The peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has raised hopes that improving human rights will be front and centre on Eritrea’s path forward, according to a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Tuesday.
DAKAR, Senegal, September 19, 2018 -On 9 July, leaders of both countries signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, raising expectations that the end of the “no war, no peace” stalemate between them, would positively impact Eritrea’s internal human rights situation.
The thaw in relations between the neighbouring countries, who fought a bloody, unresolved war in the late 1990s, began earnestly in June, when Ethiopia’s newly-elected leader, Abiy Ahmed, made peace overtures to his counterpart.
Eritrean authorities must urgently embrace and implement bold measures to strengthen protection of and respect for human rights, justice and accountability – UN Rapporteur
Yet, repression reportedly continues within Eritrea.
“During the past 17 years, the Government of Eritrea has maintained tight control over the country, stifling any form of public debate and participation,” said Sheila B. Keetharuth, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
Eleven government officials who had criticised the President in an open letter, along with 10 independent journalists, were arrested in 2001 – silencing public political discourse an
“I have received reports that the former Minister of Finance,” Ms. Keetharuth continued, “who recently wrote two books on the current state of affairs in the country, including the rule of law, has been arrested in Asmara during the morning of 17 September.”
If confirmed, the arrest, on the eve of the 2001 clampdown anniversary, would question the will for genuine reform, “especially regarding respect for fundamental rights and freedoms,” the expert asserted.
According to Ms. Keetharuth, while comprehensive domestic reforms would be required for a free, fair, democratic society with all human rights entitlements, the Government can take immediate action towards that end in three concrete, urgent areas.
Firstly, the families of prisoners who have disappeared in Eritrean jails should be informed about the fate of their loved ones. Secondly, implementing the 1997 Constitution would provide a natural basis for a national legal framework and a society governed by the rule of law. And thirdly, the Government could inform new military conscripts that they would not have to serve beyond the 18 months stipulated by Eritrean law.
“The achievement of peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia must be duly celebrated,” stated Ms. Keetharuth. “However, Eritrean authorities must urgently embrace and implement bold measures to strengthen protection of and respect for human rights, justice and accountability,” she concluded.
Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The unpaid positions are honorary, and independent from any government or organization.
NEW YORK, USA, September 17, 2018 – There is a powerful wind of hope blowing across the Horn of Africa region, said UN chief António Guterres on Sunday, in Saudi Arabia to witness the signing of a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending decades of simmering conflict.
Saudi Arabia facilitated the agreement, and in a message on Twitter, the Foreign Ministry said that the accord, signed in Jeddah “is a historic milestone for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and will contribute to strengthening security and stability in the region at large”.
“The signature of the peace agreement between the President of Eritrea and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia is indeed a historic event,” said the Secretary-General, speaking at a press conference following the signing in Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, on the Red Sea coast, with Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir.
“We have seen a conflict that has lasted for decades, ending, and that has a very important meaning in a world where we see, unfortunately, so many conflicts multiplying, and lasting forever,” added Mr. Guterres.
He expressed his “deep appreciation” for the role played by Saudi Arabia, before paying tribute “on one hand to the courage, the vision, the wisdom of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia – who has had the capacity to overcome enormous resistance from the past and open a new chapter in the history of his country – and also the way the President of Eritrea has promptly responded to his peace initiatives.”
The thaw in relations between the neighbouring countries, who fought a bloody, unresolved war in the late 1990s, began in earnest in June, when Ethiopia’s newly-elected leader, Abiy Ahmed, made peace overtures to his counterpart, which have now come to fruition.
Seizing on the implications for the whole region, Mr. Guterres said that the agreement meant that “there is a wind of hope blowing in the Horn of Africa. It is not only the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea – it is the fact that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow we will have, here in Saudi Arabia, the President of Djibouti and the President of Eritrea – two countries that have also been at odds with each other.”
