September 2, 2010

Ogaden: Call To Action In The Ogaden To Resolve Tragic Conflict

 

Statement highlights the grave injustices carried out against the Ogaden people. The governments of Ethiopia, influential states and the UN are urged to end devastating conflict causing misery and hardship for millions 

 

Below is a statement published by Resolve Ogaden Coalition:

 

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 all 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.