Monday, May 28, 2012
May 28, 2012 (PARIS) - Ethiopia’s Special Paramilitary Forces, in abuses in March executed 10 civilians after engaging in a dispute with villagers in the country’s remote Eastern Somali region, Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges in a report released Monday.
According to HRW, on March 16, a Liyu (meaning “special” in Amharic) police member fatally shot Abdiqani Abdillahi Abdi, a resident of Raqda village, in the Gashaamo district of the Somali region, after the victim attempted to stop police abusing a fellow resident.
Shortly after the incident villagers from Raqda, including members of Abdiqani’s family, retaliated by killing seven members of the Liyu police force, triggering a fierce reprisal from Ethiopia’s special forces.
On March 16 and 17 dozens of the Liyu police returned to the villages and carried out a retaliation operation during which the forces summarily executed at least 10 men who were in their custody, killed at least 9 residents in ensuing gunfights, abducted at least 24 men, and looted dozens of shops and houses, according to a HRW fact finding mission.
The US-based watchdog interviewed witnesses and relatives of the victims who fled to neighboring Somaliland in fear of the violence.
One witness told Human Rights Watch that three Liyu police forces randomly selected men among those abducted and shot them three times in the forehead and shoulder”.
Ethiopian government officials have not commented on the incident.
Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, condemned the abuses and urged the Ethiopian authorities to bring those responsible to justice and prevent future abuses by the so called Liyu Police force.
"The killing of several Liyu police members doesn’t justify the force’s brutal retaliation against the local population," said Lefkow.
"The Liyu police abuses in Somali region show the urgent need for the Ethiopian government to rein in this lawless force."
Ethiopia’s Somali region has been the site of a low-level insurgency for more than a decade by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an ethnic Somali separatist movement seeking greater political autonomy for the region.
The horn of Africa nation doesn’t allow access for journalists, aid organisations, human rights groups, and other independent monitors to the region.
"For years the Ethiopian government has jailed and deported journalists for reporting on the Somali region," Lefkow said. "Donor countries should call on Ethiopia to allow access to the media and rights groups so abuses can’t be hidden away."
Human Rights Watch’s investigations in 2008 indicated that Ethiopian Defense Forces and the ONLF had committed war crimes during conflict between mid-2007 and early 2008 and that the Ethiopian armed forces could be responsible for crimes against humanity based on the patterns of executions, torture, rape, and forced displacement.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Ethiopia denies Anuak are fleeing violence into South Sudan - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 15, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Ethiopian government has dismissed reports of violence in the country’s South Western region that allegedly forced civilians flee into South Sudan’s Jonglei State.
A new humanitarian report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that hundreds of ethnic Anuak Ethiopians have crossed into South Sudan to escape an alleged hostility between the government forces and little known Anuak opposition forces in the horn of Africa country’s Gambella region.
The Ethiopian government has dismissed the reported clashes between government forces and Anuak insurgents that allegedly occurred during the past few weeks.
“There wasn’t such an incident. Our forces didn’t engage in any clash with whatsoever opposition force in the reported vicinity” Ethiopian government spokesperson, Shimeles Kemal, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Kemal said the reports - which originally were published in OCHA’s Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin 4-10 May 2012 - are “unfounded” and further termed them as “white propaganda”.
According to the Ethiopian official, the areas in question are quite peaceful and there were no grounds for the Anuak people to flee to neighbouring South Sudan.
However, he said that people residing along the shared Ethiopia-South Sudan border move frequently between the two territories for trade and other purposes.
In the past, there were few reports that an Anuak armed group had been launching small-scale attacks from South Sudan, while it was still part of Sudan, targeting government forces and partly non-Anuak civilians as well.
The Ethiopian government argues that currently there exists no active Anuak opposition force operating in the region.
According to the latest OCHA report, most of the Ethiopian refugees reportedly came from Ethiopia’s Abobo district and from Jor area where clashes were reported on 6 May.
The refugees have arrived in the Alari camp, in Pochalla County of Jonglei State where they sought shelter.
Although access to Alari camp is difficult because of heavy rainfall, humanitarian aid agencies in collaboration with the Government of South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) are reportedly paying visit to the Ethiopian refugees to start registration and identify humanitarian aids needed for the new arrivals.
Shelter and household goods were the most urgent needs, according primary assessment by aid agencies. A nutritional assessment made to 100 children at the site found no malnutrition.
UNHCR Representative in Addis Ababa, Natalia Prokopchuk told Sudan tribune that her office in Ethiopia has no knowledge about the Anuaks fleeing to Jonglei State however she said that the UN refugee agency was aware of some 2,000 Anuaks fleeing Akobo County into Gambella region of Ethiopia.
According to Prokopchuk, the Anuaks are fleeing their area because of cattle-related inter-ethnic violence.
The Anuak people roughly estimated to be around 60,000 populations are one of the 84 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The Anuak also live across the border in South Sudan.
International human right groups have been accusing the Ethiopian military of committing systematic atrocities mainly targeting certain ethnic minorities such as the Anuak.
Human Rights Watch’s 2005 report, “Targeting the Anuak: Human Rights Violations and Crimes against Humanity in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region,” revealed gross human rights violations against the Anuaks by Ethiopian Army.
In 2003, over 400 Anuaks in Gambella were killed, the largest single incident massacre, raising worldwide condemnation. International rights groups hold the Ethiopian army responsible over the mass killings. However, the Ethiopian government has denied any involvement over the atrocities.