IOLA Statement regarding the ‘orchestrated’ displacement and killing at the Oromia – Somali Boarder, Ethiopia

The International Oromo Lawyers Association is deeply disturbed by the event surrounding the conflict between residents of the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia as a result of which hundreds were killed, tortured or maimed, and more than 700,000 Oromos were displaced permanently. According to the information available to us, it is widely believed that the force behind the killings and displacement is the so-called Special Force (aka Liyu Hayil) which in the past is trained by western powers – members of the Coalition against terror, to fight against the Al Shabab in Somalia. The Special force, however, is known for its brutality against innocent Somali’s in the name of crushing the ONLF dissidents. The Special force is now deployed mainly to suppress the ever increasing popular uprising, especially in Oromia and Amhara regions. Despite the deliberate structural confusion, the special force is believed to be (at least theoretically) under the command of the Prime Minister, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces.


The government, despite the requests from the wider public in general and the Oromo in particular, to intervene and stop the conflict, remain non-responsive. As a matter of fact, and instead of stopping the conflict, and facilitating mediation between the conflicting parties, informed observers have noted that it rather contributed to the intensification of the conflict by overtly condemning the Oromos – the very victims of the conflict and by giving carte blanche to the Special and Federal Forces to kill with impunity the very people it is meant to protect.


Citizens are meant to be protected by their own government and the government is duty-bound to ensure the physical and legal protection of all citizens. Unfortunately, and regrettably, this fundamental Social Contract seems to be absent in the case of today’s Ethiopia. In this particular case, the Ethiopian government is not a protector but rather the main culprit in the violation of the fundamental human rights of Ethiopians. The perpetuation of the conflict between these two regions and brotherly nations by the direct involvement of the Special and Federal Forces may cause a wider regional destabilization and may amount to crimes against humanity.


IOLA condemns this irresponsible act and criminal acts, and

  1. Demands that the government of Ethiopia fulfills its constitutional obligation of protecting citizens, to withdraw its Special and Federal Forces from the region and allow mediation between these two brotherly regions.
  2. Urges for the immediate and transparent investigation into the issues surrounding the role of members of the Special and Federal forces in the displacement of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Oromo and the killing of innocent civilians from both Oromo and Somali regions and for the responsible actors to face the full force of
  3. Calls upon the international community, especially those governments who finance, train and empower the Special Forces, to take responsibility and use their leverage, against the Ethiopian government to stop this mass killing and push for justice to be done.


Justice for all,


December 27, 2017

Executive Board of International Oromo Lawyers Association – IOLA