Open letter to:
His Excellency Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
His Excellency Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
His Excellency Mr. Van Rompuy, President of the European Council
1049 Brussels, Belgium
25 April 2012
We, the members of Oromo Community Organizations in Europe and citizens of the European Union would like to bring to your attention the escalating violations of human rights being committed by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a Tigrayan minority regime against the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia. The Oromo country, Oromia, was conquered and colonized by Abyssinian kings during the European scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century. During the last 130 years the rulers of the Ethiopian state have been oppressing the Oromo people and exploiting the rich natural resources of Oromia. The excessive exploitation of their resources and the oppressive policies of Ethiopian rulers have successively reduced the Oromo to one of the most impoverished and terrorized indigenous African peoples. We would like to point out that military, financial and diplomatic assistance from Western countries has been crucial in maintaining the Ethiopian rulers’ domination over the Oromo people. Regrettably, this trend has continued even under the present Ethiopian regime.
Violation of human rights under the present Ethiopian government
The government of Meles Zenawi started its rule by imprisoning thousands of Oromos introducing large concentration camps for the first time in Ethiopian history. In 1993, it incarcerated over 40,000 men, women and children in overcrowded camps where many died from maltreatment by the regime’s security forces, contagious diseases and malaria. International human rights organizations have reported routinely the regime’s gross violation of human rights since the 1990s. Amnesty International has documented thousands of Oromo prisoners of conscience during the last twenty years. Extra-judicial killings and “disappearances” (hidden assassinations) of political activists perpetrated by the brutal administration of Meles Zenawi surpass those which occurred under the previous Ethiopian regimes. These atrocities are affecting the Oromo more than any other group in the country because the regime fears the potential political power of the Oromo people; they constitute the single largest population group in Ethiopia. According to reports by local and international humanitarian organizations, the Ethiopian security forces have, in recent years, intensified mass arrests, abductions and imprisonments of Oromo students, and members and leaders of civic organizations. Consequently, thousands of Oromo students have been expelled from various colleges and universities and many have been imprisoned, tortured and killed.