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Humanity before Ethnicity

Benishangul Human Rights Foundation Supports the
March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship

Press Release

September 5, 2009
The Benishangul Human Rights Foundation (BHRF) gives its full endorsement to the March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa to be held on September 13, 2009 in Washington DC and urges all members and friends to participate.

The BHRF is an organization that stands for equality, freedom and justice for all Ethiopians in Benishangul–Gumuz Regional State; regardless of ethnicity or other differences,  as well as for those throughout all regions of Ethiopia where oppression at the hands of the current EPRDF/Meles Zenawi regime has become a way of life for non-party members, supporters and or sympathizers; often turning neighboring ethnicities against each other in order to subjugate both in order to accomplish their own goals.  

Such oppression, and the divide and conquer tactics used to advance such oppression, is in direct contradiction to the constitution. Those who violate it, including those at the highest levels of the EPRDF/TPLF regime, must be held accountable for their crimes against the people.

An example of such an action occurred on June 21, 2008 when credible sources from the ground reported that Ethiopian government security forces combined with the Ethiopian National Defense Forces to attack Benishangul villages, killing hundreds. Many others were displaced, disappeared or were arrested, many later being tortured to death.

This collective punishment launched a systematic effort by the Meles government to control the Benishangul-Gumuz people through the calculated perpetration of serious human rights atrocities meant to instill fear, displace defenseless and innocent civilians from their homes and land and to repress any resistance; all in violation of international human rights laws and conventions.

Now, an Ethiopian court has sentenced six persons from Benishangul-Gumuz to death sentences and 97 to prison for charges of genocide related to the massacre of Oromo villagers in the Gumuz region of the state in May of the same year.

The Oromo and Benishangul people have lived together for centuries, but reports on both sides indicate evidence or suspicion that the Meles regime was behind both attacks; something that will require all of us to come together to  prevent either side from being used or scapegoated.  Government sympathizers from one ethnicity have been used, at times, to carry out the regime’s schemes against those of another ethnicity.  Conversely, the innocent have been blamed for acts they did not commit.

The ethnic policies of the Meles regime have repeatedly incited acts of violence between people or have used government supporters to act in the name of an ethnicity, but instead be pro-government accomplices. Sometimes these accomplices are mere puppets; but other times, opposing ethnic groups fall into these TPLF set traps without knowing it. This must stop!

We urge all Ethiopians from the different ethnic groups who are currently either being misguided by the EPRDF, or who are collaborating in the current government’s activities—out of self interest or fear—to wake up and join our efforts to expose the crimes against humanity this regime has been committing against Ethiopians across all regions of the country by coming out on Sunday, September 13, 2009 to join the March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa. 

The Benishangul Human Rights Foundation calls on all the people of every ethnicity to stand up together to refuse to tolerate these abuses and divisions any longer! We have had enough! Let us hold Meles accountable for his crimes! 

We will not be bystanders; instead, we will add our voices to the call for freedom, justice, equality, truth and the respect of human rights for all the people of Benishangul-Gumuz and Ethiopia. The Benigshangul-Gumuz people will never be free until all Ethiopians are free. This is why the Benigshangul Human Rights Foundation adds our voice of support to the principles of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, which are key to building a different future based on mutual appreciation, mutual respect and upholding the equal rights of all. 

For, the truth is clear, until we put “humanity before ethnicity,” we will never find that Ethiopia where we will be able to live together in genuine harmony.

Hope to see you on the 13th!


For more information, contact Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed Yousuf, Founder and Chairman of the Benishangul Human Rights Foundation (BHRF) Website: http://www.benishangulrights.org/
Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed Yousuf, E-mail: wad.yousuf@hotmail.com

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