ETHIOPIA: Oromo Liberation Front appeals for political solution to violence

As reports of government-sponsored human rights abuses continue to escalate, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has called upon the international community to cease supporting the Meles government and work toward achieving a political solution to the region’s inter-ethnic conflict, according to a February 15 press release on the group’s Web site. Instead of the political resolution sought by OLF, the Ethiopian government responded to the group’s plea with "indiscriminate executions, torture, abductions, and unlawful imprisonment of peaceful protesters and innocent people who have not taken part in the protests," continued the OLF press release. Since November 2005, the Oromo people have staged an unprecedented number of anti-government demonstrations across Ethiopia in their fight for self-determination. In a January 30 press release, Amnesty International denounced the unlawful detention and disappearances of thousands of Oromo students involved in anti-government demonstrations. According to Amnesty, the students, some under 18 years old, are at risk of torture, while the whereabouts of many detainees remains unknown. Amnesty International is calling for the government to either release the students or charge them and give them a fair trial in accordance with international law. The OLF has been attempting to gain autonomy for the Oromo people since 1973.