Concerned Oromos in North America and Europe pen open plea to Biden administration expressing “grave concern” over safety of Chairman of Oromo Liberation Front Dawud Ibsa

Concerned Oromos in North America and Europe have written an open letter to the United States Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken, President Joseph R. Biden’s Horn of Africa special envoy Jeffrey Feltman and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressing “grave concern” over the safety of Mr. Dawud Ibsa, the Chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front, and his family “who are under Prime Minister Abiy’s security siege.”

Mr. Dawud Ibsa, the Chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front 
Mr. Dawud Ibsa, the Chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front

They called on the Biden administration and the United Nations to “pressure the Abiy government to ensure his safety during this volatile time for the country.”

“Mr. Dawud Ibsa is the chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front – A legally registered major political opposition party in Ethiopia representing more than 50 million Oromos,” they wrote in their open letter. “Mr. Dawud Ibsa has been under house arrest for the last one year in his residence in Addis Ababa at times with all his communications cut off and constantly under surveillance. On the night of May 3, 2021 at 9PM local time in Addis Ababa, Mr. Abiy Ahmed ordered his military to raid his residence without any court order. It is puzzling to us why they needed to raid the house of someone under their constant surveillance and guarded by government security in the middle of the night.”

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets virtually with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, from the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 2021. State Department photo by Ron Przysucha 
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets virtually with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, from the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 2021. State Department photo by Ron Przysucha

Their full letter, first published on Oromia Global Forum, can be read below. 

By Concerned Oromos in North America and Europe

Mr. Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of States

Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa 

Jeffrey D. Feltman speaking at The London Conference on Afghanistan in 2014. Photo taken by Patrick Tsui 
Jeffrey D. Feltman speaking at The London Conference on Afghanistan in 2014. Photo taken by Patrick Tsui

We are writing this letter out of our grave concern for the safety of Mr. Dawud Ibsa, the Chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front, and his family who are under PM Abiy’s security siege and to ask you to pressure the Abiy government to ensure his safety during this volatile time for the country.   

Mr.  Dawud Ibsa is the chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front – A legally registered major political opposition party in Ethiopia representing more than 50 million Oromos. 

Mr. Dawud Ibsa has been under house arrest for the last one year in his residence in Addis Ababa at times with all his communications cut off and constantly under surveillance.  On the night of May 3, 2021 at 9PM local time in Addis Ababa, Mr. Abiy Ahmed ordered his military to raid his residence without any court order.  It is puzzling to us why they needed to raid the house of someone under their constant surveillance and guarded by government security in the middle of the night.  

abiy ahmed 
Abiy Ahmed

At the time when the US, the EU, and the international community is pushing the government of Ethiopia for a political dialogue, Mr. Abiy sent his police and security forces to terrorize a major opposition party leader and his family. As they arrived at the premise, the security forces disconnected electricity in the neighborhood and forcefully broke the entrance of the compound and entered the house violently; They beat his guests including his guards and family members; And confiscated their personal properties.

The area was blocked with heavily armed military vehicles and shoots were fired to scare people from approaching the area.  Mr. Dawud’s personal property and even any cash they came across is looted by the security forces. They have broken and destroyed house furniture and cut all sorts of communications from his residence. The security forces have also beaten Mr. Ibsa’s security guards badly and eventually removed them from the premise. Since last night, Mr. Ibsa is without security guards, and with a broken door exposing him to high security risk to his life. 

We have ample evidence that this intimidation and harassment is happening as Mr. Feltman, Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa is about to visit the region and in the aftermath of the EU’s rejection of PM Abiy’s sham election. PM Abiy has been intentionally blocking Mr. Dawud from meeting with journalists, diplomats and his supporters, and sister political organizations in the country and from taking part in any efforts to resolve the alarming crises engulfing the country. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres 
UN Secretary-General António Guterres

We are gravely concerned for the lives of Mr. Dawud and his family and the possibility of such reckless and desperate actions may result in an unintended consequence.  A similar incident on a popular activist Jawar Mohammed resulted in the death of more than 100 Ethiopians, mostly Oromos, losing their lives and another political assasination of a popular Oromo singer and activist Hacaalu Hundessaa resulted in the death of more than 500 Oromos in the hands of security forces.  This is another blatant attempt by the ruling party to silence the voices of the Oromo people and may well lead to serious consequences. 

Therefore, we are pleading to the US government, UNSC, EU, AU, and the international community, and all Humanitarian Organizations to demand that the Abiy administration stop harassing Mr. Dawud and his family and and all political leaders and ensure the safety of Mr.  Dawud Ibsa and his family at this volatile time. Removing his protection at this critical time is intentionally putting his life in danger and the Abiy government will take full responsibility for any action against him and his family as a result of this. 

Thank you for taking immediate steps to secure the safety of Mr. Dawud Ibsa and his family and avoiding possible unintended consequences in a country of 110 million people on the edge of a full-scale civil war. 

Democracy will prevail!

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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