The Somalians, who just want to end the constant
fighting, are once again facing an uncertain future. The
Islamists have faded away, discredited for shutting
down schools and sending children to their deaths
against the superior Ethiopian army. Never extremely religious anyway,
Somalians now will have to contend with clans -- more corrupt than the
Islamists and prone to infighting -- that have been restored to power,.
In Addis Ababa, meanwhile, President Meles is facing big problems. He is
losing the support of the Oromo people, backing that he needs to retain
power. After the May 2005 elections, initially praised by the international
community for the unprecedented participation of the opposition, Meles
stifled inquiries into the legitimacy of the results. He reacted to public
protests by jailing protesters, journalists, human rights workers and
opposition leaders including the newly elected mayor of Addis Ababa. An
independent inquiry revealed that Ethiopian security forces killed 193
unarmed protesters in 2005.
Ethiopia's human rights record in the provinces is
even more heinous, says Obang Metho of the Saskatchewan, Canada-based Anuak
Justice Council, a human rights group seeking to protect the Anuak minority
in Ethiopia. Metho says few people in Europe and the West realize what is
going on in the shadow of Darfur.
“He [Meles] has been an agent of terror in Sidana, Ogalen, Oromo, Anhar,
Tigray, Gambella [Anuak region] and continues to perpetuate brutality,
oppression and suppression to his people throughout all of Ethiopia,” Metho
Metho claims that besides killing off the Anuaks, the Ethiopian national
Defense Forces (ENDF) since December 15 had conscripted 600 to 700 young
Anuak men and taken them to northern Ethiopia to train as soldiers. Many
young men fled to the bush to escape conscription.
Metho and Snow agree that the Anuaks are facing genocide. Snow says Anuak
rebels were allies of Meles in throwing out the hated Durgue government in
1991, but soon afterward, Meles turned against them.
Unable to conduct aid operations in Gambella, UNICEF
commissioned Snow to do a report on the situation. In this poor and remote
region, Snow found that, the ENDF was going into villages, destroying mud
and straw dwellings and forcing the people to leave, under the pretext of
weeding out terrorists.
“In August the military forcibly displaced all Anuak people from some 13 to
15 Anuak villages in the remote and already devastated regions,” Snow notes.
Left with no options many Anuaks are going to larger towns or to southern
Sudan and refugee camps in Kenya. People are restrained from moving about so
it is difficult to attend school, gather firewood, travel to sources of
water or conduct trade.
For an Anuak civilian, there is a “daily risk of being shot, raped, beaten,
tortured or harassed,” according to the Harvard Law School's International
Human Right Clinic (IHRC) report on the situation in Gambella.
The Ethiopian government has been accused of trying to
remove Anuak rebels from Gambella so that oil wells can be drilled. Snow
says there are Chinese and Malaysian interests already setting up camps with
electricity and clean water (amenities not available to Anuaks) and enticing
local women into prostitution.
Metho says, “The Bush administration has never done
anything [to recognize the atrocities in Gambella].” Metho
wants the U.S. to put pressure on the Ethiopian
government to ease up on the Anuaks and to investigate
Snow says all forms of support to the Meles
government should be withdrawn. Angelina
Jolie and others, he urged should stop adopting children from Ethiopia and
stand up for the ordinary Ethiopians
under threat of death from the government. He discourages African Americans
from traveling to Ethiopia, their second most popular destination after
Ghana. All aid organizations, he said, should pull out of Ethiopia.
“They [the aid workers] need to start talking about
what they are seeing, that Ethiopia is a terrorist
country,” says Snow.
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Albion Monitor December
31, 2006 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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