A subcommittee open hearing titled “Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights,” was held on June 20, 2013 by Congressman Christopher Smith, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations at the U.S. Congress in Washington DC.
This will be the second time Congressman Smith raised the matter after he worked hard in 2006 to bring the human rights and democracy issue of Ethiopia all the way from subcommittee to the House before it faced obstacles and died.
The hearing is meant to examine the Ethiopian Government’s observance of democratic and human rights principles in post-Meles Ethiopia. On this Donald Y. Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State; Earl Gast, Asst. Administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development; Dr. Berhanu Nega, Ph.D., of Bucknell University; Dr. J. Peter Pham, Ph.D., Director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center; Obang Metho, of Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia; and Adotei Akwei of Amnesty International testified during the hearing.
Gutama Gallatobati fled persecution in Ethiopia because of his alleged ties to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), but now finds himself homeless in Egypt because of his Ethiopian heritage.
Abdi Harboury was the first Oromo to be attacked by a group of Egyptian youth over the Blue Nile dam project. He was beaten and his back still bears scars from burns.
An Oromo woman listens as members of the Oromo community discuss their meetings with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
A group of Oromo men are told that the UN cannot provide shelter or food for the hundreds of refugees who have camped out front of the UNHCR building in Cairo for the last week.
Many of the refugees are forced to sleep on scraps of cardboard, while sewage water leaks into the grass nearby.
Gutama Gallatobati still bears the scars of his past in Ethiopia, where guards in the prison sliced off flesh from his leg.
The Oromo make up 40 percent of the Ethiopian population, however, the minority Tigray government has persecuted them.
Cairo, Egypt – For months, Gutama Gallatobati, a proud farmer and mechanic of Oromo descent languished in an Ethiopian prison over accusations he burned an Ethiopian flag. While inside, guards physically abused him.
Sada Ahmed, a mother of five children and wife of a wealthy husband lived a good life in Ethiopia until she was accused of financially supporting the rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Her husband disappeared in Sudan and she was forced to flee to Egypt.
The Oromo make up 40 percent of the Ethiopian population. However, the minority Tigray government has persecuted the Oromo people, jailing more than 20,000 suspected OLF members. As a result, many have been forced to flee, leaving behind family, friends and jobs.
Ahead of World Refugee Day on Thursday, the Oromo who have fled to Egypt are again endangered.
|“Our case cannot be resolved with lawyers and judges and courts … We don’t want legal protection, we want physical protection.“
– Mohamed Zein, Ethiopian journalist
Over the last few weeks, there has been an emergence of xenophobic attacks against Ethiopians on the streets of Cairo, motivated by Ethiopia’s goal to build the “Grand Renaissance Dam”.
The Ethiopian government is planning to dam the Blue Nile for hydroelectric power, a move Egypt worries will affect its water supply.
In response to the project, Egypt’s government has reached a new level of bellicose rhetoric. In a televised meeting of key government officials recently, former presidential candidate Ayman Nour suggested Egypt launch air strikes to stop construction of the dam. Others proposed destabilising the Ethiopian government by funding rebel groups.
The Oromo in Egypt are now caught in the middle here and say they’re facing increased hostility from Egyptians.
In response, hundreds of Oromo refugees have staged a sit-in outside the Cairo office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) demanding safety. They’ve refused to leave, sleeping on the grass outside the building, near leaking sewage from a surrounding apartment complex.
Jeylan Kassim, head of the Oromo Sons/ Daughters Refugee Association, has played a leading role in organising the protests. “We will not leave until the UNHCR will protect us,” he told Al Jazeera.
A heavy silence blankets the Oromo as they sit on scraps of cardboard listening to members of the community discuss in frustration fruitless meetings with UNHCR representatives.
The UN says it cannot provide temporary shelter or food outside the UNHCR building because they do not have authority over the land, nor the resources to supply those camping out for the nearly two weeks.
The UN has offered a phone hotline for refugees to call with their problems, as well as legal assistance.
But the Oromo say this is not enough. “Our case cannot be resolved with lawyers and judges and courts … We don’t want legal protection, we want physical protection,” says Mohamed Zein, a journalist from Ethiopia.