According to news reports, Eritrea and Djibouti announced on Friday that they would also normalize diplomatic relations with each other following a falling out on the border, in 2008, which left several dead and resulted in prisoners being taken on both sides.
The UN chief also noted the peace agreement between the President and his former Vice President in South Sudan, that was signed on Thursday – in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa – as another indicator of real diplomatic movement across the Horn of Africa and its borders.
“I want to say that this window of hope is enormously important in a world where, unfortunately, hope has been very scarce,” added the Secretary-General.
The Somali Region or the Ogaden Region have been under-fire for months. Over the weekend the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defence Force (EPRDF) send the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) to takeover the capital of the region, they ceased the important buildings as the looting and destroying of city, therefore, the army took the Parliament, the banks and major buildings. While the local group Heego of Abdi Illey created havoc. By Saturday, there was reports of calm, but the army was out and the Liyu Police had taken control.
Today on Monday after time in house-arrest, Illey have been sacked and he has gotten a successor by the authorities. However, the violence isn’t slowing down, but escalating to heavy proportions. You can wonder how many Somali people have to die, because of the will of Oromo to annex this region and its resources. Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the EPRDF needs to react and stop the violence. That Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali have been silent and not really reacted, but let the Oromo attack these areas and killing, also accepting the army ceasing JigJjiga, isn’t a good sign. That is a sign of internal battlefield within the Federal Republic. Not pacing down, but more violence and more hurt for innocent civilians.
“The town of Tuliguleed has been a flash point for conflict between indigenous Somalis and Oromo settlers in the past but what has transpired in the past 24 hours has never been seen before. Heavily armed Oromo militia’s launched an indiscriminate attack on multiple Somali inhabited villages on the border between Ogaden and the neighboring Oromo regional state. Armed Oromo militia’s entered the villages and began indiscriminately opening fire on civilians, forcing hundreds to flee to the nearby town of Tuliguleed and the surrounding areas. The rogue paramilitary militia’s began subsequently burning villages to the ground, till it was completely ash. A total of nine villages where burned to the ground” (Halgan Media – ‘Oromo Militia’s Burn Down Nine Villages In Ogaden Within The Past 24 Hours’ 06.08.2018 link: http://halganmedia.net/oromo-militias-burn-down-nine-villages-in-ogaden-within-the-past-24-hours/).
There are reports of violence also in Harar, Dire Dawa and not only in the areas around Jigjiga. But this is deliberate activity, especially when the authorities have cut the Telecommunications, the internet and everything else used to spread a single word. This is what the EPRDF have done in Amhara and Oromia, when they have forced their State of Emergency to control these areas. Instead of doing it there by the Tigray People’s Liberation Force (TPLF), not the Queero and the Oromos feels big enough to charge at the people of Ogaden. This happens as the oil revenue has come.
This comes after killings last month in Moyale, as their been movement and seems to be planned violence now within the Ogaden. Like they want to burn and destroy, so they can move in and occupy it. It is an ancient tactic done by plenty and now the Oromo is doing it to their Somali brothers. This is sad as the Oromo and Oromia have been protesting and fighting for their rights. Instead of living in solidarity and trying to forge unity with the rest of the Federal Republic. They are using violence against brothers. That is just sad and mediocre of the people whose deserved to be free from toils of the TPLF. Is using the same means and deception of violence against others. They should know better, because they really had their hurt and pain for so long because of EPRDF.
It is impossible to know at the moment how many whose died in the skirmishes from ENDF and Queero in Ogaden. But each one, is one to many, just like every single one dying in Oromia because of the TPLF, was one to many. No one deserves to die because of the attitude of supremacy or ideals of that sort. Peace.
We have seen how the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defense Force (EPRDF), the coalition government, which have selected Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) own man as Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali. He has been on a peace-mission and been visiting and signing agreement with Eritrea, been in Djibouti and even made engagement with the Federal Government of Somalia. However, with his connections and peaceful endeavors. There is one piece now missing.
