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Sunday August 31st 2014

‘News’ Archive

Arrests and Detentions of Oromo Nationals Continued

(URJII ONLINE)

The TPLF/EPRDF Government of Ethiopia has continued committing various forms of extra -judicial actions against Oromo nationals, the Oromo Youth in particular, with intentions of harassment and intimidation towards silence and submissiveness. Below is a press release by HRLHA on current situations in the regional state of Oromia in Ethiopia.

While fresh arrests and detentions, kidnappings and disappearances of Oromo nationals have continued in different parts of the regional state of Oromo following the April-May crackdown of peaceful demonstrators, court rulings over the cases of some of the earlier detainees by courts of the regional state are being rejected by political agents of the governing TPLF/EPRDF Party. The renewed violence by government forces against Oromo nationals started particularly following what was termed as “Lenjii Siyaasaa” (literally meaning “political training) that has targeted Oromo Students of higher educational institutions and has been going on in the past two weeks in different parts of Oromia.

Although the agendum for the “Political Training” was said to be “the unity of the country”, it instead has become an opportunity of carrying out further screenings and arrests of students; as around 100 more students have so far been arrested from Ambo University campuses alone and sent to a remote, isolated military camp called Sanqalle, leaving families and friends in fear in regards to the safety and well-being of the students in particular; not to mention the disruption of their studies. The arrests were made following the students’ protest of their confinement into the campuses during this so call “Political Trianing”, and the demand that the killers of their fellow students be brought to justice prior to discussing “unity”. Also, five students of Wallaga University, from among those who were gathered for the same purpose of “Political Training” were kidnapped on the 22nd of August, 2014 and taken away in a vehicle with plate number 4866 ET; and their whereabouts is not known since then. HRLHA correspondents have also traced another fresh arrest and detention of around 100 Oromo nationals in a small town called Elemo, Doranni District, in Illu Abbabor Zone. It took place on the 14th of August, 2014; and Waqtole Garbe, Sisay Amana, Tiiqii Supha, Ittana Daggafa, Badiru Basha, Kamal Zaalii, Rashiid Abdu, Zetuna Waaqoo, Daggafa Tolee, Adam Ligdii, Indush Mangistu, Dibbeessa Libaan, and Ofete Jifar were a few among those detainees in Elemo Prison.

More worrisome and frustrating is agents of the federal government’s interference with regional and local judicial systems. More than one hundred students and other Oromo nationals, from among the thousands who were detained following the April-May nationwide protest, have been granted bails in local courts of the regional government of Oromia. These include 64 detainees in Dembi Dollo/Qellem, 10 in Ambo, 40 in Sibu-Sire and Digga District. But, all the court decisions were overruled by political officials representing the federal government. The Dembi Dollo/Qellem detainees in particular were granted bails four times, only to be turned down by political officials all the four rounds. On the other hand, there have been some cases in which prison terms ranging from six months to a year-and-half were imposed on the Oromo detainees, not in courts, but by those representatives of the federal government. Also, some independent lawyers complain that they were threatened by officials from the ruling party; and, as a result, refraining from representing the Oromo detainees. Usual as it has been in the past fifteen or so years, this case of interfering with and disobeying court rulings indicates that the case of these most recent Oromo detainees is purely political.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) calls upon the Ethiopian Government to refrain from harassing and intimidating students through such extra-judicial means as killings, arrests and detentions, and denials of justice after detention; and instead facilitate conducive teaching-learning environments. HRLHA also calls upon the Ethiopian Government to unconditionally release the detained Oromo students and other nationals; and, as requested by their fellow students, bring to justice the killers of innocent and peaceful protestors during the April-May crackdown.

U.S.-Africa summit did not address human rights violations: advocates

(URJII ONLINE)

WASHINGTON — The U.S.-Africa summit has focused on trade, security and even the Ebola virus, but human rights advocates say abuses by some leaders who are attending are being swept under the rug. “It is kind of like a missed opportunity,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director for Human Rights Watch. Bekele said President Obama “is focused on trade and security issues” at the summit this week, while giving less attention to flagrant violations of law and human rights.

