UNION OF OROMO STUDENTS IN EUROPE
Dambruggestraat 109, 2060 Antwerp, Belgium
His Excellency Mr. Ban K-Moon
United Nations Office of the Secretary General
885 Second Avenue New York, NY 10017
Date: 14 Dec 2009
Subject: Ecological Crimes in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia
“The selection of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi to lead the African delegates in Copenhagen for Global conference on climate change should not mask the despotic nature of Meles and his regime.”
Dear Secretary General,
This letter is written on behalf of the Union of Oromo Students in Europe (UOSE) to bring to your attention to the unprecedented damage and destruction of environment being carried out in Oromiya, Ethiopia. Union of Oromo Students in Europe, based in Germany as of 1974 is a multi disciplinary and non-profit organization established to promote the struggle of Oromo nation’s towards the realization of self determination in Ethiopia. I believe environmental destruction in Oromiya is not only the concern of Oromo but also the human nature as a whole, as far as the effect of environment is universal.
The Oromo make up a significant portion of the population occupying the Horn of Africa. They are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. Oromiya is rich in nature, strategically important (as a seat of African Union and UNECA) and most populous regional state in Ethiopia. It forms the backbone of the Ethiopian economy and produces more than 65 percent of Ethiopian government revenues, yet its share of the budget allocation is the smallest in comparison to the size of its population. Its people are currently facing a crippling famine and their resources are facing arbitrary destruction. The Oromo people have no voice in the political affairs of their own state which is totally controlled by the ruling Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the fake ethnic-based organizations it has formed ‘Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Forces’ (EPRDF). According to the Ex-Ethiopian President and other sources, currently there are more than 30,000 Oromo political prisoners without any charge.
The executive committee of UOSE is interested in informing your Excellency about the intentional, repeated and destructive policies of the ruling Tigrean peoples Liberation Front and their disreputable cohorts. Mr Zenawi has no respect for fundamental human rights and has one of the worst environmental records in the history of Ethiopia. In the Oromia region, Mr Zenawi is committing the worst environmental crimes by dumping toxic industrial waste into the rich, well balanced ecosystem on which the region’s poor livelihood is entirely depends. These actions, your Excellency, are despicable and should be revealed to the international community and condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Emboldened by the silence of international community about its human rights records, the Ethiopian government has repeatedly embarked on the systematic and catastrophic environmental destruction of Oromia and other states in southern Ethiopia. The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been pursuing environmentally-unfriendly policies since it seized power in Ethiopia in 1991. With total disregard for the long-term environmental consequences and under the guise of a free market economy, the government has been awarding contracts to investors undertaking unregulated mining and mechanized farming in ecologically sensitive and vulnerable areas. Mr Zenawi’s eco-destructive investment and industrial policy of inequitable, unjust land use has badly affected the Oromia region and made them vulnerable to the slightest change in climate.
Mr Zenawi is thus directly responsible for the following environmental crimes:
* Lake Koka and the Akaki River were poisoned to the level of claiming human life and damaging the ecosystem. A scientist from the University of Durham, U.K., has analysed water sample from Lake Koka, and determined that the lake is severely polluted with “… some of the most toxic molecules known to man.”
* Lake Hara Maya was dried up by the same denominator set by Mr. Meles
* There are ample evidences that the fires were deliberately set by squads of the Tigrean regime with the wicked pretext that the forest is an obstacle to the efficiency of its force against guerrilla fighters of Oromo liberation struggle.
* A poorly planned and unsustainable mining venture plus an environmentally-unfriendly flower industry in the Oromia region.
* In Laga Dambi primary gold exploitation by Medroc Ethiopia Company, the utilisation of Potassium cyanide by the company to dissociate the primary gold from its mother rock severely affected down the stream the life of the local people by creating toxic chemical complex.
Under Prime Minister Zenawi’s regime, beyond the significant massacre, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, illegal arrests, confiscation of property and detention for a long period and torture; Ethiopia, especially the Oromia region is facing an ecological catastrophe: deforestation, recurrent drought, and desertification. In the light of the above mentioned facts, UNDP and other environmental organizations have reported on the alarming state of ecological degradation in Ethiopia. After almost two decades of Zenawi’s rule, in 2009 over ten million Ethiopians are exposed to hunger and malnutrition.
We are living in a truly peculiar era when the promotion of harmony between societies and forging a similar relationship between man and nature has become glaringly intertwined. Neither of these two interlocking challenges can any longer be addressed separately. And they should not. Prime Minister Zenawi’s regime has failed to serve as an agency for addressing these challenges. The regimes’ highest priority is to indefinitely remaining in power by any means possible. His regime tries to achieve this priority by engaging in the directly opposite practice of exacerbating an inter-communal scramble over ever diminishing resources, which occasionally leads to violence.
We anticipate a positive outcome from COP15 UN Climate Change Conference on which brilliant leaders and representatives of nations around the world, international organizations, and prominent individuals will assemble on the summit. We believe the global win-win consensus will be reached on to achieve the main objective of making this planet a better place for the us to live in by reducing green house gas emissions and averting the immense implications that climate change impacts.
But, Union of Oromo Students in Europe is in opposition to the unjust representation of the African continent by Mr Zenawi at the Climate Summit. He has no moral high ground to represent the continent. We believe that the choice of Mr Zenawi as African negotiating team leader is disgusting and a joke against the serious problem of Africa. The representation is wrong, ill-informed and morally repugnant, since his environmental unfriendly policies are the cause of the immeasurable environmental degradation taking place in Ethiopia in general and at a politically motivated faster rate in the Oromia region.
This dictator from Addis Ababa has no respect for basic and fundamental human rights and has one of the worst environmental records in the history of Ethiopia; accordingly he has no moral authority to stand behind a podium at the conference as a champion of climate change for the people of Africa. His representation will encourage dictatorship; kill environmental and human right championship.
Accordingly we appeal that:
1) UN led investigation team be formed and discover the responsible actors for the environmental destruction in Ethiopia in general and Oromiya in particular
2) Meles be denied of the COP 15 podium
3) All political prisoners be freed from years of inhuman detention camps and prisons
4) Unless otherwise a national reconciliation and fair state institution are installed, the coming Ethiopian election be regarded null and void
5) Urge the United Nations, United States, the World Bank, the International Monitory Fund, the European Union, the United Kingdom and others to stop supporting Mr. Zenawi dictatorial regime. We further urge you to petition the International Criminal Court to initiate charges against Mr. Zenawi and his regime for genocide, Crimes against humanity and Environmental destruction
6) In case it happens, any supports given to Ethiopia should pass through the strict possible scrutiny.
Thank you very much in advance for your attention and action.
With Kindest regards
President, Union of Oromo Students in Europe
(LL.M Fellow, Faculty of Law, Gent University
His Excellency Barack Obama
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