Welcome to Ogaden Human Rights Committee
HIV/AIDS epidemic and Ethiopian Government's responsibility Article
12 of the ICESCR states:
Elections and Political Instability
Discrimination and Cultural Suppression
Clan and ethnic conflicts
Local Humanitarian Organizations
1. "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize
the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health.
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present
Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include
those necessary for:
a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and
of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial
c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic,
occupational and other diseases;
d) The creation of conditions, which would assure to all medical
service and medical attention in the event of sickness."
Nevertheless, the successive Ethiopian governments were never
interested in the welfare of the Somali people in the Ogaden.Their
attention focused only on the exploitation of the region's resources
for their own gains.
In general there is no adequate medical services in the Ogaden.
Before the collapse of the Somali State, in 1991, the population
used to go to Somalia for medical treatment as well as education,
work and commerce.
Dr. Gargaar, a Somali general practitioner said the Ogaden has
one of the highest child mortality rates, lowest immunisation
levels and shortest life expectancy in the world. Tuberculosis,
malaria and water borne diseases are rampant in this region.
"Before TB and malaria were the two main killers in the Ogaden,
but now there is a third killer, which was unknown before and
it is HIV/AIDS epidemic. There is neither testing centres nor
awareness campaigns to fight this killer disease in the Ogaden,"
The Jigjiga Region and its surroundings are the worst affected
area by HIV/AIDS virus. A study of 400 pregnant women in the regional
capital Jigjiga showed that 19 percent of them were HIV positive.
According to reliable sources more than 3 million Ethiopians are
infected with HIV/AIDS, while about 600 Ethiopians are dying from
AIDS daily. These numbers do not include the HIV/AIDS victims
in the Ogaden and other marginalised regions in the empire-state
The Somali people in the Ogaden are very conservative. Sex outside
of marriage is strictly forbidden. So, sexually transmitted diseases
such as; herpes, gonorrea and syphilis were only confined to the
Ethiopian settlers in the region.
Nowadays, the situation has dramatically changed; there is an
alarming increase of the women and young girls, who are infected
with HIV/AIDS virus after being raped by members of Ethiopian
Ms. Dalmar, FGM and AIDS campaigner, in Jigjiga, said, "We
could no longer sit by idly, while victims of rape, who are infected
with HIV/AIDS are dying like flies, we have to do something to
alleviate their sufferings. This killer is spreading like wildfire,
we must stop it."
"Our society is a male dominated one. We were fighting against
discrimination, illiteracy and female genital mutilation (FGM).
And now we have a new front, which needs a vigorous campaign to
combat HIV/AIDS," she added.
"In the Ogaden HIV/AIDS virus is being spread by Ethiopian
soldiers, who rape women and young girls at will. So, the Ethiopian
government, which sends those disease carriers, is squarely responsible
for the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS virus in the Somali Region. It
is a deliberate act of war aimed at destroying our social fabric.
Since, there is no mechanism in the region to control this epidemic,
I am afraid it will get out of hand," she concluded.
The Ethiopian government uses rape as a weapon in its war against
the ONLF. The Ethiopian troops' commander, in Qabridaharre, told
a gathering in the township, "Any woman suspected of harbouring
or being a relative of an ONLF member would be raped and then
Ironically, the Ethiopian government, which is responsible for
the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Ogaden and elsewhere in Ethiopia,
through its armed forces, launches appeal after appeal for aid
to combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Ethiopia. In the fight
against HIV/AIDS, the current Ethiopian government is part of
the problem rather than the solution.
It is the international donor community's duty to help HIV/AIDS
victims in the Ogaden directly through international NGOs in order
to assure the reach of the aid to the victims; otherwise the Ethiopian
government will misuse it as usual.
Elections and Political Instability
Somali people in the Ogaden have never accepted the Ethiopian
occupation of their country. Therefore, the national resistance
against the foreign occupation has never ceased for more than
a century. But its intensity varied from time to time, according
to local, regional and international circumstances.
Successive Ethiopian governments' military campaigns to quell
the insurgence in the Ogaden had caused enormous human suffering
and threaten today peace and stability in the volatile region
of the Horn of Africa.
l of the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) states that the right to self -determination is universal
and calls upon States to promote the realization of that right
and to respect it. The article provides that:
1) "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By
virtue of that right they freely determine their political status
and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their
natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations
arising out of international economic cooperation, based upon
the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no
case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
The States parties to the present Covenant, including those
having responsibility for the administration of non-self- governing
and trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the
right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in
conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United
Haile Selassie and Dergue governments considered the Ogaden
as a rebellious region, which must be pacified by military means.
The region has been turned into a military garrison with no
entire towns to the ground, extrajudicial killings, mass arrests,
disappearances, rape of women, confiscating private property,
dusk to dawn curfew and martial law were the order of the day.
May 1991, after Mengistu's downfall, a transitional government
was put in place. The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic
Front/Tigray People's Liberation Front (EPRDF/TPLF), which replaced
the military junta, presented a new document, which it called
"The Transitional Charter". According to this charter,
among other things all democratic principles, human rights,
and right to self-determination of all nations and nationalities
in the empire-state of Ethiopia should be recognized and fully
respected. Also the resources of the country and international
donations will be shared equitably.
The Somali people in the Ogaden, who have suffered unspeakable
injustices and gross human rights violations under successive
Ethiopian governments, welcomed whole-heartedly the new Transitional
Charter, which was adopted on 22 July 1991.
Political organizations in the Ogaden have decided to be a part
of the new evolving political process to pursue the realization
of Ogaden people's rights and national aspiration by peaceful
and democratic means.
