Sunday, December 22, 2013

Letter of Appeal to President Obama from NA Chapter of the OLF

December 22, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to you on behalf of myself, Oromo-American and permanent resident members and supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)[1] in the USA Who are happy to call this great nation their home and enjoy the democracy, justice and human rights it has to offer.  Our members and supporters, the vast majority of whom are voting United States citizens, are proud contributors to this nation’s economic and social life.

Mr. President,
As we mourn the passing away of, and celebrate the life and accomplishments of, former president Nelson Mandela of South Africa - "The last great liberator of the 20th century” – we cannot help but remember one of our own – General Tadesse Biru. Gen. Tadesse was another fighter for liberation of his people, the Oromo people, who was assassinated by the Ethiopian regime in 1975. He was, also, the man in charge of training Mr. Mandela when the latter came to our land for military training in 1962.  
In your eulogy speech at Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, you said “Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and …” which struck a chord with us because we are members of one such persecuted people – the Oromo people – in our land of origin Oromia.
The Oromo are the single largest group in Ethiopia comprising over 40% of the Ethiopian population but economically dispossessed and politically disenfranchised by successive Ethiopian regimes. Having been forcefully incorporated in to the Ethiopian empire around the end of the 19th century, the Oromo have since been struggling for their right to self-determination. In an effort to kill this political belief in the Oromo people and to perpetuate their dispossession, successive Ethiopian regimes have inflicted untold misery on the Oromo people in the form of selling off their land to the highest bidder, extrajudicial killings, torture, mass arrests, and disappearances. Such repressions, dispossessions and human rights violations by the current Ethiopian government against the Oromo people are escalating on a daily basis.

Today, thousands of Oromos from all walks of life suffer in Ethiopian prisons for no other reason than being born Oromos and/or for their political beliefs in the Oromo deserving freedom, justice and the right to determine their fate. In Ethiopia, “Torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners [are] widespread, particularly during interrogation in pre-trial police detention.”[2] Many Oromo political prisoners have died in Ethiopian prisons while we watch idly from the “sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.”[3]
Mr. President,
The list of Oromos murdered or imprisoned for their political beliefs would be too long to provide in this letter but the cases of Tesfahun Chemeda, Bekele Gerba and Olbala Lellisa should suffice to illustrate our points.
Tesfahun Chemeda Gurmessa, an Engineer by profession and a UNHCR recognized Oromo refugee in Kenya, arrested and handed over to his persecutors in Ethiopia in April 2007, charged under the deeply flawed Ethiopian anti-terrorism law, sentenced to life imprisonment, held in solitary confinement for over two years with no access to medical treatment which resulted in his death on 24 August 2013 is an example how Oromo political prisoners are treated in Ethiopia.
Bekele Gerba, deputy Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and Olbana Lelisa of the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC) were both arrested on 27 August 2011 after meeting with Amnesty International (AI) deligation.[4] The AI delegation in Ethiopia was expelled soon after, leaving AI without presence in that country to monitor and report on constant harassment by the government against Oromos in general and opposition politicians in particular.
Bekele and Olbana were charged, again, under the deeply flawed Ethiopian anti-terrorism law and convicted to long years of imprisonment.  "In my life time, I have opposed injustice, discrimination, ethnic favoritism, and oppression," Bekele told the court at his sentencing hearing. He went on to say “I am honored to learn that my non-violent struggles and humble sacrifices for the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people, to whom I was born without a wish on my part but due to the will of the Almighty, have been considered a crime and to be unjustly convicted." Bekele’s speech to his persecutors parallels and should remind us of Nelson Mandela’s “I am Prepared to Die” speech at his Rivonia trial in 1964.
It was a fight against such injustices perpetrated against his people that brought Nelson Mandela for military training, albeit a short one, to the land of the people to whom Bekele Gerba was born, the Oromo people. Gen. Tadesse Biru, Tesfahun Chemeda Hunde and many others were cut down by successive Ethiopian governments while carrying Mandela’s torch against injustice. Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelisa and thousands of others are languishing in Ethiopia’s prisons and detention camps for raising Mandela’s torch for equality and due process.
Mr. President,
On behalf of myself and members and supports of the OLF in the USA, I call upon your administration to:
1.      Ensure the United States government’s security ties with the Ethiopian regime will not trump human and civil rights consideration for the peoples of the Ethiopian empire and does not lead your administration to overlook abuses in that country;
2.      “Act on behalf of justice”[5] and put the necessary pressure on the Ethiopian government to release all political prisoners of which the overwhelming majority are the Oromo;
3.      Utilize its influences with the Ethiopian government to rescind its deeply flawed anti-terrorism law which it has been using to sentence actual and perceived political opponents to long years of imprisonment and to stifle “freedom of expression, severely restricting the activities of the independent media.”[6]
4.      Put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that United States financial, material and other aids paid for by United States tax payers are not used by the Ethiopian government for repressing Oromo and other peoples in the empire.
Abraahim Abbayyee
Abrahim Abbayyee
Chairman, North American Branch of the OLF

