Few days ago, as I was searching news and information about the situation in ogaden through the region’s leaning websites, I came across a heartbreaking story about an incident that took place in the Jail Ogaden in Jigjigga. The story was about a poor Somali Ogaden woman who was not only treated inhumanely by woyane militia and its puppets in Jigjigga but also cheated and violated her rights.  After two and half years, this woman was finally informed that her husband, whom she has been bringing food for very day of those two and half years, has already been dead for long time. Can you imagine preparing food for your loved ones every single day while he/she is already dead and those who are responsible for his/her death are intentionally hiding the truth from you? How would you feel if you find out that somebody else has been enjoying for your food for all these years not for your beloved one? The story grabbed my attention because of its nature such as its cruelty, dishonesty, corrupt and secrecy surrounding it. I sat back and went through the story and as I was reading it tears started flowing down my cheeks. Although the story isn’t the only despicable human right abuse story in jail Ogaden, it really touched my heart because it reminds me the torture and the brutality that the Somali Ogaden people are going through every day. The way this poor woman was misled, humiliated and deprived of all her rights by these worthless individuals (prison guards) made me cry from beginning of the story to the end. In addition to that, I was sickened by the way they destroyed her psychologically, physically and financially.

This story happened between a victimized Ogaden woman and qorahay online reporter in Jigjigga Mr.  Faysal.

Faysal met a deeply traumatized woman crying in front of the jail Ogaden, the most notorious prison in Ogaden (Gulag of Siberia). Being a reporter, Faysal was interested in learning more about woman’s issue assuming that it could be news worthy. “Can I ask you why you are crying”? The woman whom we aren’t going to use her real name in this piece writing for security reason explained to him why she was crying and what made her come to the ail Ogaden. Then, the conversation between the woman and Faysal started as following:

Faysal: sister, why are crying and what made you bring over here?

Victim: I am crying because of my suffering and helplessness and the reason why I am here is that I am looking for a prisoner.

Faysal: Faysal noticed that this woman could not be from Jigjigga based on her features. “Sister, where have you lived before you have come to Jigjigga”?

Victim: I lived in  the countryside of Dhagahbur district.

Faysal: tell me more about the prisoner that you are here for?

Victim: I am here for my husband who was arrested by a group of Ethiopian security forces consisted of Ethiopian military and local militia (Liyuu Police). I heard that my husband is in jail Ogaden. I came to Jigjigga and rented an apartment not far away from the prison in intention of seeing my husband dead or alive. Every morning I had to prepare food for him and bring it to the jail, but whenever I brought the food to the prison, the security guards had to take the food assuring me that they would give it to my husband. They never allowed me to see my husband even though I asked them to show me many times. During this time though I didn’t have any idea about my husband’s situation, I kept bringing food every single day.

Faysal: Sister, do you have any children?

Victim: yes, I have 4 children

Faysal: how long have you been in Jigjigga trying to see your husband?

Victim: two and half years

Faysal: now you are standing in front of the prison and you are crying. Have you received any information about your husband so far?

Victim: few days ago I went to the security guards of the prison and requested them to show me my husband; however, they rejected my demand. I said to them “How could I know whether my husband is still alive if you don’t want me to see him”?  However, their response was harsh and intimidating, hey woman you believe something else, get out of here right now or else, which means if you don’t leave here as soon as possible we are going to label you as ONLF sympathizer and put you in jail. Here even the foot soldiers have absolute power and it is very easy for them to put you in jail for the rest of your life. 90 percent of the prisoners of this notorious jail are falsely accused of being ONLF sympathizers. There is no rule of law in Ogaden, no due process and no way or means of supervising the law. No one is accountable to the crimes he/she commits. Here in Jigjigga no one enforces the law or hold accountable for perpetrators and bring them to the court.

Next day I came up with a new idea. I bought new clothes and packed in a small plastic bag. Then I asked one of the prison guards to bring it to my husband. I was hoping that when the new clothes  are given to him, he will send the dirty ones for cleaning,  and in that way I will find out whether he is still in the jail or not. Unfortunately, I was told to come back after one week to collect the clothing.

As they told me, I came back to the prison after one week, and one of the security guards who were standing at the gate handed over to me a plastic bag with some clothing in it. I was thrilled with joys and happiness by receiving these clothes. My hope of seeing my husband again seemed to me realistic, and receiving these clothes meant so much to me. It meant to me as if my husband rose from the death. Nevertheless, when I got home and opened the bag all my joys and hopes vanished right away. In the plastic bag, I found the same clothing that I brought to the jail one week ago. Surprisingly, I realized that the clothes were used, but they didn’t look like that they were used by a prisoner.

I immediately returned back to the jail crying and confused. One of the prison guards stopped me at the gate and asked me where I was going at this time and why I was crying.

Victim: I told him that I was worried about my husband and I explained to him about the clothes, which I believed he didn’t use them. Then I begged him to tell me about my husband’s whereabouts. “My brother, if you are a good Muslim and have a faith please tell me if my husband is dead or still alive” I said.

The guard: he came closer to me and said “What is your husband’s name”?

Victim: I gave him his full name.

Guard: if I tell you the situation of your husband, will you tell anybody that I told you about him?

Victim: I said to him, I promise I will not tell anybody about you.

Guard: then he said to me, the man with that name died of cholera one year ago with a group of people.

Faysal: how long ago did the guard said he died of cholera?

Victim: it is more than a year. I have been cooking food for a dead person for one year and two months, and nobody ever advised me not to waste my time and food over here.

Faysal: if you have already been told you that your husband has died long time ago what is your purpose of returning to this place?

Victim: when I heard there are some prisoners to be released today, I decided to search my husband among these released prisoners. My husband’s death has not sunk in my heart yet because I still don’t believe he died. Therefore, I came to verify his death.  However, I met one of my first cousins who were released today and he confirmed to me that my husband died one year ago.

Faysal: sister, May Allah gives you patience and faith. Have a faith and be strong, and remember you are not alone in this horrible circumstance, but all Somali Ogaden are going through same hardship.

Victim: Amen brother and I must be patient because that is the only option available to me.

Published by QOL.

 

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