April 11, 2012

On April 9, 2012, the Ethiopian security forces brought UN security officer Abdirahman Sheikh Hassan in front a kangaroo court in Addis Ababa alleging that he has links with Ogaden National Liberation Front. Mr Hassan has never been a member or even a sympathizer of ONLF.

Ethiopia’s behaviour of framing up innocent civilians in having relations with ONLF under the so-called terrorist legislation is a routine practice and is not a surprise. However, what is worrying and disgusting is the behaviour of the UN mission in Ethiopia that has abandoned a member of its own officers, who is being punished for fulfilling the duties that the UN has assigned him to do.

The statement by the UN country representative, Eugene Owusu saying that Mr Hassan’s current predicament is not tied to his role in negotiating the release of the two UN staff last year,  is a blatant and unethical ploy that is intended to mask UN failure to defend its staff and the Ogaden, by kowtowing to a pariah regime that has legitimized Human Rights violations by branding everyone against its inhumane rule a terrorist. Mr Owusu knows that Mr Hassan is in prison because of his role in releasing WFP workers. It is very clear that other considerations are more important to the UN executives than the lives of its officers.

Many UN workers were involved in that negotiation, but the regime singled out Mr Hassan only because he was an Ogadeni and as usual, Ethiopia could get away with any crime committed against the Ogaden people or anyone who tries to know their plight just like the Swedish journalists.

It is not the first time that the UN shuns its responsibilities towards victims of the regime in Ogaden. In 2007, the UN teams investigating the Human Rights violations in Ogaden reported extensive violations by Ethiopia and recommended that a further investigation. Instead, the UN hid the report and shelved the recommendation, giving Ethiopia virtual control of international aid, while aware of Ethiopian crimes.

From 2007 until now The UN agencies in Ethiopia, specifically, WFP hands over all food aid intended for the Ogaden civilians to the Ethiopian Army, which in turn uses it to recruit militias called Liyu-police and sells the rest to business people, while starving the needy civilians. We strongly urge donors to send an investigative team to ogaden in order to verify this assertion.

Just recently, WFP released a false statement claiming that it has distributed 97% of all allotted food for the Ogaden to the civilian population. The UN (WFP) handed over that food to the Ethiopian Army, knowing that it will never reach the intended recipients. Unfortunately, it is very easy for Mr Owusu to look the other way since he is already ignoring the rights of the Ogaden people while Ethiopia is blatantly starving two million Ogaden civilians and trampling upon their most basic Human Rights.

ONLF calls upon all people with conscience to condemn the Ethiopian regime for wrongfully imprisoning Mr Hassan and ask it to release him immediately. ONLF further calls the UN to shoulder its responsibility to an innocent member of its staff and stand up for Mr Hassan, instead of issuing statements that give lame justifications that supports his tormentors. It is high time that the UN review its policies of appeasement regarding the Ethiopian regime.


Ogaden National Liberation Front



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