Home | News    Tuesday 8 February 2011

Ethiopian Ogaden-Somalis face deportation from Djibouti - rebel group


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

February 7, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) says Ogaden nationals living as refugees in neighboring Djibouti are facing deportation in what it said was a “Gestapo style operation” – a reference to the official secret police of Nazi Germany.

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The Ogadan, ethnic Somali region of Ethiopia.

In a statement, the rebel group on Saturday accused the Djiboutian government and Ethiopian security forces, of jointly launching the operation, which according to the group resulted in the arrest and extraordinary rendition to Ethiopia of nearly one hundred Ogaden refugees and legal residents living in Djibouti.

“This operation began on January 20, 2011, when Djibouti police joined by Ethiopian security officials raided more than thirty homes, businesses and workplaces in Djibouti City” it said.

The group alleged that the joint operation forcefully detained ethnic Somalis from Ogaden and took them to a military camp on the outskirts of the city of Djibouti where they were placed on military trucks on January 23 and taken to an unknown destination in Ethiopia.

“The whereabouts of the rest these victims who were arrested is now unknown even to their families” the rebel group said. The ONLF says that before the Ogaden refugee crackdown started, joint Djibouti-Ethiopian security forces raided more than thirty homes, businesses and workplaces in Djibouti City.

“Djibouti government has breached both the African Charter and international conventions on the rights of refugees,” it said adding, “By doing Ethiopia’s bidding, the government of Djibouti has acted irresponsibly and recklessly”.

Rebels condemn what they called heinous crimes committed against Ogaden people in Djibouti and called on the international community to hold the government of Djibouti and Ethiopian leaders responsible for the killings. The group vowed to continue an armed struggle to assure the rights of the Ogaden people.

“As such, the message of ONLF to the Djiboutian government is that Ogaden people’s struggle will not be intimidated with ill advised and misguided acts of such as this extradition of our people. These acts will only increase the determination of the people of Ogaden to continue their legitimate struggle for self-determination.”

In April 2007, ONLF fighters attacked a Chinese-run oil field in Ethiopia’s Somali Region. The attack, which drew international condemnation, killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers.

Following the attack, government security forces commenced a series of military crackdowns, which led to the killing of hundreds of ONLF militants.

The ONLF and its armed wing, the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA) has long been designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.

Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of arming and financing, the ONLF and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). An allegation Asmara denies.

The ONLF rebel group has split into two factions. One faction led by Salahdin Abdulrahman led a breakaway group, which claims to be the main body of the rebel movement, signed a peace accord last October, with the Ethiopian government to end the rebel’s decades of insurgency.

The government said the peace deal was aimed at ending 20 years of war with the guerilla movement that has been fighting for the liberation of the Ogaden region. Following the peace pact the Ethiopian government has freed hundreds of jailed leaders and members of the group.

However, the remaining faction has vowed to continue its armed struggle and say they are the mainstream body of the movement.

The ONLF, considered as country’s most active rebel movement, has been fighting for the right of the eastern Somali region of Ogaden to secede since 1984.


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