25 of the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) states that: "Every citizen shall have the right
and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned
in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through
freely chosen representatives;
b) To vote and be elected at genuine periodic elections which
shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by
secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will
of the electors;
c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service
in his country."
September 1992, the Ogaden people went to the polls to cast
their votes in a free and fair election, for the first time
in their long history to elect their district councils and representatives
for the regional parliament, so they could administer their
own affairs by themselves.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) won a two-third
majority of the seats in the newly elected Regional Parliament.
In 1992, the ONLF accused the EPRDF government of masterminding
the killing of several ONLF officials, including some members
belonging to the Front's Central Committee.
21 January 1993, the first session of the new Regional Parliament
took place, in Diridhabo. Abdullahi Mohamed Sadi, Siyad Badri
Muhamed and Mahdi Ahmed Warsame, have been elected as President,
Vice-President and Secretary respectively. Abdullahi and Siyad
were from the ONLF, while Mahdi was from Issa and Gurgura Liberation
new regional government laid down the foundations of all necessary
institutions such as, courts, administrative organs and the
police force to insure law and order.
ex-member of the first regional government said, " Unfortunately,
while the democratically elected administration was busily engaged
in building block by block the war ravaged country and tackling
with the neglected and crippled economy of the region, the central
government in Addis Ababa was undermining all efforts directed
to create a viable, thriving economy and working efficient system
in the Ogaden."
June 1993, the regional government accused the central government
in Addis Ababa of flagrant interference in the day-to-day affairs
of the Ogaden region, an act that contradicts the commitment
to regional autonomy and devolution of power to the regions.
The EPRDF/TPLF central government deprived the Ogaden region
of its share of the central budget and aid from international
community to Ethiopia, obstructed all initiatives and projects
deemed necessary for the development of the region as well.
1993, the Ethiopian security forces arrested the President,
Vice-President and secretary of the Regional Assembly, who were
transferred to prison in Addis Ababa. They were accused of embezzlement,
an accusation that they rejected strongly. They have been released
after ten months without having been charged or tried.
Jire Qalinle, Ahmed Ali Dahir and Iid Dahir Farah, were elected
as President, Vice-president and Secretary respectively.
28th January 1994, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, ONLF
called for a referendum on self-determination and independence
for the Ogaden.
12th February 1994, the Ethiopian government sponsored a new
satellite party called Ethiopian Somali Democratic League (ESDL),
which is a version of People's Democratic Organizations (PDO),
which exists throughout Ethiopia within the EPRDF framework.
The first congress of ESDL was held in Hurso under the patronage
of the then prime minister of TGE Tamirat Layne, who appointed
a member of the ruling EPRDF coalition as a chairman of the
new pro-government party.
22nd February 1994, a cold-blooded massacre took place in the
town of Wardheer, where more than 81 unarmed civilians were
killed by EPRDF/TPLF militias, who tried to kill or capture
alive the chairman of the ONLF Mr. Ibrahim Abdullah Mohamed,
who was addressing at the time a peaceful rally in the centre
of the town.
Since that incident the region has been a virtually closed military
zone," the ex-member of the former regional government
17th April 1994, the EPRDF/TPLF government launched a large-scale
military offensive against ONLF positions and detained many
suspected supporters of ONLF.
28th April l994, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, the then
TPLF defence minister Siye Abraha claimed that all resistance
movements in the Ogaden had been destroyed and stamped out.
a petition addressed to the president of the TGE, the elders
of the Ogaden asked the Ethiopian government to stop the military
offensive against the Ogaden people, and seek a peaceful dialogue
to resolve the conflict, instead of opting for a military solution,
which complicates the situation.
May 10th 1994, the Regional Assembly passed a unanimous resolution
in accordance with the Transitional Charter, demanding a referendum
on self-determination and independence for the Ogaden people,
under the auspices of international and regional bodies such
as United Nations, Organization of African Unity, European Union,
and other independent non-governmental organizations.
Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa reacted swiftly and severely
by overthrowing and virtually disbanding all democratically
elected national institutions in the Ogaden, including the Regional
On 30th May 1994, like their predecessors, the president of
the Regional Parliament, vice-president and several members
of the parliament (MPs), were arrested and transferred to prison
in Addis Ababa. Mass arrests and indiscriminate killings also
The Ethiopian government appointed Abdirahman Muhumed Qani,
Ahmed Makahil Hussein and Iid Dahir Farah as President, Vice-president
and Secretary respectively.
05th June 1994, a constitutional assembly dominated by EPRDF/TPLF
has been elected in an election boycotted by non-EPRDF/TPLF
parties, including the ONLF.
July 1994, the central government has moved the regional capital
from Godey to Jigjiga, which is closer to Addis Ababa.
December 1994, the president of the Regional Government Abdirahman
Muhumed Qani has been removed. His deputy Ahmed Makahil Hussein
was appointed as new president by the central government
8th December 1994, the Constituent Assembly adopted and ratified
the new Permanent Ethiopian Constitution.
1 of the Ethiopian Constitution states that:
1. "Every citizen has the right and the opportunity, without
any discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion:
a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs directly or
through freely chosen representatives.
b) To vote and to be elected to any office at all levels of
government. Elections shall be universal suffrage and secret
ballot in order to ensure the free expression of the will of
c) Any Ethiopian citizen who has reached the age of eighteen
shall have the legal right to vote.
2. Participation in political parties, labour unions, trade
organizations, employer and professional associations shall
be free and accessible to those who meet the general and special
requirements of the organization.
3. Elections to positions of responsibility within the organizations
referred to under sub-article 2 of this article shall be conducted
in accordance with free and democratic procedures.
