1425 K Street, NW. Suite 350. Washington, DC. Phone: (202) 285-0780
May 15, 2007
The Ethiopian military recently conducted a brutal military assault against the Somali Capital; Mogadishu. Helicopters, tanks and artillery were used against civilians in the center of a city of two million. The stated mission of the operation was to install the Transitional Government in Mogadishu through Ethiopian military force, crush any resistance against foreign occupation and in the process brings Mogadishu residents into political submission.
Unfortunately, as the United Nations Secretary General stated in his report to the Security Council on April 20th 2007, the failed and misguided attempt to use “a military solution to stabilize Mogadishu is likely to be counter-productive, creating long-term resentment among certain clans and communities and damaging prospects for the reconciliation process.” Indeed, the unlawful Ethiopian military invasion of Somalia in general and Mogadishu in particular, has brought misery and serious humanitarian crisis.
Contrary to the Geneva Convention regarding the protection of non-combatants, the Ethiopian military has been shelling civilian targets indiscriminately resulting in thousands of innocent casualties and hundreds of thousands forced to flee from their homes. According to recent estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of people forced to leave their homes and livelihoods are three to four hundred thousand people.
United States Congressman Donald M. Payne, Chairman of the Subcommittee on African and Global Health wrote in press released on April 27th 2000 that “innocent civilians in Mogadishu are being killed and maimed by Ethiopian security forces and the militia of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The atrocities being committed against innocent civilians in Mogadishu are war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is shameful and criminal to use tanks and heavy artillery against civilians”. Congressman Payne went on by saying that “The presence of Ethiopian troops is the single major source of the violence in Mogadishu. Ethiopia must withdraw from Somalia and allow the deployment of a peacekeeping force.”
Christian Balslev-Olesen; UNICEF's Representative in Somalia said that “we deplore the indiscriminate shelling of a medical facility. It is an action that is totally unacceptable and one for which no justification can be given”
In light of the above, we call upon the United States Government and international community to:
· Demand the unconditional withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from all Somali territories and their replacement with Arab and Muslim forces.
· Organize an all-inclusive peace and reconciliation conference in a neutral venue as soon as it is practical. All Somali stakeholders must participate to attain a lasting peace. As the United Nations Secretary-General stated in above referenced report that “There is broad agreement within the international community (and indeed among Somalis) that without an all-inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation process, the African Union mission, or a possible future United Nations peacekeeping force, is unlikely to bring about sustainable peace in Somalia”.
· Establish a war crimes tribunal, similar to the Sierra Leone and former Yugoslavia tribunals, for the war crimes that have occurred during the current occupation of Somalia.
We also call upon the United States Congress to hold hearing on the US policy towards Somalia. We believe that peace could not be achieved as long as the occupying Ethiopian forces are present in Somalia.
Somali American Peace Council
Media and Communications Division