OLF is Troubled to Believe the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Reports

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OLF is Troubled to Believe the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Reports

OLF Press Release – August 27, 2021

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) claims to be an independent agency charged with promoting human rights and investigating human rights abuses in Ethiopia. However, we repeatedly observed that some of the reports and press releases are biased, and politically motivated. We believe that an autonomous human right organization must conduct independent, professional, and unbiased human rights duties and excel its public responsibility in fair and impartial manner. We also believe that it is good practice to corroborate investigation from various sources including field data in relevant regions, gathering information from sources that may include “families of victims, eyewitnesses, and residents of the places of violation”, from government authorities as well as referring to national and international human rights laws to verify atrocities.

But unfortunately, we see lack of appropriate investigation methodology, independence, and professionalism from the top leader of the EHRC and its staff. It is obvious that the EHRC is government affiliated body and the leadership at the top have their own political motives and ethnic preferences that influence their practices in excelling their responsibilities in a professional way. From careful observation of past reports, we see that some statements are biased, mostly where the conflict hotspots were between Amhara and other nations and nationalities such as Oromo, Benishangul -Gumuz, and Tigray. According to the information we received from residents (that can be verified by consulting people in the local areas), the facts incorporated into some EHRC reports were compiled based on consultation with the government authorities who carry out the atrocious themselves. The investigations ignore accounts of actual victims in some areas. This lack of data corroboration, unfairness and lack of professionalism had been demonstrated in many investigations and reports of the commission. Most of the reports were either biased or misleading the public about the facts on the ground. Also, sometimes, the commission ignores reporting major human rights abuses that took place in some areas that might not attract the interest the officials of the commission. Also, we observe that, at times, there were lack of keeping confidentiality and anonymity of informants that might expose some individuals to further atrocities by the government agents. In general, it appears that the Chief Commissioner of EHRC and his personnel are intentionally producing politically and ethnically motivated reports.

Although we saw many biased and misinforming reports in the past, the Press Release issued yesterday, August 26, 2021, has particularly grabbed our attention. The report clearly shows that the EHRC has implicitly concealed the merciless atrocities of the Amhara militias and government forces on Oromo civilians and exaggerated / highlighted the Amhara victims. The report stated that the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) has killed 150 Amhara residents in East Wallaga Zone, Gidda Kiramu Woreda. The report also highlighted that the killing was ethnically motivated against Amhara people. However, as we verified from the actual victims and residents in the areas, the EHRC press release issued on 26 August 2021 fails to mention the political drama that took place few days before the incident. As it had been done several times in the past, the government agents and allied forces had organized a political drama few days before the fight started. The aim was to campaign against the OLA operating in the area. Two days before the incidents, armed Amhara Special Forces from Amhara region crossed the Abbay river and deployed to the places known as Gidda Ayana, Kiramu, Hagamsa and Amuru-Jartee -Woredas. The first-round of their mission was to evacuate Amhara women and children from these areas. In the meantime, the Government cut telephone lines and networks in the area to block communication and information leakage and to prepare for the hidden massacre. The second mission was to conduct the actual war and to kill as many civilians as possible in the area and to spread false propaganda on the media for political gain by labelling the OLA as if they conducted ethnic targeted killings. After the children and women had been evacuated, the Amhara militias, in collaboration with government forces, come back in large number armed with heavy weapons and opened fire on Oromo residents in places known as Wast, Siredoro, Hagamsa, and Haroo/ Lalisee towns. The fight continued for three days, and they killed a large number of Oromo civilians. This massacre was not mentioned in the EHRC report, but the Amhara killings were highlighted in the report and put to various media outlets to blackmail the OLA. Therefore, OLF consider that the press release issued on 26 August 2021 stating the killings of 150 Amharas in East Wallaga was biased, incomplete and untrue.

OLF express its condolence for civilians and their families that might have been affected in this conflict. In addition, we want to make clear that our information on the actual number of people killed in the conflict is to be verified as it is difficult to identify figures in the short period of time as the conflict in the areas still escalates.

Therefore, we call for independent investigation into this incident report of EHRC issued of 26 August 2021 regarding the OLA and Oromo people in stated regions so that it will be clear to the Oromo and Ethiopian peoples as well as to the international community.

We would like to inform all media including BBC Oromo program to be cautious reporting this biased report of the EHRC and refrain from misinforming the public. Instead, we advise them to verify the facts from the victims themselves.

We ask the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and related human rights watch groups to monitor the activities of the EHRC and scrutiny its credibility so that the institution will be able to function according to the UN Human Rights Council standards and Human Rights guiding principles and practices. The UNHRC must confirm that the EHRC demonstrate their professionalism, fairness, and equitable campaign for all Ethiopia peoples.

Finally, we advise the EHRC to carry out its public duties according to the UNHRC standards and guiding principles and free itself from biases of ideology, political views, and ethnic preferences.


Victory to the Masses!

Oromo Liberation Front.

August 27, 2021

Finfinne, Oromia

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