4. The provisions of sub-articles 2 and 3 of this article shall
apply to civic organizations which significantly affect the
25th January 1995, the EPRDF government hastily arranged a meeting
in the town of Qabridaharre to convince the ONLF to participate
in the upcoming federal and regional elections. The meeting,
which was chaired by the then president Meles Zenawi (the current
prime minister), failed when each side refused to compromise.
05th May 1995, elections in the Ogaden were postponed until
May 27th because of logistical and security problems.
ONLF, had broken off all contacts with the EPRDF/TPLF government,
closed down its office in Addis Ababa and boycotted elections.
17th May 1995, in Harar, Ethiopian government collected a group
of dismissed and disgruntled former ONLF members, and formed
its version of ONLF and called it "pro-peace ONLF",
headed by Bashir Abdi Hassan. He is now living in Germany as
ex-member of the group said, " We were collected from our
residences in the dead of night by Ethiopian security forces
under the orders of Meles Zenawi, and told to read a prepared
statement before the local press in the next day. The government
wanted to use us as a propaganda tool for the upcoming national
and regional elections, which were boycotted by legitimate ONLF.
So, we declared we that were going to participate in the upcoming
elections. It was a senseless joke. We did what we did out of
fear. We had to obey the government orders in order to save
July 1995, the Ethiopian government removed Ahmed Makahil Hussein
from the presidency of the regional government. At the time
no reason was given for his dismissal. In September 1995, he
was arrested, and remained incommunicado since May 1997, when
he was brought before the regional court and charged with inciting
armed rebellion. He was released in January 1998.
July 1995, the central government nominated Iid Dahir Farah,
Abdullahi Hassan and Ahmed Ibrahim, as President, Vice-president
and Secretary respectively.
04th November 1995, 7 MPs of the Regional Parliament were arrested
because of alleged sympathy with ONLF.
06th July 1996, the ONLF and the OLF declared in a joint statement
their intention to coordinate their diplomatic, political and
military activities, and called for a referendum on self-determination
and independence for their respective regions.
On 06th December 1996, Abdullahi Hassan, the vice-president
of the Regional Government was dismissed from his political
and party posts. Five other pro-government ESDL members were
issued warnings. Mahdi Ayub Guled, as vice-president, replaced
27th September 1997, the Executive Committee of the Pro-EPRDF
Regional Government in Jigjiga ousted its President Iid Dahir.
He was accused of corruption and maladministration. The Ethiopian
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi intervened in favour of the dismissed
Regional Government President, and ordered his immediate reinstatement.
Jigjiga residents marched peacefully through the streets of
the town to express their support for the removal of the Regional
President. The police stood on the sidelines and did not intervene
to disperse the demonstrators. The police commissioner, Yonis
Abdullahi was dismissed.
the wake of the political turmoil in Jigjiga, 14 members of
the Regional Parliament and Executive Committee were detained
without charge or trial in October 1997.Among detainees were,
Mahdi Ayub Guled, MP and vice-president of the Regional Assembly
and Mohamed Adan Bile, MP and Secretary of the Regional Assembly.
They were accused of staging an unconstitutional coup by deposing
Iid Dahir Farah and replacing him by Mahdi Ayub Guled.
October 1997, Iid Dahir Farah was removed officially and replaced
by Khadar Moalin Ali as president of the Regional Government,
while Reyale Hamud Ahmed, was chosen as his deputy. Later Iid
Dahir Farah was detained and accused of corruption and embezzlement.
12th December 1997, the crisis in the pro-government ESDL took
a new turn with the dismissal of 16 ESDL members, including
the Secretary General. The Party's popularity among the people
of Jigjiga reached its lowest point.
power struggle between the former Minister of Transport and
Communications Dr.Abdulmajid Hussein and current Minister of
Mines Mohamoud Dirir over the meagre resources of the region
and the leadership of the Party has been concluded in favour
of the latter. Dr. Abdulmajid Hussein lost his ministerial post
because he neither succeeded in pacifying the Somali people
in the Ogaden nor in making them amenable to the Ethiopian government.
28th June 1998, the government has formed a new satellite party
called Somali People's Democratic Party (SPDP) to replace the
formation of the SPDP was not well received by the vast majority
of the Somali People in the Ogaden. A Somali elder who did not
want to be identified told the OHRC, "There is no difference
at all. Corruption is rampant as before and bickering among
the various factions is the norm of the day. They wanted to
recycle the ESDL but they were not successful. It was a total
failure. Everyone knows that the ESDL and the SPDP are the two
sides of the same coin."
27th October 1999, after two years of incommunicado detention
14 MPs were sentenced each to 3 years of imprisonment without
proper legal proceedings.
On 14th May 2000, elections were held in Ethiopia, but as is
usual with Ethiopian government the elections in the Ogaden
were postponed until August 2000, because of logistical and
their joint statement, on 16 May 2000, The ONLF, OLF and SLF
said, "Though the international community gave deaf ears,
all of these organizations (ONLF, OLF and SLF) did not stop
their appeal and alarm that the regime is not representing the
peoples in Ethiopia. Despite such a legitimate cry, the regime
conducted the so-called election in 1995. Once again it is conducting
similar election the result of which had been already determined.
We know now that the TPLF regime shall become the undisputed
winner. In fact it is not only agonizing, but also disturbing
minds of the silenced majority in Ethiopia, that the current
election took place in the middle of war and famine situation."
ONLF boycotted the election and urged its supporters not to
participate in it. However, a group of independent individuals
decided to participate in the Regional and Federal elections
in Qabridaharre Region. Among them were Abdifatah Mursal Shil,
Shacur Faysal Abdullahi, Hurre Abdi Adar, Mohamed Omar Jire,
Mohamoud Abdi Janbad, and Abdirsak Mohamoud Arab. They were
told not to run against government candidates, not to campaign
but support government nominees.
