Hidden and isolated from the world, the armed conflict raging in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia goes unnoticed. The killing and raping of innocent civilians at the hands of the military and their paramilitary partners in crime, the Liyu police, the false arrests, torture and imprisonment remain largely unreported. The international media, human rights groups and most aid organizations (including the International Committee of the Red Cross) have been banned from the region by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) since 2007.
Testimonies of extreme abuse and mistreatment reported by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and diaspora agencies have come mainly from refugees who have found their way to the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya, which is administered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and where hundreds of men, women and children have sought safety.
Murder and rape
“I was arrested without charge in 2010 and imprisoned for two years in a military barracks; when in prison I was repeatedly beaten,” relayed Noor Sayat, a 40-year-old former local government worker.
Omar Abdi told me how his wife and son, together with his brother, had been murdered in cold blood by the military, and how he was imprisoned for one year and two months”. During that time he
was tortured every night… late at night we were taken to the river, a rope tied around our necks and held under the water. They pulled me out and then beat me with wooden sticks and their rifles. Sometimes they would vary the method and put a sack over my head, tie it around my throat with rope and then submerge me in the river, then beat me.
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