Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS Human Rights Action Network
|Date:||24 May 2002|
|Subject:||More Violence Against Oromo Students|
|Issues:||Academic and scientific freedom; Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention; Freedom of association and assembly; Freedom of opinion and expression; Right to liberty and security of the person|
|Type of alert:||Update|
|Related alerts:||22 May 2001; 11 June 2001; 14 December 2005; 15 July 2006; 15 July 2006; 15 August 2006|
FACTS OF THE CASE:
In late March 2002, high school students from several towns in the Ethiopian state of Oromiya engaged in peaceful demonstrations against the regional government's education policies. Authorities declared the demonstrations to be illegal and attempted to break them up. In several towns, the police used live ammunition against the students. The regional government later acknowledged that police shot and killed two students, but a local human rights organization contradicts the official claim and states that five students were shot dead and a dozen were wounded.
In mid-May 2002, police in Addis Ababa arrested nearly 200 students from Addis Ababa University after students engaged in a peaceful march. The students were protesting a recent denial of a request to hold a meeting with the government about student rights in Oromiya. Some of the students were subsequently released, but an unknown number of students still remain in jail.
The recent surge in violence against student activists follows a disturbing trend of government repression against Oromo student activists and intellectuals. Oromos are populous state. A rebel group called the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has been engaged in a decade-long armed struggle for greater autonomy against the state. The Academic Freedom Program of Human Rights Watch states that the "federal and regional government authorities tend to view all forms of protest of their policies as instigated by the rebel OLF." The government has a long history of targeting individuals and groups perceived to be sympathetic to the OLF, including intellectuals and students.
In April 2001, Ethiopian security forces raided Addis Ababa University to quell student protests. During the raid, police fired live ammunition at hundreds of student and teachers, killing 41 students and arresting hundreds. The students were protesting several university policies that limit academic freedom in Ethiopian universities, including a ban on student unions and student government. Ethiopia is reported to be the only country in sub-Saharan Africa in which the government has set up a police station on campus for the purpose of controlling dissenting students and professors.
(Sources of information for this case include: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.)
RELEVANT HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Article 10: All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
- Article 19(1): Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- Article 21: The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized.
- Article 22: Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Article 12: (1): The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. (2): The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for: (c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; (d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
- Article 09: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
- Article 20(1): Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Please send telegrams, faxes, airmail letters or emails:
- Expressing your serious concern about the continuing violence against school students, teachers, and civil servants in Orimiya;
- Requesting that the Ethiopian government promptly investigate the conduct of security forces in causing the shooting deaths of students in Oromiya, and that those responsible be brought to justice; and
- Requesting that the government adhere to the international human rights standards of free expression and honor the principles of academic freedom that as a state party to international human rights standards and conventions, it is required to honor and uphold.
APPEAL AND INQUIRY MESSAGES SHOULD BE SENT TO:
His Excellency Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister's Office
PO Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: 011 2511 552020
Salutation: Your Excellency
Mr. Juneidin Sado
President of Oromiya
Oromiya Regional State Council
P O Box 101769
Salutation: Dear Mr. President:
Mr. Herke Haroye
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
P O Box 1370
Fax: 011 251 1 517775
Salutation: Dear Mr. Minister:
COPIES SENT TO:
Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos
Ambassador of Ethiopia
Embassy of Ethiopia
2134 Kalorama Rd. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: (202) 686-9551
Salutation: Dear Mr. Ambassador:
Please send copies of your appeals, and any responses you may receive, or direct any questions you may have to Victoria Baxter, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, 1200 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20005; tel. 202-326-6797; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax 202-289-4950.
The keys to effective appeals are to be courteous and respectful, accurate and precise, impartial in approach, and as specific as possible regarding the alleged violation and the international human rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation. Reference to your scientific organization and professional affiliation is always helpful.
To ensure that appeals are current and credible, please do not continue to write appeals on this case after 90 days from the date of the posting unless an update has been issued.