18th August 2000, Ethiopian government forces told the independent
candidates, who were going to Qabridaharre surroundings that
all roads leading to the nearby villages were blocked. They
instructed them to drive on only one road, which was mined already
by them. At Gabagabo village their vehicle hit a landmine. Abdifatah
Mursal Shil and Sha'ur Faysal Abdullahi, were instantly Killed,
while Hurre Abdi Adar, Mohamed Omar Jire, Mohamoud Abdi Janbad,
Abdirasak Mohamoud Arab, Abdirahman Mohamoud Arab and their
driver sustained serious injuries. Abdirazak's legs were amputated.
Ethiopian government used its military barracks as polling centres.
There were neither independent observers nor appropriate electoral
06th October 2000, the Ethiopian government dismissed the president
of the Regional Government Khadar Moalin Ali, and appointed
Abdirashid Dulane Rafle, Adan Abdullahi Qalib and Suldan Ibrahim
as new Regional President, vice-president and secretary respectively.
In February 2001, Somali People's Democratic Party (SPDP), the
pro-government party, which replaced the ESDL, sacked 10 members
of its central committee for alleged corruption. Like its predecessor
the SPDP has been plagued by disunity, disorganization and infighting.
A member of the SPDP who spoke on condition of anonymity told
the OHRC, "This party was founded and imposed upon us by
the central government in Addis Ababa. It is in chaos because
it is full of contradictions in all aspects. The party is run
by a group of ex-communists who did not breakaway from their
communist ideology headed by Mohamoud Dirir. No one can express
his views freely. Many MPs were dismissed or detained when they
expressed their disapproval of the way the regional affairs
are being run by Mohamoud Dirir and his narrow clique."
"The scale of corruption and maladministration in the region
is now worse than ever. Funds allocated for development projects
and for routine Regional Government functions are misappropriated
by EPRDF/TPLF officials and their collaborators in the Party,"
On April 10th 2001, the Ethiopian government issued a discriminatory
decree banning issuance of passports and other official documents
to all ethnic Somalis.
In 2001, Ethiopian authorities closed the border between the
Ogaden and Somalia. As a result of the closure there have been
sharp rises in local food prices and livestock herds have been
sold at low prices after Gulf Arab States banned importing livestock
from the region.
On January 8th 2002, a large demonstration took place, in Jigjiga.
The demonstrators, who converged on the grounds of the soccer
stadium, expressed their anger about lack of development, democracy,
rule of law and the closure of the border with Somalia, which
caused the rise of the price of the basic necessities including
foodstuffs. Many demonstrators were beaten and detained. Most
of the detainees were students.
On 14th January 2002, Abdirashid Dulane Rafle dismissed Adan
Abdullahi Qalib, Abdi Ali Shagah and Abdi Adan, Regional Vice-President,
Head of Regional Planning Department and Head of Regional Parliament's
Social affairs Committee respectively.
In February 2002, according to the pro-government Walta Information
Centre, Mohamoud Dirir, Abdulmajid Hussein and Abdirashid Dulane
admitted making some errors. Abdulmajid Hussein said, "We
have failed in a number of cases. We have failed to keep pace
with our brothers and sisters in the country. Yes, we have failed
to organise the people and make them benefit from development
Abdulmajid and his colleagues admitted running after their personal
and group egos. They also admitted aggravating clan conflicts
in the region. "We understand that we have abused the people's
legitimate rights to fulfil our individual and group interests,"
they said. They confessed at Meles Zenawi's office in Addis
However, Abdulmajid Hussein and Mohamoud Dirir did not put aside
their personal animosities and interests in order to enable
the Somali people in the Ogaden to exercise their inherent democratic
In April 2002, after months of internal power struggle among
the political hierarchy in the pro-government SPDP, Abdi Jibril
has been appointed as deputy to Abdirashid Dulane the Regional
On July 31st 2002, Khadar Moalin Ali, was detained in Jigjiga.
At the time no reason was given for his detention. But according
to the rumours circulated by government agents, he was accused
of corruption and favouritism. He was released after 9 months
of detention without charge or trial, on 26 April 2003.
In November 2002, the political chaos in Jigjiga took a new
turn with the emergence of two pro-government competing groups,
one headed by Mohamoud Dirir and another by Abdirashid Dulane.
The power struggle between the two groups ended with the ousting
of the Speaker of the Regional Parliament Abdirahman Bade Abdi,
in January 2003. Abdirahman spearheaded the efforts directed
at overthrowing the Regional President at the time. Abdikarim
Qalinle Kahin replaced him, as Speaker of the Regional Parliament.
On February 26th, 2003, in Shiniile Region, all members of the
regional administration were dismissed.
On May 10th 2003, seven high-ranking Regional Government officials
were sacked. They include, Abdikarim Qalinle Kahin, Ali Yusuf
Isse, Hamud Fille and Madina Mohamed Hassan, Speaker of the
Regional Parliament, Mayor of Jigjiga, Deputy Speaker of the
Regional Parliament and ruling Party's Secretary respectively.
On May 20th 2003, the pro-government SPDP dismissed 17 MPs,
14 of them were accused of working in Somalia and acquisition
of Somali nationality, while other 3 parliamentarians were accused
of having contacts with the ONLF.
The number of MPs, who were arbitrarily dismissed between August
2002 and May 2003, were more than 51 MPs.
On July 10th 2003, Ethiopian Parliament adopted a new law giving
the central government a free hand to intervene in regional
states when national security, constitution and human rights
are at stake.
