OGADEN PRESS STATEMENT
Today I take this opportunity, to address the South African media and by large the international community about the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian army in Ogaden and to expose the genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
A complaint was lodged in February 2012 with the Commissioner of Police of South Africa Police Services, The Head of the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation Unit and the Director of Public Prosecution in terms of Section 5 (1) of the Implementation of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002 requesting the said authorities to conduct an investigation into the alleged crimes and if appropriate to conduct a prosecution.
The complaint is brought about by the Ogaden Somali Community in South Africa, on behalf of 3 of its members who are now resident in South Africa, that have been subjected to crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Ethiopian Regime.
I feel honoured to speak on behalf of the Ogaden Somali community, Ogaden youth, student unions and the Ogaden people of whom tens of thousands are languishing in the prisons of Ethiopia, detention centres as well as military death camps.
The Ogaden Region, which is the South Eastern part of present-day Ethiopia- has a long history of human disaster, since the illegal incorporation and the unlawful annexation of the Ogaden land into Ethiopia by the European colonial powers.
In this regard-Berlin conference, crumble for Africa, was the most grevious mistake in human history as it created 100 years old ethnic division, spurred by genocide, crimes against humanity such as persecution, torture and cruel and inhumane treatment, forced pregnancies. Genocide, evidenced bu ethnic cleansing and war crimes not limited to extra judicial killings which has caused the people of Ogaden to live in sub human conditions, and where the children of Ogaden face a despondent and dreadful future unless drastic action is taken and the perpetrators of these crimes as alleged in the complaint are brought to justice.
The Ogaden Region had underwent in its recent history 3 military conflicts, 20 national armed popular uprisings, which had resulted in more atrocities committed against the Ogaden people. All popular uprisings of Ogaden either armed or unarmed had been defeated because of Ethiopian superiority and international community’s disgraceful support of Ethiopia which had given the Ethiopian regime political impunity for their criminal activities.
The Ogedan Region has a population of atleast 8 million with 1 formal high school and one general hospital. It hosts most military infrastructures, that is to say atleast 500 military bases of all divisions and accommodates more than half of the Ethiopian armed forces.
The regime which previously gained much from the cold war is now misusing the international campaign against terrorism and passed a bill, which associates political activists treasons and where, the word journalism has become the synonymous with terrorism.
In the last 3 months, for instance, 20 journalists were arrested and charged with terrorism and sentenced to prison in terms of 11-20 years for committing journalism.
The specific purposes of this complaint are:
- To inform the South African Police Services and its prosecuting authority, the ICC that an international crime has been committed in Ogaden including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes continue to be committed.
- To request the South African Authorities to exercise jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the offenders under the implementation of the Rome Statute of the international criminal court Act 27 of 2002 if the offender is found within South Africa.
- To request the South African Authority to seek to obtain the presence of an offender by extradition.
- To inform and request the South African Prosecuting Authority that if they are unable to exercise jurisdiction because of absence of an offender, they are legally obliged to, as state part to the Rome Statute to refer the complainant to the ICC.
- To request the ICC prosecutor to initiate an investigation proprio motu- under the article 15 of the Rome Statue of the ICC into war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This complaint contains 700 pages of incontrovertible evidences of all kinds of crimes, which is, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, rape, torture, disappearances, destruction of livelihood of the ordinary decent people burning villages and destroying life stock.
Since 2007, thousands of innocent civilians are killed by the Ethiopian armed security and civilian militia forces in Ogedan. The victims were killed in a very dramatic and barbaric manner some which are; hanging them with wires, shooting, battering with clubs, drowning and slow death by denying medical help after extensive torture.
DESTRUCTION OF LIVELIHOOD, LIVESTOCK AND FORCIBLE TRANSFER
Ethiopian army during its operation and during oil exploration forcefully displayed Ogaden civilians, they cleared large swathes of land around the oil exploration sites and discouraged civilians to return to the area by confiscating any livestock that stray to its traditional grazing area, those who are brave are either killed or used as slaves until they are physically incapacitated.
The oppressive regime uses arbitrary detention indiscriminately as tools of punishment to the civilians, in addition the detention serves as a means to supplement salaries of the armed officers and thousands are paid in ransom by the relative of detainees who are threatened with losses of a loved one if money is not paid.
20 thousand Ogaden citizens are now languishing in 200 different jails, most of them in unknown Ethiopian military detention camps.
In order to deny the detainees any protection the regime evicted ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) which used to check the prisons and advocate for improving prisoner conditions.
The regime allows ICRC to operate in other parts of the country while discriminating Ogaden people.
TORTURE, RAPE AND DISAPPEARNCES
The Ethiopian Authorities use torture, rape and disappearances as a weapon of war. Women are routinely raped while in custody or at home, even sometimes in front of their husbands or relatives. Rape and torture are used simultaneously in prisons and pregnancies are very common.