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WCHR condemns pre-election opposition harassment in Wolayta

Wolayta Committee for Human Rights (WCHR)
Press Release

The Wolayta Committee for Human Rights (WCHR) condemns Ethiopian ruling party officials harassment of Ezema opposition party members. 

Free and unimpeded pre-election campaigns are critical to Ethiopia’s democratization and to fairness of the process and result. WCHR urges the Wolayta zone administration to stop putting restriction on freedom of assembly and expression. 

While the WCHR applauds the transparency and professionalism of the NEBE, it is important that the local officials follow the rules and regulations set by the election board and the constitution.

Due to apparent fear of opposition support for Ezema party, the zonal ruling party has hindered campaigning, including harassment of Ezema supporters, denying access to stadium and outdoor spaces. 

The latest restrictions occurred in Offa Woreda where Ezema supporters were intimidated and rejected an outdoor space. As the result, thousands of Ezema opposition supporters were forced into closed assembly hall in Gesuba town. This issue is beyond politics as it affects public health. As the Pandemic has yet to recede and while many Ethiopians have no access to vaccine, it is imperative that the PP ruling party grant Ezema and other opposition groups access to public outdoor space.

Outside Wolayta zone, Wolayta people continue to face persecution in Sidama and Oromia regions. In many Oromia towns where Wolayta are a minority, some local Oromo ruling party officials have adopted the dangerous and nativist rhetorics of the notorious Bekele Gerba and Jawar Mohammed. This is a recipe for post-election violence. Equal rights for all will remain unattainable if the Oromia-PP ruling party campaigns on preserving Oromo supremacy in Burayu and other towns where minorities were massacred recently. Xenophobia remains an existential threat to Wolaytas and other minorities in Oromia towns.

Immigrants and minorities from southern Ethiopia are what made Oromia in general (and the Shewa zones in particular) the most economically developed state, producing numerous urban centers of commercial activity. WCHR urges Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Oromia-PP to allow multiethnic opposition parties to campaign freely in Oromia towns so that minorities gain representation and the post-election administrations in all Oromia cities reflect their ethic diversity. Human rights violations will continue in Oromia if millions of minorities can not attain basic representation. 

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