A member of the Regional Government in Jigjiga, who did not
like to be identified, said we never had a free regional government
here. "The intervention of the central government in Addis
Ababa is already there through its representatives and visible
military presence. They have no need to enact such a law. The
rhetoric of self-government has not yet been translated into
practice, certainly for the Somali Region," he added.
Another official who also spoke on condition of anonymity said
we are accountable to the central government's representatives
and the army. "We have never been accountable to our people.
There is flagrant interference in the day-to-day affairs of
the Somali region, an act that contradicts the commitment to
regional autonomy and devolution of power to the regions as
enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution. We do not have a say
in decisions affecting our lives. We want our people to be in
full command of their own affairs like any other people in the
world," he stated.
On July 21st 2003, Abdirashid Dulane Rafle, the Regional President
was removed from office. His deputy Abdi Jibril replaced him
as acting Regional President. Abdirashid was accused of not
doing enough to quell the armed insurgence in the Ogaden.
Abdi Jibril is the eighth Regional President since 1992. None
of his predecessors resigned from office or completed his term,
but all of them were removed from office by the central government
through its representatives in the Ogaden, namely Berhanu Jemberie
and Gebre Wahid Giorgis, regional coordinator from Prime Minister's
office and Regional President advisor from Prime Minister's
office respectively. Both of them are from Tigray, Ethiopian
Prime Minister's native land.
An elder commenting on dismissal of members of the Regional
Parliament and Regional President's removal from office recently
said, " Nobody cries for them, they were imposed upon us,
they did nothing for us, they were only executing the orders
which they got from their masters in Addis Ababa. This is the
fate of anyone who has no mandate from his people to govern.
On July 25th 2003, the regional budget for the fiscal year 2003-2004
was released. It is less than 87 million Ethiopian Birr than
last year's one. The Ethiopian government has decreased budget
allocations for three marginalised regions in the empire-state
of Ethiopia, namely the Ogaden (Somali Region), Afar Region
An official in the Regional Government said our people are overtaxed
and our region is one of the least developed, neglected and
marginalised regions in Ethiopia. " The region needs more
funds for development projects. There are no hospitals, no schools,
no roads, and no running water," he said.
Since the arrival of the EPRDF/TPLF government in Ethiopia the
Somali Region (the Ogaden) has never used properly its annual
budget because central government's representatives and their
local collaborators have misappropriated most of it. And the
rest of the budget has been returned back to Addis Ababa every
year for an unknown reason.
Some regions like Tigray-the homeland of the ruling elite-used
to receive a budget higher than its population and fiscal need
to the detriment of the marginalised regions
Discrimination and Cultural Suppression
Article 5 sub-articles 1 and 2 of the Ethiopian Constitution state
that: "All Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state of
recognition. Each member of the Federation shall determine its
own working language."
However, contrary to the letter and spirit of its constitution
the Ethiopian government has told the successive Regional Governments
not to employ non-Amharic speakers.
Somalis inhabit the Ogaden, and their mother tongue is Somali.
And therefore they have nothing to do with Amharic, which is spoken
by Amhara in the highlands. They consider it as an alien language,
which represents colonization and foreign domination.
Many qualified Somali Ogadenis were denied the right to work under
the pretext of holding non Ethiopian diplomas or degrees.
In May 2003, the Ethiopian Parliament has adopted a discriminatory
resolution designed to prevent ethnic Somalis to hold any post
whatsoever in the regional or federal government. The infamous
resolution stipulates among other things; the dismissal of any
individual, who worked for foreign government, had another nationality
and had non-Amharic education.
Haile Selassie's government built in the Ogaden few elementary
schools to meet the educational needs of the Ethiopian soldiers'
children in the area. The medium of instruction was Amharic, which
was unknown to Somalis, who preferred English for their children's
Traditionally, Somalis in the Ogaden went to Somalia for education
and work, because they did not get adequate education and work
opportunities in their homeland.
Somalis in the Ogaden are the poorest, least educated, most unemployed,
most persecuted and most jailed of Ethiopians. They are disenfranchised,
downtrodden minority in the empire-state of Ethiopia.
Clan and ethnic conflicts
Since the arrival of the EPRDF/TPLF government in Ethiopia, in
1991, tribal and ethnic conflicts are common phenomena. In many
cases, the government orchestrates these conflicts, which claim
many innocent lives to serve its political agenda in the conflict
An elder, who asked not to be named, said Ethiopian government's
policy of keeping different ethnics and clans divided by cultivating
distrust and hatred among them has not changed. "The EPRDF/TPLF
government in Addis Ababa is deliberately using colonial tactics
of divide and rule by playing off one ethnic group or clan against
another," he added.
On September 10th 1994, in Qubi, Western Ogadenia, 17 Somalian
citizens, were massacred by OPDO, an Oromo group affiliated with
EPRDF/TPLF ruling coalition in Ethiopia. According to reliable
sources this massacre has been encouraged by the Ethiopian government
to deepen the dispute between the two communities over the ownership
of some districts and the Somali town of Diri-Dhabo (Dire Dawa).
Fortunately, the Somali community has understood the Ethiopian
government's sinister designs and acted in a rational manner by
inviting the Oromo community to have a peaceful dialogue in order
to solve peacefully all outstanding issues between the two brotherly
In September and December 2001, violent ethnic clashes between
Somali and Oromo tribesmen have left at least 130 people dead
and almost 400 wounded. The fighting, which took place in the
border areas between the Somali State and the Oromo State, broke
out between members of the ethnic Somali Garre and the ethnic
Oromo Borana. The clashes were triggered by dispute over water
points and grazing rights, but according to the elders in the
area the Ethiopian government did nothing to stop the bloodshed.
