EU Holds Discussion on Ethiopian Human Rights Crisis in Ogaden and Kality Prison

“Horrific crimes [committed] by Ethiopian military and paramilitary in Ogaden region. When will EU act?” – Ana Gomes, MEP, Socialist Member of the European Parliament

Ogaden and Ethiopian hearing conference at EU House of Parliament
EU House of Parliament opened a hearing on  the worsening Humanitarian and Human Rights crisis in the Ogaden region by the Ethiopian government

By Ahmed Abdi,

EUROPEAN Parliament opened hearing about the Ogaden Human Rights violations and the Ethiopian prisons in Addis Ababa. The hearing, which was invited to participate in the Ogaden whistle-blower, Abdullahi Hussein, and Swedish Journalist, Martin Schibbye, was held on April 2nd by the group the progressive Alliance of Socialist and Democrats in European Parliament and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). 

“Ethiopia is one of the largest humanitarian and development aid receiver yet these donations are used incorrectly and corruptly. Western governmental Organizations and Western Embassies to Addis Ababa ignored the stolen donations and humanitarian aid that are being used as a political tool by the Ethiopian regime, which is contrary to EU rules on the funding”, said Anna Gomes, MEP Head of international Unit party Socialist democrat.

Ahmed Abdi Marita Ulvskog, MEP, in her part first thanked Abdullahi Hussein and Swedish Journalist, Martin Schibbye speaking about the steps needed to be taken in order to stop the human rights abuses that is being committed against Ethiopian and Ogaden civilians, she said that the EU could use sanctions or words against Ethiopia or follow up documents and information like the one provided by Abdullahi Hussein to show the reality in the ground.

Abdullahi Hussein, who is the former regional Presidential adviser and head of the media in Ogaden presented a shocking footage that changed the EU’s view towards Ethiopia. Abdullahi Hussein, who gained the title of “brave man” and nominated for the prize of Sweden’s civil courage of the year 2014, “Antigone Award”, after he had put himself at risk for smuggling out over 100 hours of footage from the Ogaden Province requested the EU to put their words into action as the killings, gang-raping and extrajudicial arresting still continues.

Speaking with Ogaden diaspora owned TV service of Ilays Tv, Martin Schibbye stated that in conjunction with Abdullahi Hussein their purpose to reset was to tell the World what they had seen which is to fulfill a promise that he made to many people from Ogaden region, but also their co-prisoners in Kality Prison of Addis Ababa.

Members of European Parliament, CPJ’s Jean Paul Marthoz and Human Rights’s Leslie Lefkow have also explained the human rights situation in Ethiopia in details to the EU Parliament. Anna Lindy, Chair of the hearing, presented the human rights situation in Ogaden and Ethiopia at the opening time of the session.

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26 thoughts on “EU Holds Discussion on Ethiopian Human Rights Crisis in Ogaden and Kality Prison

  1. .
    Hiding From the Truth

    The Pain of the Ogaden Somali People


    “Every night, they took all of us girls to [interrogations]. They would separate us and beat us. The second time they took me, they raped me… All three of the men raped me, consecutively”.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) report in Collective Punishment, along with 15 other female students, this innocent 17 year-old Ogaden girl, was held captive for three months in a “dark hole in the ground” and raped 13 times. This is just one of countless accounts of abuse, from within the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, where it is widely reported criminal acts like these are perpetrated by the Ethiopian military and paramilitary forces on a daily basis. Untold atrocities like this; past and present are awaiting investigation, amid what is a much-ignored, little known conflict in the Horn of Africa.

    In an attempt to hide the facts from the rest of the world, in 2007 the Ethiopian government banned all international media, and expelled many humanitarian aid groups from the area. It is reputed that any Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) allowed to stay do so on the condition that they sign a waiver document, agreeing not to report human rights violations by the government. Ethiopia, Leslie Lefkow of HRW states, “is one of the most difficult places to work for human rights groups or humanitarian agencies on the African continent”, and the Ogaden (a barren land, littered with military remnants from past conflicts), “is one of the most difficult places to work in Ethiopia.” There are “huge challenges to doing investigations on the ground because the security apparatus of the government is extremely extensive and permeates even the lowest levels, the grass roots, the village levels”, where regime spies and informers operate, reporting anything and anyone suspicious.