[1] The Oromo Liberation Front (Oromo: Adda Bilisummaa Oromoo or ABO), or OLF, is an organization established in 1973 by Oromo nationalists to promote self-determination for the Oromo people against "Abyssinian [Ethiopian] colonial rule".
[2] Annual Report: Ethiopia 2013, Amnesty International
[3] Taken from President Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday, December 10, 2013
[4] See Amnesy International “Urgent Action”  UA: 263/11 Index: AFR 25/007/2011 Ethiopia
[5] Taken from President Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday, December 10, 2013
[6] Annual Report: Ethiopia 2013, Amnesty International

Source: OLF web site.

Have you say!


Anonymous said...

Excellent. QC is atleast doing something. Keep up the good work!


Anonymous said...

Way to go!!!
Not just a well written piece but a very timely one. Keep up a good job.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant and you have showed your commitment. Keep up the struggle!!

Anonymous said...

Akkas malee, diinatti dhaga darbachuun, diina saaxiluun, warra sagalee inqabnee uumata keenyaa sagalee ta'uun, adunyatti dhuga himuun, warra laale achii laaluu ija saanii rakko keenyaa irratti deebisuun, wanni jedhaniif wanni hojjetan akka tooko ta'u yaadachiisuun.

Horaa bula, galanni keessani walabumma Oromiyaa hata'u.

Anonymous said...

So you are asking Obama to walk the talk, ha? You also think he meant every thing he said in that speech, correct? Let me tell you. You have a better chance of being taken seriously by Obama and everyone else if you focus on organizing your people and armed struggle than wasting your time writting appeals. Don't get me wrong - appeals will work only if you are taken seriously by those you are appealing to. What I am saying is you have not earned that respect yet. I guess it is better than doing nothing. In that sense, good luck and thanks.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Abel, having strong Organization and strong army will earn you a respect and attention but what if OLF is not there yet. Should it be silent till it gets there? In my opinion it did the right thing in appealing to US government- the big supporter of Ethiopian government to evaluate it's financial and moral support.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again , the old OLF lirs are trying to come back with only words to gain sympathy from Oromo people , you shuld write this long letter to all Oromo Organizations for unity rather than just wasting your time . Oromo nedd to come together for real and re-unite its army , then Mr. Obama will him self call you and say something about your letter , but he will not waste his time with sitting duck like you to
ask for help without doing nothing

Anonymous said...

I think Obbo Abrahim's heart is in the right place and going in the right direction. BTW, here is a link to a letter he recently wrote "to all Oromo Organizations for unity".

Way to go Obbo Abrahim. You are starting a new culture in the OLF.

Yaasin Fiixee

Anonymous said...

Writing to Oromo organization to come together should be the #1 thing like Anonymous above said, Obbo Abrahim did just that. See He wrote to Oromo Organizations to come together and strengthen the Organization first.

Anonymous said...

Important letter to very important president of the is good that by design or default Oromos played great roll in training and safeguarding MADIBA and the current condition of the Oromos.But it makes sad that OLF has no one voice ;but many voices.unless you don't have one voice it is simply insulting and humiliating yourself and the Oromo people.

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Anonymous said...

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ankii said...

Good work

ankit said...

Nice article..



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