Ethiopia: Apprehension and Detention of Oromo Nationals on Irrecha Festivals Celebration

HRLHA  URGENT ACTION

October 5, 2012

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) is highly concerned about the safety and wellbeing of hundreds of Oromo Nationals who were arrested by the Ethiopian Security forces on the annual Irrecha Festival (Oromo Traditional Thanksgiving) Holiday in central Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia.

According to the information obtained by HRLHA through its correspondents in central Ethiopian, over two hundred Oromo nationals, almost all of whom were the youth, were arrested in a surprise crackdown by armed government forces around the end of the Irrecha Holiday ceremony at Hora (Lake) Arsadi in the Central Oromia City of Bishoftu/Dabra-Zayit on the 30th of September 2012, and taken away to Maikelawi Investigation prison and to unknown destinations. The allegations were that the holiday celebrants chanted some kinds of political slogans along with Irrecha Festival songs.

HRLHA’s  informants from Western and Southern Showa also  reported that many Oromos who were on traveling to attend the Irrecha Festival Celebration at Bishoftu were pulled out their Buses on September 29, 2012  by the Security forces in towns of Guder, Ambo, Ginchi, Shashemene, Sebata, Dukem and other towns and taken to unknown destinations.

The very ambiguous question, as it has been the case in Ethiopia’s political environment in the past fifteen to twenty years, is as to why political opinions and expressions, if any, become a crime in a country that claims to be democratic. It is very unfortunate that the Oromos and other nations and nationalities in Ethiopia are not able to see signs of democratic political changes even following the change of top political leadership. Among the hundreds of arrestees and detainees, the whereabouts of whom were not yet known, the HRLHA correspondents have been able to get the names and some other relevant information of the following:

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