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Human Rights Report Says Ethiopia Committing War Crimes in Ogaden

Issue 334
Front Page
Index
Headlines

Unidentified Missile Sinks Eritrean Gun-Boat

Somaliland Police And Judiciary Receive UNDP-Donated Vehicles

British Diplomats From UK Embassies In Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen Visit S/land

Somaliland President Receives UNDP Delegation

Sighting of Satellite/Debris In Hargeysa Night-Sky

Las Anod Clan Elders 'Give Up' On Puntland Govt

AAAS Geospatial Analysis Confirms Destruction of Towns, Houses in East Ethiopia

Nine dead in Djibouti-Eritrea border clashes

UNDP Accused Of Links To Al-Shabbab In Somalia

Regional Affairs

Somaliland Government & Opposition Parties Sign New Accord

African states condemn Djibouti-Eritrea border skirmishes

Editorial
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International News

U.S. Condemns Eritrean Border Attack

Aging French military set to get boost

Obama, Mccain Squabble Over Town Hall Faceoffs

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

Somaliland Seeks A Little Respect

Remember! Remember!

Food crisis may be a boon for small farmers in Africa

U.S. Military's Middle East Crusade for Christ

UN Council's Africa Trip Brings Mixed Results

Suited for the New Diplomacy?

Beyond The Last Computer

Somalia country plan consultation

World food crisis: WFP launches strategic plan

Nairobi to host first regional broadcast and film conference

Food for thought

Opinions

The sum of all our fears

CANADA FINALLY RIGHTS A DISSASTEROUS WRONG
AND ALSO OFFERS HOPE TO ITS MUSLIM POLULATIONS

In memory of Saeed Meygag Samater

U.S. Wins Dividing the Islamic Court Union

Somaliland's 2008 budget : A remarkable achievement for an unrecognized nation

Somaliland Political Stand off Resolved, what is next:

Tribute to Omar Jama Ismail


Nairobi, Kenysa, 12 June 2008 - The accusations against the Ethiopian government and its military are contained in a 130-page report Human Rights Watch released in Nairobi.

In the first detailed study of what the group calls Ethiopia's year-long scorched-earth policy in the Ogaden, Human Rights Watch says it conducted interviews with more than 100 victims, eyewitnesses, business leaders and regional government officials in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somaliland.

Researcher Georgette Gagnon told reporters the rights group concluded that Ethiopia's army has committed widespread atrocities, using tactics aimed at not only to defeat the rebel group, but to collectively punish communities suspected of helping the rebels.

"In one particularly awful account, a man describes how Ethiopian soldiers would put ropes around the necks of men and pull from each side, strangling them," she said. "They also forcibly relocated many of the civilians in rural areas into larger towns and confined people in military barracks, where they were tortured and beaten on a daily basis. There was also widespread rape of women and other sexual violence carried out by Ethiopian soldiers."

"This brutal campaign of war crimes and crimes against humanity has contributed to a looming humanitarian crisis in the region that threatens the lives of thousands of Somalis in the area. And of course, this campaign is being carried out with complete impunity," she continued.

The Human Rights Watch report includes satellite imagery that the group says confirms accounts of Ethiopian troops destroying villages. Gagnon says Ethiopia is also waging an economic war against Ogaden's ethnic-Somali population, imposing a blockade on trade, confiscating livestock, and denying them access to humanitarian assistance.

Although much of the report focuses on alleged abuses committed by Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch says the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front is also responsible for serious human rights violations. They include killing suspected government collaborators and indiscriminately mining roads used by government convoys.

In an interview with VOA, the head of the Ogaden National Liberation Front's Foreign Relations Bureau in London, Abdirahman Mahdi vehemently denied that the group carries out executions of civilians.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government in Addis Ababa did not issue an immediate response to the report, but it has repeatedly said that the allegations against its military in the Ogaden were false propaganda being spread by Ethiopia's enemies.

Gagnon says Human Rights Watch stands by the report.

"Meles Zenawi said in September, 2007 in an interview, 'We are supposed to have burned villages. I can tell you not a single village, and as far as I know, now a single hut, has been burned. Nobody has come up with a shred of evidence, nobody.' Well, this report puts that statement to the test," she said.

Ethnic Somali rebels in the Ogaden have been fighting against Ethiopian rule for more than two decades. But the fighting intensified last year, after the government launched an unprecedented military offensive to pursue rebels who attacked a Chinese-run oil field in the Ogaden and killed more than 70 people.

Since then, the Ethiopian government has maintained a tight military control in the Ogaden and has denied journalists access to much of the region.

Human Rights Watch reserved some of the most scathing criticism for Ethiopia's allies, including the United States, Britain, and the European Union. Gagnon says they have made the crisis in the Ogaden far worse by failing to speak out about Ethiopian abuses in the conflict.

"This conflict has been largely hidden by the willful blindness or the conspiracy of silence of Ethiopia's main donors and their failure to even acknowledge these abuses, let alone condemn them or work to end them," said Gagnon.

Washington supported Ethiopia's 2006 military intervention in neighboring Somalia to oust militant Islamic Courts Union leaders from power and considers Ethiopia a key anti-terror ally in the region. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.

Source: VOA


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