    Information about life within the region comes from whispering sources on the ground, and from those who have fled the violence, and are now living outside Ethiopia. Many are in refugee camps in Kenya and Yemen, from where they recount stories of horrific abuse. Mohammed, from the Dhadhaab (or Dadaab) camp in Kenya, described to Ogaden Online (OO) 1/12/2012 how he was captured by the Ethiopian military, accused of being a supporter of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and mercilessly tortured. “They hogtied me”, he said, “and then flogged me while pinned down.” Mohamed’s face “was disfigured to the point where he can’t be recognized”. Refugees support Amnesty International’s (AI) findings of “torture and extrajudicial executions of detainees in the region” – women tell of multiple gang rapes, their arms, feet and necks tied with wire, for which they bear the scars, men speak of barbaric torture techniques at the hands of the Ethiopian military and paramilitary – the notorious, semi legal, completely barbaric Liyu Police, who, Laetitia Bader of HRW says, “fit into this context of impunity where security forces can do more or less what they want”.

    The ONLF is cast as the enemy of the state, and regarded, as all dissenting troublesome groups are, as terrorists. They in fact won 60% of seats and were democratically elected to the regional parliament in the only inclusive open elections to be held, back in 1992. Civilians suspected, however vaguely of supporting the so-called ‘rebels’, are forcibly re-located from their homes. The evacuated villages and settlements, emptied at gunpoint HRW (CP) record, “become no-go areas” and in a further act of state criminality, “civilians who remain behind risk being shot on sight, tortured, or raped if spotted by soldiers”. Children, refugees report are hanged, villages and settlements razed to the ground and cattle stolen to feed soldiers: HRW record (CP), “water sources and wells have [also] been destroyed”. Systematic, strategic methods of violence and intimidation employed by the Ethiopian regime, that has, Genocide Watch (GW) state, “initiated a genocidal campaign against the Ogaden Somali population”.

    Pervasive pernicious control

    Spearheading the Governments campaign of terror in the region is the Liyu Police. A force of 10,000-14,000 18-20 year olds, with little or no knowledge of criminal law or human Rights, David Mepham UK Director of HRW told The Guardian 15/01/2013, that “for years we have documented egregious human rights abuses committed by the Liyu police, including the March 2012 extra-judicial execution of 10 men in their custody and the killing of nine other villagers”. Established in 2005 the Liyu initiative was the brainchild of a group led by the current regional President. His Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime was and remains, at war with the ONLF, who are seeking self-determination for the five million ethnic Somali’s, in line with their constitutional rights under the governments Ethnic Federalism policy.

    The EPRDF is a highly controlling repressive regime, which has extended its pervasive reach in the nine districts of the Ogaden, to where, HRW (CP) records, “security committees, which exist at every administrative level [and]… include members of the armed forces, military intelligence, security officials.” The local Ogaden administration “does nothing but carry out Ethiopian dictates and represents the interests of the present, centralised regime,” the Ogaden Women’s Relief Association (OWRA) record in their study, A Place to Call Home. Dictates’ of government brutality and intimidation regimentally carried out by the Ethiopian military apparatus, fully equipped by their principle donor, America, who GW recommend, should “immediately cease all military assistance”.

    Terrifying tools of oppression and imprisonment

    The current regime operates under the premiership of Hailemariam Desalegn, who, true to his inaugural word, is following in predecessor Meles Zenawi’s shoes – has expanded the EPRDF’s repertoire of violence and control and, in addition to the range of violent measures employed, is imposing additional economic pressures, intimidation and extortion the name of the game. It is widely reported that In the midst of the current dry (or Jilaal) season, new taxes are being levied on water drawn from wells for livestock and domestic use. Sums of up to $150 are reportedly being charged to people living in rural areas, already burdened by an economic and aid embargo, which is causing civilians great hardship.

