OSA’s Letter to Mr. Ban Ki-moon on the death of Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda
September 1, 2013
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General
Office of the Secretary General of United Nations
885 Second Avenue New York, NY 10017, USA
Your Excellency Ki-moon:
I am writing on behalf of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), a scholarly organization established by Oromo and non-Oromo scholars to promote studies on and relevant to the Oromo people. The Oromo Studies Association is deeply saddened and alarmed by the death of Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda in Ethiopian gulag. The ordeal that finally led to such horrific death of Engineer Chemeda highlights the systematic persecution of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and beyond which OSA and its scholars have documented and published for the last 27 years.
For instance several papers presented at OSA conferences have shown that most of the time Oromos have been targeted for simply advocating for the basic rights of the Oromo people and exercising their constitutional rights.
Engineer Chemeda came first under the radar of the regime when he joined other students and campaigned to help put off the Bale Forest fire of 2000. One would have thought that such courageous activism to protect the natural habitat would have earned him admiration. In contrast, concern for the environment and the well being of his people earned him a constant harassment by the security services, a situation that forced him to flee the country in 2004.
After forcing him to flee his homeland they followed him to the neighbouring country, Kenya where hesought international protection and was granted refugee status by the UNHCR, and kidnapped him in 2007. Tesfahun and his fellow Oromo Engineer Mesfin Abebe were arrested by the Kenyan security forces on dubious accusation of “crime of terrorism”. Although they were cleared of the terrorism suspicion by the Kenyan Government and the American Bureau of Investigation and despite having the UNHCR refugee status, Engineers Chemeda and Abebe were handed over to the Ethiopian Government. This is sufficient proof that regional and international powers are not only silent and also complicit in the ongoing gross human rights violation against the Oromo people.
In violation of Ethiopian constitution and International Human Rights instruments, after being sent to Ethiopia, Engineers Chemeda and Abebe were held in a secret detention facility and tortured without any charge for over a year. Using evidences extorted through a yearlong torture and without adequate legal representation they were condemned to life imprisonment by “specialized” Ethiopian Bench of Criminal Court.
There is a lot of evidence which indicates that the harsh treatment under which Engineer Chemeda was kept continued even after he was tried and sentenced. He was held in solitary confinement for most of the last three years, and denied access to proper health care services. Although the specific cause of Engineer Chemeda’s death is unknown, at the moment the culpable party is not in doubt. Whether he succumbed to the prolonged maltreatment or agents of the regime delivered the final blow, the regime must be held responsible for the loss of this bright young Oromo man.
The killing of Engineer Chemeda is the continuations of injustices that have been committed against Oromo people for over a century in Ethiopia. OSA condemns the heinous crimes committed against Chameda’s life and Oromo people with all possible strongest words. OSA would also like to call upon all Oromo people and its organizations to make sure that the sufferings and life of Engineer Chemeda is not in vain but for freedom and liberty of his people.
Ibrahim Amae Elemo, M.D., M.P.H
President, Oromo Studies Association/Waldaa Qorannoo Oromoo
1. President Barack Obama
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500, USA
2. Honorable Prime Minister of UK Mr. David Cameron
10 Downing Street London, UK
3. President José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission 1049 Brussels, Belgium
4. Amnesty International
International Secretariat 1 Easton Street London WC1X 0DW, UK
5. Amnesty International USA
Penn Plaza New York, NY 10001, USA
6. Human Rights Watch 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299, USA
7. World Bank
1 Dag Hammarskjold Plz # 26 New York, NY 10017-2201, USA
8. International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20431, USA
9. International Monetary Fund, 1900 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC, 20431, USA
10. United Nations Development Programme One United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017, USA
11. African Union (AU), previously called Organization of African Unity
The African Union Commission,
PO Box 3243
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
12. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
13. Uhuru Kenyatta,
President and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya
14. KENYA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: Gitanga Road opp. Valley Arcade Shopping Center,
P.O Box 41079-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
15. Ambassador Girma Birru: Special Envoy,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the FDRE
Embassy of Ethiopia 3506 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008 Tel : (202) 364-1200 Fax : (202)