February 4, 2015

European Parliament Conference: Minority Women’s Rights - An Ethiopian Inferno?

REGISTRATION HAS NOW CLOSED

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) will be convening a conference entitled 'Minority Women's Rights - An Ethiopian Inferno' at the European Parliament in Brussels on 4 February 2015 at 15:00. This conference, organised in cooperation with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and hosted by Ana Gomes MEP (S&D) and Julie Ward MEP (S&D), aims to raise awareness on the deteriorating situation of minorities in Ethiopia, especially in the Ogaden region, where violence against women has been described as a 'weapon of war'. 

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is based on a Constitution that guarantees - at least on paper - its inhabitants a broad spectrum of human rights, including specific provisions for minorities. Ethiopia is also a party to most UN Human Rights Treaties, such as the UN Convention against Torture and the two Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

However, reality for Ethiopia's different minorities is far from ideal. The situation is particularly worrisome in the region of Ogaden, in the east of the country, where the Ogadeni people, an ethnically and religiously distinct group, are widely discriminated against and often fall victim to severe military crackdowns and unfair application of anti-terrorist laws to suffocate any dissent. Their political freedoms are not respected; opposition parties and critical voices are persistently persecuted and repressed by the Government. In paranoia the latter filters information reaching the international community. 

Within the Ogaden community, women and children are especially vulnerable, with numerous reports of extrajudicial killings, rape, harassment and different forms of physical abuses surfacing and catching the attention of the international media despite strict censorship. This sexual and gender-based violence is used both as a retaliation for political dissent and as a weapon to humiliate and instill fear within the community. The scale and pattern of the cases of violence have been described as 'weapons of war'. According to some reports, military and paramilitary forces have allegedly attended 'training' on how to humiliate the victims more effectively - all leading to a deterioration of the already deplorable human rights situation in the Ogaden region. 

The event will take place on Wednesday 4 February 2015 at 15:00 at the European Parliament.

Speakers:

- Ms Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament (S&D)
- Ms Julie Ward, Member of the European Parliament (S&D)
- Mr Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary

- Mr Abdullahi Mohamed, African Rights Monitor 
- Mr Abdullahi Hussein, Exiled Whistleblower, former Regional President’s Adviser
Mr Ato Abebe Bogale, Vice-Chairman of Ginbot 7, Political Opposition Party
Ms Dorothée Cambou, PhD Candidate, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Ms Juweyria Bixi Ali, Civil Society, representing Ogaden Women
- Mr Graham Peebles, Freelance Journalist and Director of the Create Trust
Dr Baro Keno Deressa, Medical Doctor
Mr Badal Hassan, Ogaden National Liberation Front

For more information on the situation of democracy and human rights in Ogaden, please see the recently published UNPO report