“Every night, they took all of us girls to [interrogations]. They would separate us and beat us. The second time they took me, they raped me… All three of the men raped me, consecutively”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) report in Collective Punishment

Along with 15 other female students, this innocent 17 year-old Ogaden Somali girl, was held captive for three months in a “dark hole in the ground” and raped 13 times. This is just one of countless accounts of abuse, from within the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, where it is widely reported criminal acts like these are perpetrated by the Ethiopian military and paramilitary forces on a daily basis. Untold atrocities like this; past and present are awaiting investigation, amid what is a much-ignored, little known conflict in the Horn of Africa.

In an attempt to hide the facts from the rest of the world, in 2007 the Ethiopian government banned all international media, and expelled many humanitarian aid groups from the area. It is reputed that any Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) allowed to stay do so on the condition that they sign a waiver document, agreeing not to report human rights violations by the government. Ethiopia, Leslie Lefkow of HRW states, “is one of the most difficult places to work for human rights groups or humanitarian agencies on the African continent”, and the Ogaden (a barren land, littered with military remnants from past conflicts), “is one of the most difficult places to work in Ethiopia.” There are “huge challenges to doing investigations on the ground because the security apparatus of the government is extremely extensive and permeates even the lowest levels, the grass roots, the village levels”, where regime spies and informers operate, reporting anything and anyone suspicious.

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ONA.

 

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