Resolve Ogaden Coalition strongly condemns the heinous attack and arrest of two Swedish journalists reporting in the occupied Ogaden region of Eastern Ethiopia. As recent reports indicate, the two journalists were attacked and later arrested by Ethiopian forces after crossing from Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland into the Ogaden region in order to shed light on the ongoing-armed struggle and war crimes committed by Ethiopian forces and its government-sponsored militias known as Liyu Police.

Located in the eastern province of Ethiopia, the Ogaden region and its inhabitants have endured decades of devastating armed conflict and government repression. However, the appalling human rights violations and ongoing humanitarian crisis have received little attention from the international community. It is this reason why Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson courageously entered the Ogaden in order to expose what many are calling, “a hidden genocide”.

Over the last few years, the conflict in the Ogaden has accelerated to an alarming magnitude promoting the Ethiopian regime to establish a humanitarian, economic and media blockade on the Ogaden region. International humanitarian organizations and media outlets have all been denied access to the region leading many to belief that Ethiopia is in fact committing crimes against humanity in the Ogaden.

Though the government continues to heavily enforce its illegal blockade, numerous journalist including Jeffrey Gentleman from the New York Times, and Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow have both entered the Ogaden with the assistance of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. Both journalists have confirmed that the humanitarian and political situation in the Ogaden is quickly deteriorating. With the ongoing conflict, crimes against humanity, and severe droughts across the Horn of Africa, the critical services of journalist are needed more than ever.

It is imperative that the international community in general and the Swedish government in particular, condemn the ongoing illegal humanitarian blockade in the Ogaden and demand the immediate release of Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

Protecting the rights of journalists is “paramount responsibility of governments around the world.” The Ethiopian government’s actions cannot and should not therefore be tolerated. Courageous Journalist such as Mr. Schibbye and Persson are critical in shedding light, through their daring attempts, on the plight of neglected regions of the world and in helping to resolve – by exposing them – conflicts such as the Ogaden.

In conclusion, we urge the Swedish government and the international community to openly call upon the Ethiopian government to permit full and unhindered access to all areas of the Ogaden to the media, humanitarian organizations, human rights agencies, regional and international government officials. Furthermore, we urge the United Nations to spearhead an independent and transparent investigation into the gross human rights abuses, which are currently taking place in Ogaden.

Resolve Ogaden Coalition is a national nonprofit organization devoted to developing and maintaining a just and lasting solution to the longstanding conflict in the Ogaden region through the implementation of comprehensive policies that ensure the development and protection of the socioeconomic, political, and human rights of the region.

 

www.resolveogadencoalition.org

 

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