Four leaders of the continent’s most notorious autocracies — Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Eritrea’s Isaias Afewerki and the Central African Republic’s interim President Catherine Samba-Panza — were barred from the summit. But critics faulted the presence of leaders like Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, accused of using arbitrary arrests and a repressive police force to silence critics, along with Mulatu Teshome, president of Ethiopia, which has used anti-terror laws to suppress dissent.

Gambian activists protested the invitation to President Yahya Jammeh, a virulent foe of gay rights. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose country passed a Draconian anti-gay law that the judiciary then repealed, posed for a picture Tuesday with Obama.

Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Kerry have all cited human rights in their remarks this week. “Nations that uphold these rights and principles will be prosperous and economically successful,” the President said at a Wednesday news conference. But critics like Bekele said Obama’s strong words on the topic have often not translated into policy.

 SOURCE: Daily News, NY

Endless Injustices – At the Centre of Discussion at OSA 28th

(URJII ONLINE)

Partial view of the conference

The denial of justice, absence of fair treatment and equality among the various nations and nationalities in Ethiopia have been the major themes and focuses of presentations and discussions at the 28th OSA Annual Conference held from August 2nd to 3rd at Howard University in Washington D.C. in USA.

Denial of justice, racial discriminations, lack of equal access to resources and, above all, violations of fundamental human and democratic rights under both past and present regimes were explored and presented by different panelists as the major obstacles of peace and stability as well as the resultant absence of growth and development. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa was represented at the conference by Mr. Tesfaye Deressa, who did a presentation on the ever intensifying crackdowns and persecutions against innocent citizens and their negative socio-economic consequences on both the present generation and the generations to come – as they target the relatively educated and the youth, which are the most productive segments of the society.

The 28th OSA annual conference, which was described as the biggest ever conference convened by the Association, attracted scholars and scientists of various disciplines, leaders of traditional governances such as the Gada Democratic System, human rights activists, environmentalists, journalists, writers, political leaders and many others from back home in Ethiopia and different parts of the world in Diaspora.

Re-Unification among the OLF Factions

(URJII ONLINE)

Two of the three or four factions of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have announced that they have reunited and agreed to work together combining all their resources after resolving their differences. According to a statement issued on the 28th of June, 2014, it is the OLF National Council (Shanee Gumii) and the OLF Transitional Authority (Qaama Ce’umsaa) that have made the reunification. Below is the full text of the declaration issued following the reunification

Declaration of Unity of the OLF

It is with great pleasure that we announce to our people and the supporters of our struggle for freedom the good news that, based on the accord they made in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2012, the two organizations of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), known as OLFShanee Gumii (”OLF National Council”) and OLF Qaama Ce’umsaa(”OLF Transitional Authority”), have resolved our differences and agreed to combine our two leaderships, unify our members, merge our organizational structures and inaugurate a reunified OLF. Although OLF has encountered many obstacles during the last forty years, there was no time when it has stopped the struggle that it was established to lead. No one can deny the fact that the national struggle led by the OLF has scored many victories and made many significant achievements that have taken the Oromo people a long way toward the national goal of independence. Among these great achievements is the level of political awareness of our people.

At the same time, we witness that the Oromo people are being targeted for extinction more than any time before. Oppression has reached intolerable levels making our people to rise up in defiance of tyranny, protesting peacefully in all corners of Oromia. But, as witnessed in the killings of students and others in many places in Oromia, the TPLF regime is responding violently to their lawful demands. Defying enemy atrocities, imprisonment, and torture, the young Oromo generation are making it known to the world that they will not tolerate humiliation and oppression anymore and that they will make the necessary sacrifices to liberate their people and homeland from alien oppressors. The OLF extends its condolences to families who lost their beloved sons and daughters, and expresses its admiration for the courage and bravery they have shown by the young Oromo generation to defend their people’s legitimate rights. As the vanguard of the Oromo struggle for freedom, we re-iterate our determination to continue the struggle until our people become masters of their destiny.

