Welcome to Ogaden Human Rights Committee
As has been repeatedly documented by international human rights
organizations, the state of human rights in the Ogaden has gone
from bad to worse in the recent past. The abysmal track record
of the EPRDF regime has been recently aggravated by natural
calamities, which had primarily been caused by the ill-devised
policies of the current Ethiopian government. The vicious circle
of official state negligence, deliberate economic strangulation
of the region, political marginalization of the pastoralist
Somalis and the consequent disasters of the magnitude of the
year 2000 famine have combined to decimate the human and livestock
population of the Ogaden. No official statistics are compiled
on the socio-economic characteristics of the Ogaden, but judging
from the livelihoods of the region's inhabitants, the Ogaden
was much better off both economically and security-wise in 1991,
when the EPRDF came to power, than it is today.
In the dry season, instead of helping the needy nomads and their
starving animals, the Ethiopian armed forces camp beside water
points to prevent them from using the water for their animals
and families unless they pay extortion money.
In other cases, many animals starved to death and many nomad
families were left destitute after Ethiopian government forces
rounded up their animals, which are the primary source of livelihood
for nomad Somalis in the Ogaden. Confiscated livestock were
put in concentration camps and were left for the elements without
water and fodder.
The Ogaden Human Rights Committee is alarmed at the massive
rise in HIV/AIDS virus infected women and young girls after
being raped by members of the Ethiopian armed forces. The Ethiopian
government uses rape as a weapon and its soldiers are under
orders to rape, torture or kill any woman suspected of sympathising
with ONLF members. Extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances
and arbitrary detentions are also rife in the Ogaden.
This report documents human rights violations in the Ogaden,
which took place between the years 2000 and 2003, however there
are few cases that took place in 1999 and 2004.
The report quotes many articles from international human rights
instruments as well as the Ethiopian Constitution in order to
reveal the perfidious inhuman nature of the Ethiopian government,
which Pays lip services to human rights concerns, but disregards
International Human Rights Treaties, as well as its laws and
Constitution. The Ethiopian government has done nothing to stop
or prevent human rights violations in the Ogaden. On the contrary,
it encourages, decorates and promotes violators to higher ranks.
The international community should take note that the human
rights violations presented in detail in this report and the
previous reports are flagrant violations of rights and freedoms
guaranteed by International Human Rights Treaties, acceded to
or ratified by Ethiopia.
The report begins with executive summary, appeals and recommendations
to the international community as well as individuals for urgent
action to end and prevent human rights violations in the Ogaden,
and concludes with annexes of classified lists of victims of
human rights abuses.
Human Rights Committee (OHRC)
The human tragedy in the Ogaden, started directly after the conclusion
of the ill-fated Berlin Conference for the partition of Africa
On April 10th 1891, Ethiopia's king Menelik said in his circular
letter addressed to Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia:
"If Powers at a distance come forward to partition Africa
between them, I do not intend to be an indifferent spectator."
During the Second World War, after the expulsion of the Italians
from the Horn of Africa, in 1941, the Ogaden came under British
rule, and it remained subject to British military administration
In 1946, Mr. Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, proposed
to the council of Ministers of Four-Power Conference the reunification
of all Somalilands, including the Ogaden as a trust territory.
The Bevin Plan met with unanimous opposition from the other Powers.
Many petitions addressed to the Four Power Conference by Ogadeni
elders were also fallen upon deaf ears.
On September 23rd 1948, the British government decided to cede
a great part of the Ogaden to Ethiopia without the knowledge and
consent of the Ogaden people. Peaceful demonstrations against
this act were brutally suppressed and scores of people were killed,
in Jigjiga and elsewhere in the Ogaden.
Haud and Reserved areas were the last part of the Ogaden, which
were handed over to Ethiopia by the British Authorities, on February
During Haile Selassie's rule, the Ethiopian Imperial Army committed
unspeakable crimes against the defenceless civilians in the Ogaden.
In 1961, the towns of Dhagaxbuur, Qalaafo and Ayshaca, were razed
to the ground by the Ethiopian occupation forces.
In 1974, when the military overthrew emperor Haile Selassie's
theocratic rule, they put in place a communist military dictatorship
led by the Red Negus colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam.
The Dergue military junta, in Addis Ababa, enforced more oppressive
policies in the Ogaden. Summary executions, arbitrary detentions
without charges or trial, dispossessing the people of their properties,
emergency laws and dusk to dawn curfew were commonplace.
In its Amharisation policy, the communist regime of Mengistu has
transferred thousands of Ethiopian settlers into the Ogaden in
an Attempt to change the demographic nature of the region, eliminate
the Ogadeni-Somali national identity and to transform the Ogaden
into a region of Ethiopia, in which indigenous Ogadenis will be
an insignificant minority.
In 1991, after Mengitu's downfall, Tigray People's Liberation
Front (TPLF), formed a new party called Ethiopian People's Revolutionary
Democratic Front (EPRDF), composed of TPLF and converted prisoners
of war from Oromo and Amhara nationalities in order to cover the
Tigre domination in the new party.
After the installation of the TPLF dominated government in Ethiopia,
EPRDF presented a new charter as a guiding principle in its rule
during the so-called transitional period of two years. According
to that charter, among other things all democratic principles,
human rights, and right to self-determination of all nations should
have been recognized and fully respected. Also, the resources
of the country and international donations would be shared equitably.
The new Charter was welcomed by the Ogaden people, who suffered
from a century of repression and exploitation under the Imperial
and Military regimes, which ruled the empire-state of Ethiopia
Article 1 of the Transitional Charter stated that: "Based
on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights individual human
rights shall be respected fully, and without any limitations whatsoever."
In March 1993, a Constitution drafting commission was appointed.
The Ogaden was not represented in the commission. In mid 1994,
a draft Constitution was released and submitted to a constituent
On December 8th 1994, the constituent assembly ratified the new
Constitution, which replaced the interim National Charter and
became the basis for parliamentary elections to be held in 1995.
The Constitution provides that all sovereign power resides in
the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia, and that the
Constitution is the supreme law of the land (Articles 8 9). Chapter
3 provides that fundamental rights and liberties expressed therein
shall be interpreted in conformity with the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, international human rights Covenants, humanitarian
conventions and with the principles of other relevant international
instruments which Ethiopia has accepted or ratified.
Ethiopia under the TPLF/EPRDF government has accepted or ratified
several international human rights treaties, including the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention
on the Prevention and the Punishment of the crime of Genocide,
Convention on the Right of the Child, Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention against
Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
Slavery Convention of 1926 as amended, Supplementary Convention
on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions
and Practices Similar to Slavery, the 1977 Additional Protocols
I and II of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and lately
the African Charter on Human and People's Rights. The Ethiopian
Constitution states that ratified treaties automatically become
national law (Article 9.4).
Nevertheless, the aforementioned international human rights treaties
were not translated into action by the Ethiopian government, which
has no, respect whatsoever for its international obligations and
Human Rights Committee (OHRC)