In December 2002, tribal fighting has claimed the lives of more
than 80 nomads. The clashes, which occurred in Salaxaad area,
were manipulated by the Ethiopian government, which withdrew its
forces from the area, while the clashes were taking place. Another
ethnic fighting broke out between Somali tribesmen and Afar pastoralists
resulting in the death of as many as 40 people.
In July 2003, a clan-based conflict has erupted in Nus-Dariiqa
area. The bloody conflict has brought the two clans, in Qorraxey
Region, to the negotiation table to discuss how to stop the carnage
unleashed by federal and local tyrants controlling power in Addis
Ababa and Jigjiga.
On July 23rd 2003, in Qabridaharre, 16 Community Elders, who were
involved in mediation process to solve the conflict, which claimed
many lives were detained by Ethiopian authorities. According to
a community elder, who preferred not to be named said they (Ethiopian
government) asked us to stop all mediation efforts because simply
they do not want the bloodshed to be stopped for reasons only
known to them.
On August 04th 2003, in Birqod and Qabridaharre, another group
of clan elders were detained. They were also involved in mediation
efforts to solve the conflict, which took place in Nus-Dariiqa
In November 2003, violent ethnic clashes near Bardoodo, Ma'eyso
District, have left at least 40 people dead and several others
injured, according to reliable reports received by OHRC. Hundreds
of families have fled their homes after skirmishes between Somalis
and Ormos erupted in the area.
Latest tribal conflicts took place in December 2003 and in January
2004, in Dhagaxbuur and Wardheer areas respectively. As result
of those violent tribal clashes at least 50 people have been killed
and dozens were wounded.
"We have our traditional conflict resolution mechanisms.
We want peace to prevail in our region but this government is
not allowing us to carry out our responsibilities as clan elders.
It wants our people to kill each other," he said.
Clashes between tribes were usually resolved through clan elders,
who would arrange for Diya (blood money) to be paid in the form,
which they deem appropriate if tribesmen had been killed.
"Since its arrival in 1991, this government has never resolved
a clan or ethnic conflict. We are alarmed at the increasing number
of ethnic and clan conflicts in our region and the indifference
of the EPRDF/TPLF central government in Addis Ababa and its satellite
Regional Government in Jigjiga," he concluded.
the empire-state of Ethiopia, drought, famine, war and ill-conceived
policies brought millions to the brink of starvation in the
1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium.
August 1999, the Ethiopian government, which spent more than
a million dollars a day on the war with Eritrea, internal wars
in the Ogaden and Oromia and its invasions into Southern Somalia,
asked the international community for an urgent humanitarian
aid to feed five million Ethiopians facing starvation mainly
in Northern Ethiopia (in Tigray the homeland of the ruling party
30th March 2000, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,
asked the international community for an urgent humanitarian
aid and a long term aid to feed and rehabilitate eight million
Ethiopians facing starvation in different parts of the empire-state
2000, the Ogaden region was hit by the worst drought in a decade.
The prolonged drought caused a mass starvation and breakout
of epidemics related to malnutrition and bad sanitation. In
the worst drought-stricken areas, thousands of people and hundreds
of thousands of animals starved to death. The Ethiopian government,
which was in war with Eritrea, did nothing to save the lives
of the drought victims and their animals, which are the main
source of the livelihood for millions of the Ogaden people.
(See Press Release: Ogaden: Dozens of People and Thousands of
Animals Starve to Death on a Daily Basis Amid International
Lack of Attention ref: OHRC/05/00).
the last ten years, the rainy seasons failed or there was not
enough rainfall in the Ogaden. Water is scarce and dear. Whenever
there is scarcity of water, the people move with their animals
beside water holes, ponds and reservoirs. Many water reservoirs
and tankers owned by individuals were confiscated by the armed
forces. The owners of these reservoirs and tankers were denied
the use of their water and property for their families and thirsty
the Ogaden, the poor and the fragile ecological balance has
been devastated by widespread exploitation and depletion of
forests for military purposes, fire-wood and charcoal by EPRDF\TPLF
forces and Tigrean dealers, who have been given concessions
and game-licences by the Ethiopian government. This exploitation
exacerbated an already precarious ecological situation that
was under severe pressure from overpopulation and overgrazing.
Due to this misuse and the absence of any sound range management
policies on the part of the government, the rich flora and fauna
of the region, including big game, game birds, forests and water
resources have all suffered irreparable damage under the current
1996, in the fertile valley of the Shabeele River in the Godey
area, the Ethiopian government has prevented the people from
cultivating their farms unless they pay 500 Ethiopian birr for
each farm, which is too much for them to pay. The peasants were
threatened with eviction from their lands if they do not pay
the new tax. Four years later, in 2000, Godey was one of the
worst drought-stricken areas, a situation to whose creation
government policies and practices of its army contributed significantly.
international donor community has helped the victims of the
drought generously. But as is usual with Ethiopian government,
the aid donated by the international community to the victims
of the drought through the Ethiopian Relief and Rehabilitation
Commission (ERRC), renamed as the Disaster Prevention and preparedness
Commission (DPPC), which is in effect run by the Tigray Relief
Society (TRS), never reached its intended beneficiaries in the
Ogaden, because the Ethiopian government has misused it by diverting
it to the army.
11 of the International Covenant On Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) provides that:
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right
of everyone to an adequate standard of living for themselves
and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing,
and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The
States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization
of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance
of international cooperation based on free consent.
States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental
right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually
and through international cooperation, the measures, including
specific programmes, which are needed:
improve methods of production, conservation and distribution
of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge,
by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and
by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as
to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of
into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting
countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food
supplies in relation to need."
