Sep 08, 2011

UNPO To Highlight Abuses In Ethiopia And Pakistan At UN Human Rights Council

UNPO and the Society for Threatened Peoples will be co-hosting two events next week (13 & 15 September 2011) at the 18th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva


Below is an article published by UNPO:


UNPO aims for these two events, occurring in parallel to the Human Rights Council, to raise awareness on the international stage of the alarming situations facing its Members in Ethiopia and Pakistan. The people of Balochistan and Ethiopia’s Ogaden region have faced particularly dire circumstances in recent months.


As conflict and ongoing famine continues to devastate communities in the Ogaden region, the Ethiopian government’s strict blockade on access for independent monitors as well as a number of humanitarian agencies remains in effect. The blockade, which bars even the International Committee of the Red Cross from the region, has allowed security forces in the region free reign to continue targeting civilians with impunity.


UNPO’s event, titled Oppression in the Ogaden: Human Rights in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, will take place on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 from 11:00 – 13:00. This event will feature screenings of two films: an undercover report produced by BBC Newsnight and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), and a brief documentary featuring interviews with members of the Ogaden community produced by African Rights Monitor.


Angus Stickler, lead reporter of TBIJ will be present at the event to speak about his research in Ethiopia for the undercover report. Representatives of the Ogaden and Oromo communities will present their own accounts of abuses in Ethiopia. The overarching aim of this event is to shine a spotlight on recent conditions in Ethiopia; this has been difficult to achieve up until now, as NGO and eyewitness reports on the human rights situation are increasingly difficult to come by due to the policies of Ethiopia’s government.


The people of Balochistan, a region located in southern Pakistan, have also been dealt heavy blows in recent months. As a result of an alarming increase in the number of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the last year, civilians in Balochistan, particularly activists, journalists and human rights defenders, live in constant fear.


The event on Balochistan, titled Climate of Fear: Enforced Disappearances, Extrajudicial Killings and Arbitrary Detention in Balochistan, will draw attention to recent reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan attesting to the shocking numbers of enforced disappearances that have occurred in Balochistan recently. Prior to this event, UNPO and Baloch representatives will gather in front of the United Nations entrance for a demonstration to bring greater attention to the disappeared.


UNPO and its partners hope that these events will not only raise greater awareness of these two under-reported situations, but also express solidarity with civilians in the Ogaden and Balochistan, and inspire action at the national, regional and international level to end impunity for the perpetrators of abuses in these regions.