June 22, 2016
Dear High Commissioner:
We, members of the Ethiopian Advocacy Network (EAN), are writing to implore the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to open an investigation into the massive human rights violations against peaceful protesters committed by the current Ethiopian regime. Specifically, we strongly advocate the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to investigate the ongoing egregious human rights violations in Ethiopia, similar to the inquiry conducted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions in Kenya following the post-election violence in December 2007 and January 2008.
While the abuses and flagrant human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian government have been well documented by independent and respected human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, there has been no concerted international action to hold the regime accountable for the systematic and widespread extrajudicial killings and politically motivated arrests and imprisonments undertaken on a regular basis by the Ethiopian security forces. Some of these actions are widely considered crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
The following evidences reiterate some of the few government sanctioned killings:
- 100 Sidamos were massacred in 2001
- 200 Mazengers were killed in Gambella in July 2002
- 424 Anukas in Gambella were massacred in December 2003
- 193 Ethiopians ranging in age from 14-75 were brutally killed during civil
demonstrations and 30,000 civilians were arrested between June & November
2005, according to the final report of the independent Inquiry Commission set by
the Ethiopian Parliament
- Thousands of ethnic Somalis in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia have been killed by
Ethiopian security forces and the Liyu Police, a rogue group, similar to the
Sudanese Janjaweed militia
On June 15, 2016 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 6o page report on the recent protests in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The report meticulously describes how state security forces have used excessive and lethal force to respond to the roughly 500 protests, killing an estimated 400 people and injuring thousands, many of them young students. Security forces have also arrested tens of thousands of people, some for short periods.
The Ethiopian regime continues to act with impunity because it rightly believes that it faces no accountability from both its repressed citizens and the international community. It is our opinion that the intervention of a highly regarded and influential office such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is critical towards ensuring that the causes of justice and respect for international human rights laws are not disregarded when it comes to Ethiopia.
We understand that the Special Rapporteur on The Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Maina Kiai has sent request letters to Ethiopia in 2011 and 2013. We are also cognizant of the fact that the government refuses to extend an official invitation for obvious reasons.
In light of the facts detailed in the report from HRW, we are requesting an immediate investigation into the gross and persistent violence against citizens committed by the Ethiopian government. We urge you to take up this matter with the utmost seriousness and urgency that it deserves and act on our request to appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate the deliberate and reckless use of citizen abuse as an institutionalized method of governance.
At the Opening of the 4th Human Rights Council Session on March 12, 2007 Ban Kimoon, UN Secretary-General noted, “All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action.”
It is time for the global community to respond with a formal investigation on behalf of these victims and their families.
We thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.
Ethiopian Advocacy Network is a grassroots organization that was formed in January 2015 by Ethiopian-Americans, Ethiopian activists and community organizers to promote democracy, human rights, and justice in Ethiopia through advocacy, civic education and grass roots mobilization. EAN has a global presence with members in the USA, Africa, Canada and Europe.