Articles

Under darkness in the Somali region of Ethiopia

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April 27, 2013

Editor

Silence in Ogaden

By Graham Peebles

No matter how tightly the truth is tied down, confined and suffocated, it slowly escapes. It seeps out through cracks and openings large and small, illuminating all and revealing the grime and shame that cowers in the shadows.

The arid Somali (or Ogaden) region of Ethiopia, home to some five million ethnic Somalis, has been isolated from the world since 2005, when the Ethiopian government banned all international media and most humanitarian groups from operating in the area.

State criminality

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that the Ethiopian government “has tried to stem the flow of information from the region. Some foreign journalists who have attempted to conduct independent investigations have been arrested, and residents and witnesses have been threatened and detained in order to prevent them from speaking out“. Aid workers with the United Nations, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross, plus journalists from a range of Western papers, including the New York Times, have all had staff expelled and/or detained, by the Ethiopian regime, which speaks of democracy yet fails to act in accordance with its own liberal constitution and consistently violates international law, with total impunity.