Ethiopia’s Liyu Police -The New Crisis of the Horn of Africa
By Ahmed Abdi (Ahmed Abdi is a writer for Ogadentoday Press)
Ethiopian paramilitary forces or the Liyu Police who are better known as “Ethiopia’s Janjaweed ” are killing, raping, torturing and arresting unarmed civilians in the Ethiopian-Occupied Ogaden Region.
The Liyu Police’s human rights violations are well-documented by the human rights groups- such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Genocide Watch. The Guardian reported that this institution receives £19 million from UK’s Department for International Development or (DFID), although the DFID denies this.
Twenty-three year-old, Nafis, who only gave her first name out of fear of reprisal told me how she escaped from her town Hamaro in the Fiq province over the phone. “A large number of paramilitary soldiers stormed our houses while I was in the vicinity of the town, they killed any-one in sight and took a few people with them including my 2-year-old baby, Neima Mohammed”, she said.
Two hours later, she received confirmation that her baby, Neima, was indeed taken and detained in “Ogaden Jail”. The baby’s father, Mohammed, is one of the ONLF-sympathizers and that is the reason behind the baby’s detention. But Nafis was shocked and was more gut-wrenched when the news of her baby reached her. Now a refugee in Yemen, Nafis’s message to international community is simple and short: “I want my little baby back”.
The aforementioned reveals the straightforward reality in Ogaden. The local people face a stark choice indeed, namely either to remain at home in Ogaden, and be exposed to various deprivations, extreme sufferings, routine army brutality, long imprisonment, and brutal scare tactics or flee and manage to get to some refugee camps in the neighboring countries whereby safety may or maybe not an issue anymore, but the conditions of life are truly miserable and the humanitarian assistance is very limited.
Nafis is one of the more than 3,000 Ogadeni refugees currently living in Yemen’s Capital, Sana’a under UNHCR’s mandate.
Liyu Police-controlled notorious prison locally known as “Ogaden Jail” in the regional capital of Jigjiga, is one of the most brutal prisons on earth that holds many inmates without charge. About 5,000 inmates are in “Ogaden jail” among them are men, women, children and at times babies. This prison is known for “dishing out” not just physical torture to its inmates but also psychological.” I will go into further details regarding torture in “Ogaden jail” in my upcoming articles.
According to human rights groups, Ethiopian forces and its special police force, are guilty of unlawful detention and extra-judicial killing of civilians thought to be sympathizers of the ONLF. Ethiopian forces are also accused of forcefully recruiting civilians among them children to fight in its war against the ONLF. However, Liyu Police members are defecting one-by-one and Ethiopian forces may not rely on it any longer, as a former Liyu defector, Capt.Hassan Aafo told me.
This institute for Ethiopian governmental qualified murderers take advantage of the international community’s silence when it comes to human rights abuses committed against unarmed Somali civilians in the Ethiopian-occupied Ogaden region by the Liyu Police force and Ethiopian Army. Many people were forced out of the Ogaden region and died in the seas. Due to all the aforementioned reasons, I see the Liyu Police force as not only a new regional crisis but an international one.
According to Swedish Paper, Aftonbadet, the Swedish War Crimes Commission has launched a preliminary investigation against the Ogaden Regional President, Abdi Mohamoud Omar and his vice president Abdullahi Yusuf Werar. The Report came right after different Swedish TV channels including Swedish TV channel SVT ,aired a film smuggled out from Ogaden by an Ogadeni Refugee, Abdullahi Hussein, who had been a government official in the region. The film which contains 100 hours of footage is said to have contain much evidence0 of genocide committed by the Ethiopian government in the region.
According to a report by the Ogadentoday Press three civilians were executed in Godey. The quoted an NGO-worker in the area, who declined to be named, who said that the men who were killed were accused of being sympathizers of Ogaden National Liberation Front(ONLF).
The Oil-rich Ogaden Region borders Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia and many of its residents are ethnic Somalis. The region was Italian and British-colony, but in 1954, Britain handed over the region secretly to Ethiopia, a decision rejected by the Ogaden Somali population who have since fought for full independence.