Reports & Publications
Resolve Ogaden Coalition Condemns Gashamo Massacre | Immediate Press Release
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Resolve Ogaden Coalition condemns the ruthless genocidal campaign the Ethiopian regime and its sponsored militias are committing throughout the Ogaden. Just last month the Liyuu police (Jaanjaweed like militias) committed gross human rights violations in Gunagado and Garbo districts in the Ogaden, they systematically targeted civilians and burnt down entire villages populated by thousands of people, this week the liyuu police yet again attacked Gashamo District of the Dagaxbuur region burning the villages of Galka-boodo-libaah, Dhoobo Guduud, Raqda and Adaada, killing many civilians and displacing hundreds.
This campaign of destruction and displacement is a deliberate effort by the Ethiopian regime to depopulate and displace the Somali people of Ogaden. It is not the first time, this event is merely part of a greater policy being implemented by government sponsored militias known as the Liyuu Police. We are urging the Ethiopian regime to halt all hostilities against the civilian population of Ogaden and immediately disarm the Liyuu police militias that are being used as a tool by the regime and are committing gross human rights violation in the region.
The genocidal campaigns taking place in the Ogaden is widely documented, since 2007, the Ethiopian regime has been committing gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity against the civilian populations of the Ogaden. The Ogaden is currently under an economic, humanitarian, and media blockade, in the summer of 2011, two Swedish journalists -investigating human rights abuses in the region- were attacked and later sentenced to 11 years in an Ethiopian prison. In 2010-11, in the course of the worst humanitarian crisis in the region in 60 years, the Red Cross and Doctors without borders were denied to enter and operate in the Ogaden from the time when they were kicked out in 2007.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Ogaden have been displaced since 2007, and tens of thousands have been systematically killed by the Ethiopian military and the Liyuu Police. The international community and the security council has ignored the crisis taking place in the Ogaden, it is apparent the Ethiopian regime is committing genocide with impunity.
The Gashamo Massacre is yet another incident the world chooses to ignore, the genocide taking place in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia is by far the worst crisis taking place in Africa, far worst than Darfur, Somalia, Congo, and Northern Uganda. The West chooses to ignore the crisis taking place in the Ogaden, simple because the Ethiopian regime led by Dictator Meles Zanawi is an ally on the “War on Terror.” We are urging western nations mainly the United States of America and the United Kingdom to stop aiding and sponsoring the Ethiopian regime, and holding those responsible for the genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity taking place in the Ogaden. Furthermore, we urge the international community to pressure the Ethiopian regime to immediately open humanitarian, economic, and media access into the Ogaden region. And finally, we are urging the United Nations to recognize the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who fled the violence and oppression in Ethiopia and now reside in refugee camps in Northern Kenya separate from those fleeing the violence in Somalia.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition: U.N. Draft Recommendation on Guaranteeing the Rights of Minority Women
29 November 2011
Draft recommendations on guaranteeing the rights of minority women
Despite numerous reports and findings of both national and international human right organizations, the government of Ethiopia continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of the Ogaden region, women in particular. Sexual and gender based violence are used against women by government soldiers with the purpose of intimidating and demoralizing society.
The current draft recommendation regarding minority women touches upon many key issues that are relevant to the development and wellbeing of minority women. Nevertheless, the recommendation excludes the needs of minority women in conflict affected countries. In addition to abuse, mistreatment, and violence, women in conflict affected countries face the same problems and challenges that women in non-conflict affected countries face. Moreover, women in conflict affected countries whose governments are directly involved in the conflict are powerless to utilize the law(s) of their country. Thus, all instruments of protection suggested by these recommendations that depend on the good will of a just government become redundant. For that reason, the draft recommendations should include provisions for minority women at times of conflict that exceed the authority of the local government. Instead, international law should be enforced to protect the rights, liberties and interest of minority women in conflict affected countries.