    Additional tax demands are also being made – OO (8/03/2013) carry the story that, “reliable reports…. confirm the imposition of what the locals term an illegal ‘head tax’, imposed on the civilian population as well as on their livestock”. A local elder, whose “family consists of eight children and he and his wife” received an arbitrary charge of “150 Ethiopian Birrs ($8) per individual regardless of age or gender”, a total of 1200 birr ($56) – far beyond his means.

    Kidnapping, with subsequent ransom demands, is another applied tool of terror. Family members, abducted and imprisoned, are released upon receipt of ransom payments, made either by relatives inside Ethiopia or those living overseas. Levels of extortion vary, with those in the west paying anything from “$300 to $1,500”; the McGill Report found “in some cases those amounts were contributions to total collected ransoms of more than $10,000”. This criminal practice is widespread: civilians are arrested and imprisoned, without regard to due process, often repeatedly as Ifraah, a 25 year-old Ogaden Somali woman, told the OWRA: “To be released, you have to pay the Ethiopian military from 1,000 ($56) to 2,000 birr ($112). And the price keeps going up. If they suspect that the family has money, they raise the price. Poor people often stay in prison much longer because they can’t raise the ransom. It happened to me twice. The first time I wasn’t yet married. I spent a couple of months in prison and had to pay 500 birr ($28); the second time, I had to pay 1,000.” It’s a business in human suffering, “arrests also benefit the military; it’s a flourishing trade. Innocent people are captured and have to come up with a lot of money to free themselves.” This illegal income, it is widely believed, is being used to supplement the paramilitary soldiers salaries’. “There are women thrown into prison five times, and each time they have to pay to get out. But economic factors are not the only ones. There’s also torture and rape”.

    Civilians like Ifraah indiscriminately accused of supporting the ONLF are detained without charge. Leslie Lefkow of HRW makes clear that, “the way the EPRDF targets people, is an enormous problem from a human rights point of view”. HRW have been monitoring the situation in the region for the past five years, and have seen and documented a range of Human Rights abuses, including “arbitrary detaining [of] family members, often for long periods of time, sexual violence against women and girls, sometimes if they are viewed as being members of the ONLF or supporters or simply because they are family members [of ONLF supporters]. There is a kind of ‘guilt by association’ that is used to target the family members”, punishable by “summary executions… where suspected ONLF supporters have been executed in cold blood.”

    Incarcerated in what are often makeshift prisons (e.g. deserted school buildings), prisoners held in appalling conditions, are tortured, abused and intimidated. Ina and Halima, two young women from the town of Saga, were, OO 21/01/2011 report, “suspended in the air by their ankles with their legs spread wide, while the soldiers poured water mixed with red chilli powder over them [and] applied [it] in and around the victims’ genitalia, causing severe burns.” In ‘prison’ there are no medical facilities and, Ifraah says, no food: “You get your food from relatives. If you don’t have anyone nearby, your relatives send money to people who live there so they can buy you food”; or inmates share what little they have. Abdullahi, held amongst, others without trial for nine months, related to OWRA how their captors “locked us in an underground room” Young girls are regarded as Liyu property, kidnapped, held captive and repeatedly raped, often falling pregnant in the process. “Little girls”, record OWRA, “13 to 15-year-olds, in prison and suddenly pregnant….at night you hear the girls screaming when soldiers take them from their cells” – their dignity and childhood stolen from them.

    Government genocide

    The government’s so-called counter-insurgency policy in the Ogaden is, in truth, a form of genocide and is regarded as such by GW. Is it ethnic hatred, fear and loathing of the ‘other’, or simply greed for the regions natural resources – the oil and natural gas that drives the government’s violent, multi-pronged approach? An approach that HRW (CP) makes clear, aims “at cutting off economic resources, weakening the ONLF’s civilian support base, and confining its geographic area of operation”. In pursuing these duplicitous goals, the Ethiopian regime seems to exist on an island of impunity, hidden from the international community; as The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) state, “there is a shocking lack of international attention directed at the situation” and, despite the “substantial documentation of the violations committed…published by human rights NGOs, governments and media outlets”, nothing is being done.

