OFC International Support Group Statement on Arrest of Dr. Merera Gudina and OFC Leaders

For Immediate Release:

OFC ISG calls on the international community to pressure the Ethiopian government to unconditionally release of the Oromo Federalist Congress leaders

Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is a non-profit organization established with a mission to bring an end to the oppression and injustice in Ethiopia. Our goal is to advance human rights, rule of law, good governance and freedom of expression in Ethiopia through advocacy, public forum and financial support to the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

Ethiopian security forces arrested Dr. Merera Gudina, the chairman of the opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and vice-chairman of the largest coalition, Medrek, on his arrival in Ethiopia after testifying at the European Union Parliament on November 29, 2016. He was arrested for sitting by an EU Parliament invitee who is the leader of an alleged “terrorist organization” banned by the Ethiopian government. This is not the first time the Ethiopian government has detained the OFC leaders. In December 2015, one month after the outbreak of Oromo Protests, it arrested the OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba and kept the secretary general of the party Bekele Nega under house arrest. More than 6000 OFC members were detained, a number that has risen since a state of emergency was imposed on October 8, 2016.

It was reported that the security forces physically assaulted Dr. Merera, injuring him. It should also be noted that he is a diabetic and our concern for his health is growing. Moreover, his legal counsel has still not been allowed to visit him, though they went to the federal police investigation center three different days. His family members were allowed to visit him only once last Monday. The Ethiopian government is violating the Right of Access to and Assistance of a Lawyer guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution and international covenants to which it is a signatory. We condemn the barbarous actions of Ethiopian security forces in the strongest terms. We call on the government to immediately allow Dr Merera to access medical care and legal counsel.

We reiterate the need for the meaningful accountability for the government’s crackdown on Oromo protesters over the past year which has resulted in torture and extrajudicial killings by security forces. We continue to urge the Ethiopian government to seek a peaceful solution to the legitimate issues raised by its citizens immediately, before the problem spirals out of control. We call on the international community to react to the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia before it is too late. We demand the Ethiopian government to unconditionally release Dr. Merera, Bekele Gerba, journalists, all members of the OFC and civil society activists who have been detained, and take meaningful actions to open political space, starting with lifting current restrictions on social media, allowing independent international investigation and facilitating a way for political reforms toward an inclusive and truly representative government.

Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group

December 9, 2016

Minneapolis, Minnesota

For more see at: http://www.ofcinternational.com/for-immediate-release/


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