Currently, there is a violent and active conflict in the Ogaden region between the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other international non-governmental organizations all confirm that the government of Ethiopia is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the civilian population. The conflict situation in the Ogaden region creates enormous challenges for women to make gains in their economic stability. In preference to encouraging economic development in the Ogaden region, the Ethiopian government is systematically obstructing all economic and social activities in the region. Official state negligence, deliberate economic strangulation, political marginalization, coupled with man-made droughts which yield calamitous effects, all devastate the human and livestock population of the Ogaden. As part of the government’s policy, the Ethiopian army executed an economic blockade to the entire Ogaden region and closed the borders between the Ogaden and Somalia. Furthermore, Ethiopia is enforcing a subtle aid embargo law that restricts and prohibits international aid agencies and NGO’s from assisting the Ogaden people. The EPRDF banned ICRC from working in the Ogaden while allowing the agency to work in other parts of Ethiopia. This economic strangulation in turn brings forth a cycle of famine and drought that inhibits the ability of the Ogaden people from gaining economic stability. As a consequence, hundreds of thousands of Ogaden people, women and children in particular, are displaced to neighboring countries in refugee camps.
As a government, Ethiopia has utilized many instruments to defend its action(s) against the people of the Ogaden—either by force or through international instruments that are accorded by its sovereignty. It effectively resists all attempts by the international community to intervene and uses all available resources at its disposal to misrepresent the plight of the Ogaden people.
The Universal declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva conventions and the General assembly resolution of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) civilians against unjust governments have yet to serve and protect the hundreds of thousands of women and civilians in the Ogaden.
The indiscriminative killings, systematic rape and violence used against Ogaden women as an instrument of war prevents many women from openly becoming active and engaging in social and economic settings. Countless women who were involved in trading were targeted for rape and torture, preventing them from engaging in productive endeavors and becoming active in the women’s movement. The widespread sexual violence and indiscriminate massacre perpetrated by the government of Ethiopia have negative socio-psychological impact on women; their mistrust of the government and authorities prevents them from entering the labor force.
Even at best of times, Ogaden women often experience discrimination and lack of access to education, health services and other inalienable rights that results in limiting their opportunities for economic growth and survival. For example, only 1.43% of Ogaden women have access to education in comparison to 33% of the nation. 86% of Ogaden women live in rural areas with no access to education. There are only three hospitals with 206 beds for a population of approximately five million.
Women in all ethnic groups of Ethiopia have no access to direct participation in indigenous institutions resulting in marginalization of women in all social, economic and cultural sectors of the country. Ogaden women in particular face both gender-base discrimination from their own culture as well as ethnic and religious based-prejudice from the ethnic ruling party of the government. In general, women have no say apart from cosmetic and honorary roles, all the while experiencing the worst consequences relating to decisions they did not partake in. since most of the women live in rural communities, there are no particular institutions that target the rural parts of the region at the moment. For example in Ogaden, the government claims that two elections were held in Ogaden in 1995 and 2010. Despite the government’s claim to the contrary, we are certain rural women never participated in any of those ‘elections’. Even the nominal Ogaden assembly has less than 5% of women candidates.
The UN urgently needs to establish new mechanisms that take into consideration the needs of women in conflict and women in rural areas in order to ensure the rights of minority women who are politically and economically marginalized based on their ethnicity, particularly in conflict situations.
Most of the services currently available in Ethiopia, especially in the Ogaden, cater only to the needs of communities that live in peaceful urban areas. As a consequence, targeted provisions for rural women must be established by governments or UN agencies that work in the area.
In light of these issues, Resolve Ogaden Coalition recommends that the following provision be included in the draft resolution of the UN minority forum:
- The UN establishes special rules and mechanisms to coerce governments to allow full access to diplomats, journalists, independent international NGOs, human rights agencies, and humanitarian organizations in all regions, especially in regions where minority women are greatly affected by violence. Such rules and mechanisms should provide adequate and substantive protection, assistance and justice to minority women who have been victims of state-sponsored violence in conflict situations.
- The UN establishes a Special Rapporteur to monitor and recommend to the UNHRC action to enforce and provide protection, assistance and justice to minority women who have been victims of state-sponsored violence in conflict situations.