An ex-aid worker in the Ogaden, summed up the reasons of the
2000 famine in the Ogaden in the following points:
a) Drafting of the young people, who were cultivating the land
and raising the animals into the Ethiopian Army forcibly to
fight the Ethiopian government's war with Eritrea and its invasion
in Southern Somalia.
b) Overtaxing the population and forcing them to contribute
to the war effort in terms of cash, animals and their meagre
harvest at gunpoint.
c) Constant dispossession and looting of private properties
by the Ethiopian government forces in the Ogaden with impunity.
d) Depletion of forests for military purposes, firewood and
charcoal, which caused soil erosion.
e) Depriving the Ogaden of development projects. In the Ogaden
there are no roads, airstrips, hospitals, schools, deep water
Ogaden is the most neglected and marginalised region of Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian government is squarely responsible for the human
tragedy in the Ogaden," he concluded.
65, father of 15, lost most of his livestock and five of his
grand children, when the devastating drought gripped the region
in 2000. He expressed his feeling towards the Ethiopian government:
"There is no government here. We have only military barracks
in this area. Soldiers, roam throughout the country demanding
money, food and loot at gunpoint. They are hungry like us. They
looted 50 head of goats belonging to my elder son. We live on
food handouts from local and international humanitarian organizations.
A government, which cannot feed its people, is not a government.
They are asking for aid everyday by our name using our plight
and pictures. A good government must commit itself to the welfare
of its subjects."
a joint statement issued on May 16th, 2000, The Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and
Sidama Liberation Front (SLF) said that the "famine is
the result of deliberate negligence of the regime to the affected
areas and the wrong policies it is pursuing in order to develop
its own region to the detriment of the others. There were warnings
on the famine looming in the East and the South of the country
long time ago. Out of hatred to the peoples in the drought affected
areas the regime ignored to act on time to avert the loss of
human life by starvation."
August 9th 2000, in an article, in Le Monde Diplomatique, Sylvie
Brunnel, a French journalist who visited the Ogaden, suggests
that the famine, which decimated the livestock and the people
of the Ogaden, "was not a natural catastrophe as Ethiopian
authorities depicted it, but it was a cynically orchestrated
game aimed at attracting maximum international aid and capturing
November 2002, in a statement released through the ministry
of information, the Ethiopian government accused the international
community of "reluctance and donor fatigue" in responding
to the drought, which affected the region. However, a joint
statement by ONLF and OLF, blamed the Ethiopian government for
this disaster. "Undoubtedly the famine we see now is the
product of misadministration and bad political culture and not
of natural cause," said the statement.
07th December 2002, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi launched
an international appeal for help in averting a looming famine,
which threatened millions in Ethiopia. " Each year some
four million people in the country need food aid to survive
and that number was now increasing," he said.
April 2002 and in May 2003, torrential rains in the Ogaden washed
away entire communities and submerged many villages in many
areas such as, Godey, Mustaxiil, and Qalaafo. In Jigjiga, Dhagaxbuur,
Qabridaharre, Wardheer, Shiniile and Liiban, roads have been
cut off by the rains, which destroyed temporary shelters, houses,
and killed livestock.
response of the Ethiopian government was too late, too little
and inadequate, and as is usual it accused international community
and donor countries of having failed respond in time to safe
lives and property.
14th June 2003, the Ethiopian government called on the international
community to deliver the food aid it has pledged to Ethiopia.
"The government appeals once again to the international
donor community to release their pledged emergency aid and to
come up with a timely humanitarian response to the latest appeal
so as to avert the looming danger," said the call.
former member of the pro-government regional administration,
in Jigjiga, told the Ogaden Human Rights Committee that, "You
cannot blame others for your failures. The current Ethiopian
government has failed in all aspects. Food aid is just a short-term
solution and it could not solve the problem. Launching appeals
for aid is not the solution. There should be accountability,
transparency and good governance in this country. Any aid donated
by the international community to the victims of the drought
through the Ethiopian government never reached its intended
beneficiaries in the Ogaden and elsewhere in Ethiopia except
Tigray- the homeland of the ruling elite- because the Ethiopian
government has misused it by diverting it to the army."
to the international development aid, " the case of Meles
Zenawi's confidant and close friend, the former Prime Minister
Tamirat Layne is a good example. Corruption and embezzlement
of public funds remain the order of the day. There is no doubt
that members of the ruling elite have foreign bank accounts
in Switzerland and elsewhere. We will know everything, when
they are no longer in power, and that is what happened in the
case of Mr.Layne and many others in the Third World," he
September 05th 2003, in an international appeal launched through
Ethiopian government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness
Commission (DPPC), the Ethiopian government appealed for US
$40 million to help fight the devastating crisis which has affected
13.2 million people in the drought-stricken areas.
Local Humanitarian Organizations
2000, people in the world saw television pictures of drought
victims. Those suffering were mostly women, children and old
men. International and local humanitarian organizations, were
helping the victims by establishing feeding centres, make shift
hospitals and distributing food rations. The Ogaden Welfare
Society's volunteers were everywhere in the drought affected areas
helping the victims.
