Response to Time-world article regarding ONLF
ONLF views positively your magazine’s interest in Ogaden, a forgotten part of the world. Having said that it is important to point out some distortions in your article regarding relations of ONLF with its neighbours and the nature of its struggle.
First of all ONLF has never had any links whatsoever and does not intend to establish one now or ever with Alshabab. All the allegations regarding Alshabab and ONLF were concocted by the Ethiopian regime in order to solicit support for its undemocratic rule abuse of the Human Rights of the all the peoples in the Horn of Africa. It is on record that Alshabab assassinated many members of ONLF on different occasions and there was no love lost between the two organisations.
As for the Ogaden territory, whether we call it Ogaden or Somali Regional state, the area is not given a Somali name because of its proximity to Somalia, but because it is a territory owned by Somalis who has inhabited it since time immemorial and were forcefully incorporated by world powers into Ethiopian sovereignty without their consent or knowledge. And that is why they are struggling against Ethiopian occupation for the last sixty years. The people in the Ogaden are not fighting because they are ruled by a Christian government but because they are colonised and dehumanised by the Ethiopian regimes.
Another issue pointed in the article is that ONLF fights across the border from Eritrea and Somalia. ONLF attributes this idea to lack of understanding of the geography of the region and the political realities that surround it. Eritrea and Ogaden has no border at all and there is no way ONLF forces can fight across from Eritrea. The Ogaden National Liberation Army fights in their own territory( Ogaden) and does not cross either from Eritrea or Somalia. Somalia is mostly under the control of Ethiopian army or their surrogate warlord administrations and security. Therefore, there is no way ONLF can maintain troops to cross to Ethiopia.
Your article stated that “In 2008, it was alleged that ONLF rebels were being trained in Qatar. Unsurprisingly diplomatic ties were quickly severed between petro-rich emirate and Ethiopia. The reestablishment of relations on October 24, however, could be a sign of dwindling international support for the ONLF”, however you did not mention who made that allegation(Ethiopia) and you further asserted that since Qatar- Ethiopian diplomatic ties were re-established, it showed ONLF international support was dwindling- a clear fallacy called in logic begging the question . First of all Qatar never supported ONLF in deed or in word. Secondly Ethiopia severed its diplomatic ties with Qatar because of the Aljazeera TV channel report that exposed what the Ethiopian government was doing in Ogaden. It is the same issue with the predicament that happened to the Swedish Journalist who were imprisoned for a year by that irrational regime. Thirdly, ONLF international support does not depend on two countries re-establishing their diplomatic ties, on the contrary ONLF diplomatic ties is increasing by bounds yearly.
The Ethiopian government has employed to a great profit the philosophy of the greats propagandist of all times of the Nazi regime- Joseph Goebbels who said that:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Since the Ethiopian government is committing genocide and pogroms in Ogaden and is maintaining a totalitarian rule in Ethiopia, it keeps manufacturing phantasmagorical allegations against ONLF regarding external supporters whom Ethiopia considers the West could have an issue with. This it keeps repeating the accusations to its target audience until they start using it as their own.
The Ethiopian government like all dictatorships and unjust rulers, use all tricks in the book. Aside from the unceasing barrage of propaganda against it’s citizens and those under its occupation, it bullies and threatens it’s neighbors and all those it deals with, including even its close allies. In addition it closes all avenues of free flow of information and aggressively attacks international and local journalists, local and international NGOS, opposition parties and dissidents, the UN and Regional bodies and even diplomats. One can understand its desperate acts , but what is strange and flabbergasting is the degree it has cawed the international community to be willing accomplices to its heinous crimes and web of lies.
The international media and some UN agencies keep repeating the Ethiopian government mantra- ONLF is supported by Eritrea; ONLF is related to Alshabab; ONLF is doing this or that in any Somalia region, ONLF is supported by this or that Arab country. Instead of repeating Ethiopian government propaganda, it would be better to challenge them to allow international journalist and fact finding missions to have free access to the Ogaden and verify the lies the Ethiopian governments or those they co-opted are spewing out.
One of the most shameful reporting regarding the ONLF was penned by the UN Somalia Monitoring team. In that report, the team claimed to have interviewed and collected evidence from ONLF POWs in Ethiopian custody and evidence collected from Somaliland. By presenting evidence from prisoners who had been tortured and samples planted by Ethiopia and Somaliland who have an axe to grind against ONLF , the international body showed clearly that it had its own agenda against Eritrea and used ONLF as a conduit to attack Eritrea. The UN never lifted a finger, while the Ethiopian government is committing genocide in Ogaden, nor while Ethiopia is pouring hundreds of thousands of guns and ammunition in Somalia in contravention of the so- called UN Arms embargo in Somalia. Instead the UN accuse Eritrea of giving ONLF weapons on an embargo intended for Somalia. Who is breaking the Somalia weapons embargo?
People are genuinely asking why the UN has sanctioned Eritrea and not Ethiopia, which attacked a sovereign Somalia, killing more than twenty thousand civilians in Mogadishu and other parts while providing weapons to warlords. Eritrea was sanctioned on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidences that took years and dubious means to collect, while the Ethiopian government transgressions needed no rocket science to collect, but were never pursued.
The Ethiopian government is holding at ransom millions of peoples in the Horn of Africa and this possible, because the world powers have, the erroneous believe that it is supporting them in fighting terrorism. The reality of the matter is that the Ethiopian regime is the hub that maintains and supports those terrorists, since it is the Ethiopian regime that stands to lose if the Horn of Africa is rid of terrorism; hence, the constant labelling of ONLF with Alshabab and others by the Ethiopian regime and its apologists.
ONLF relationship with Eritrea did not start today, the Somali people and the Eritrean people were fighting together for the last sixty years against the colonialism and hegemony of Ethiopian regimes and that relationship will continue regardless of those in power in Ethiopia. Having an office in Eritrea is no different than having an office in any other country in the world. ONLF have offices in the West and that does not mean America or France gives military or financial support to it.
Finally, ONLF is conducting a principled a national liberation struggle against the Ethiopian government and has no religious agenda and is fully committed to international norms and the UN charter.
Issued by ONLF Information Bureau.