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Oromo Project

Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of the Oromo Diaspora

The Advocates for Human Rights' report, Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of the Oromo Diaspora, documents the experiences in Ethiopia of members of the Oromo diaspora throughout three successive political regimes. The long arm of human rights violations reaches directly into diaspora communities, including the Oromo, who reported a widespread belief that e-mail communication to Ethiopia is read by the Ethiopian government, that telephone conversations are overheard, and that the Ethiopian government monitors the activities of diaspora members in the United States. Oromos interviewed for the report also described decades of human rights violations in Ethiopia, including arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, torture, and extra-judicial executions. Reports of widespread surveillance and interference with rights to freedom of association, assembly, expression, conscience, and the press were pervasive. Oromos reported that the current Ethiopian government’s federal system has served to isolate ethnic communities, including the Oromo, leaving them even more vulnerable to human rights violations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council reviews Ethiopia’s human rights record using the Universal Periodic Review procedure in December 2009.

The Oromo Project Team

The research for this report was supervised by Laura Provinzino, The Advocates for Human Rights’ inaugural Wellstone Legal Fellow. After Laura finished her fellowship, she continued to work on the project as a volunteer, with important leadership assistance from Anne Lockner and Michele Garnett McKenzie.

Like all of the work of The Advocates for Human Rights, this project would not have been possible without the work of many volunteers. Thanks go to the interview team: Lane Ayres, Amy Bergquist, Sarah Brenes, Timothy Ewald, Alan Goldfarb, Kerri Hermann, Jessica Hjarrard, Amy Schroeder Ireland, Anne Lockner, Suzette Schommer, and Nancy Wolf. In addition, members of our Oromo Study Group helped identify issues at the early stages of this project.

Thanks also go to the research, editing, and layout team at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., led by Anne Lockner and Laura Provinzino, and including Kate Jaycox, David Pinto, Marta Chou, Katherine Bruce, Melissa Goodman, Scott Flaherty, Melissa Wendland, Annie Huang, Rachel Osband, Kelly Pierce, Daniel Allen, Earl Smith, Michelle Schroeder, Dawn Van Alstine, and Chris Sullivan. This team provided invaluable help in bringing together the work of our many volunteers. Thanks as well belong to Mark Kalla of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP, who line edited the final draft of this report. Outside readers Michael Clough and Jeremy Prestholdt generously provided valuable insight. Special thanks to Jim Dorsey, Kathleen Seestedt, Dr. Tadessa Eba, and Robsan Itana, for their vision. A host of interns provided research assistance throughout the years, including Heidi Christine, Andrea Amidon, Nicole Herter-Spiro, and Fowsi Hassan, and in particular to Midwest Human Rights Fellow Laura Matson for her research and editing at the close of the project. Numerous members of The Advocates for Human Rights staff contributed to this report, including Amy Meyer, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Rosalyn Park, Robin Phillips, and Laura Young.