December 24, 2016
On December 23, 2015, Bekele Gerba, the most charismatic, knowledgeable and fair leader the country has ever seen, was taken away from his home in Adama, Oromia by the Ethiopian regime’s security forces. Gerba was arrested at 7:30 PM local time in Adama by 14 uniformed and armed Federal Police. They entered his house and took him to unknown place. His wife and children were told not to follow him to detention. Mr. Gerba was reading in the company of his children and his wife, Ms. Hana, at the time. His family witnessed all the mistreatment and degrading situation Gerba had to endure at the scene.
For some time after his arrest, no one knew the whereabouts of Gerba. His incommunicado detention rendered him defenseless. No family member or a lawyer was allowed to visit him for several weeks and months. He lived in a deteriorating medical situation without any treatment.
On December 28, 2015, Gerba was taken to a military camp near Tor Hayloch Hospital (The Regime’s Military hospital located in Addis Ababa across the street from the Head Quarter of Ethiopian National Military located in the area called Tor Hayloch).
On March 18, 2016, Bekele Gerba was brought before the Ethiopian Regime’s Federal Court after several months of incommunicado detention. The Regime’s Federal high court in Addis, Arada 19th Criminal bench granted the regime’s investigating officers additional 28 days and adjourned Gerba’s hearing to April 15, 2016.
On April 22, 2016, Bekele Gerba and his fellow Oromo men were charged with various provisions set out by the Regime’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, the law that the US, UK, and EU have heavily criticized as targeting dissents and independent voices in Oromia and generally in Ethiopia. They were put on trial by the regime for no other reason than being Oromo critical and moral leaders who openly opposed the ruling regime’s destructive policies against the Oromo nation.
The regime’s Public Prosecutor charge document indicts Bekele and his fellow Oromo men for “mobilizing Oromo people into forcing the regime suspend the infamous Addis Ababa Master Plan.” The plan was the regime’s grand political scheme masqueraded in the form of urban plan which was prepared in secret, without any public participation, consultation, deliberation. The plan’s effect would lead to an illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional transfer of ownership of Oromo land to the regime’s elites and crony enterprises who came from Tigray.
On or around September 3, 2016, the Kilinto prison fire left Gerba’s life in a complete limbo. He barely survived the fire, but lost about 157 of his Oromo inmates to the fire. Dozens of inmates were killed by prison guards while trying to save their lives from getting burned alive. In October 2016, OACC received what appears to be a conclusive evidence detailing Kilinto Fire indicating the regime’s premeditated political plan to assassinate Gerba and other high level Oromo political leaders in jail. According to the evidence, two security officers were ordered to carry out Gerba’s assassination, but they had to abort because of situational impossibility. The future is still uncertain for Gerba and his fellow Oromo inmates.
Today, as we celebrate holidays, Gerba is languishing in a high security Ethiopian jail with thousands of his fellow Oromo men and women. Along others, he is paying the ultimate price in one of Ethiopia’s gulag, Kilinto Prison. They are barely surviving.
Gerba is the man with a reputation of utmost integrity and moral standard who translated the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into Afaan Oromoo language while serving as a prisoner of conscience previously in 2011-2015. Upon his release from the previous arrest, he was invited to deliver a keynote address at the 2015 Annual Oromo Studies Association in Washington D.C.
Today, we remember this giant and his family members who remain on the receiving end of political sufferings perpetrated by the Ethiopian regime. We only hope that God/Waaqa will comfort him, his family and all several thousand killed, maimed and also those suffering in Ethiopia’s jail.
OACC urges all Oromo people in Ethiopia and around the world to remember and keep him in prayers and thoughts. OACC will continue to mobilize professional forces in its mission to search international justice for Gerba and all other Oromo prisoners. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have a desire to learn Gerba’s international justice Project we are working on.
Oromo American Citizens Council,