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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Press Release - For Immediate Release

April 04, 2007 -
"Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business." Author Francis Bacon

The successful rally led by Oromo youth on Saturday March 31, 2007 in Washington DC marked the Oromo youth fulfillment of Sir Francis Bacon's depiction of the youth. The rally was organized by the International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA), an umbrella organization of all Oromo Youth Associations and Student Unions which was founded in 2006 with the vision of engaging in a multifaceted struggle to bring freedom and justice to the Oromo people. In addition, IOYA is committed to working to alleviate the economic, social, and human rights deprivations of the Oromo nation at no cost to any other nation or country. We, the IOYA, are committed to achieving these goals by investing our time, energy, wealth, and lives. The Oromo youth, want to reaffirm that we are highly committed to the well-being of the Oromo people and will not stop until our people's destiny rests in their own hands.

The Oromo people are at a critical juncture in our history in which the century-old repression and persecution of our people has surpassed the boundaries of the Ethiopian Empire, and is now rampant in neighboring countries, particularly Somalia. Since the U.S.-backed invasion of Somalia by the so-called Ethiopian Defense Force, the repressive Tigrean minority regime has become emboldened due to the United State 's unconditional support. Lack of media coverage of the atrocities committed by TPLF-regime in Oromia as well as in Somalia has only allowed this situation to worsen.

Alarmed by the irresponsible support by the United States , and by the consequent flagrant acts of ethnic-cleansing operations being carried out by the ethnocentric Ethiopia's Tigrean minority regime, IOYA organized the rally in the Nation's capital to bring the issue to the attention of the international community. Young and old, women, men, and friends of the Oromo people from all parts of the country flocked to Washington DC to participate in this historic rally. Hundreds of people drove for days from as far away as Minnesota, California, and Seattle to show their solidarity for the just cause of our people, and echoed our calls for an end to the persecution of the Oromo people in Oromia and Somalia. The crowd also demanded the United States to be more accountable for their support to the repressive regime in Ethiopia.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all who participated in the rally. We want to affirm our commitment to organizing similar marches for peace and justice for Oromo people. We call on all Oromos, friends of Oromo, and all peace-loving people to join our second rally on Thursday, July 26, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota .

We thank all organizations and individuals who supported the efforts in making this rally a success.

Freedom for Oromo People, Freedom for All!

International Oromo Youth Association

Report says War on Terro Violating Human Rights in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia ...

By Cathy Majtenyi -
April 4, 2007 (Nairobi) - An Ethiopian official denies an Associated Press report that says U.S. officials are interrogating terrorism suspects in secret prisons in Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, says the report is likely true, given its own report documenting cooperation between the Kenyan, Ethiopian, Somali and U.S. governments on the war on terror. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.
According to the exclusive Associated Press report, hundreds of men, women and even children from 19 countries who were sent to Ethiopia from Kenya and Somalia are being held in secret prisons in Ethiopia, some being mistreated.
It says CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaida militants are interrogating the prisoners, who are being kept without charge or access to lawyers or their families.
Bereket Simon, an advisor to Ethiopia's prime minister, denies the existence of secret prisons or interrogation by U.S. agents.
"Ethiopia does not have any secret prisons," said Bereket Simon. "Anybody who is accused of terrorist activity is handled with due process of law. We just take them to the court and make sure that the court gives us a permit to detain them. I can assure you: there is no U.S. interrogation taking place in Ethiopia in whatever forms."
Officials in the American Embassy in Nairobi were unavailable for comment.
U.S. government officials contacted by Associated Press admitted questioning prisoners in Ethiopia, but said they were following the law and needed to gather information on past attacks and current terrorism threats.
Much of AP's coverage concurs with a report that Human Rights Watch released late last week.
According to the report, Kenya, Ethiopia, the United States, and Somalia's transitional government worked closely together to capture and hold some people who had fled fighting between the Islamic Courts Union and Somalia's transitional government backed by Ethiopian troops. Many of the people who were targeted in December and January hold foreign passports.
Since late December, Kenyan security forces had arrested at least 150 people crossing the border, transferring them to Nairobi where U.S. officials, believing them to be terrorism suspects, interrogated them.
Many had subsequently been deported back to Somalia, where some were then sent to prisons in Ethiopia.
A London-based official with Human Rights Watch, Tom Porteous, tells VOA governments are using the war on terror against their political opponents.
"Local governments such as the Ethiopians, the Kenyans, will use the rhetoric of the war on terror as an excuse to clamp down on nationalist, local opposition groups, which really have no affiliation to international jihadism," said Tom Porteous.
For instance, in Kenya, Muslim groups have long been saying that the war on terror has made them vulnerable to illegal arrest, detention, and other abuses, a charge the government denies.
Porteous uses the example of Ethiopia to illustrate his point.
"The detainees who have been sent to Ethiopia appear to be members of Ethiopian rebel groups, mainly the Oromo Liberation Front and the Ogaden National Liberation Front," he said. "These are groups that have been opposed to the Ethiopian government for many years. The Ethiopian government has cracked down on them for many years and they have used torture against members of these groups."
Prime ministerial advisor Bereket denies that the Ethiopian government is using this opportunity to punish the rebel groups.
But, he says, the rebel groups much be punished if they do wrong.
"There are some Ogaden National Liberation Front members who are engaged in terrorist activities by planting bombs, by throwing grenades into hotels, and the like," he said.
Human Rights Watch's Porteous says he thinks the AP report is accurate, given his organization's investigations in Kenya.
Source: VOA

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