    Let us be clear and state, unequivocally the findings of Human Rights groups: that the Ethiopian military and paramilitary is committing wide-ranging Human Rights violations in the Ogaden, which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. “The situation” should, as GW demand, be “referred by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court (ICC)”.

    Such Human Rights violations are not confined to the Ogaden region. GW consider “Ethiopia to have already reached Stage 7 (of 8), genocide massacres, against many of its peoples, including the Anuak, Ogadeni, Oromo, and Omo tribes”. The EPRDF, unsurprisingly, plead innocent to all such accusations of abuse and state criminality and dismiss allegations of human rights abuse substantiated by reports from international human rights group such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The Ogaden regional president claims, they “peddle lies and propaganda from our enemies”. However, if the Ethiopian government has nothing to hide, why don’t they allow independent investigators and journalists access to the Ogaden region?

    The shocking accounts of violence and abuse are endless. The situation is clearly extremely critical and demands the immediate attention of Ethiopia’s main benefactors – America and sister donor nations, the European Union and Britain. To continue to ignore the evidence of state criminality and to blindly support the Ethiopian government in the face of such persecution, is to be complicit in the murder and violent abuse of the innocent people of the Ogaden region.

    Graham Peebles is director of the Create Trust. He can be reached at: [email protected]

  2. .
    EU human rights experts refused access to Kaliti prison

    By Eskedar Kifle (Monday, 22 July 2013),

    A delegation from the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, which visited Ethiopia earlier this month, was told there was “no time” to host them on a pre-arranged visit to a prison close to Addis Ababa. German Barbara Lochbiler, who led the delegation, said the incident at Kaliti Correctional Facility overshadowed their visit and subsequent findings.

    “Visiting the Kaliti Correctional Facility was one of the things we had planned to do, as we had already received confirmation from the Ministry of Federal Affairs that we would be able to do so. Unfortunately, after we arrived at the facility on the day of the visit, we were told that visitation has been cancelled as the concerned body had no time to receive us,” said Jacek Protasiewicz, a Polish committee member.

    During a press conference on Wednesday, Ms Lochbiler raised her concern that the fact the delegation was not allowed to visit the correctional facility simply meant there was something to hide on the government’s side. The delegation also said that they will seek further explanation from government officials concerning the matter.
    The delegation’s visit included meetings with representatives of the government, the parliament and opposition parties as well as representatives of civil society organisations.

    They also noted some encouraging improvements regarding human rights such as the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan.

    The efforts of the Ethiopian authorities in the fields of economic and social rights in relation to poverty alleviation were acknowledged, but the group stressed that civil society organisations should be allowed to function freely without any interference, harassment and undue restriction.

    “The Ethiopian authorities should acknowledge the important role of civil society actors in reaching their ambitious development objectives. The restrictive NGO framework should be urgently revised,” said Ms Lochbihler.

    The anti-terrorism law also came under fire because of reports of misuse. The committee members called for the release of all journalists, members of the opposition party and others that have been detained or imprisoned.

    They also said the 2015 Ethiopian elections should be an occasion for the government to affirm its commitment to democratic principles. They called on the authorities to address a range of short comings seen in the last general election, in 2010.

    The delegation also congratulated the AU on its achievements, regarding its work on peace and security.

  3. Humanitarian Funding is a misnomer. They should call it "Inhuman-Neo-colonial Funding". The Donors know all the evil acts of the Woyane Regime. They were financing them all these years. This funding does not include the billions of dollars from the USA's tax payers money channeled through the intelligence community. In the earlier centuries, when gunboat diplomacy and the Bible were used by Stanley, Rhodes and others through their missionaries, now they are using Financiers and the IMF to recruit African Slave traders with neckties and suits to re-colonize Africa. Woyane was their best choice and they are serving them well. It is not surprising that they are sanctioning Eritrea with concocted reasons like Al-Shabab etc.

  4. It looks like the "Neo inhuman Colonizers " given up on their slave client Weyane. Every one knows now the weyane days are numbering, even its Masters are realized that realty of Weyane.

