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Ogaden Somalis protest at AU Summit

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Another protest was held outside the African Union summit in Johannesburg on Monday in order to create awareness surrounding the plight of the Ogaden. The protest was held by Ogaden Somali people to raise their voice surrounding the human rights violations occurring within the region.

“Many people are not aware of this territory, but it lies between Ethiopia and Somalia,” Mohamed Adan, director of the Ogaden Somali organisation in South Africa explained.

Ogaden was in the past a sovereign state, but now falls under the control of the Ethiopian government.

“Ogaden is under Ethiopian occupation where Britain ceded the land to Ethiopia without the consent of the citizens of the country,” Adan stated.

Two Ogaden children with their flags
Two Ogaden children with their flags

The citizens now suffer violations as a direct result of the government’s persecution towards them.

“We have human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian government in the Ogaden territory,”Adan added.

With the world’s eyes on South Africa currently hosting the AU summit, Adan and his organisation found an opportunity to make his peoples suffering known not only to the delegates at the summit, but also to the rest of the world.
Apartheid like regime.

“They (Ethiopian government) treat us like second class citizens,” Adan said.

He added that within the region there is an ever increasing political, security and military crackdown and humanitarian access to Ogaden has been denied. This has resulted in one of the largest refugee communities in the world.

“They (Ethiopia) apply brutal force to anyone who opposes their view,” Adan explained.

“We do not have any voice inside our own territory.. .it’s an Apartheid like state”.

Protestors carrying placards
Protestors carrying placards

Elections have been held in the Ogaden region, but this is viewed by its people as a false attempt by the government to divert attention from the human rights violations taking place.

“The Ethiopian government with their affiliated militias come into our region and round up people to be killed,” Adan stated.

“They collect women for sex slaves…they are raping our women and killing them after raping them”.

This poster says it all
This poster says it all

The Ogaden people face daily persecution and currently have no right to rule their own region. Adan added that militias come into the villages and strip women in public and molest them in order to humiliate them.

“We are innocent people who want self-determination,” Adan explained.

Due to the alleged media blockade the plight of these people is not well covered in the mainstream media.

“The Ethiopian government have blocked media and there are no relief organisations aiding,” Adan went further.

“No one is investigating, no one is highlighting this issue, the world does not know who we are,” Aden concluded. VOC (Umarah Hartley)


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