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Publisert av SOS Rasisme 24.05.2011
Statsminister Jens Stoltenberg. Foto: Arbeiderpartiet

Den etiopiske asylsøkeren Zelalem Temesgen Terfasa har skrevet følgende åpne brev til statsminister Jens Stoltenberg.

Norway: Open Letter to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

The Honorable Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minster

The Royal Kingdom of Norway

Akersgata 42,

PO box 8001 Dep 0030 Oslo, Norway

You might wonder about my identity when you first see this letter from strange email address. My name is Zelalem Temesgen from Ethiopia, particularly from Oromo (the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and in east Africa) ethnic group and who is currently living in Norway.

I am writing this letter to bring your attention towards due consideration of the problems that Oromos and other ethnic groups are currently facing in Ethiopia while your government has intensified its areas of cooperation with TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front) regime. The rapidly growing bilateral relationship between the Norwegian Government and Ethiopia’s brutal dictatorial regime, depicted by recent high level visits including your Excellency, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Environment and Development, Minister of Defense and the State secretary for Foreign Affairs has reached a worrying point to Oromo communities in particular and Ethiopians in general. The foreign policy of your administration in the Horn of Africa, driven by an overriding policy of fighting terrorism, in my view needs to be revised. As a free, civilized and democratic society, I believe your policy should be driven by universal ideals of promoting freedom of speech and building democracy which should also include bilateral cooperation to fight terrorism in the fragile Horn of Africa region. Being an Oromo and suffered from the brutal nature of the TPLF regime, I would like to use this opportunity to briefly highlight you the existing Human Right situation of Oromos and other Ethiopians under the Zenawi’s regime.

Since TPLF regime came to power by overthrowing the Derge military regime in 1991, it has been systematically building its hegemony on Oromo people for the last 20 years. In TPLF’s iron fist rule over the past two decades, it has been promoting the domination of Tigrean minority ethnic elite in all spheres of life — economy, military, intelligence, foreign affairs and security services. The fact that 95% of the top brass of the military emanate from the Tigrian ethnic group, representing about 6% of the population, depicts how TPLF has systematically built an ethnocentric apartheid system within the military in clear contradiction to its defining and deceiving propaganda of equality among nations and nationalities of Ethiopians.

Human rights violations are widespread and have become daily practice of the TPLF regime in an attempt to silence the quest for basic human right. In its latest 2011 report, Amnesty international has highlighted this case. Besides there is no rule of law as the key institutions for democracy and its checks and balances for it has been systematically paralyzed by TPLF – which can be depicted by researches in the area that reviled Ethiopia’s rule of law stands at 16.4/100. The 2010 national election result and the act of the dire regime has moved the nation from hybrid democratic index to the category of totalitarian regime as it claimed to won 99.6% of national parliamentary sits. The government has used state resources and its full weight to manipulate the outcome of the election. It used it’s so called “revolutionary democracy policy”, the government ownership of land and ownership of major public developmental institutions, together with politicizing of aid money from the west to systematically eliminate significant opposition. In addition to this, according to Transparency International, corruption in the nation is very high with corruption perception index of 2.7/10.

In today’s Ethiopia, misery has become part of daily life for Oromos in particular and Ethiopians in general. After two decades of Zenawi’s authoritarian regime administration, the country is one of the poorest nations in the world – with Human Development Index rating stands at 158 out of 169 surveyed countries. This further aggravated by an irresponsible economic policy of the regime – which rise inflation to 30%, according to government’s source. Its interference in the market, via TPLF’s so called “EFFORT” sister companies, has enabled it to accumulate huge financial resources while ordinary Oromos and other ethnic groups in Ethiopia are going hungry on a daily basis.

