ADDIS ABABA: The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) is highly concerned about the safety and well-being 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 Ethiopia, 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 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.
The HRLHA strongly condemns the violent actions of the Ethiopian Government, be it federal or regional; and requests that the arrestees be released unconditionally. HRLHA also calls up on all local, regional, and international human rights, democratic, and diplomatic agencies to exert pressure on the new Ethiopian head of state so that the new Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn starts re-examining the overall politicalcourses of actions that have been very unfriendly to the majority of Ethiopians during the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s leadership.