Ethiopia: Onslaught against Somali-Issais ongoing silently in the Awash River
Ethiopian government is implementing a program aimed at selling large swaps of land to foreign and international investors and to fulfill that purpose it wants to clear the area from indigenous Somali-Issa. Already, investors from Saudi Arabia and India are growing crops destined for the international market but not for Ethiopia.
Unfortunately those investments are made at the expense of dwellers like the Somali-Issa who live near the Awash River as pastoralists or agro-pastoralists.
Often the Ethiopian government deports villagers and pastoralists at gunpoint without any compensation. As documented by Human Rights Watch, Survival International and the Oakland institute regarding what happened in Gambella and the Omo River between 2010 and 2012, any resistance is suppressed violently on the assumption that those areas are so remote that neither local nor international media are able to reach and report incidents.
Following the demonstration on 25 November 2014 by the Somali-Issa inhabitants in which 4 elders and 16 youths were jailed respectively for 3 and 2 years in Jigjiga, the capital of the Somali Regional State; another one took placethe14 December 2014 in the town of Gadmaytu.
The federal army fired swiftly and indiscriminately into the crowd. As a result, several pastoralists were killed and dozens were seriously wounded by bullets, among them MahamedDageyeh, AduanBouhdil, HousseinGuirehAinan, HabibaAinan, Ahmed Ali Iliyeh.
Some of the injured were brought to hospitals as far as 150 km in the city of Nazareth. Others who had no chance simply sufferedin silence without getting any help at all,as medicine is scarce in those rural villages of Ethiopia. At the same incident, Moussa Hassiliyeh, HocheAinan, BouhRobleh, IguehGuedi, Hassan Farah and 7 fellow men were taken into custody and disseminated in others cities far from home and no one knowsof their whereabouts to date.
The Ethiopian government is further damaging its volatile reputation abroad by repeatedly conducting ethnically based violence and fuelling intractable borders disputes among the multiples tribes that make-up Ethiopia.
The slow economic recovery dubbed as “double digit growth” and highlighted from 2010 by Western media for a country known for drought and famine since the 1970’smay nothide the dark side of this populated country -80 million inhabitants- and the oppression that the EPRDF, the ruling party dominated by the Tigreans, is forcefully exerting against other ethnic groups such as Somali-Issa.
The ethnic federalism that the EPRDF has put in place in Ethiopia since 1991 has been praised and welcomed at the time by the entire spectrum of the Ethiopian political and civil society. Indeed everyone was expecting adecentralized state with the empowerment of local municipalities vested at managing their own policies.
Instead the EPRDF has swiftly transformed itself into a gigantic one-party which has re-established the top-down rigid hierarchy that has been in place from Menelik II through the DERG, something that everyone was fed up with.
As described in July 2012 by MrHagmann, an independent academic,“Ethiopia is a highly centralized one-party state. No independent media, judiciary, opposition parties or civil society to speak of exists in today’s Ethiopia. Many of the country’s businesses are affiliated with the ruling party.
Most Ethiopians do not dare to discuss politics for fear of harassment by local officials.As I found out in dozens of interviews with Ethiopian Somalis, security forces indiscriminately kill, imprison and torture civilians whom they suspect of aiding Ogaden rebels.”
All Ethiopians are eager to see a fair and shared economic development for their beloved country; but forced displacement, expropriation without compensation, and brutal repression of peaceful demonstration must stop.
No later than 19 December 2014, some Ethiopian websites are reporting another demonstration in Bahirdar, the capital of Amhara Regional State, where clashes with the police left three deaths and several injured. One 25 December 2014, Waberi Ali Bouh who was member of a delegation, sent from Dire-Dawa by the Ogass of Somali-Issa to visit the 4 elders unjustly jailed in Jigjigafor three years last month,has been arrestedand jailed upon arrival in the city.
The crude force used by the EPDRF ruling political party and its ally the SPDP in the Somali Regional State and elsewhere in Ethiopia may drag it to its demise.
We are only giving the following common sense advice to the EPDRF: It is not in the interest of the Ethiopian governmentto fuel and entertain violence anywhere in the country; and especially along the Addis-Abeba/Djibouti corridor-transit for 85%of Ethiopian trade- within the dwelling area of the Somali-Issa pastoralists.
By: Waddour Issa