The re-unification of the two organizations of the OLF is a great step that will strengthen the Oromo struggle for freedom. United under one leadership, we are resolute to realize the principal objective of our struggle, namely the liberation of our people and the independence of our homeland Oromia. There is no question about the popularity of the goal of OLF-led liberation struggle among the Oromo people. Therefore, it is with determination that we pledge to make the necessary sacrifices, withstand the challenges ahead and carry through the Oromo national struggle to the ultimate goal of independence.

We are well aware that there are Oromo nationals who are organized separately under other names to advance our people’s legitimate rights. We will do all we can to coordinate our efforts with them to achieve the common goal. The OLF leadership states its decision and commitment to continue to work and conclude the ongoing talks with other forces committed to the same goal. Hence, we call on all Oromo organizations that uphold our people’s right to self-determination and independence to join us in carrying out this sacred mission.

We also take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the oppressed nations, nationalities and peoples who are struggling for justice against the same tyrannical regime, and call upon them to join us in the common struggle for basic human and democratic rights.

The TPLF-led regime’s violence against the Oromo people is abetted by military, political and economic assistance from external powers. The OLF appeals again to governments, both in the West and East, to strike a balance between their national interests and their international obligation of protecting human rights and stop giving economic, military and political support to a brutal regime that is evicting our people and others from their land and killing innocent civilian who are peacefully demanding their legitimate rights.

Victory for the Oromo People!

Oromo Liberation Front.

Worrisome Situations of Oromo Youth in Detention Centres

(URJII ONLINE)

While kidnappings and/or extra-judicial arrests and detentions have continued particularly around academic institutions in different parts of the regional state of Oromia in Ethiopia, disturbing and worrisome reports are coming out of detention centres where the Oromo students arrested in the past two weeks are being held.

Tortured Oromo Youth (Source: Facebook)

According to HRLHA, URJII’s closest partner in the advocacy of human rights, there have been cases of tortures of varying levels as well as detainees being taken away in the middle of the night to unknown destinations for unknown reasons. Fifty (50) detainees, including thirteen females, were taken away at one time alone; and their whereabouts were not known. In relation to tortures, the reports indicate that some of the detainees are isolated from others and held in separate rooms handcuffed and legs tied together with their hands on the their backs. There were ten students subjected to this particular situation, among whom were Std. Tesfaye Tuffa (male) and Std. Bontu Hailu (female). Although not confirmed at this point, there were also eight students who were screened out in order to be transferred to a detention or investigation office at the federal level; and these include:

1. Chalaa Fekaduu Gashe (high school student),

2. Chalaa Fekaduu (high school student),  

3. Nimoonaa Kebede (Wollega University 5th year law student),

4. Moi Bon Misganuu (Wollega University, student),

5. Abdii Gaddisaa (high school student),  

6. Abel Dagim (high school student),  

7. Qalbessa Getachew (high school student),  

8. Mulgeta Gemechu (high school student),  

The Agazi Special Squad in Oromo Neighbourhood Threatening People

In the meantime, reports indicate that kidnappings and/or extra-judicial arrests and detentions have continued in different parts of the regional state of Oromia, particularly in Hararge/Haromay, West Showa, and West Wollega, all in relation to the protests that have been going on in the Regional State of Oromia in opposition to the newly introduced master plan to expand the Capital City of Addis Ababa/Finfinne in all directions by displacing the local Oromo residents. The following are among the hundreds of the most recent cases of kidnappings, arrests and detentions:

1) Edosa Namara Deressa – Wollega University (Civil Engineering)