  5. Tigrigna old say "Haqui keytsewakya baàla tmetse" Truth come by her own way..Weyane headache is started already we see that about the document they were spreading all over the world (lies & fraud) they're naked..They did lot of bad game cards. Now is over..

  6. iam confiuse acording to the HUMANRIGHT ORGANISATION who get payed by USA & UK ETHIOPIA is good the only caountry who is not good is ERITREA so where did EU get this report the UN human right reporter MRS SHILA who was the mesenger for U S A posing as HUMAN RIHGT REPORTER say the gov of ETHIOPIA are saints so how did this report happen

  7. Do you remember watching a bunch of well-dressed middle-aged Caucasians sitting on the balcony of the Woyane Parliament. They are the overseers of the billions of dollars the Woyane is provided to execute their orders. How do you imagine they will care how mistreats the whole Horn of Africa population ? This nonsensical meeting at the EU is only a fake act. Nothing will happen to Woyane. They love and need them. They supervised the Eritro-Ethiopian war of 1998-2000 hoping Woyane to win the war. When they failed to defeat Eritrea, they compensated Woyane with Economic/Financial help and set up the DAG (Development Assistance Group) described as follows:

    "The Development Assistance Group (DAG) comprises 27 bilateral and multilateral development agencies providing assistance to Ethiopia. The DAG was established in 2001 initially as a forum for donors to share and exchange information."

    Woyane is destroying Ethiopia, Eritrea and the people of the whole Horn Africa with the help of these rich nations.

    1. Do you really believe what you wrote?
      Do you think EU supervised Ethio-Eritrea war? And Ethiopia failed to win the war?(where is bademe now?), Man if you wrote those thing for propaganda , I understand you. But if you really believe in those things, Do humanity one favor, do not breed.

      1. Dave, Yes, Go back and listen to some BBC interviews of the time. I have listened to the BBC reporting that the NGOs were anxiously waiting for the war to end in 72 hours. My opinion has nothing to do with Tesfanews. Badme is legally won by its rightfully owner. It is legally Eritrean. Woyane had wished to get to Assab and failed miserably leading to the Algiers Agreement.

        1. Observer Just Go to Wikipedia or to the nearest website and read who started the war and who won it. Either you are highly misinformed or you are just making a cold war type empty propaganda.
          Asseb never been in the agenda in Ethiopia-Eritrea war(in fact Ethiopian army could have captured Asmara let alone Assab when it was told to withdraw after captured 1/3 Eritrea Land and almost dismantled the whole Eritrean Army)
          In Ethiopian side there was only one goal reversing aggression which was achieved by dear blood. Yes Eritrea won most part of bademe in the arbitration court, but if you paid attention the same court said Eritrea was guilty of triggering a war by violating international Law(then I will leave it for your conscious mind, How is that possible Eritrea trigger a war and Ethiopia to be blamed for annexing asseb, while there was no a single word about asseb in Ethiopian side?)

          1. hey man the war is over a decads ago after payed heavy casualites 20.000 and123.000 humans both side . If the war is just about a border dispiut it would ha ve been solved long time ago I. I suspect one of these two country have hiden agenda or interst. to achieve their plan still more people have to risk their lives. We need to focus on the solution rather than who won and not .even at this point no body won the war becouse look where we are now still the same place before the war started decads can read the border decission.

          2. Dave,

            My friend, Dave,

            Wkipedia helps, but it is not a factual reference point. It describes itself as:

            “Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.”

            Even you, with your pseudonym can write anything you want. So, your hullabaloo does not make sense.