He fled to Egypt after he was falsely accused of providing secret government information to NGO Human Rights Watch and the Eritrean government.
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The UNHCR acknowledges the situation is a difficult one but says its options are limited. “The outcome is not in your hands. As the United Nations, you don’t get involved in [internal] politics,” says UN press officer Ahmed Aboughazala.
The Oromo in Egypt are united not only by their heritage, but also by a collective sense of uncertainty.
When 33-year-old Gutama Gallatobati arrived in Cairo a month ago, he thought his biggest troubles had been left behind. A week ago, however, his landlord evicted him from his apartment and his belongings were taken. When asked what reason he’d been given, he sighed: “The Nile.”
“They said if you take our water, we will take your blood,” recounted Abdi Harboury, a lanky youth shy to make eye contact.
According to the Oromo community, Abdi was the first person to have been attacked over the dam issue. He was beaten by three Egyptian youth, they say.
Hussein Ahmed, an asylum seeker who has been in Cairo almost two years, admitted he lies when asked about his origins. “I was at the barber and he asked me, ‘Where are you from?’ I said Nigeria. I am scared to say I am from Ethiopia.”
Even outside the UNHCR office, the refugees say it is not safe. Ahmed said he was beaten recently, and a woman was groped on her way to find a toilet. They claim the police did nothing to stop the attacks.
Some police officers have told locals passing by that the refugees are not suffering, and are being paid by the American government to protest, the Oromo say. “They protest in the day and then at night they’re paid and many of them leave,” said a young officer, who declined to give his name because he was not authorised to talk to the press.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, meanwhile, arrived last Sunday in Addis Ababa to meet with his Ethiopian counterpart in an attempt to find a political and economic solution over the dam issue.
Ethiopia and Egypt agreed to hold further talks on the impact of a huge Ethiopian dam project to quell tensions between the two countries over water-sharing.
Until it gets resolved, however, the Oromo who fled persecution in Ethiopia say they will continue to face threats to their safety in Egypt.
Ethiopie: Barrage sur le Nil bleu – l’Egypte et l’Ethiopie jouent la carte de l’apaisement
Les deux pays ont convenu, suite à des entretiens de haut niveau, de s’en tenir aux recommandations qui seront formulées par un groupe international d’experts.
L’Egypte et l’Ethiopie ont pris des mesures pour désamorcer les tensions consécutives à la déviation des eaux du Nil par l’Ethiopie pour construire un grand barrage hydroélectrique.
Les ministres des Affaires étrangères des deux pays ont eu des entretiens à Addis-Abeba lundi et mardi 18 juin 2013. Ils ont convenu de s’en remettre aux recommandations qui seront formulées par un groupe international d’experts.
L’Egypte et l’Ethiopie devraient par la suite tenir de nouveaux pourparlers. La construction du barrage a commencé il y a deux ans et la fin des travaux est prévue pour 2017. Ce barrage devrait faire de l’Ethiopie le plus grand producteur d’électricité en Afrique.
Ethiopia: Dam on the Blue Nile – Egypt and Ethiopia are playing the card of appeasement
The two countries have agreed, following high-level talks, to stick to the recommendations to be made by an international group of experts.
Egypt and Ethiopia have taken steps to defuse tensions consecutive to the deviation of the Nile waters by Ethiopia to build a large hydroelectric dam.
The foreign ministers of both countries held talks in Addis Ababa on Monday and Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
They agreed to rely on the recommendations to be made by an international group of experts.
Egypt and Ethiopia should thereafter hold fresh talks. Construction of the dam began two and completion years ago is scheduled for 2017.
The dam should be of Ethiopia’s largest electricity producer in Africa.