2) Walabuma Dabale -Adama University, West Showa,

3) Ebisa Dale -Adama University

4) Ganamo Kurke -Adama University

5) Liban Taressa – Adama University

6) Adam Godana -Adama University

7) Bodana (last name not obtained) – Adama University

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has expressed its deep concern regarding the life-threatening situations in the detention centres where those young Oromos were held, and the safety and wellbeing of those who were taken to unknown destinations. HRLHA has called upon the Ethiopian Government to abide by all international instruments that it has signed, and refrain from subjecting the young detainees to such harsh situations. It has also called upon all local, regional, and international human rights, humanitarian, and diplomatic agencies to put pressure on the Ethiopian Government so that it unconditionally releases the Oromo students who were detained in the past two and three weeks simply because the attempted to exercise some of their fundamental rights in a peaceful and absolutely non-violent manner.

Ragaa Alagummaa fi Diinummaa/Proofs of Enmity

(URJII ONLINE)

Six/Seven armed men against two unarmed youth

Humni diinaa biyya keenya humnaan qabattee jirtu, kunoo haala kanaan, gara-jabina daangaa hin qabneen, amma nyaattee-dhugdu ol-fuutee ijoollee keenyatti buufatti. Innumtuu tokko yookaan lama miti; shan, jahaa fi torbaa taatee.

 

Ambo under Siege: Daily Activities Paralyzed

(URJII ONLINE)

The brutal attempts of crackdown against Oromo protesters by the Agazi Special Squad continuing unabated in different parts of the regional state of Oromia, reports coming from Ambo in central Oromia indicate that the town and its surrounding has come under virtual seizure by the Agazi Federal Armed Force, daily movements and activities becoming almost impossible.

According to a report by HRLHA (URJII’s close partner in advocating and defending human rights), the Agazi Special Squad has been deployed in Ambo Town and its surrounding in much larger number than before and engaged in indiscriminately kidnapping the local people from along the streets and throwing them into detention centres in the area. There are also reports of widespread rapes being committed against female detainees.

Although the protests against the plan to annex some central small towns of Oromia into the Capital Addis Ababa/Finfinne have been involving Oromos from all walks of life, age and gender, the prime targets have been the youth, university, college, and high school students in particular. Since the protest started in different parts of the regional state of Oromia two weeks ago, more than 50,000 (fifty thousand) Oromos have been arrested and detained from Ambo, Gudar, Tikur Inchini, Ginda-Barat, Gedo, and Bakko-Tibe towns in West Showa Zone of Central Oromia alone. Apart from along the streets in cities and towns, especially students are being picked up even from dormitories and classrooms on universities and college campuses. Reports add that there have been around twenty (20) extra-judicial killings so far that have resulted from brutal actions against unarmed and peaceful protesters by armed forces.

Ever since the violence against Oromo protesters started two weeks ago, and following the release of its first urgent action over the incidents, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has been monitoring the situation through its correspondents in the region; and has been able to obtain some of the names of the Oromos (students and others) who have so far been killed, kidnapped or arrested, and detained or disappeared. There are also cases of beatings and wounds or injuries inflicted on some of the protesters by the heavy-handed federal armed force. The lists of the Oromo victims are available on: www.humanrightsleague.com.

In the meantime, in an effort to show supports and solidarity, Oromos in Diaspora have been holding demonstrations in different countries and cities in Europe and North America condemning the brutalities of the TPLF/EPRDF Government against peaceful Oromo protesters. Inserted are some pictures depicting part of a  demonstration held in Toronto, Canada on the 9th of May, 2014; and the following are links at which some related video clips could be watched:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUXDclT13G4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7vVqGW2v1o&list=UUeiu9oLrDG86ZllW48H6zQg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQlOvsx66wc&list=UUeiu9oLrDG86ZllW48H6zQg

Region-Wide, Heavy-Handed Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters

(URJII ONLINE)

Part of Protest in Ambo (Source - Facebook)

