Press release:
Ogaden Community Association -London UK

The Ethiopian Government is violently suppressing the people of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, who are seeking their constitutional right to self-determination or full independence from Ethiopia.

 

Military and paramilitary units are committing human rights abuses that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rape, murder, false arrests and torture are widespread.

 

Sexual violence is used as a weapon against Ogaden women. Soldiers are told to rape young girls and trained how to “break a virgin,” a brutal process involving 15 – 18 -year -old girls who have been falsely imprisoned. A former divisional commander of the Liyu force reported how he was told to, “use the penis against the women.” In his five years in the force he witnessed between ‘1,200 or 1,500 rapes’ and hundreds of killings.

 

During a three-month training programme for the Liyu police, Abdi and his fellow recruits were told “to enjoy our freedom, and to rape the young women. I raped between 10 and 20 women and remember killing 11 civilians.” Abdi defected in 2012 and is now in Dadaab refuge camp in Kenya. Two appalling incidents caused him to leave. “One day we saw a group of pastoralist families with their animals. We approached the families and took three women aged 20 to 30 years and nine girls aged 15-20 years old… We were 300 soldiers. We raped all the women and killed about 80 people.”

 

Woman after woman in Dadaab tell the same story of being arrested without charge, imprisoned and violently gang raped by military soldiers and members of the Liyu police.

 

Ardo was arrested and imprisoned (without due process) by the military.  “I had very long hair, down to my waist, they used to tie my hair around my throat to strangle me and then, whilst the hair was tied like this, they would rape me.” When we stopped talking she said, “May I ask something now, why are the British and Americans supporting the government? Why don’t they stop the violence? Why do they say nothing?”

 

Hoden cried as she told her story.  Arrested and imprisoned in Gode for six months, she was caned, tortured and raped every night by gangs of soldiers. She was a frightened 17-year-old child then, today she is a lonely mother shrouded in shame, with a one-year-old baby girl, the result of one a the rapes.

 

Day after day, woman after woman are being raped and sexually abused.

 

Isolated from the world the killing and raping of innocent civilians at the hands of the military and Liyu police remain largely hidden and unreported. The international media, and most human rights groups have been banned from the region by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) since 2007.

 

We are calling on Ethiopia’s donor countries to act on behalf of these innocent women and demand the Ethiopian regime withdraw its military from the region and engage in long term substantive talks with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

 Graham Peebles                                                                                             

E: graham@the createtrust.org

Ogaden Community Association- London

16 Merrick Road, Ealing, UB2 4AU.

 

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