Date: 15th September 2012                                                                Ref: OHRC/PR01/2012

 

PRESS RELEASE

ETHIOPIA: CULTURE OF IMPUNITY ENCOURAGES MASS KILLINGS IN THE OGADEN


The Ogaden Human Rights Committee (OHRC) is shocked and distressed by the incessant acts of mass killings which are being carried out on a daily basis by the Ethiopian Government forces against defenceless civilians in the Ogaden, and calls for an independent, transparent and thorough investigation into the circumstances, which led to those mass killings in Qoriile, Gunagado, Gaashaamo and Xarshin.

Today, although there are peace talks between the warring parties namely; the Ethiopian Government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front, the human rights situation in the Ogaden is alarming and getting worse.

In the Ogaden, human rights violations such; as summary executions, torture of detainees to death, gang raping of women, child molestation, arbitrary detentions without charge or trial, looting and illegal confiscation of property are commonplace. And these violations are daily meted out by the Ethiopian armed forces and its allied militias known locally as Liyu Police with impunity. The Liyu police are rogue militias modelled on the Sudandese Janjaweed militias.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaims the right to life, liberty and security of person. Under Geneva Conventions of August 1949 and Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions, in case of armed conflict not of an international character, principles of humanity must be safeguarded in all situations. Acts prohibited in all circumstances include: murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation, outrages upon personal dignity, hostage-taking, collective punishment, executions without regular trial and cruel and degrading treatment. Furthermore, article 51 (1,2,6) of protocol 1, protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 states that "The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited. "

Nevertheless, contrary to the spirit and the letter of the International Human Rights Instruments ratified by Ethiopia, the Ethiopian armed and security forces have carried out systematically extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions throughout the Ogaden with impunity. The following cases are illustrative of the above assertions:

In Qoriile, on September 06th 2012, Ethiopian armed forces came with a list of names, and then arrested a number of civilians. They transferred them to their barracks, where they were subjected to extensive torture, and subsequently the Ethiopian armed forces carried out a cold-blood massacre killing more than 13 of the detainees in their custody. Most of the victims were hanged from acacia trees and then shot to ascertain their death. The names of the some of the dead are: Faarax Yuusuf Khaliif, Faysal Irshaad Awlaad, Mawliid Xasan Cabdi, Cabdiraxmaan Guuleed Cali, Faadumo Guuleed Cali, Saynab Abshir Aw Cali, Ugaaso Macallin Cumar( mother of 9), Sureed Cabdi Qaate (mother of 12), Iido Sheekh Cabdi Cisman, Khadar Axmed Guuleed and her suckling baby, Faarax Cali Goox, Ayaan Cabi Xiis.

The bodies of the victims were forbidden to be buried and were displayed in public to spread terror among the civilian population.

Caasho Naado who was left for dead but sustained serious wounds was collected by the locals to nurse her wounds.  When the Liyu police knew her survival they conducted a house to house search to recover her. They took her from her refuge and since then her whereabouts are unknown to her family.

On March 16th and 17th 2012, the Ethiopian Liyu police militias razed to the ground the villages of Galka boodo libaax, Dhoobo Guduud, Raqqda and Cadaada which are located in the Gaashaamo district, Dhagaxbuur region and killed more than ten defenceless civilians as an act of vengeance against locals who killed seven Lyu police members who maltreated them.

 Gunagado massacre which took place in February 2012 claimed the lives of more than 19 people some of them bled to death when Liyu police fired upon rescuers who were trying to take them to safety in order to nurse their wounds. Their dead bodies were on display for three days and denied proper burial.

The latest massacre took place in Cilmi Xirsi, a hamlet south west of Harshin. Accoring to the reports members of the notorious Liyu police militias have killed 11 civilians and wounded 23 others.

Ogaden Human Rights Committee
www.ogadenrights.org
E-mail: ohrc@ogadenrights.org