Rape is viewed as the Right Method of War by Liyu Police in Ogaden
The deterioration of the conditions of human life in Occupied Ogaden has a lot to do with the multifaceted activities of oppression that are regularly perpetrated by the Liyu policemen and officers. In an earlier publication, we gave a diagram of their structure and operations; in the present article, we will focus on some of their customary practices.
Rape viewed as the Right Method of War
To describe the normal, defensive attitude and stance of a woman under assault, the Liyu Police senior commanders introduced a new term, e.g. a shameful expression which reveals their beastly nature and the inhuman education they received in the said institution. The term coined in this regard is “anti-peace elements”. In other words, to carry out their premeditated rapes against targeted Ogadeni women, the Liyu Police officers offer themselves a mythical justification of their intentional crimes.
The concept that every woman, who rejects being raped by the Liyu torture specialists, is an ‘anti-peace element’ reflects the Ethiopian state’s terrorist policy and the absence of human dignity in the African country with the darkest record of Human Rights violations. Contrarily to all declarations of Human Rights and to every notion of International Law, in Ethiopia, imprisoned women are deliberately raped in front of their fellow prisoners, men or women.
In April 2012, in the Liyu police station located at Labiga, a village in Occupied Ogaden, a malicious person named Farxiye, a Liyu police major, in time of duty, forced with the threat of guns, a group of women and girls to remove their clothes and stand naked in front of other Liyu policemen; in such condition, they kept them for long, asking them whether they were wives of ONLF fighters. To further dishonor and humiliate the naked Ogadeni women, the major ordered several policemen to penetrate the women’s private parts with their fingers as if in a medical examination and with the hypothetical purpose to examine whether they had had sexual intercourse with their husbands – the supposed fighters of the ONLF over the few hours preceding their arrest.
Following the vicious and shameful, medical parody, the Liyu policemen raped most of the arrested women and girls, sparing only a few. Among the raped women in Bu’lale are Sahra Hassan Bashir, Fadumo Awliyo, and Ina-Dhoolo Biid. When Sahra Hassan informed relatives and friends that she had been raped by the police, the news spread around and the angry police officers paid a visit to her house to threaten her with death, if she insisted to tell her story to the other villagers.
In Occupied Ogaden, rape has become a common, often repeated, crime that remains unpunished, as long as the international community tolerates the existence of the terrorist, colonial state of Ethiopia.
According to several testimonies made by a number of former Liyu Police officers, who defected recently from their regiments, no less than 709 civilians were killed extrajudicially in front of eye-witnesses in the Ogadeni provinces of Degeh-bur, Nogob, and Jigjiga in the last few years.
Some of the most atrocious massacres were committed in Dusmo, Labiga, Gosolaley, Geri’go’an, Gunagado, Abshir, Bu’lale, Dabo-jiriso, Wado-Abared, Aware, Golool-goose, Malqaqa, Bula’dari, Galaalshe, Iskudhunley, and Dara-salam.
In February 2012, two prominent figures of the village Gunagado, Abdikader Foolow, and Moalin Khader were killed in the middle of the night by Liyu policemen; their killing had been ordered by Liyu major Bashir Af-dheere. The Liyu policemen even killed people who evidently saw the extrajudicial killings in order not to leave any testimony able to accurately and completely narrate the story. Among these witnesses who were killed, there were two women. One of them pleaded in vain to be spared for the fear of God, as she was eight (8) months pregnant. To this, the criminal Liyu police officer, Major Bashir Af-dheere answered shamelessly: “We have only one god, and this is (father) Abdi. May god be glorious”!
The number of detained civilians has always been exorbitantly high. The notorious jail of Jigjiga, capital of Ogaden, is said to be packed with prisoners, and according to modest estimates, there are more than 5,000 prisoners, women, children and men, in the jail – all because they were suspected to be ONLF sympathizers.
In Ogaden, ordinary prisoners and prisoners of conscience alike spent many long years in detention, awaiting a trial that never came; thus they were exposed to very low conditions of hygiene and nutrition. Hundreds of detainees have died because of diarrhea and other contaminations. The cells are at times flooded with evacuation waters, and this often causes repeated cholera outbreaks that eliminate many prisoners. Nevertheless, the survivors still face an unusually brutal attitude from the guards and are constantly beaten and hit with various instruments with catastrophic results for their integrity and health.
For all cases of imprisonment, after their incarceration and for several weeks, prisoners are placed in the horrendous cells known as “neef diid”; these cells are airless and dark, and the prisoners are exposed to different types of torture in order to be forced to confess that they are ONLF members or sympathizers. Over the span of the last decades, many innocent civilians suffocated and died in those airless cells.
When it comes to cattle-keeping in Ogaden, Liyu policemen are known for their inclination of officialized robbery. The following incident is an example.
Only in the period May – June 2012, more than 430 livestock were confiscated from villagers of Abshir and Dig by the 11th regiment of Liyu Police which is based in Dig. These animals were slaughtered for food by the Liyu Police.
The aforementioned reveals down-to-earth reality in Occupied Ogaden; the local people face a stark choice indeed, namely either to remain at home in Ogaden, and be exposed to various deprivations, extreme suffering, routine army brutality, long imprisonment, and brutal scorch earth tactics or to flee and manage to get to some refugee camps in the neighboring countries whereby safety is not an issue anymore, but the conditions of life are truly miserable and the humanitarian assistance very limited.
It is very difficult to know with accuracy how many civilians were massacred since the Ethiopian military crackdown in 2007; however, Human Rights activists and experts are convinced that several hundreds of thousands of people were mercilessly exterminated in Ogaden.
Ogaden was formerly an Italian and British colony; the local colonial authority was secretly transferred to Ethiopia following an agreement with the British in 1945, and the land was annexed in the early 50s. Ogaden remained under Ethiopian occupation ever since.
By Ahmed Abdi, A freelance journalist based in Yemen