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Berne, 16th March 2015

To Whom It may Concerns

Ethiopia: Urgent request for diplomatic support
Ethiopian representative of Anuak community arrested while travelling to international
workshop. Request for urgent support for information on his whereabouts

Omot Agwa Okwoy and six other Ethiopian pastoralist and indigenous people from
Ethiopian were due to attend a workshop on seeds and land issues in Nairobi to help
improve the lives and livelihoods of communities in remote parts of Ethiopia. The
workshop, which starts today, is funded and organised by Bread for All, the Development
Service of the Protestant Churches in Switzerland.
Omot Agwa Okwoy is a Protestant Christian who has served in his capacity as a church
leader and in various positions within government. Mr Okwoy is currently studying for his
MA in Addis Ababa and due to complete his studies in June this year.
Mr. Okwoy was stopped by Ethiopian security agents at the Addis Ababa airport where he
was travelling to attend the workshop. Since then, his whereabouts are unknown. The
remaining six other Ethiopian pastoralist and indigenous participants were not on the
scheduled flight that was to arrive in Nairobi and we have been unable to contact their
mobile phones. The airline has only confirmed that the seven participants did not board the
plane. No other information was provided.
We are aware that Mr. Okwoy was approached last week by Ojulu Kaga (Ojuu), an
Ethiopian security agent from his home town in the Gambela region. As he had no previous
encounter with this person, Omot Agwa Okwoy had already suspected that his security was
at risk. However, he chose to attempt to attend the workshop given its importance to his
The arbitrary arrest of human rights and indigenous peoples activists is unfortunately
frequent in Ethiopia, and there has been a growing repression of any critique of the

governments policies on land. This, however, is the first time that Omot Agwa Okwoy has
been targeted, and he has previously had no problems travelling outside of the country.
The use of torture by Ethiopian authorities on political prisoners has been documented, as
has the targeting of indigenous Anuak peoples, such as Mr. Okwoy.
As we are deeply concerned for the safety of Omot Agwa Okwoy and the six other
participants, we urge the diplomatic missions, foreign services, international organisations
and NGOs to contact the Ethiopian government and request information about the
whereabouts of Mr. Okwoy and details on why he has been detained.

Miges Baumann
Vice director