The Ogaden American community in Minnesota firmly condemns the unlawful arrest of two Swedish journalists in the Ogaden region. The reporters were arrested on July 1st and are held without trial. A trial is scheduled to take place, according to Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti, but an actual date has not been set. As decreed in the Ethiopian constitution, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson should have been brought before a court within 48 hours of their arrest. Schibbye and Persson are currently being held without charge.

The Ogaden American Community in Minnesota acknowledges Schibbye and Persson’s courage and commitment to unveiling the war crimes and the crimes against humanity that are rampant in the region. The Ogaden is an occupied state in Eastern Ethiopia; it is a region that is completely isolated from Ethiopia and the rest of the world. The Somali inhabitants in the Ogaden are economically, politically and socially repressed. Human rights watch and other non-profit organizations have reported extensively on the situation in the region, and have been denied access to the region on account of reporting on the vast human rights violations taking place there.

The attack on Schibbye and Persson is a direct attack on the media and the right of the people to be informed. The government of Ethiopia’s attempts to conceal the crimes [they] committed against the people in the Ogaden region is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

The Ogaden American Community in Minnesota strongly urges the government of the United States and the European Union to end their alliance with the government of Ethiopia and for the United Nations to take immediate action on behalf of the people in the Ogaden and the Swedish journalists. We also encourage other communities to lend their support and encouragement to Schibbye, Persson and their loved ones. Their devotion to exposing the truth is celebrated throughout the Ogaden community in Minnesota.

Regard; Doha Centre for Media Freedom 2011


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