በነበራቸው የስራ ሃላፊነት በድብቅ መረጃ ሲያሰባስቡ ቆይተው ለመንግስት ካጋለጡ በኋላ ራሳቸውን ደብቀው የነበሩት አቶ ተስፋዬ ኢሬሣ ምሳ እየተመገቡ ህይወታቸው ማለፉ ተሰማ። አቶ ተስፋዬ ሰኞ ለጸረ ሙስና ኮሚሽን የምስክርነት ቃላቸውን ለመስጠት ከኮሚሽነር አሊ ሱሌማን ጋር ቀጠሮ ይዘው ነበር።
በቅርቡ ወደ ፌደራል መንግስት የተዛወሩት የጋምቤላ የቀድሞ ፕሬዚዳንት የነበሩት አቶ ኡሞት ኦባንግ፣ ከ83 ሚሊዮን ብር በላይ አላግባብ ለግል ጥቅማቸው ማዋላቸውን፣ እንዲሁም በክልሉ የሚፈጸሙትን የተጭበረበሩ የበጀት አፈጻጸሞችንና ምዝበራዎችን የሚያጋልጡ ሰነዶችን በሚስጥር በማደራጀት ለኢህአዴግ ያቀረቡት አቶ ተስፋዬ አሟሟታቸው አነጋጋሪ ሆኗል።
ቀደም ሲል የጋምቤላ የፋይናንስ ቢሮ ሃላፊ የነበሩት አቶ ተስፋዬ ከላይ የተጠቀሰውን የሙስና ወንጀል በማጋለጣቸው ጋምቤላ መኖር ሳይችሉ ቀርተው ራሳቸውን ሸሽገው ለመኖር ተገደው ነበር። “አቶ ተስፋዬ ሙስናን በማጋለጣቸው በፍርሃቻ ራሳቸውን ደብቀው ሊኖሩ አይገባም” በማለት ኢህአዴግ ከለላ እንደሚሰጣቸው ቃል በገባላቸው መሰረት ከተሸሸጉበት የወጡት አቶ ተስፋዬ ሰንጋተራ ትንሳዔ ሆቴል ከጋምቤላ ልጆች ጋር መገናኘት ይጀምራሉ።
ባለፈው ሳምንት ከፌዴራል የጸረ ሙስና ኮሚሽነር አሊ ሱሌማን ጋር ለመገናኘት ቀጠሮ ከያዙ በኋላ ኮሚሽነሩ በድንገት ለለቅሶ ወደ ጎንደር በመሄዳቸው ቀጠሮው ለሳምንት ይራዘማል። ለሰኞ (ሰኔ10፤2005) አዲስ ቀጠሮ ይይዛሉ።
በስልክ ያነጋገርናቸው ትንሳዔ ሆቴል አካባቢ እንደነበሩና ለጉዳዩ ቅርበት እንዳላቸው የሚገልጹ የጋምቤላ ተወላጅ የስራ ሃላፊ እንዳሉት አቶ ኦሞት ኦባንግ ለአቶ ተስፋዬ ስልክ ደውለው ነበር። አቶ ተስፋዬ ህይወታቸው ከማለፉ ሁለት ቀን በፊት የቀድሞው የጋምቤላ ክልል ፕሬዚዳንት የነበሩት አቶ ኦሞት በስልክ ተማጽንዖ አቅርበው ነበር።
አቶ ኦሞት “እውነት ነው ጸረ ሙስና ኮሚሽን ቀጠሮ የያዝከው?” በማለት ይጠይቃሉ
“አዎ! እውነት ነው” በማለት አቶ ተስፋዬ መልስ ይሰጣሉ።
አቶ ኦሞት መልሰው “እንግዲያውስ ጸረ ሙስና ኮሚሽን ከመግባትህና ከማነጋገርህ በፊት ሁለታችን መገናኘት አለብን። የምንነጋገረው ነገር አለ” የሚል ጥያቄ ያቀርባሉ። አቶ ተስፋዬ ስለ ስልክ ልውውጡ እንደነገሯቸው የተናገሩት እኚሁ ሰው፣ አቶ ኦሞት በስልክ ደጋግመው በመደወል ያቀረቡትን የ”እንነጋገር” ጥያቄ አቶ ተስፋዬ አልቀበልም ይላሉ።