Determined Oromos Students are being met with brutalities in different parts of Oromia by armed special squad of the Ethiopian EPRDD/TPLF Government while attempting to peacefully and non-violently exercise some of their fundamental rights. According to the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), in a heavy-handed crackdown being carried out by the federal armed squad called Agazi, which is infamously known for its cruelty against innocent civilians particularly during such public protests, 16 (sixteen) Oromo students have so far been shot dead in the town of Ambo alone and scores of others have been wounded, according to HRLHA correspondents in the area. The victims of the brutal attacks were not only from among those who were out protesting in the streets, but also among those who stayed behind on university campuses. Hundreds of others have also been arrested, loaded on police trucks, and taken to unknown destinations. The protesting Oromo Students of Ambo University have been joined by Oromo nationals of all walks of lives residing in the town and its peripheries.

Although the brutalities of the armed squad and the resultant fatalities happened to be very high in Ambo Town, the peaceful protests by Oromo students of different universities and faculties have been taking place in the past couple of days in various towns and cities of Oromia including Diredawa and Adama in eatern Oromia, as well as Jimma, Mettu, Naqamte, Gimbi, and Dambidollo in western Oromia.

The Oromo students in all those and other universities took to the streets for peaceful demonstrations in protest to the recently made decision by the Federal EPRDF/TPLF-led Government to expand the city of Finfinnee/Addis Ababa by uprooting and displacing hundreds of thousands of Oromos from all sorts of livelihoods, and annexing about 30 surrounding towns of Oromia, the ultimate goal of which is claimed to be re-drawing the map of the Oromia Region. The federal annexation plan, which was termed as “The Integrated Development Master Plan”, is said to be covering the towns of Dukem, Gelan, Legetafo, Sendafa, Sululta, Burayu, Holeta, Sebeta, and others, stretching the boundary of Finfinne/Addis Ababa to about 1.1million hectares – an area of 20 times its current size. The protest is being intensified, according to various news sources.

Part of Protest in Finfinne (Source - Facebook)

The Oromo protesters claim that the decision was in violation of both the regional and federal constitutions that guarantee the ownership, special interests and benefits of the Oromo Nation over Finfinne/Addis Ababa. Similar unlawful and unconstitutional action taken at different times in the past fifteen and twenty years have already resulted in the dispossessions of lands and displacements of hundreds of thousands of Oromos farmers and business owners from around the city of Finfinne, forcing them into unemployment and day labourer.

A Large-Scale Attack against Refugees in Kenya

(URJII ONLINE)

The Kenyan police and security agents have arbitrarily arrested and detained around 6000 refugees who are originally from neighbourning Horn of African countries; and have continued hunting for more, reported HRLHA reporter in Nairobi, Kenya on April 13, 2014.

This indiscriminate action against all immigrants who have been in the country began on Friday April 2, 2014; and has mainly targeted the immigrants living in Eastleigh District of Nairobi, a neighbourhood largely dominated by Somalis and Oromo immigrants and is often referred to as district of immigrants.  More than 400 Oromos and other Ethiopian immigrants have been arrested in these crackdowns. The crackdowns against immigrants by Kenyan Police and security began is said to been in response to the three bomb blasts in Eastleigh/ Nairobi and Mombasa in late March 2014, which killed about 12 people and injured 8 others. According to HRLHA’s informant, more than two thousand asylum seekers and refugees have been detained in the Kasarani football stadium in the Capital, a location described as a temporary police station, while some are being held at the Pangani police station.

