Oromo Canadians of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and nearby cities staged a demonstration yesterday in downtown Toronto in protest to the invitation and participation of Ethiopian delegation in the ongoing Africa-Canadian business summit. The main goal of the demonstration was to bring to the attentions of the Canadian Government, fellow Canadians, and others around the world the socio-economic and political atrocities that have been being committed against Oromos and others in Ethiopia by the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party in the past twenty years in general, and the brutalities against Oromo students in the past three and four months in particular. It was also to represent and speak on behalf of those who were made voiceless and defenseless due to the absolutely suppressive political system in Ethiopia that has silenced everything and everyone including both local and foreign media oulets, media persons, and ordinary citizens.
To this end, besides distributing a press release, fliers and brochures, the Oromo protestors were chanting slogans such as: stop killing and harassing Oromo students, stop evicting Oromo farmers, stop terrorizing the Oromos, no democracy in Ethiopia, no democracy-no investment, no justice in Ethiopia, no rule of law in Ethiopia, and many others.
The protesters were telling the Canadian Government and Canadian investors that they were dealing with wrong partners, and that there have never been conducive environment, in the past fifteen and twenty years, for economic development in Ethiopia for ordinary Ethiopian except what has been benefiting the Tigrean minority elites. Oromo protesters were joined, later in the day, by the Ogadeni and Ethiopian demonstrators who happened to be there for the same purpose with the same intentions.
The Africa-Canada Summit, that is still going on at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, is being attended by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom and a few others from Ethiopia who were not identified by names.
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,
3. Bali Chachu (MEMBER OF OPPOSITION OFC)
4. Buno Shaggola (MEMBER OF OPPOSITION OFC)
5.Bakalcha Oddo (MEMBER OF OPPOSITION OFC)
10. Kifle Areri
11. Badhadha (father name not identified)
12. Beyena Jarso
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.