Above all, under the rule of the current dictatorial regime, the Oromo people have been subjected to incessant mass arrest, detention, torture and brutal killings merely because they stood to demand their fundamental and universally accepted human values. Few justifications to these facts are the regular reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the US State Department annual reports which registered serious and widespread human right violations by TPLF forces on Oromo people. Many reports also highlighted that no less than 10,000 Oromo students and teachers have been detained since 2004, several hundred students suspended or expelled from their university studies in the country and many students have been extra-judicially executed. Even over the last three months, while your officials visit Ethiopia for bilateral cooperation, hundreds of Oromo government officials and estimated thousands of students from Universities and high schools all over the country were detained and are currently suffering in secret prisons including the so called notorious “Maekelawi” prison in Addis Ababa – in the current TPLFs policy of containment to stop the middle east style of civil disobedience and peaceful demonstration. At this point of time, there are more than 25,000 Oromo political prisoners in both officially registered federal and regional prisons (including Addis Ababa, Kaliti, Ziway, Awasa, Arba Minch, Adama, Dippo, Dire Dawa and Harar); and numerous secrete detention centers.

Your Excellency, the insane act of TPLF dictatorial regime is not limited to the Oromo people. Rather it has affected many other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. To mention few, the massacre in Ogden at various occasions, in Sidama loqee, the attack on Shaka and Menzengir communities, and an inhumane crackdown in Gambella Nuer and Anuwak tribes are few justifications to it. The brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in the year 2000 and 2005 also exemplifies the true nature of the tyrant regime that your administration is cooperating with.

Mentioning the recent act of TPLF to aggressively pursue their land lease policy for foreign agriculture investors, who officially announced to export their harvest to their country of origin, also reinforces the fact that I am mentioning. Such irresponsible and insane act of land grabbing by displacing hundreds of thousands of farmers from their farm land is the latest finding of TPLF for profit making at the expense of hungry and poor farmers which will lead to serious and non ending resource conflict in the country. Yet this could have been done better if local farmers get organized and assisted by the government to have better factors of production. Most nation and nationalities including Oromos are not only deprived of their right and resources but also threatened for their very existence as this land grabbing policy of the regime is aggressively implemented, which is going to jeopardize and endanger millions of lives in the years to come. The adversary nature of this policy is not only the fact that it dispossesses and uproots settled traditional farming communities from their land but also pollutes and destructs the ecological balance of the natural environment in various ways.

Your Honorable Prime Minister, the TPLF regime has never had legitimacy in Ethiopia. From the very beginning it came to power till the very point – it has been ruling the nation at a point of gun barrel for which Zenawi’s administration will be held accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide on the Oromo people. It is this government that your administration takes for granted as factor of stability in the Horn of Africa. Cooperating and financially assisting of such a brutal regime is not only against your founding and yearning ideals of democracy but also a waste of your tax payer’s money. Moreover it will appear to follow the foot step of the Chinese foreign policy model for Africa. However for Norway being a nation playing pivotal role towards protection of human right and with historical records on various achievements to build a better, peaceful and democratic world, I believe your administration will soon launch sustainable cooperation policy that springs and driven by the true values of democracy to achieve sustainable stability in Ethiopia whilst securing Norway’s interest in the region.

I hereby, as a concerned Oromo, respectfully urge your government to carefully recalculate and revise your foreign policy towards Ethiopia and thank you in advance for understanding the urgency of the matter on behalf of forty million Oromo people.

Democracy is the demand of all humanity regardless of colour, race and ethnicity as it is our God given right!

CC: Honorable Jonas Gahr Støre
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO box 8114 Dep.
N-0032 Oslo

Honorable Grete Faremo
Ministry of Defence
Box 8126 Dep., N-0032 Oslo

Honorable Erik Solheim
Minister of the Environment and International Development
The Ministry of the Environment
P.O.Box 8013 Dep
N-0030 Oslo

Embassy of Norway to Ethiopia
Buna Board, Mekanissa
Addis Ababa
Email: emb.addisabeba@mfa.no

Norwegian Agency for Development
Cooperation (NORAD)
Ruseløkkveien 26, 0251 Oslo
E-mail: postmottak@norad.no

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