- The UN establishes offices in refugee camps in neighboring countries to treat, protect and provide assistance to women and children who fled state-sponsored violence in their home countries. Strong emphasizes must be placed on mental and rehabilitation clinics for women who have been raped or tortured.
- The UN should recognize and acknowledge the role natural resources play in increasing violence against minority women. It is imperative to recognize natural resources as a critical factor in initiating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. In addition, it must be recognized that natural resources belong to the people, not the governments. As such, the United Nations General Assembly must adopt resolutions against the exploitation of natural resources during armed conflicts.
- The principle of self determination should be extended to all groups in the interest of protecting and securing the rights and liberties of minority women in conflict and post conflict countries, especially when it is recognized as a right under a country’s constitution.
- The United Nations should play a bigger role in creating conflict resolutions to resolve conflict amongst groups and governments in order to create a safe haven for minority women in conflict countries.
- Donor nations and international non-governmental agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank should encourage countries to respect and uphold human rights. Governments and countries that fail to respect or uphold human rights should be disqualified from receiving aid. Aid received by countries and government should be monitored closely to ensure that aid is being used to promote economic, social and political growth within countries. Most importantly, donor nations and non-governmental agencies must ensure that humanitarian aid is not being used to harm, oppress, destabilize or infringe on the rights of the civilian population.
- The United Nations must force countries to honor internationally recognized laws that pertain to minority rights and liberties. Countries and governments that fail to uphold such laws must be held accountable by the United Nations.
Finally, Resolve Ogaden Coalition request from the United Nations minority forum to extend their support to women suffering in the Ogaden region and to strongly condemn the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are being committed by the Ethiopian government against minority women in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Strong efforts must be made by the United Nations and the international community to uphold the rights of minority women in the Ogaden region, and to hold the Ethiopian government accountable for violating their universally recognized rights.
Looting Ogaden: Ethiopia's Exploitation of Ogaden's Resources, Land and People
On behalf of the Ogaden people, Resolve Ogaden Coalition unconditionally condemns the exploitation of the Ogaden region and its natural resources. Furthermore, we urge all foreign oil companies – especially the Chinese oil and gas company PetroTrans – to refrain from undertaking any oil exploration missions in the Ogaden.
It is imperative that PetroTrans and the Government of China know that the Ogaden region has been the center of conflict and government repression for more than a century. Successive Ethiopian governments have undertaken one scorched earth campaign after another in the Ogaden and have thus turned it into a military outpost where respect for human rights and the rule of law do not apply. Currently, government forces and state-sponsored militias known as "Liyuu Police" are indiscriminately targeting civilians.
Atrocities ranging from the destruction and relocation of entire villages, mass rape, torture, and the indiscriminate killings and detention of civilians are widespread in Ogaden. As a result, Ogaden remains as one of the world's most underdeveloped and repressed regions.
In April 2007 the Ogaden National Liberation lunched an unprecedented attack on an oil field located in Oble Ogaden operated by a Chinese company, "China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation(Sinopec)", the attack came after multiple warnings were issued to all oil companies attempting to drill in the Ogaden. Unfortunately, the warnings were not heeded and what followed were the destruction of the oil facility and the deaths of nine Chinese citizens. This was both unfortunate and unintentional but could have been avoided if Sinopec had respected the rights of the Ogaden people. Subsequently the attack led to multiple oil companies such as Petronas, from Malaysia, and Lundin Petroleum, base in Sweden, to abandon their contracts as Ethiopia could not guarantee their security after the Oble incident.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition firmly believes that there can be a political solution to the Ogaden conflict. The Ogaden National Liberation Front, has on numerous occasions stressed the importance of there being dialogue with the Ethiopian government in a neutral country and an objective and neutral third-party mediator. But the current government, led by Meles Zenawi, has repeatedly refused to engage in peaceful talks with the ONLF opting instead in gimmicks and fake peace deals with entities that do not represent the people of Ogaden.
Ogaden thus remains a battle zone, and until the Ogaden people's right to self-determination is recognized, we urge PetroTrans to cease all oil exploration operations in the Ogaden and to recognize the plight of the people.
