Sep 23, 2011

Ogaden: Demonstration In Brussels Calls For Conditions On European Aid To Ethiopia

Ogaden from across Europe gathered for a demonstration in Brussels to raise awareness of ongoing human rights abuses in Ethiopia


Below is an article published by the Ogaden European Communities:


Ogaden European Communities across Europe gathered in Brussels on the 19th of September 2011 to raise international awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses in Ogaden being perpetrated by the Ethiopia government and the misuse of EU Aid to Ethiopia


The Ogaden European Communities are saddened by the indifference of the European policy makers to the suffering of the Ogaden people and its apparently unconditional aid to the Ethiopian government. The Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO) and their respective governments have time and again been informed from independent sources such as Human Rights Watch,  Amnesty International, Genocide Watch as well as their own diplomats in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, on the human right violations taking place in the Ogaden. Recently, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC Newsnight concluded an undercover investigation in Ethiopia, reporting that Ethiopia uses aid “as a weapon of repression” in Ogaden and other parts of Ethiopia.

It is indeed lamentable that while the EU claims the protection of human rights as a priority, as once expressed by its spokesman for diplomatic service: "Protection of human rights is a priority for the EU and it features prominently in our dialogue with all external partners. This also applies to the EU dialogue with Ethiopia, where we raise human rights issues regularly," is not yet convinced to act despite the shocking reports emanating from the region. In a hearing held on 14th March 2011 in the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights, it became clear to the European Union that billions of Euros in aid money given to Ethiopia is unaccounted for. Despite this fact, some EU member states still continue to give more money to Ethiopia.


The EU and other western donors are well aware that the Ogaden is sealed from the rest of the world. This is particularly troubling at a time when severe drought is hitting the entire Horn of Africa region, as NGOs are denied unhindered access to the Ogaden region to assist people in need. Independent media and human rights organizations are also not allowed to operate in the Ogaden. This indicates that the scale of human right abuses taking place in the area is much greater than reported.


Recent events, including the arrest of two Swedish journalists in the Ogaden and their continued detention, the expulsion of an Amnesty International delegation from Ethiopia and the denial of the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross to resume its work in the Ogaden provide clear confirmation that Ethiopia is determined to continue its abusive policies in Ogaden under the shadow of darkness.


Today in Ogaden a bloody war is perpetrated by the Ethiopian government against innocent civilians, and aid is used to fund a Janjaweed-like local militia known as Liyu Police to execute acts of torture and rape against the civilian population. Human Rights Watch has stated that the actions of the Ethiopian security forces in the Ogaden region amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  


Regarding the above, the Ogaden European Communities are calling upon the EU to undertake the following steps:


1. To stop aid to Ethiopia as long as it violates international human right conventions

2. To set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the human rights abuses as recommended by the UN team who visited the Ogaden 2007 and bring the perpetrators of the war crimes to justice

3. To pressure the Ethiopian government to lift its blockade of the Ogaden and allow international NGOs, independent media and human right organizations to operate in the region

4. To spearhead efforts to bring a lasting political solution to the conflict in the Ogaden