Hoff Barry Client Granted Political Asylum By The United States

Hoff Barry partner Jared D. Shepherd recently received formal notice that one of his clients, Mr. S., was granted political asylum by the United States on August 29, 2019. Mr. S. is an Ethiopian citizen belonging to the Oromo ethnic group.  The suppression of Oromo in Ethiopia by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (“EPDRF”)–led government is well-documented.

As noted by Amnesty International, “Oromia and the Oromo have long been subject to repression based on a widespread imputed opposition to the EPRDF which, in conjunction with the size of the population, is taken as posing a potential political threat to the government.” In 2018, the United States House of Representatives, by House Resolution 128 (adopted April 10, 2018), acknowledged continued human rights abuses in Ethiopia, including “state-sponsored violence against civilians in Oromia.” The public display of Oromo culture and language and public protest of the unequal treatment of Oromos are viewed as a direct threat to the government. 

In 2002, Mr. S began his career as an Oromo language teacher.  Shortly thereafter, he became a target of the government. Initially, he refused to join the ruling EPDRF party.  Later, in February 2004, he began leading his school’s Oromo Language and Culture Club (“Oromo Club”) outside his regular work hours. The Oromo Club informed students and the wider community about the history of the Oromo people and how the Ethiopian government had historically and systematically marginalized Oromo cultural identification. 

From 2007 onward, Mr. S was the target of repeated persecution by government security forces, including arbitrary arrest and detention without due process, physical assault, and torture.  After years of persisting in his educational efforts and Oromo advocacy, and after yet another arrest in 2016, Mr. S escaped to the United States to seek protection under United States asylum law.    

Our firm is proud to work in partnership with The Advocates for Human Rights to represent asylum seekers, such as Mr. S.  Hoff Barry congratulates Mr. S on his asylum victory.

Justin Templin