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Wednesday August 27th 2014

‘About Us’ Archive

Arrests and Detentions of Oromo Students in Southern Oromia


Around two hundred Oromo Students of a high school in Shakiso, Guji Zone, in southern Oromia have been detained following a clash with ethnic Amhara Students attending the same school on the 12 of March, 2014. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa has issued the following press release:

               Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its deep concern over the safety and fates of Oromo Students who became victims of discriminate mass arrest and detention in Shakiso Town of Guji Zone in southern Oromia. Around two hundred ethnic Oromo Students have been sent to a jail in the nearby Adola Town, and some have received varying degrees of injuries both from bullets that were shot by the security forces during the interference and by beatings.

               Those high school Oromo Students, almost all of whom are juvenile, were arrested and/or picked up at different times from different places including the school compound following a minor clash between them and ethnic Amhara Students of the same high school. According to information obtained by HRLHA through its correspondents, the clash between the two groups occurred following a provocation by the ethnic Amhara Students in opposition to the singing of the regional anthem in the regional Oromo Language by ethnic Oromo Students during flag raising ceremony at the school based on the rules and regulations provided for by the constitution of the regional state. The ethnic Oromo Students were reporting the incident and filing their complaints with the school administration when the school compound was raided by the federal security forces. Among the ironies surrounding this incident were that:

1). The Federal Security Forces were deployed to interfere in such very minor and localized issues that could easily be dealt with by local administrative bodies and communities including that of the school itself,

2). The ethnic Oromo Students, who were the victims of the clash were discriminately double-victimized while those who triggered the violence were left unquestioned,

3). Not only that such constitutional provisions as a regional anthem that have been in place for close to two decades becomes a subject of dispute, but also those who attempted to exercise such legal provisions were deemed criminals that belong to detention instead of those who contradicted the constitution head on.

               The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has been able to obtain the names of the following students among those who have been detained:

1. .Bezabish Gurmeessaa (MEMBER OF OPPOSITION OFC)- wounded by bullet,

2. Desta Waaree – beaten up and injured,




6.Bezabish Gurmeessaa

7.Chaltu Birbissa

8.Hotessa Soree

9.Yohanes Jisso

10. Kifle Areri

11. Badhadha (father name not identified)

12. Beyena Jarso

13.Shambel Galchu

14. Jemal Aga

15. Wendimu Areri

16. Nagessa Gedo

17. Getachew Demise

18. Boru Dube

19. Gemechis Bilu

20. Chari Chana

21. Ware Kottola

               Although the interference of the government security forces was not far from expectations, the very harsh and violent actions that have resulted in life-threatening injuries are not acceptable by any standard. Given the violent way the students were dealt with, it is also very likely that they could be subjected to tortures.

Therefore, HRLHA calls up on the Ethiopian government to interfere in the situation, and unconditionally release the detained students; and allow necessary treatments for those who have been injured and/or wounded. It also calls upon the Ethiopian government to investigate the clash between the two sides; and bring the culprits to justice so that they refrain from continued racist provocations that will create conflicts between the two nationalities.

The 2013-Irrecha – Oromo Thanks-Giving in Toronto


The march to the river for cleansing

Oromos in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and other cities in Ontario and other parts of Canada warmly celebrated this year’s Irrecha Holiday yesterday, August 31, 2013 in the suburb of Whitby, a typical countryside environment that closely resembled that of Oromia. The 2013 Irrecha of Toronto has also attracted some Oromos from cities like Washington D.C and New York, from across the border in USA. There were also visitors from Germany.

As usual, this year’s Irrecha celebration in Toronto included ceremonies such as dhibaayyuu or sacrifice, cleansing or cuphaa, hulluuqqoo and darraa-gubaa or firework. Irrechaa, which is often described by anthropologists as “The Channel to God”, in all its senses is equivalent of what the Westerners call and celebrate as “Thanks Giving”. Particularly the “Dhibayyuu” part of the Irrecha ceremony is the part that signifies the saying “Thank you” to God aspect of the Holiday. Oromos of all religions, ages and gender join each other in celebrating Irrecha. Some video clips on this year’s Irrecha in GTA could be watched at:,

The components of "dhibaayyuu": cuukkoo, buna-qalaa and itittuu/aannan

Irreechaa 2011 Celebration in the GTA and Its Surrounding

URJII, September 25, 2011

The Oromos in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and the nearby cities colourfully celebrated the 2011 Irreechaa Holiday in a colourfull scenery in countryside Whitby yesterday, September 24, 2011.

