JUSTICE FOR THE OROMO TWO !

by Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa

JUSTICE FOR THE OROMO TWO !

by Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa
Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa
Case Owner
We both live, work and study in London, having fled Ethiopia several years ago .Tibeso is volunteer chairperson of the Oromo Community-UK charity. Both have been active defending Oromo human rights.
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Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa
Case Owner
We both live, work and study in London, having fled Ethiopia several years ago .Tibeso is volunteer chairperson of the Oromo Community-UK charity. Both have been active defending Oromo human rights.
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Latest: March 31, 2022

Updates!

We appeared at Westminster magistrate Court on 28 January 2022 for hearing, and a new trial date is fixed for 9-10 June 2022 at 10am. 



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Emeru Etana Lamessa and Tibeso Woyeso are fighting for justice on behalf of all Oromo in the UK. They have been wrongly convicted and fined £10,000 each for helping organise the protest outside the Ethiopian Embassy on 10 September 2020.

They need to raise funds for the legal fees to re-open the case and defend them at trial. 

They need your support to prevent any further attack on the right to protest.

BACKGROUND TO THE CASE

This was the tenth in a string of protests held in London in summer 2020 to protest the repression in Oromia and the killing of the well loved Oromo singer, Hachala Hundessa, on 29 June 2020. The protests were directed at the Ethiopian Embassy and the government of Abiy Ahmad who had been elected in 2018 but failed to deliver on his power sharing agreement with the Oromo who comprise the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. Oromo, despite being the most spoken language in Ethiopia, is still not an official federal language. In Ethiopia, thousands have been imprisoned and dozens killed in the repression that followed Hundessa’s killing. 

The Oromo diaspora of some 2.5 million people responded to the killing with demonstrations in London, Paris, Berlin, and especially in St Paul, Minnesota where there is a large Oromo exile community.

Amnesty International has called for action over the repression in Oromia: 

https://twitter.com/HambaJht/status/1295645281804079106?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1295645281804079106|twgr^|twcon^s1_c10&ref_url=https://unicornriot.ninja/2020/youth-lead-summer-of-oromo-protests-in-minnesota/ 

The protests in London came just after the Black Lives Matter protests started. No BLM organisers were arrested for those protests which numbered people in their thousands. By contrast, our protests only numbered hundreds of people. We cooperated with the police to ensure peaceful demonstrations, and had no problems until the sudden change in the Coronavirus regulations on 29 August 2020 and the introduction of mandatory minimum fines of £10,000 for organising gatherings of 30 people or more. 

OUR CASE 

Despite the change in the law, we abided by the new regulations; we had a risk assessment in place and informed the police of the protest in advance. We also sent our supporters messages on social media to wear masks and to socially distance where possible. 

On 10 September 2020 we gathered opposite the Ethiopian Embassy in London and made a noisy protest. We then marched to 10, Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Both of us were known to the Metropolitan Police having cooperated with them at numerous protests before this one. For this reason we were targeted for arrest outside Downing Street on the order of a senior police officer. We were held overnight in Kingston police station, interviewed and released.

Later that month were both sent Fixed Penalty Notices of £10,000 each. A letter of appeal sent by the Elders of the Oromo Community-UK on our behalf was ignored. On 26 May 2021 we received papers and sent back the form by recorded delivery the next day indicating that we wished to plead NOT GUILTY, and requesting a court hearing. We heard nothing further until 5 August 2021 when we received letters saying that the court had convicted us in our absence on 24 July 2021 and imposed the maximum fine on each of us. Neither of us had known about this court date.

We contacted the court and were told that we would need to have a court hearing to re-open the case and get the fine set aside. The day before the hearing we found a sympathetic lawyer who wished to help; he advised us that we had very strong grounds to re-open the case as it was clearly in the interests of justice. The hearing took place on 14 September 2021 BUT Deputy District Judge Jackson REJECTED our application to re-open the case. 

As the day unfolded, we discovered some highly unusual facts that lead to a suspicion that the British authorities are seeking to CRIMINALISE us, as two upstanding members of the Oromo community in the UK, for political reasons - to please the Ethiopian government of Abiy Ahmed. 

Firstly, we were told that the court could not proceed as there was no prosecutor present from the Metropolitan Police. It turned out that the police had not sent the case to the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers - who would have been obliged to consider whether it was in the public interest to prosecute. This looks like a sly tactic to avoid any scrutiny of our case.

Secondly, the police and court used the ‘Single Justice Procedure’ where a Judge sitting in private (who may be a legally unqualified ‘lay’ Justice) could convict in absence, without hearing anything from the defence. This procedure is normally used for traffic matters, not political cases!

Our lawyer asked who the Judge was who had convicted us, but the court said they could not tell him! Our lawyer asked on what basis the Judge convicted us - did the Judge in fact have any evidence before them? Again the court said they did not know! Our lawyer asked how a £10,000 fine had been imposed without any means enquiry - again the court did not know!

The Judge said that we should make a ‘Statutory Declaration’ that we did not receive the court summons. Our lawyer pointed out that this was now beyond the 21 day time period, and that we had been told by the court to come to court to make an application in person. The Judge refused to hear our ‘Statutory Declaration’ in open court. He refused to adjourn the matter for hearing and sent us away to contact the administration centre - the very one who had given us the hearing date. In the meantime the fine can be enforced and our property seized!

WE HAVE TO STOP THIS INJUSTICE! We need funds to pay our lawyer and get the case re-opened. We then intend to plead NOT GUILTY on HUMAN RIGHTS grounds. Our lawyer now has to try and investigate what has happened and see if the court will accept our declaration that we did not receive the summons to court. When the case comes to trial we will fight it on human rights grounds. 

WE BELIEVE WE HAVE BEEN UNFAIRLY TARGETED FOR ARREST BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE, AND WRONGLY CONVICTED BY A COURT OPERATING IN SECRET.  OUR APPLICATION FOR JUSTICE HAS SO FAR BEEN REFUSED AND WE ARE NOW THREATENED WITH THE SEIZURE OF OUR PROPERTY!

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY SO THAT WE CAN RAISE £6000 TO FIGHT THIS CASE TO THE END. 

WE THANK ALL THE SUPPORTERS OF THE OROMO PEOPLE FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

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Update 3

Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa

March 31, 2022

Updates!

We appeared at Westminster magistrate Court on 28 January 2022 for hearing, and a new trial date is fixed for 9-10 June 2022 at 10am. 



Update 2

Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa

Jan. 15, 2022

We've got a new court date!

We appeared before a lay bench of 3 justices in Court 7 on Saturday 15 January 2022 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for Case Management Hearing. We were charged with holding a gathering of more than 30 people on 10th September 2020 at Whitehall. To this charge we pleaded NOT GUILTY and the case has been adjourned for Friday 28 January 2022 at 12 noon.

Update 1

Tibeso Woyeso and Emeru Lamessa

Dec. 10, 2021

Our case listed for 15 January 2022

At last the court have agreed to accept our Statutory Declarations that were filed by our lawyer on 22 September 2021. It took the Court 9 weeks to do this, and in the meantime the enforcement unit began making deductions from income to pay off the £10,000 fines!

However, we now have a Case Management Hearing on Saturday 15 January 2022. At this hearing we hope to have a trial date fixed.

At last our struggle for justice will come to court.

Thank you all for your support, please continue to give generously so that we can win this case and have the fines set aside.

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