Letter of appreciation from the Ogaden Community of UK (OCUK) to TheGuardian newspaper

By IndepthAfrica
In Djibouti
Jan 16th, 2013
Dear editor Alan Rusbridger,
The Ogaden Somali Community of UK wishes to express its profound gratitude and appreciation to you, the editor of The Guardian, and in particular to your News Reporter Mr. Ben Quinn for his recent report about the misuse of UK aid money by our government entitled “UK tenders to train Ethiopian paramilitaries accused of abuses,” Guardian, Thursday, January 10, 2013.
This kind of courageous journalism –which your paper relentlessly pursues with vigor – is the hallmark of a culture of brave journalism which our country is known for. The Guardian is particularly known to expose the grave breaches our politicians make in upholding international human rights and humanitarian laws, which our country is signatory to, and the short-time narrow interests driven deals that some of our politicians make with leaders of rogue and undemocratic nations around the world such as the Ethiopian regime.
Your exposure of the support our government is extending to a Gestapo-like security forces that have committed grave human rights violations and war crimes against poor pastoralist civilians in Ogaden is surely a grotesque mismanagement of UK tax payers’ money at a time our government is cutting back on benefits to families in the UK in its biting austerity measures.
The Principle of sharing the little one has with those that are poorer than them is noble, but extending that principle to acknowledged violators of human rights and empowering them to enhance their ability to commit more crimes is something unbecoming of a democratic society and their government such as ours, and we strongly urge our government to stop that program.
The Ogaden Somali Community of UK, as community that has roots in Ogaden, monitors the activities of all actors in the region. The Ethiopian governments formed this para-military force from the Ogaden – using international aid as a tool to recruit, train, and do its dirty work for it in Ogaden – after the widespread outcry and condemnation by international community, particularly Human rights organizations, of the war crimes and crime against humanity the Ethiopian army had committed in Ogaden. (For more on this, please read The Bureau of investigative journalism’s report about the Ethiopian government’s abuse of aid[i]). The strategy behind the creation of this force, which The Department for International Development’s (DfID) own document even admits, is “to frame the conflict as internal regional politics rather than a government-led crackdown.” But a war-crime is a war-crime regardless of who commits it and ultimately the buck stops with government of Ethiopian which is responsible for the Liyuu police.
The Liyuu- police employ criminal practices such as rape, torture, extra-judicial killings, to terrorize and subjugate the Ogaden people, forcing many to flee to Kenya, Yemen and other places.
Furthermore, the UK Embassy of the Ethiopian government’s claim that there are on-going talks between ONLF and the Ethiopian government is not true, since OCUK is aware that the Ethiopian government has stopped negotiating with the real ONLF and wasted the mediation effort initiated by the Kenyan government and hampered any further progress. Instead it opted for a propaganda stunts by organizing inmates from Ogaden prisons as propaganda and few ONLF defectors and creating ‘a new ONLF faction’ to start negotiation while shunning serious negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the Ogaden conflict. Therefore the Embassy’s attempt to link the failed talks between ONLF and the Ethiopian government is irrelevant to the issue at hand, since the argument is about whether to support Liyuu police which is tantamount to supporting their violation of the Human rights of Ogaden people.
Finally, OCUK believes that by supporting the Liyuu Police and involving international NGOs, the British government jeopardizes their neutrality and makes them accomplices of the Ethiopian army and security forces in Ogaden, which could make them target of the Liberation Fronts in the region. Therefore, OCUK strongly urges the UK government to stop this project and instead concentrate on helping the parties find a just and lasting peaceful solution to the conflict in Ogaden.

Mohamed Sharif
Acting Chairperson of OCA
Ogaden  Community Association of UK (OCA -UK).
6a Kings Hall,
South Road, Ealing

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