The following is the appeal letter the Oromo Community Organization(OCO) of Washington-DC, OYSA/WWDO and IOWO had sent to President Obama on the Hunger Strike conducted from July 23 – 25, 2014.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
RE: Staging Solidarity Hunger Strike to Protest Massacre, Torture, Detention of the Oromo People by the Ethiopian Government
Dear Mr. President,
On May 9, 2014, the Oromo Community Organization of Washington D.C. Area (OCO), the Oromo Youth Self-help Association (OYSA) and the International Oromo Women’s Organization (IOWO) held a large demonstration in front of the White House and State Department to express our deep concern and outrage about the massacre of Oromo students in April and May, just for peacefully demonstrating against government land grab; some as young as nine years, from Ambo and other towns of Oromia Regional State by the TPLF Aga’azi force and army of the Ethiopian government. Similar demonstrations were held in many state capitals of the United States, Europe, Australia, Middle East, and Africa to condemn the callous crime of the Ethiopian Government. Candlelight vigils were also held in front of the White House on May 22, 2014, and in many states of the U.S. and other countries, at different times, where Oromo communities reside.
According to partial reports received, 61 students were shot dead, 903 students are detained and still being tortured. The massacre of Oromo students by the Ethiopian regime is parallel to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre of 69 black people by the Apartheid regime of South Africa for demonstrating against the Pass Law. The blood of the black South Africans led to the abolition of Apartheid and creation of Democratic South Africa with the support of democratic nations of the world. We hope the blood of the innocent Oromo students will not be ignored and left in vain but motivate the leaders of the democratic nations of the West to help bring justice, liberty, peace and democracy in Ethiopia in general and Oromia State in particular.
Today, it is estimated that there are more than 50,000 Oromo political prisoners in Oromia in various concentration camps and prisons. Although it is difficult to know exactly how many Oromos have been killed or massacred by the regime, mass graves have been discovered in many places, including Hamaressa in eastern Oromia. The annual reports of the U.S. Department of State and other credible sources regarding human rights abuses in Ethiopia indicate that the Department is familiar with the massive human rights violations that have been committed by the Ethiopian government on the Oromo and other peoples in the country.
During our demonstration in May, we submitted appeal letter to the State Department to use their leverage to make a difference in the social, political, and economic crisis perpetrated by the Ethiopian regime against the Oromo people and others in Ethiopia. In response to our appeals, the State Department units handling Ethiopian affairs have jointly granted us audience to discuss the problem of human rights abuse, detentions without warrant, extrajudicial killings, torture, land grab and eviction without appropriate compensation, lack of freedom of expression, right of assembly, justice and democracy. Though they have the information, we have given them additional extensive dimensions of the problem.
The State Department has also replied to our appeal letter expressing their concerns about human right abuses in Ethiopia. Similarly, United States Senators, Honorable Al Franken and Honorable Amy Klobuchar representing Minnesota State; and Honorable Patty Murray and Honorable Maria Cantwell representing Washington State have written letters to Secretary Kerry expressing their deep concerns of Ethiopian government violence against its citizens. They asked the Honorable Secretary to use his influence for the respect of rule of law and human rights in Ethiopia. They stressed the Ethiopian Government’s equal treatment of all ethnic groups and implementation of democratic system must be central to their relationship with the United States. A member of the Parliament of Australia also has tabled the Oromo plight in Ethiopia for debate and asked his government for action to curb the Ethiopian government violence against peaceful citizens.