Statement of International Oromo Lawyers Association In Commemoration Of Irrecha Massacre
(IOLA) — It is one year ago that the world witnessed the naked brutality of the TPLF-led Ethiopian regime, when it carried out a large scale massacre against the Oromo people gathered at the annual thanks-giving festival – Ireecha, in Bishoftu, some 45 kilometers, south of the capital.
According to reliable information, close to 1000 civilians were killed as a result of combination of stampede and use of life bullets as well as blockade of paths by the security forces. By all accounts, and conclusions by human rights experts, the tragedy was a well-designed and pre-planned government action against the Oromo people, who were already engaged in a year-long peaceful demonstration in the entire Oromia State region, demanding respect for their fundamental human rights.
Today, a year later, the government did not carry an investigation nor hold any official accountable for the death of the thousand civilians which resulted from the use of disproportionate use of force. To the contrary, it arrested and detained thousands of Oromo civilians for alleged instigation of disturbances.
This year, the festival is going to take place at the usual place following established rituals. What is now becoming everyone’s worry is that, participants of the festival may try to use the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the way the government addresses, or failed to address at all, their demand for respect for their fundamental rights, which may be used as a pretext by the security forces to react with a force which is disproportional to the demand and the civilian character of the demanding population.
That being the case, International Oromo Lawyers Association would like to join the international community in general and human rights institutes in particular in expressing its deepest concern regarding the possibility of unrest and subsequent harm to the civilian population during this year’s celebration of Ireecha.
It therefore demands that the government should:
- Take advance measures to put in place all what is needed for the citizens to peacefully celebrate Ireecha as per established ritual and without disturbances by the security forces;
- Ensure that security forces use proportionate force needed to maintain law and order;
- Take all the necessary security measures to ensure that the physical safety and security of civilians festival-goers is not compromised;
- Remind its security forces and give them clear guidance that Ethiopia is bound by the international Covenants and Conventions it had signed and that they should adhere and properly implement the United Nations Basic Principles on the use of Fire Arms.
International Oromo Lawyers Association.
22 September, 2017.