Ethiopia: Three-day campaign on human rights and land-grabbing a success | April 30, 2012

Ethiopia: Three-day campaign on human rights and land-grabbing a success

Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium, 26-28 April 2012

The three days campaign, conducted in the cities of Brussels and Antwerp by members of Oromo communities in Europe, started on the 26th of April 2012 with a visit made by the Organizing Committee’s delegates, consisting of Mr. Mulugeta Mossissa from the Netherlands, Professor Mekuria Bulcha from Sweden, Mr. Tesfaye Metta from Belgium and Dr Alemayehu Kumsa from Czech Republic, to the European Parliament. The delegates were received by Mr. Marc Jütten, Advisor for External Policies in the Cabinet of the President of the European Parliament, on behalf of the President, Mr. Martin Schulz. During the meeting, which lasted for an hour, the delegates informed Mr. Jütten about the human rights violations in Ethiopia and Oromia. The discussions with Mr. Jütten covered various aspects of human rights violations in Ethiopia with a focus on the large-scale land-lease to local and international commercial farmers, the evictions of Oromo farmers from their homes and farmlands, and the situation of Oromo refugees in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

The delegates also pointed out that the EU’s financial aid and political support to the Ethiopian government are contributing to the suffering of the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia – rather than economic development, peace and regional stability. Mr. Jütten promised to deliver the concern of the delegates to Mr. Martin Schulz, and to raise the issue to other concerned authorities within the European Parliament.

Letters with similar contents were also delivered to the President of European Council, Mr. Van Rompuy, and to the President of the European Commission, Mr. José Manuel Durão Barroso. Practical diplomatic actions are expected from both offices.

At a demonstration, which was held on 27 April – from 10:00 to 12:00 o’clock – in front of the EU commission, many members of the Oromo communities from different European countries voiced their anger and protest against the ongoing massive land-grabbing in Oromia and in the non-Abyssinian regions in Ethiopia, human rights violations, the conditions of Oromo political prisoners, and situation of Oromo refugees. The demonstrators also voiced their disappointment about the misuse of the EU aid by the Ethiopian government as a tool to oppress the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia.

On the third day, a comprehensive seminar was held in Antwerp at ACV Verbond Antwerpen‎ Nationalestrat 111. Four papers were presented on different themes by scholars and an advocate of human rights. Professor Mekuria Bulcha from Mälardalen University, Sweden, presented papers on two themes: the ‘Political and economic effects of Land grabbing in Oromia,’ and on ‘Overview of the Historical and Cultural Underpinnings of the Oromo Struggle for National Identity and independence.’ ‘Long-Term Effects of Land-Grabbing on the Environment’ was presented by another Professor.

The human rights advocate and Chairman of the Oromia Support Group (OSG), Dr. Trevor Trueman also presented a well-documented overview of human rights violations in Oromia and Ethiopia, and the situation of Oromo refugees in Djibouti and Somaliland.

Each presentation was followed by lively debates and the active participation of the audience. The conference was concluded late Saturday evening at 9 o’clock. Participants of the events underlined that the three-day activities should be the beginning of the advocacy campaign on the issues of human rights, land grabbing, on the case of Oromo political prisoners in Ethiopia, and the situation of Oromo refugees at large. A call for future closer cooperation, unity, and action among all participants was made. The participants have also called all Oromos around the globe to follow suit and raise the issues of land grabbing, human rights violations, the plight of Oromo political prisoners, Oromo refugees, and inform the public at large.

Let us do all what we can today!

Ad Hoc Coordinating Committee, Oromo Communities in Europe
April 28, 2012
Antwerp, Belgium
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