Among hundredths of Ethiopian Oromos arrested in Nairobi, HRLHA has managed to obtain the following names:

No Name No Name Status
1 Abdi Mohammed Ahamed 26 Arif   Amin  Abdallaa Asylum Seeker
2 Suleyman Nuure Mohammed 27 Ismail  Iliyas  Kamaal Asylum Seeker
3 Ibsaa Safuan Mohammed Najash 28 Arif  Abdulwad  Abdalle Asylum Seekrd
4 Rudwan Abubakar Ali 29 Ibsaa Jemal Mohammed Asylum Seeker
5 Iliyas Kamal Usma’il 30 Fariya Mohammed Asylum Seeker
6 Abdisaa Mohammed Kalif 31 Mommed Nasir  Yusuf Asylum Seeker
7 Jemaal Sani Mohammed 32 Mommed Nasir  Yusuf Asylum Seeker
8 Anwar Muktar Ahamed 33 Ilillii   Abrahim Asylum Seeker
9 Nabil Abdulaxif 34 Sa’ada  Aqil Asylum Seeker
10 Tumsaa Robaa Qaxxisoo UN.mndt file NETH033036/1 35 Abdoo Nahawi Asylum Seeker
11 Imane Ahamed Yusuf UN file #NETH038280 36 Rihanaa Mohammed Mussaa Asylum Seeker
12 Jbny Najib Abubakar 37 Mistar Jamaal Asylum Seeker
13 Roba  Yusuf Abdalle 38 Guuled  Sheka Asylum Seeker
14 Adam Roba 39 Ifa Abdulahi Hassan file No.NETH035846/1
15 Mohammed  Osman Roba 40 Mahadi  Idiris Asylum Seeker
16 Fuad Aliyi Mumme 41 Azizaa Asylum Seeker
17 Nasri Ibrahim Jibro 42 Yusuf Yahya Ahamed/Somli

Asylum Seeker18Faami Sharif Ali 43Abdi Abduraman KabirAsylum Seeker19

Jemal  Abdo Osman

 

44Zakariya Mohammed OumerAsylum Seeker20Gatiso  Phetroos Eroke 45Yassin Ahamed/OromoAsylum Seeker21Sani   Ahamed  Yusuf 46Haaji Shariif AliAsylum Seeker22Xeha   Mohammed 47Abdusamad AmeWith Family23Ashrafuu  Ali Mussaa 48Mubina AbdusamadWith Family24Mohammed  Osman Mussaa 49Caaltuu AbdusamadWith Family25Zanabe  Hobe  Negiso

 

 

The HRLHA has also learnt that the Kenyan police and security forces are extorting valuable materials and also committing physical and mental abuses during the arrests. Besides, the Kenyan authorities have disclosed to different media agents that they are intending to deport all UNHCR unregistered asylum seekers; and have already deported 82 Somali refugees based on a pretext that they entered into Kenya without legal document.

The HRLHA would like to reiterate that deportations of regugees to their countries of origin against their wills is in breach of  Kenyan and international laws.  In case those Ethiopian-Oromo and other refugees have been deported, the Ethiopian Government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens who were involuntarily returned to the country. The government of Ethiopia routinely imprisons such persons and sentences them to up to life in prison, and often impose death penalty. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuses committed against individuals in Ethiopian official prisons and other unofficial or secret detention centres. Under Article 33 (1) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (189 U.N.T.S. 150), to which Kenya is a party, “[n]o contracting state shall expel or forcibly return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his . . . political opinion.” This obligation, which is also a principle of customary international law, applies to both asylum seekers and refugees, as affirmed by UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the United Nations General Assembly. By deporting the four refugees and others, the Kenyan Government will be breaching its obligations under international treaties as well as customary law.

