By Fahmo Abdullahi
In the past several months much has been said about Somali Region of Ethiopia. The region is, undoubtedly less developed than other parts of the country. It is politically instable, economically poor and socially fragile. The successive regional governments have painfully underperformed and federal government has pursued fundamentally flawed policies and directionless strategies. There have been clan conflicts in many parts of the region in which many have lost their lives. The climate has never been kind to the regional inhabitants as well. Droughts have increased both in frequency and intensity. ONLF has also its share in the problem. Its policies and actions are utterly unacceptable. They failed to base their demands on their realities. Their efforts to unite the people are also non-existent.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
However, the situation has turned from bad to worse recently following the Obolle incident in which ONLF killed more than 74 individuals in April. In response to this, the government has completely and indeed irresponsibly, blockaded some parts of the region, denying the people access to food and drinking water. Seemingly, the security forces have been given a full power to kill, arrest, rape, harass etc. with impunity. Aid agencies were expelled from the area and the press were forbidden to enter. This has provoked an international outcry. Many international newspapers have raised the issue and criticised their governments for supporting Ethiopia while it was killing and oppressing its own people. Some went further and compared the situation with Darfur, the only difference being the fact that Ethiopia enjoys unconditional support from Western countries, mainly from US and UK, while Sudan faces constant international condemnation.
But unfortunately, it is not Ethiopian government alone that has been committing these horrific human rights violations. Regional Administration is playing its role in the killing, arresting and intimidating the population. Similarly others in Diaspora are taking their role, trying to justify the actions of the government. Abdullahi Gariile is one of these individuals who obviously are struggling blindly to prove their pleasure in the situation (no matter how grave it is) to the Ethiopian government, probably expecting to be rewarded. Abdullahi’s articles expose his thinly disguised opportunist behaviour. In fact Abdullahi has a right to oppose ONLF tactics and disagree their policies. I’m one of Ethiopian-Somali speakers, particularly from the badly affected zones. I’m firmly opposed to ONLF and never will I support them in the foreseeable future. But the right to oppose ONLF is one thing and denying the atrocities subjected to the civilians is quite another.
Abdullahi chided ONLF for sowing tribalism, spreading hatred and upsetting development projects. While I’m not defending the Front, if Mr. Abdullahi believes in these principles, it would have been great. But Ethiopian government and Regional Administration are dividing the people into sub-clans, trying to pit against each other. The government posted what it called sub-clan messages into websites – just to humiliate our traditional leaders. It is also a well known fact that Ethiopian government provides arms to some clans and encourages them to raid others. There are also ample evidences that the government supports and take its part in the corruption that has crippled the regional development. On many occasions government armed forces are transported with civilian trucks which they take by force and definitely without payment. At times civilians are taken hostage and used as human shield from one place to another. Therefore, the fact that Abdullahi failed to notice and mention these realities in his writings gives lies to his claims that he wanted peace, justice and development for the Somalis in the Region.
It wasn’t ONLF that had blockaded the region nor was it any other force that had burnt the people alive. Was it ONLF that had expelled aid agencies from the region? Who displaced the communities from their homes and starved them deliberately? Surely it was the very government that you (Abdullahi) were trying to please. Abdullahi, though I do not know you personally, your piece of writing showed your insincerity. Firstly, as you posted it in all EPRDF-supporting web pages, it is clear that you’ve designed it for EPRDF consumption. Secondly, is understandable that you haven’t received anything yet, despite your efforts. And to prove that you are unkind and immoral enough to be considered for a position is largely why you keep savagely criticising ONLF for much less severe crimes than that of the government which as you stated, you would be very proud of being associated with.
Abdullahi, brother, your claims that the brutality of ONLF in the Somali Region made you angry and emotional are irreconcilable with the fact that you are seeking to associate yourself with the Ethiopian regime which treats its own people inhumanely. Are you happy with the government soldiers raping your sisters and mothers or are you denying its existence? Does the mass killing in Gode, Kabridahar, Dagahbur, Jijiga, Fik etc give you pleasure? Or you never heard of it? How did you feel when you have heard that at least a dozen people were strangled to death in Qoriile?
What was your reaction when MSF reported that in Warder people were denied access to drinking water? Or when David Blair of Telegraph newspaper reported about harsh and draconian measures taken by the government in the region? What was your assessment when you read (if you did) the Independent’s Steve Bloomfield article in which he compared Ogaden with Darfur? Surely you get so much complaint from your relatives in the region. Did you conclude all these as unsubstantiated reports created by ONLF while what EPRDF and its regional administration are saying is accurate?
Surprisingly, you have stated that Somalis cannot afford to waste this opportunity! What opportunity? Where? Frankly speaking Somalis in Ethiopia have been humiliated and treated as non-human by this regime. You thanked Melez for allowing Somalis to build their region. Sorry, you are untrue to yourself. Anyone who takes an honest look at the progression of events in the past 15 years can easily discover that Melez has divided us into clans (Ogaden, Issa, Isak, Shekhaal, Hawiye, Majeerteen, Jidwaaq etc) and abused our division. We know it, he knows it and the international communities know it well. Your argument is thus running counter to the common sense. Obviously, your irrational ambitions to join EPRDF-sponsored human rights violations have clouded your judgement and forced you to make a bee line for an issue that is so sensitive and painful to every sensible and peace-loving Somalis.
Brother, you need to know that EPRF knows what it is doing in the region more than you do. And yet worse, it knows that you know it, at least partly. So in short those you are arrogantly supporting have indiscriminately killed Ethiopian Somalis, divided them into sub-clans, denied their rights to live peacefully and with dignity, humiliated them, raped your sisters and mothers and know that you are aware of that facts. Then how do you think they would evaluate you? Abdullahi there are many Somali-speakers who can support the idea of being part of Ethiopia. But that does not necessarily lead them into submission, as you did. The idea of Ethiopia in which all Ethiopians have equal opportunities are acceptable to some (me included) though minority.
In an attempt to please EPRDF, it seems that you are scrabbling for ideas that can shift the blame and justify its atrocities in the region. That is way past its sell-by date. Don’t sell yourself short.
Abdullahi while there are so much you could have done to support both your people and the government; you opted to exploit the suffering of the society. You absolutely disregarded the feeling of the victims and those who lost their beloved ones. In addition to this, you are showing EPRDF elements that we are at their disposal, regardless of what they do against our people. If EPRDF and its collaborators respect their own constitution, we would have been proud of being their associates. Surely that is not the case now. They are the ones who are violating the provisions of the constitution. They shot death hundreds of innocent Ethiopians in Addis Ababa streets, who simply protested (peacefully) the outcome of an election they thought was rigged.
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