To introduce my self, I am MP of the House of People’s Representatives of Ethiopia, run and elected as candidate of the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement (OFDM) from Mana Sibu-Kiltu Karra district of Western Wallagga, Oromia region. I am one of the founders of this organization and a member of its Executive Committee.
We, the founders of OFDM had high hopes and aspiration that by participating in the legal political forum of Ethiopia we would contribute to the democratization process and bring stability and development. It was with strong belief that the Constitution of the land will be respected and supremacy of law will prevail, that we decided to join the legal political system. It was also our firm belief that democracy and working federation would solve the problems of Ethiopia . Unfortunately all our aspirations were dashed, hopes turned sour and our morale crashed within few months after May 2005 elections. We learned in the hard way that there is no democracy or supremacy of law in Ethiopia .
In this statement, I want to give my honest and sincere testimony of the conditions currently prevailing in Ethiopia and particularly since May 2005 elections. This testimony is in no way intended to defame the ruling party and its cohorts. The main purpose is to expose the hidden realities in Ethiopia and in Oromia in particular.
Today, there is no peace and stability, democracy, and rule of law in Ethiopia . What really exists is dictatorship of one party and gross violations of democratic and human rights. The regime carried out mass killing of civilians in Gambela, Sidama, Shaka Mazengir, Oromia and CUD supporters in Finfinne. In all of these incidents the perpetuators were not brought to justice. The ruling party has two very contradicting political images that it uses according to time, place and its audiences. In and around the capital city -Finfinnee- the ruling party shows the image that it is democratic and respect rule of law. This semblance is targeted to diplomats of donor countries to gain their support to finance and strengthen its other hidden image. For any foreign dignitary that visits Ethiopia and discusses with the Prime Minister, Ethiopia is really a promising democratic state. Elections are conducted periodically, there is ¨private¨ press, there are opposition parties with seats in the parliament, etc. These are facades to attract and win the sympathy of donor countries. The reality on the ground is completely to the contrary.
The other image of the EPRDF regime hidden from the outside world is its true nature. EPRDF is simply a dictatorship. It does not respect its own Constitution nor abide by the supremacy of the law. Everything is done at the whim of EPRDF officials who can reverse court ruling as they wish, kill, detain, torture, and harass innocent citizens without any evidence or crime committed. Anybody that they suspect as a threat is eliminated. The Oromo are in the forefront to be subjected to EPRDF’s bad-governance.
Since May 2005 elections, gross violation of democratic and human rights are being conducted in Ethiopia by the ruling party. Citizens are being killed indiscriminately, thousands are detained for long period without charges and tortured to sustain life long injuries. Tens of thousands are forced to flee their country fearing harassment and intimidation. Properties of innocent individuals are confiscated without court order. In short today in Ethiopia there prevails a total atmosphere of fear and terror.
Legally registered and operating organizations like Oromo Federal Democratic Organizations are facing the severe hand of the dictator ruling party. While top leaders of opposition organizations are sitting in the parliament, meeting the Prime Minister, attending consultation meetings with donor groups, invited to parties with diplomatic dignitaries, there members are languishing in prisons, their offices closed and properties confiscated in the regions. Opposition MPs are not allowed to go back to their constituencies to hold meetings and gather public opinions of their constituencies. Even if an opposition MP manages to go back to his constituency, it is crime for the residents to greet and talk with the person they elected to represent them. From my experience many Mana Sibu -Kiltu Karra residents who greeted me were detained and heavily fined. This is the bitter reality that is existing in Ethiopia outside of the capital city.
The EPRDF regime is on a wide campaign of detaining Oromo nationalists, students, farmers and merchants for no crime committed. An Oromo individual who asks the democratic and human rights of the people to be respected is automatically branded as OLF member and thrown into prison to stay there for years without appearing before appropriate court. Oromo students who voted for us are being killed, dismissed from schools without any reasons. Dozens were refused their university certificates. These are the vivid reality under which my people who voted for me to be MP are living under.
I have been hoping things would get better over time. But instead the situation in Oromia in particular and in Ethiopia in general is getting worse daily. This has been giving me mental torture for the last several months. Now it became so unbearable that I had to make my decision. I have been receiving death threats for speaking up against the wanton disregard for the rule of law by EPRDF. Under the circumstances my conscience could not allow me to continue to be a member of parliament when I cannot speak with and for the people who elected me and cannot spare them from the daily harassment, intimidation, repression, extra-judicial killing, torture and displacement. Hence I have chosen to desist myself from the EPRDF regime and its rubber-stamp parliament.
To sum up, today in Ethiopia , democratic and human rights are grossly violated, the rule of law is trampled upon by none other than the ruling party. The regime is doing everything it can to stay in power that it lost in May 2005 elections, in which it was totally defeated. The regime is purposely instigating and fanning religious and inter ethnic conflicts. The situation in Ethiopia is very dangerous. There is disaster looming over the country. Finally I call upon OFDM members and supporters, the Oromo people in particular and the Ethiopian peoples in general, opposition party members to stand up in unison to avert this looming disaster. And remind the international community to play a constructive role expected of them rather than continue to appease a tyrannical regime.
Dr. Getachew Jigi
November 11, 2006