displacements of Oromos in East Hararghe, West Wollega and Moyale areas of Oromia region, and also free Oromo political prisoners, activists said.
The DC-based Oromo Youth Self-help Association (OYSA) in collaboration with Oromo Community Organization (OCO) of Washington D.C. area, and the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), has called for a peaceful protest in front of the White House and State Department on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013.
Next week’s rally, the second organized by OYSA this year, is aimed at asking the U.S. government to exert more pressure on Ethiopia for its egregious human rights violations targeting the Oromo people, according to the press statement. Organizers say they are alarmed by an array of ongoing ethnic and border clashes instigated by Ethiopia’s security forces.
Since last December, various media groups including the Voice of America reported, citing eyewitness accounts, on forced displacement and ethnic clashes in East Hararghe and other parts of Oromia. In the lowland region of Mayu Mulluqe county in East Hararghe, activists and locals accuse the Ethiopian government of willfully ignoring cross-border raids by Somali-regional government’s special police force, Liyu Police. Formed in 2007, the paramilitary security force, which has been accused of numerous human rights abuses and summary executions in the Ogaden, is supported by aid from UK’s Department for International Development.
In January, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher, Claire Beston told the Guardian, “There have been repeated allegations against the Liyu police of extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and other violations including destruction of villages and there is no doubt that the special police have become a significant source of fear in the region.”
Locals in East Hararghe say the Liyu Police is dispatched to reclaim territories lost to Oromia during the 2004 border referendum that gave 80 percent of the disputed areas to Oromia. The border raids came after the Oromia region disarmed local militias, according to a report, also in January, published by The GulelePost blog.
In a similar dispute, last May, the Voice of America reported at least five Oromos were killed in an ethnic clash near the town of Dabus, Bidigilu county in the Benishangul Gumuz region. While authorities in the Benishangul region denied the allegations, Manasibu county administrator in West Wollaga zone, Mr. Malkamu Tujuba confirmed the death of civilians and destruction of properties to the VOA’s Afan Oromo program.
The activists are also urging the UNHCR, and Egyptian, Yemeni, and Djibouti governments to protect Oromo refugees, the activists say, are under attack in those countries.
OPride reported last month on the plight of Oromo refugees in Cairo who say that they were attacked and thrown out of apartments by Egyptians angry over the Nile Dam Ethiopia was building. Oromo refugees have long complained about mistreatment and fear of refoulement from Yemen and Djibouti.
The organizers are also calling on Ethiopia to release opposition leaders Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa as well as thousands of Oromo political prisoners.