As the EPRDF and the TPLF have tried to amend with the opposition of the Oromia and the Amhara. But the Ogaden/Somali Region haven’t been taken care of, where the Oromo or the Queero “The Youths” have been used to annex or to further control the region. That seems more plausible, as the oil production started in late June 2018. This will be an important source to the foreign exchange and revenue for the state, as the economy of Ethiopia haven’t been that strong of late. They need this more than they will ever say in public. Would make any reason to secure the oil and gas resources in the Ogaden.
We know the state are doing what they can to get control over the situation of yesterday, as they have cut electricity, internet is down and even water was cut. Therefore, the 1000 of soldiers, ceasing of the Jigjiga. Only thing that was working was the telephone lines. The day after the fatal day of Heego and looting, shows that the army isn’t there, but the Liyu Police has taken over. Still, this is not a certain situation. To close these basic needs of after the hostile takeover yesterday, isn’t coming in peace, but showing supposed strength. Not trying to fix the issues or even address the mischief.
The Prime Minister Abiy if he can clear the air between him and the Eritreans, he should be capable to do the same for the Ogaden. If he doesn’t have a plan to takeover the Ogaden and make that a giant colony of the Oromo. I don’t think that is wise idea and will only hurt the moves for peace and national reconciliation that is needed after all the protests from Amhara and Oromo. Now the same violent and deteriorating activity is happening in Jigjiga. Where they are feeling the same sort of pain, that the others has done.
Abdi Iley, the leader of the Heego is reported to be under house arrest. While there is not certainty what is really happening in the city. As the major buildings was ceased and the Regional Leadership have lost their power in a way. Since the hostile takeover yesterday.
We don’t know how many who died, as there been various reports of both police officers, soldiers and civilians dying as a result. All these deaths are tragic, as their lives was cut short because of naked ambition from both parties. The control of the Ogaden, the control of the oil and own will to reign supreme.
We have to hope this will not escalate, as this is bad enough as it is, and the oil curse has hit Ethiopia. As the greed and the lack of service delivery are hitting the government. They feel left behind, as the oil and gas production have appeared and the Somali Region wants their fair share. That is obvious, as well, as the EPRDF shown disregard for the Somali public.
Hopefully, there will be movement and signs of progress, but right now, it is just a hostile takeover of Jigjiga and lack of reasoning from the EPRDF. The EPRDF and PM Abiy should meet and greet with the Ogaden/Somali Region leadership, try to work the issues out like gentlemen. Not just send the army to takeover the area, like it is war. That is just unreasonable and disgraceful, just like cutting of basics for living like electricity and water. Peace.
The Federal Government ordered its military Force in Jigjiga to attack and take over the Somali regional Administration. This unilateral act resulted in Loss of Life and has endangered the law and order of the Ogaden, creating chaos and uncertainty at a time the Somali people were expecting to get peace and their rights.
ONLF believes that any transitional change in the Somali region shall come through a peaceful negotiated process where all relevant stakeholders including ONLF, the Federal government, and all other relevant stakeholders. Any entity that take unilateral act, that could jeopardise the situation will be responsible for consequences such an act produces.
ONLF calls upon the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia to halt immediately any military activities and initiate a peaceful process, including direction negotiations with ONLF, which would lead to a national conference where a peaceful road map for change in the Somali region is charted and the future course of the Somali people’s cause is decided.
ONLF calls upon the Somali people in Ogaden to stand up for their rights and never allow external forces to decide their fate. However, religious shrines and the properties of civilians shall be protected against opportunist individuals.
ONLF also laments the continuing fighting alone the borders of the Somali Oromo borders. This will further exacerbate the future relations between these neighbourly communities.
All ONLF members in the Ogaden shall endeavour to stabilise the situation and call for calm and peaceful engagement with all authorities and educate the people to respect the lives of minority communities, state and private property and Religious institutions.
Issued by ONLF.