“The smell in the torture room was horrible. They tortured me there. First, they hanged me upside down. They hit me in the chest, under the feet and in the head. They tortured me all night”.
The words keeps coming from the radio. Even though I do not yet know the man who is speaking, my tears are rolling down my cheeks. The man who has been tortured is named Caalaa. He is a poet, but was jailed and tortured for his poems that criticized the Ethiopian regime. I knew that I have to meet him. We meet a cold winter’s day in a cafe in Stockholm. Caalaa tells be about Ethiopia, a country where people are jailed, killed and tortured because they belong to his people, the Oromo people. Our meeting was the start of a friendship and a vision to make the world aware of those who are oppressed for using words as weapons. In this lecture, Caalaa shares his experiences and tells about the human rights situation, and Melody talks about other cases of jailed innocents who have used their freedom of expression. She also inspires the audience to take action for human rights, and tells the story about how she started her online advocacy.
0:46 – 4:00 Edoardo Iacobelli, Amnesty International
4:00 – 9:20 Melody Sundberg, Untold Stories
9:20 – 43:35 Caalaa Hayiluu
43:35 – Melody Sundberg, Untold Stories
Meet Caalaa Hayiluu Abaataa, poet from the Oromo people in Ethiopia. He was jailed and tortured because of his critical poems. He now lives in Sweden and wants to make people aware of the oppression by the Ethiopian regime against the Oromo people. Caalaa is currently studying peace- and conflict science at Malmö University.
Melody Sundberg is founder and project manager at Untold Stories, an online platform giving voice to people who have experienced crimes against human rights in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt. The project is focusing on crimes against freedom of the press and expression.
The lecture was held at Malmö University at 16.02.2017. Organizers were Amnesty Malmö, UF Malmö and Untold Stories.
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Photo credit: UF Malmö