          3. By Wikipedia I meant any simple website convenient to you. So you chose to lecture me how the wiki system works and you ignored the main issue? well I contribute to Wikipedia so I know how it works. to write about such historical events you have to attach a reference otherwise your writing will be deleted.
            Anyways read about the war in any credible source(Wikipedia would be simple and handy though) then tell me if there is any factual inconsistency in my comment?
            Anyways I am not obsessed about the war, its passed now. But by showing you how far you are from the truth, how deluded and paranoid you are, I just hoped you start questioning(basic human nature before one decides to be brainwashed by cold war like propaganda)

          4. Thank you, Dave.

            If you are so good at researching, can you kindly find the plea by Major General Robert Gordon, the former Force Commander of UNMEE, requsting your government to please, please, please, have some sympathy and pick up the skeleton of Ethiopia's dead soldiers at the Assab Front. Your government had abandoned its dead. A good Samaritan General from Scotland had to beg your government to take and bury them in their own land – Ethiopia. This was months after your Soldiers attmpt to seize Assab ended in their total defeat and retreated.

          5. I am not aware of that event and I couldn't find it anywhere. How come not a single international media didn't report on Ethiopia's attempt to capture Asseb? I am not a fan of war but if there is any illusion over the current Eritrea army can match its Ethiopian counterpart, the recent retaliation by Ethiopian army to the killing of tourists should be a lesson. Dear Observer, Eritrea is under sanction , so It will not take more than hours to capture Asseb. but that never been a government policy in Ethiopian side(some people including me want that though), just for your conscious mind, if Asseb was the goal why did the Ethiopian army withdrawn from 1/3 Eritrea land in 2000? Do you think there was a resistance? Meles zenawi tirelessly tried to convince Ethiopians that Asseb belongs to Eritrea, now you accuse him of wanting Asseb?

          6. Here is part of Meles Interview to VOA in 2000(you can see the full text here

            VOA: Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to raise the question of Assab, although I know you addressed this question repeatedly. Opinions expressed in some quarters say that as Ethiopia is now negotiating from a position of strength, she has to make sure that her right to use the port of Assab is respected, since failing to do so would nullify all the sacrifices paid. These quarters also say that in applying to Eritrea the OAU Charter principle that colonial boundaries that existed at the time of independence should be maintained, Ethiopia may also be considered a colonial power. Other opinion givers raise the question of Assab against the background of the recent controversy over supply of relief assistance through Assab. Your comment?

            Meles: "Well, talking about Assab the Ethiopian Government has repeatedly stated that Ethiopia has no wish whatsoever for forcefully occupying Eritrean territories. The question of forcefully occupying Assab is against international law. It is also against the principle and belief of the Ethiopian Government. So this is beside the point.


  9. The level of obsession about Ethiopia, the amount of excitemet whenever this webmaster thinks he's got a damming news regarding my country is ridiculous. if this is the way you think you can contribute to build your country, I pray for you. I now came to understand why you called your website " TESFANEWS" you 've got nothing left to give to your people but HOPE. the worst thing is its a false hope..

    1. Yosef, its not tesfanews, which marely copied and uploaded what was at the EU meeting. I am Eritrean and i feel sad when i see or hear people threatments with such degree of cruelity. You are Ethiopian and are those that are sharing the horrific stories while captives under their own government and inside their own country are also ethiopians at the moment. Be human and please try at least to understand their sufferring even if you can not help. This has nothing to do with tesfanews.netor Eritrea.

    2. Yosef what hope do your Woyane give to the people of Ogaden, Oromo, Amhara and even the people of Tigray? Nothing. All Woyane has done so far is beg in the name of Ethiopians and even in the name Eritrean refugees. Your only hope in this world is begging and committing daylight robbery. You are a retarded Woyane beggar and you have been exposed. Do you remember those Swedish journalists that your beggar Woyane regime charged with terrorism? Do you remember the evidence your Woyane thieves fabricated including the dead human body they brought to the scene of the bogus crime? The only criminal in this picture is your ethnic Woyane clique. Pillaging, raping and murdering women and children in Ogaden and somalis is your accomplishment and hope for Ethiopia and our region. Woyane is nothing but a lowlife ethnic bandits who will bite the dust the same way the Haileselasie and Mengistu regimes expired. Nasty beggar.

  10. Merhababu ,the owner of Good News.TesfaNwes You feel my heart with joy.My mouth with the honey com .The cray of the poor people thank God finally the justice will serve .The liberty of the Ogaden people arrived to heaven and came back to the earth .Thank you tesfaNews keep going.

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