Jul 13, 2011

Ogaden: Diaspora Demonstrate Outside UN Headquarters in Geneva

Ogaden Diaspora demonstrate outside the UN Headquarter in Geneva to raise awareness of human rights violations suffered at the hands of the Ethiopian government.

Yesterday [11th July 2011], on the occasion of 102nd session of the Human Rights Committee, the Ogaden Diaspora in Switzerland gathered outside of United Nations Headquarters in Geneva for a demonstration to draw attention to the deteriorating situation faced by their communities who live in the eastern part of Ethiopia known as the Ogaden.

On June 9, 2007, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held a news conference and publicly declared war on the Ogaden people by saying:  "We have launched a political and military operation to try to contain the activities of the Ogaden National Liberation Front [ONLF] in the region…As for the military plans, over the past few days they have started to be implemented."  

The Ethiopian government has sealed off the Ogaden region to international humanitarian NGOs, human rights defenders and the international press to operate freely in the region, which is currently affected by severe drought.

Thousands have been displaced and killed in the Ogaden Region since 2005. However, the Ethiopian government rejected a proposal in 2007 for a UN independent investigation into the human rights situation in the Region as well as a number of recommendations regarding the Ogaden during the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Ethiopia last year.

The Human Rights Watch also highlighted its concern over the conditions in the region in 2008 with a report titled “Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia's Somali Region”


The Ogaden demonstrators call upon the United Nations, donor countries, international NGOs and human rights defenders to pressure the Ethiopian authorities to take the following measures:


1)     Allow for greater humanitarian access to the Ogaden Region so that organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations relief agencies can provide assistance to victims of conflict.


2)     Undertake credible and independent investigations of alleged human rights violations in the Ogaden Region.


3)     Authorize the launching of an independent international inquiry on the allegations on the violations of human rights in the Ogaden Region since 2007, and bring those responsible to justice.


4)     Lift the restriction of movement on people and trade in and around the Ogaden Region.