Oromo Studies Association’s Appeal Letter to President Obama on the Current Harassment of Muslims by the Ethiopian Government

August 9, 2012

Dear President Obama,

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA) to bring to your attention the current growing unrest among the Muslim community and the widespread, indiscriminate and brutal repression and harassment of peacefully protesting Muslims by the Ethiopian government. Over the past six months hundreds of thousands of Muslims have staged peaceful protests, almost every week, opposing what they call “government interference with their religion by seeking to impose the belief of a little-known sect of Islamic doctrine known as Al Ahbash”. lthough the Muslim community has been protesting peacefully inside their respective mosques, they were met by harsh and at times bloody response from the Ethiopian government police and security forces.

Harsh measures against Peaceful and Unarmed Worshipers

According the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), a human right group whose researchers are also members of OSA, and many other sources, on April 6, 2012 alone, at least four people were confirmed to have been killed in the town of Asasa, Oromia regional state, when the government forces fired live ammunition on unarmed civilians coming out of the local mosque. The clash is reported to have occurred when the police attempted to arrest a well-known preacher as he was coming out of the mosque. Apart from those killed, several others were reportedly wounded and hundreds arrested. According to eyewitnesses who reported to the Voice of America Radio (VOA) Afan Oromo program aired on April 9, 2012, many of the wounded have also been arrested and were denied medical treatment. Although some of those arrested were released three days later, on May 11, 2012, an Oromo youth group with connections to the Asasa area has published the names and ages of 224 Muslims who remained in jail after nearly one month, and awaiting trial in Asasa town under what we certainly believe to be fabricated charges. The same youth group has published the list of 67 Oromo Muslims arrested from the vicinity of Walisso, Western Shoa zone, Oromia regional state. The fate of these Muslims and several others are still unknown.

–Full Document at OSA