Press Release on the Release of Some Oromo Political Prisoners and ‘National Dialogue’ in Ethiopia:

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January 10, 2022

We, members of Oromia Global Forum (OGF), a global alliance of Oromo Civic, Professional, and Faith-Based Organizations and individual Human Rights defenders and activists residing in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa welcome the release of Jawar Mohammad, Bekele Gerba and other political prisoners. We are very happy for the released individuals and their families. However, we strongly believe that Jawar Mohammed and co-prisoners were unjustly imprisoned and suffered all kinds of mistreatment and injustices for more than a year and a half. They were jailed for no fault of their own but for speaking truth to power and in defense of justice and freedom of their people. The manner of their detention and release clearly demonstrate that the government had no legal grounds to arrest them except to satisfy the political ambitions of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The Prime Minister wanted to ensure his retention of the prime minister’s position through a sham election in which none of the most popular parties and highly competitive candidates participated. Jailing Jawar, Bekele Gerba and many high-ranking leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was primarily intended to exclude them from the sham election the Prime Minister’s party ran uncontested. Hence, we believe Jawar Mohammed, and his co-prisoners deserve not only a formal and official apology and compensation for the physical and mental suffering they endured in prison, but also accountability for those who arrested them unjustly. The results of the last sham elections should also be discarded. 

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