It was a mement of not only celebrating a holiday, but also of a renewal of commitments towards Oromo cultural revival, identity, nationhood, and belongingness. The Oromos were joined by a lot of friends from other nationalities.

The site was a free offer for the Holiday use by a native Canadian; and, the GTA Oromos go to this  same site every year to celebrate Irreecha.

Enjoy the video clips and pictures of the beautiful scenery as well as Oromo songs and dances following these links:-


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Editorial Policy

  • Based on its motto “Peoples Have the Right to Know”, URJII ONLINE encourages and promotes a free flow of information and freedom of expression;
  • URJII considers any form of censorship – direct or indirect/self-censorship – to be a human rights violation and breach of press freedom; and, accordingly, strongly opposes it;
  • Articles, opinions and comments from readers would be edited for linguistic clarity and comprehension without altering the main contents or distorting the major concept of the piece;
  • Views, ideas, and/or opinions of xenophobic, violent, offensive, or destructive contents might be rejected for the purpose of not offending against and/or undermining the dignity and values of others.

A Brief History

URJII was first launched as a weekly monolingual news paper in March 1994; and later became bilingual by including a biweekly English publication.  The name “URJII”, which is from Oromo Language, and is the equivalent of the English phrase “The Star”, was chosen at least for two reasons. One is the natural implication that stars shed light of their own on darkness; and that information is as illuminating as the light from the stars. The second reason was strategic. We wanted to take advantage of the then existing vacuum of media, due to what were believed to be historical and political reasons, by associating ourselves with and attract the readership of the Oromo Nation, which was the biggest in size but hardly represented in the media. Our strategy was, indeed, very effective.

Nevertheless, this strategy never impacted on URJII’s professional performance. URJII served all societies, nations and nationalities of Ethiopia absolutely equally. As a result, URJII became one of the most popular newspapers in the country within a very short time. And, this popularity won URJII the opportunity to participate in what was termed as “International Visitors Programme” organized by USIA (United States Information Agency), and brought together twenty-five journalists from twenty-five different countries in the world, seven of whom were from Africa. URJII was the only independent media from Ethiopia to be chosen and invited to participate in the Programme. The month-long workshop and seminar on “Civic Journalism” took the participants to eight different states in the United States where they toured various media organizations and shared experiences with journalists working in those media.

URJII was also able to attract in a very short time the attentions and interests of various national, regional and international media, human rights, humanitarian and development agencies as well as diplomatic communities.

Unfortunately, this popularity, which is indeed a blessing, happened to be a curse to URJII. It also attracted the attention of EPRDF/TPLF’s authoritarian regime, and made it become very heavy-handed. Right from the outset, the Government launched a multi-faceted and uninterrupted campaign of intimidations and harassments against the Newspaper. The intimidations and harassments included frequent arrests and detentions of editors and managers, continuous charges and trials, impositions of huge fines and deposits for bail, restrictions of distribution lines, harassments of local correspondents and distributor agents, etc. Not satisfied with these, in October 1997, the Government apprehended all editors, management officers, and even shareholder; and sent them to prison, where they were held for almost four years; only to eventually be told that they were innocent. With that gross and severe action of the EPRDF/TPLF government, URJII Newspaper went out of publication.


A journalist named George Parker (name might be misspelled) visited URJII in 1996. He was from New York. After about three-hour off-the-record conversation with the editor-in-chief of URJII, said, “When I heard about you being in New York, I thought that I would find you in one of the biggest and well-equipped buildings when I come to Ethiopia. I am surprised to learn that you do such an enormous job in such a small, poorly facilitated office.”

Life has never been comfortable to URJII, its publishers and journalists. But, the tough and rough life never prevented them from doing effective jobs. Once again, after years of disappearance, URJII has re-emerged online and resumed its job of representing the voiceless. We hope that its effectiveness and popularity as well would come back.

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