A responsible company like PetroTrans should not let its name to be tarnished with profits they gain from contested and repressed regions such as the Ogaden. We would like to remind PetroTrans that the revenues raised from their oil exploration in Ogaden will be used to enhance the Ethiopian government's campaign of terror in the Ogaden.
We hope PetroTrans will heed our call and advice before another avoidable catastrophe, like the one in Obole 2007, takes place in Ogaden due to their intransigence which puts profits before human rights.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition
Resolve Ogaden Coalition Immediate Press Release: Ogaden | Call for Action to Deteriorating Humanitarian Crisis
The international community is well aware that the drought and famine engulfing the Horn of Africa (also known as the Somali Peninsula or Northeast Africa) is by far the worst humanitarian disaster to hit the region in 60 years. Resolve Ogaden Coalition, however, is saddened to report that the international community has thus far failed to address the rapidly deteriorating situation unfolding across the disputed Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia.
For the last decade, the Ethiopian regime has undertaken one scorched earth campaign after another in the Ogaden. Abuses carried out by government forces and state-sponsored militias known as "Liyu Police" have led to the destruction of villages, water reserves, and the indiscriminate killings and detention of civilians, mass rape, and enormous population displacement. To date, tens of thousands have been killed, and more than a million displaced, with thousands now living in camps across northern Kenya.
The current drought that threatens the lives of thousands of persons is exacerbated by the Ethiopian government's ongoing blockade of the Ogaden region. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees are facing starvation as a result of the regime's atrocities and denial of unrestricted access for humanitarian organizations, human rights advocates, and Ogaden organizations such as ours, who wish to provide relief to the tens of thousands who have been victimized by the government's brutal counter-insurgency campaign and the rapidly expanding famine. It is undeniable that the Ethiopian government is using its blockade of the Ogaden as an attempt to conceal both its war crimes and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. There is simply no excuse for a blockade that is keeping out humanitarian organizations whose only purpose is to save the lives of the tens of thousands who urgently need assistance.
The international community can no longer accept Melez Zenwis' ongoing obstruction of humanitarian aid for the desperate people of the Ogaden. If the government continues to deny unhindered humanitarian access, the international community must take swift and appropriate action to halt the expanding crisis. By "action," we mean humanitarian intervention to ensure the safety and well-being of our people.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition urges the United Nations Security Council to take hold of the situation in the Ogaden and take the following steps.
First, it must openly condemn the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the ongoing blockade of the Ogaden.
Second, it must call for the immediate disarming of government-sponsored militias, particularly the "Liyu Police," and demand that Ethiopian armed forces cease all forms of targeting civilians and immediately allow unhindered access to the Ogaden for humanitarian agencies, the international press, and international human rights monitors.
Finally, we urge the UN Security Council to spearhead and facilitate political negotiations between the Ethiopian government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front. The conflict in the Ogaden is based on a crucial issue, which is the colonization of the Ogaden people. Therefore, any negotiations must address the Ogaden people's right to self-determination, which should be addressed through an independence referendum.
Call to Action in the Ogaden to Resolve Tragic Conflict Is Now Urgent!
Located in the eastern province of Ethiopia, the Ogaden region continues to be a hotbed for conflict between the Ethiopian government and liberation movements, most notably the Ogaden National Liberation Front. For decades the region has been systematically isolated and inaccessible to the international community, humanitarian organizations, international media, and inter-governmental organizations remain expelled from the territory. Historically, the Ogadeni people have endured marginalization by successive Ethiopian regimes, and still maintain no socio-political or economic connection with the rest of the country.
It can be concluded that the conflict and suffering in the Ogaden is a direct result of the colonial scramble for Africa during the past hundred years and more. For the last half of the 19th century, Great Britain, France, Italy, and their local agent Ethiopia (than called Abyssinia), had on numerous occasions constructed boundary agreements partitioning Somali-inhabited regions of the Horn of Africa without the knowledge or consent of its people. During this period feuding European powers greatly increased the nation's military capacity, partly because of European merchants who supplied Abyssinian forces with modern arms.