Welfare Society (OWS), was founded in October 1991, and registered
in April 1992. After the registration, the organization opened
its head office in Addis Ababa and one field office in Shilabo.The
offices were furnished with all necessary equipments such as,
computers and other office accessories. OWS opened bank accounts
in Addis Ababa and Godey. The organization hired two consultants
in the fields of agriculture and ground water engineering, and
compiled ten feasible project proposals immediately.
founding member of the Ogaden Welfare Society said they have
raised 85,000 Ethiopian Birr locally in three weeks, which is
an extra-ordinary event in the local standards. "The prominent
figures and clan elders who were members made this fund raising
possible by setting good example, when they made first tangible
contributions by themselves," he added.
from that event onwards, the Ethiopian government was suspicious
of Ogaden Welfare Society as a threat to the national security
of the government, just because the organization showed great
power over the elders and extra-ordinary influence among the
society in general. Since then, the EPRDF/TPLF government has
targeted OWS. Members of OWS, were arrested, intimidated and
harassed by Ethiopian security forces constantly. The most serious
incident was when the Ethiopian army raided an elders' gathering
where OWS patrons were holding an orientation session, opened
fire indiscriminately, killing two individuals and wounding
many others. Ahmed Abdullahi Ahmed, was among the wounded ten
bullets riddled his body. Ahmed lost his left arm and sustained
permanent handicap," he said.
OWS was a grass roots, indigenous organization respected by
all Somalis in the Ogaden for its remarkable achievements in
the drought affected and rural areas.
the pressure from the Ethiopian government, OWS never stopped
its operations. The organization had well served the community
in the Ogaden by building dispensaries, feeding centres, schools
and digging deep-water wells in different localities in the
November 1996, three high-ranking officials of the Ogaden Welfare
Society were detained without charge or trial in Addis Ababa.
No reason was given for their illegal detention. (See Ogaden:
No Rights, No Democracy ref: OHRC/08/97, Ogaden: An Endless
Human Tragedy ref: OHRC/12/98 and Ogaden : Graveyard of Rights
early 1998, the OWS became a member of the Christian Relief
and Development Association (CRDA), and Consortium of Ethiopian
Voluntary Organizations (CEVO), the two biggest umbrella organizations
in Ethiopia. A new era for OWS staff has begun. Every month,
two members of OWS staff were being sent to trainings related
to their field of work.
main focus of Ogaden Welfare Society this time was on Civic
Education (CE), and Rural Water Supply Systems (RWSS).
Civic Education (CE) included:
Translation and the Teaching of the Government Constitution,
2. Civil Rights
3. Constitutional Rights
4. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
5. International Human Rights Conventions
6. Conflict Resolution and Resource Sharing Management
OWS helped and facilitated the National Elders Council to organize
themselves into Committees and Sub-Committees to make easy mobilization,
transfer of messages, notions and initiatives. They held the
first and the second biggest workshops on Conflict Resolution
and Resource Sharing Management in Jigjiga and Godey in 1999
and 2000 respectively. Donors, NGOs and embassies participated
in the workshops. But, unfortunately, the government banned
the third workshop claiming that Ogaden Welfare Society is a
threat to the national security
2000, the OWS disclosed the grim reality of the famine, which
gripped the Ogaden through the international media, while the
Ethiopian government, which was in war with Eritrea, ignored
knowingly the plight of the Somali people in the Ogaden.
OWS Co-founder said, "Most of the relief food was directly
diverted to the war fronts and for that reason many people starved
to death. The drought situation became serious and out of control.
But the government claimed that every thing is under control
and there is nothing to worry."
Welfare Society's officials were under constant surveillance
by plain-clothes secret agents, their telephones were tapped
and they received death threats. Many of them went into hiding
for fear of their lives, while others were forced into exile.
Among them are: Mahamud Ugas Muhumed, Co-founder, Member of
the Managing Directors, OWS Area Manager and Head of Planning
and Program Department, Ahmed Abdullahi Ahmed, Associate Founder,
Wardheer Zone Food Aid Monitor, and Social Worker, Mohamed Jelle
Idle, AICF-Co-Coordinator and Qoraxey Zone Food Aid Monitor,
Aden Abdi Yusuf, Chief Accountant and lately Mohamoud Abdi Ahmed,
GUARDIAN-SERRO is another indigenous humanitarian organization,
which operates in parts of the Ogaden. It was founded in 1992.
It has two offices, one in Addis Ababa and another in Qallaafo.
Its founder and Chairman is a member of the Ethiopian House
main mission was relief and rehabilitation in the Wabi Shabeelle
lower basin. It operates in Qallaafo and Mustaxiil areas. The
organization has been responsible for building health centres,
irrigation systems and it worked in the food security area as
05th April 2002, Ethiopian security forces surrounded and broke
into the Ogaden Welfare Society's office in Jigjiga, ransacking
all that was worth anything. Before ransacking the office, members
of the staff at the office were told not to remove anything
from the premises.
justify its action the Ethiopian government accused Ogaden Welfare
Society and GUARDIAN-SERRO of threatening the national security
of Ethiopia. The ministry of justice had withdrawn the two organization's
to an Ogaden Welfare Society official, "The organization
has never received any official communication from the authorities,
but it was a well known fact that OWS was at the top of Ethiopian
government's hit list for the last eight years."
He also rejected all Ethiopian government's accusations. "OWS
had not violated any laws and was operating under the Ethiopian
constitution. The only reason it was being targeted is because
of its activities and success as a genuine humanitarian organization.
Our organization has never engaged in politics or any other
activity outside its mandate. If the Ethiopian government has
any evidence, then it should produce it now," he concluded.
Welfare Society has employed more than 300 people, who were
feeding up to 1,000 children. It also looked after 12,000 internally
displaced people (IDP) in Gunagado, Dhagaxbuur Region. More
than 500,000 people benefited from OWS's work.
provided food to 6,000 people in Qallaafo, Mustaxiil and other
there are no local humanitarian organizations in the Ogaden,
and no one is prepared to fill the void left by the closure
of OWS and GUARDIAN-SERRO by the Ethiopian government.
Ogaden Human Rights Committee (OHRC)