Kenya’s Plan that Might Affect Thousands of Refugees from Ethiopia

(URJII ONLINE)

(HRW) – The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has requested that the Kenyan authorities reconsider a new plan to forcibly move 50,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers from cities to overcrowded and underserviced refugee camps. News media reported that Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku made the announcement on March 25, 2014, two days after unidentified attackers killed six people in a church near Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
Such a move would violate a July 26, 2013 Kenyan High Court ruling, which quashed an identical government refugee relocation plan from December 2012. The court said the relocation would violate refugees’ dignity and free movement rights, and would risk indirectly forcing them back to their respective countries of origin, although the plan in the first place targets Somali refugees. It also said the authorities had not proved that the move, which followed a series of grenade and other attacks in Kenya by unidentified people, would help protect national security. Below is the statement by the human rights agency Human Rights Watch:

“Kenya is once again using attacks by unknown criminals to stigmatize all refugees as potential terrorists,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher. “This plan to force tens of thousands of refugees into appalling conditions in severely overcrowded camps flouts a crystal clear court ruling banning such a move.” Ole Lenku said on March 25 that, “All refugees residing outside the designated refugee camps of Kakuma and Dadaab are hereby directed to return to their respective camps with immediate effect.” Citing “emergency security challenges” in Kenyan towns, he also said that, “Any refugee found flouting this directive will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

In January 2013, Human Rights Watch called on the authorities to drop their first relocation plan. Human Rights Watch said then that the authorities had failed to show, as international law requires, that the plan was either necessary to achieve enhanced national security or the least restrictive measure possible to address Kenya’s national security concerns. The plan also unlawfully discriminated against refugees because it would allow Kenyan citizens to move freely while denying refugees that right. Kenyan police operations in Nairobi and Mombasa have frequently committed serious human rights violations against both refugees and Kenyan citizens in the wake of attacks.

A May 2013 Human Rights Watch report described how Kenyan police in Nairobi tortured, raped, and otherwise abused and arbitrarily detained at least 1,000 refugees, including women and children, between mid-November 2012 and late January 2013 following grenade and other attacks. The police called the refugees “terrorists” and said they should move to the camps. The new relocation order comes after numerous statements by senior Kenyan officials, going back as far as March 2012, calling on Somali refugees to return to Somalia.

On January 17, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, issued guidelines on returns to Somalia and called on countries not to return anyone before interviewing them and ensuring they do not face the threat of persecution or other serious harm if returned. On January 28, UNHCR also issued a news release about the guidelines, appealing to all governments “to uphold their obligations” not to forcibly return anyone to Somalia unless they are convinced the person would not suffer persecution or other serious harm upon return.

UNHCR said that
southern and central Somalia “remains a very dangerous place” and that it “consider[s] the options for Somalis to find protection from persecution or serious harm within Southern and Central Somalia to be limited.” The agency said that this “is especially true for large areas that remain under the control of the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab,” which “prohibits the exercise of various types of freedoms and rights, especially affecting women” and uses “public whipping, amputation … and beheadings” as punishment. UNHCR also said that al-Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu, the capital, that killed civilians had increased in 2013 and that the Somali authorities are “reported to be failing to provide much of [the] population with basic security.”

Kenyan authorities should not press refugees to return to Somalia. Such pressure would violate Kenya’s obligations not to forcibly return – or refoule – refugees to situations of persecution or generalized violence. The ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Dadaab camps in Kenya – where about 400,000 refugees are crammed into space meant for 170,000 – and the lack of properly developed new camps there or near the Kakuma camps means that any transfer of refugees from the cities to the camps would also breach Kenya’s international legal obligations. They require Kenya not to adopt “retrogressive measures” that would negatively affect refugees’ rights to adequate standard of living – including food, clothing and housing – and to health and education.

On March 10, the international humanitarian organization Médecins sans Frontières, which runs health care programs in the refugee camps, released a report describing the serious humanitarian conditions and insecurity in the camps.

Foreign donors to Kenya and UNHCR should oppose the new relocation plan, based on its inevitable violation of refugees’ rights to free movement, basic social and economic rights, and the right not to be forcibly evicted. “The new plan risks riding roughshod over Kenya’s High Court and a range of refugees’ fundamental rights,” Simpson said. “Foreign donors to Kenya and UNHCR should encourage Kenya to abandon the plan.”

 

 

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Arrests and Detentions of Oromo Nationals Continued

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Re-Unification among the OLF Factions

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