The British defeat of Italy in World War II paved the way for Ethiopian ambitions in the Ogaden. Soon after the defeat, British forces illegally transferred Ogaden territory to Ethiopia, and did so without the knowledge or consent of the local population. This transfer took place in three stages that occurred in 1948, 1954 and 1956.
Instead of democratically and humanely dealing with its Somali population, as the newly established government in Kenya had, the Ethiopian Empire took a more radical approach. It embarked on a campaign of vengeance and suppression in the Ogaden. Since then, successive Ethiopian governments have used polices of terror, rape and brutalization, mass imprisonment, even the burning of entire villages to deal with its colonized Somali population.
In 2007 an ONLF attack on a Chinese-operated oil facility prompted the Ethiopian government to launch an intense counterinsurgency campaign against the ONLF and its civilian population. The Ethiopian government's counterinsurgency campaign can only be described as extreme crimes against humanity. Satellite images by the American Association for the Advancement of Science confirm reports that the Ethiopian military burned entire villages in remote areas of the Ogaden.
Recently the Ethiopian government has preoccupied its self with constructing negotiations with what it says are “factions” of the ONLF. It must be noted that such negotiations have yet to gain credibility among the Ogaden Diaspora. ONLF representatives have stated that these claims by the Ethiopian government are a last attempt to divert attention from the nation’s recent sham elections which have been tainted with accusations of fraud and manipulation. The ONLF has also released statements claiming that the organizational structure of the liberation front remains intact.
In a recent press conference Prime Minister Meles Zenawi claimed that there is one particular clan fighting against his government in the Ogaden region and that government forces would take all necessary measures to combat the rebels. With these latest statements it has become clear that the Ethiopian government has constructed a campaign to divide and rule the people of the Ogaden, in addition the government has begun sponsoring its own local militias to combat the ONLF. Such state sponsored militias are similar to the Janjaweed in Sudan who have been responsible for the displacement and violence of millions of Darfurians.
We urge the Ethiopian government to halt the sponsoring of local militias and to abandon its recent actions of classifying and naming particular clans as “rebels”. Furthermore we call upon the Ethiopian government to withhold from engaging in unproductive “negations,” and rather to strengthen its democratic institutions and practices for the advancement and benefit of its people. It must be noted that the Ogaden National Liberation Front remains whiling to negotiate with the Ethiopian government, with the condition that such talks take place in a neutral third party nation, and with the full engagement and monitoring of the international community in order to ensure that a just and lasting solution is achieved.
To the international community!
We recognize that the Ogaden conflict cannot be resolved without the participation and mediation from the international community. Thus we of Resolve Ogaden Coalition urge foreign and regional governments with influence including the United States, United Kingdom, and China to publicly call upon the Ethiopian government to halt all hostilities against civilians.
In addition, we urge the above stated nations to openly call upon the Ethiopian government to permit full and undistributed access to all areas of the Ogaden for access and use of humanitarian organizations, human rights agencies, media, as well as regional and international government officials. Furthermore, we urge the United Nations to spearhead an independent and transparent investigation into gross human rights abuses. We also urge the United Nations to openly address the longstanding issue of Ogaden self-determination. Furthermore, we strongly encourage donor states and the international community to privately and publicly call upon the Ethiopian government to engage in direct talks with the Ogaden National Liberation Front, and to make military assistance to Ethiopia dependent on the government’s participation in such talks.
Furthermore, recognizing that the Ogaden conflict is fueled by historical and current political injustice, we have come to the conclusion that no amount of humanitarian aid will resolve the Ogaden conflict, and that a political resolution is needed to ensure lasting peace and justice throughout the region.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending the conflict in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia by any means possible. Resolve Ogaden Coalition advocates for the Ogadeni people’s fundamental and universal right to self-determination, democratic rule of law, and regional development and stability. Resolve Ogaden Coalition is determined to pressuring the international community in recognizing the suffering inflicted upon the people of Ogaden. In addition, Resolve Ogaden Coalition desires to engage the Ethiopian government to implement policies that will open the door to a legal referendum to self-determination for the inhabitants of the Ogaden.