Unelected Governor of Gambella, Accused
of Deep Involvement in Crimes Against Humanity, has
been Denied a Visa to Enter Canada
June 7, 2008
Mr. Omot Obang Olum, the Gambella Region Governor who
was appointed to his position following his suspected
collaboration with the EPRDF regime of Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi in the massacre of 424 Anuak leaders in
Gambella in December of 2003, has had his visa application
for entry into Canada denied by Canadian government
officials late on Friday, June 6, 2008.
Mr. Olum was scheduled to speak at a meeting in Calgary
to Canadian Ethiopians from the Gambella region on Saturday,
June 7, but now will not make it. In an earlier meeting
held in Minnesota on May 31, many attendees were dissatisfied
with Olum’s emphasis on developing the region
while appearing to evade questions or flatly deny his
own alleged part in the human rights crimes going on
in the region before, during and after the killings.
Mr. Omot Olum failed to publicly take the higher ground
and admit to his wrongdoing. Anuak would love to be
so surprised—if it were deemed honest and sincere.
Efforts to deny his entry into the United States were
unsuccessful even though we have learned from anonymous
sources that United States officials had detained Olum
for questioning after he arrived in the states on May
30, 2008, but that he was later released, allegedly,
because he held a diplomatic visa that gave him special
privileges and greater immunity against possible action.
Regardless, Canada has now taken a stand against an
alleged perpetrator of genocide and human rights crimes.
This is all the more significant to the family of these
victims as Olum and other legitimate suspects all the
way up to the federal offices in Addis Ababa, have never
been held accountable for these actions within Ethiopia.
Way to go, Canada! No longer do we want western countries
to be used as safe havens for those who have committed
gross human rights abuses.
Mr. Olum, who was the chief of security for the region
at the time of the massacre, had been identified in
testimony from witnesses given to human rights investigators
from Genocide Watch, Survivors Rights’ International
and Human Rights Watch (HRW) as the individual responsible
for compiling and handing over the list of Anuak leaders
who were later targeted and killed.
Mr. Olum later was appointed as governor of the Gambella
region in a suspected payoff for his loyalty to the
EPRDF government of Ethiopian unelected Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi. To date, no one has been held accountable
for the massacre of the Anuak. Neither has anyone been
held accountable for the over 200 Ethiopians killed
in protests following the hijacking of the Ethiopian
National Election of 2005 or for the gross human rights
crimes being perpetrated in the Ogaden and into Somalia
as well as for the countless other human rights abuses
committed throughout Ethiopia.
In a comment made to the Calgary Herald, Karen Shadd,
a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada,
was quoted in their June 6, 2008 article as saying that
“the department takes public safety seriously
even though she could not comment on the visa.”
We now see the proof that her statement had substance
Canadian government figures show that there are over
800 war criminals or human rights abusers currently
living in Canada. In 2000, Canada passed a new law that
the Canadian courts have jurisdiction to hear cases
in court of those found to be in the country—even
one related to individuals visiting on a visa who are
suspected of committing a human rights crime such as
Omot Olum. Should he have been allowed to enter the
country, this law could have taken effect on his case.
However, the current denial of Olum’s visa is
the best first step and Canadians have taken it. This
is the kind of action that is needed to bring to an
end the human rights abuses and the repression of freedom
and democracy in Ethiopia being carried out by the regime
of Meles Zenawi.
We are hoping that this action is an indication of
a new level of commitment to upholding the principles
of freedom and democracy in Third World countries that
western countries like Canada and the United States
hold so dear.
The West’s War on Terror has contributed to the
willingness of donor countries such as Canada and the
United States to turn a blind eye to the horrific violations
of human rights and oppression in countries such as
Ethiopia whose partnership in the War on Terror has
given them impunity. Yet, on the home front, the prime
minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, is terrorizing his
Canada’s partnership with Meles Zenawi, also
seen by many Ethiopians as complicity with a dictator,
is putting Canada’s own future relationship with
Ethiopians in jeopardy. If Canadians in leadership and
in the media fail to acknowledge how our support of
this dictator is a means to perpetuate human rights
abuses, the sabotage of the democratic process and the
repression of the press, we will end up compromising
not only our moral principles as a free country, but
we will be putting our own future national interests
at greater risk as these average Ethiopians become hostile
to us in the west due to our silence and self-interest.
Please do something to change the course of these events!
If there is a group interested in further pursuing
this, please contact us for more information.
Mr. Obang Metho,
Director of International Advocacy
Anuak Justice Council
this file in Word format. Download
this file in PDF format.