By: Dejene Abdissa Janna | January 10, 2014
A paper presented on the Conflict of the Horn of Africa,the Struggle for Freedom, Democracy, Peace and Development Conference
04 January, 2014
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
The modern concept of human rights is rooted in the experiences of ‘legal lawlessness’ when crimes were committed with the authorization of the law, and when some human beings were denied their status as such. An answer to these experiences was the emergence of the international human rights law. The main aim of this branch of international law is to prevent broad violations of fundamental rights from recurring in the future. Appreciating the worth of every human being, the international community decided to eliminate elements that could destroy the individual person, but also to create the conditions that would enable him or her to develop and flourish. Accordingly, the Preambles to the International Bill of Rights provide that the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” is the “inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966). However, the dictator government of Ethiopia otherwise known TPLF is unable in the enforcement of these rights and remain a headache,mainly due to technical blockades; lack of effective institutions or the existence of weak institutions only; and lack of political will to implement human rights with differing degrees. Therefore asking your rights in Ethiopia will either lead you to be imprisoned or counted you as anti-government.
Instability in Horn of Africa and TPLF
The current crisis in the Horn of Africa is, on the one hand, a struggle between oppressed people who are fighting for self-determination and, on the other hand, the regime of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that is trying to impose its rule by force.
The regime has set loose war, hunger, poverty, and disease to ransack the country. In particular, the regime has been and is systematically violating human rights of the Oromo and other peoples of in the country as well and the neighborings too.
The OLF also believes in peace, democracy and development . As the main organ that is championing the right of self-determination of the Oromo people, it fully realizes the present day global reality. It affirms that the international community does have legitimate concern and interest in political stability and economic development of the Horn of Africa. Moreover, the OLF is cognizant of the fact that the day of carving spheres of influence and promoting clients in superpower rivalry has given way to globalization. Further, the OLF firmly believes in the immediate termination of the vicious cycle of political conflicts, economic backwardness, environmental degradation, natural and man-made disasters that today ravage the peoples of the Horn of Africa.
Human Right Issue in Ethiopia
Allegations of arbitrary detention, torture, and other ill-treatment at the hands of Ethiopianpolice and other security forces are not new. But since the disputed 2005 elections, the Ethiopian government has intensified restrictions on freedom of expression, association,and assembly, deploying a range of measures to clamp down on dissent. These include arresting and detaining political opposition figures, journalists, and other independent voices, and implementing laws that severely restrict independent human rights monitoring and press freedom.
Since 2009 a new law, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, has become a particularly potent instrument to restrict free speech. The law’s provision undermine basic legal safeguards against prolonged pre-charge detention and unfair trials. In this context, Maekelawi has become an important site for the detention and investigation of some of the most politically sensitive cases.
Many detainees accused of offenses under the law—including some of Ethiopia’s most prominent political prisoners—have been detained in the Maekelawi facility as their cases were investigated or prepared for trial (Human Rights Watch, 2013). As a result of enforcement of the FDRE Proclamation 621/2009 that has been intended to impose superior regulation of charities, the party leaders decide who should receive and who should not receive the emergency support at grassroots level in the respective community.
Older Oormo people are usually victims of this type of abuse because of their allegiances to the values of the Oromo Gadaa system, that promotes respect and dignity to people in difficult situation. In so doing, technically, the authorities decide who should die from and who should survive the hunger.
Endless focus on Oromos by TPLF, why?
The Oromo people constitute the single largest national groups in the Ethiopia empire and the horn of Africa with the total of over 40 million people. The number of the oromo people and the geographical location of their country Oromia make the oromo country ( Oromia) the heart of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian empire mainly survives on the economic resources of Oromia. Although the Oromo people are one of the most impoverished and terrorized indigenous people .Recognizing that Oromia is the richest and largest populous state, the Tigrayan led Ethiopia government has been using collective violence to dominate, control and exploit Oromia which the key in controlling the Ethiopia government has been using political economy. Understanding the situation in Oromia helps in generalizing what is going through the country (Hassen,2011).
The Oromo people are just arrested and accused of being a member or supporter or sympathiser of the Oromo liberation struggle. To the Ethiopian government authorities, every Oromo appears to be a member of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a political organisation struggling for the socio-economic, cultural and political rights of the Oromo people. One has to prove he/she is not a member or supporter of the OLF in order to live in relative peace. The safest proof is one and only one – to become a member of the EPRDF, the ruling party;failure to proove non-affiliation with OLF or any attempt to remain politically indifferent has come to be dangerous in Ethiopia for every ordinary Oromo. Business persons are systematically eliminated from investment and small scale business if they fail to be members of the ruling party in any case. Every student in college or university is required to secure membership of the ruling party at the campus in order for her/him to get job in public institutions or to run private business after completion of the study. The situation is worse for the rural people whereby farmers are required to be members of and demonstrate allegiance to the EPRDF in order to get agricultural inputs and/or have their children learn in school without assault by the government security.
It always seems impossible until it is done – Nelson Mandela