ጋምቤላ ስራቸውን ለቀው ራሳቸውን ደብቀው የኖሩት በእርሳቸው ምክንያት መሆኑን፣ ፍትህ እንደሚፈልጉ፣ አሁን ለመነጋገር ጊዜው እንዳልሆነ፣ ዘርዝረው ለአቶ ኦሞት መናገራቸውን ያወሱት፣ ጥያቄያቸው ውድቅ የተደረገባቸው አቶ ኦሞት በንዴት ተዛልፈው ነበር።
ከዚህ ሁሉ በኋላ ነው እንግዲህ አቶ ተስፋዬ ትንሳዔ ሆቴል ሰዎችን በመላላክና በመታዘዝ ከሚኖር አንድ የጋምቤላ ሰው /አቶ ተስፋዬ የሚረዱት በምግባር ጉዳይ የሚታማና ጸበኛ የሚባል ሰው ነው/ አብረው ተቀምጠው ምሳ እየበሉ ሳለ አቶ ተስፋዬ አረፋ ይደፍቃቸዋል። ወዲያው ከተቀመጡበት ተንሸራተው መሬት ይወድቃሉ። ቀጥሎም ሰውነታቸው ይዝልና ኮማ ውስጥ ይገባሉ። ከአፋቸው እየተዝለገለገ የሚወጣው ፈሳሽ በመጨመሩና የተለያየ ርዳታ ቢደረግላቸውም ሊተርፉ ስላልቻሉ ሆስፒታል ተወስደው ህይወታቸው ማለፉ ተረጋግጧል።
አቶ ተስፋዬ ሆስፒታል ከመድረሳቸው በፊት እንደሞቱ የሚናገሩት አሟሟታቸው ከመርዝ ጋር የተያያዘ እንደሆነ ተናግረዋል። አቶ ተስፋዬ በሙስና ወንጀል ላይ ያሰባሱትን መረጃ ለተለያዩ አካላት የበተኑ ስለሆነ እሳቸውን በመግደል ማድበስበስ እንደማይቻል አስታውቀዋል። አቶ ተስፋዬ ሙስና ካጋለጡ በኋላ መሰወራቸውን መዘገባችን የሚታወስ ነው። በተያያዘ በጋምቤላ ኢንቨስትመንት ላይ ከተሰማሩ ባለሃብቶች ውስጥ ከ70በመቶ በላይ የሆኑት የህወሓት የቀድሞ ታጋዮች የነበሩና የክልል አንድ ተወላጆች መሆናቸው የአቶ ተስፋዬን አሟሟት ይበልጥ ውስብስብ እንዳደረገው አስተያየት እየተሰጠ ነው፡፡
የአዲሲቷ ኢትዮጵያ የጋራ ንቅናቄ ዋና ዳይሬክተር አቶ ኦባንግ ሜቶ “የአቶ ተስፋዬ ሞት አሳዛኝና አስደንጋጭ ነው። ብዙ ሳይታወቅ የተገደሉ ተስፋዬዎች አሉ” በማለት ስለ አቶ ተስፋዬ ሞትና አሟሟት መረጃ እንደደረሳቸው አስታውቀዋል።
“አቶ ተስፋዬ ለእውነት ሲል ሞቷል። ኢህአዴግ ውስጥ በርካታ የወንጀል መረጃ ያላቸው ወገኖች አሉ። እንዲህ ያሉ ዜጎች በየትኛውም ዘመን አይረሱም። የቀን ጉዳይ ካልሆነ በስተቀር ስማቸውና ታሪካቸው ከጨዋነታቸው ጋር ተመልሶ ህያው ይሆናል። ሌቦችና ነፍሰገዳዮች ወደ ህግ ሲያመሩ፣ እንደ አቶ ተስፋዬ አይነቶቹ የመጪው ትውልድ ታላቅ ምሳሌ ሆነው እየተወደሱ ህያው ሆነው ይኖራሉ” የሚል አስተያየት የሰጡት አቶ ኦባንግ፤ አቶ ተስፋዬ ያሰባሰቧቸው የሙስናና ተመሳሳይ ወንጀሎች ማሳያ ሰነዶች እጃቸው ላይ ስላለ አቶ ተስፋዬን በመግደልና በማስገደል ወንጀል ማድበስበስ እንደማይቻል ተናግረዋል።
የአቶ ተስፋዬ የቀብር ስነስርዓት ጋምቤላ መፈጸሙን ለመረዳት ተችሏል። ቤተሰቦቻቸውን በማግኘት ሆስፒታሉ ስለ አሟሟታቸው የሰጠውን አስተያየት ጠይቀን ለመረዳት ያደረግነው ሙከራ አልተሳካልንም።