July 26, 2009

Voice of the Voiceless from Behind the Bar (HRLHA Press Release)

Voice of the Voiceless from Behind the Bar

25 July, 2009 HRLHA

The majority of Ethiopians have been living in fear under a very harsh suppression with little hope of freedom and stable life in the near future. Especially in the last seventeen years, for most Ethiopians, the country has literally been turned into unofficial and open prison. People from all walks of life, age group and gender have been victimized. Although the victims have been multiple and various, the pretext in all cases has been one and the same – to be suspected of being either a member or a supporter of opposition political organizations; despite the “democratic political system”, which the ruling party claims to have been following. Other victims include press freedom and human rights activists.

According to a document recently received by HRLHA, not only the political and legal system, but also the prison situations are very harsh. The document entitled, “ Oromo Political Prisoners’ Plight and Appeal”, many political prisoners have died before being tried and/or reaching verdict mainly due to very poor prison situations. The document mentions that discriminations against political prisoners are very open in receiving treatments after getting sick. In most cases, it is only when their health situation becomes irreversible that the prisoners are taken to clinics or hospitals, according to the document. Currently, about 285 political prisoners are suffering under the same situation, on top of which systematic mental and physical tortures have been added. Some of the torture methods have been indicated in the document.

Among the political prisoners who have already received sentences, four are awaiting death penalty while ten were given life in prison. The other long and short term prison sentences range from the shortest of one year to eighteen years. The plight and appeal of the political prisoners reads as follows:

Oromo Political Prisoners’ plight and appeal

We, Oromo nationals from all walks of life - farmers, students, teachers, business persons, entrepreneurs, government employees, engineers, medical doctors, youths, elderly, men, women, children etc brought from all over Oromia and accused of being either members or supporters Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have been subjected to brutal tortures, ill treatments and very harsh prison situations the TPLF/EPRDF government of Ethiopia.

Today, when the world discusses higher and better standards living, we Oromo are crying for basic human rights such as safety to life, equal and fair treatments, and human being dignity. We, the under-listed Oromo political prisoners (OPP) present our plight and appeal to those concerned with humanity, justice, equality, freedom and democracy. We also would like to bring the following facts to their attention:

For more, please download and read the attachement
Attachment: Voice of the Voiceless- from behind the bar (HRLHA Press Release).doc

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