Meles Zenawi Incites genocide again in Ogaden
Response to M Zenawi’s Press Conference of August 11, 2010
August 16, 2010

On August 11, 2010, Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, in a bid to mislead the international community, stated in a press conference that a particular clan in the Ogaden is fighting against his government and implied that his regime will militarily end this conflict. His similar declaration on June 11, 2007 resulted in the killing of thousands of civilians, burning of scores of villages and unlawful detention of thousands of defenseless civilians. Last week’s statement was a direct message to the army and the government-armed militia once again to aggravate the already bleak human rights situation and to commit genocide in Ogaden. Evidence to the later is the fact that he singled out one particular clan in Ogaden, a genesis of genocidal motives.  Meles’s declaration of war to one clan or community in Ogaden as the enemy of the state parallels the Nazis identification of the Jewish as the enemy of the states. The Ethiopian government’s complete control of all media outlets and it virtual control of all federal and local political, military and economic resources, the jamming of all opposition and banning international media in the area further enhances the possible consequence of genocide in the Ogaden.

Article III-c of the international convention on Genocide states that “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide” is punishable under international law. Meles Zenawi as the head of government of Ethiopia has publicly declared that a particular group of people under his rule is fighting him and as such, he is directing his Army and security forces to focus their reprisal against that particular group.

The Prime Minister also endorsed the unlawful killings, rape and torture of civilians by government affiliated militias at the press conference by saying “The most important change has been in the willingness of the people of the region to fight for their peace. That has been the key decisive development of the past year or two. They had been prepared to fight for their peace; they had been prepared to die for their peace. And that has changed the whole equation in the region”. Meles deliberately wants to use local militias in a bid to distance himself-the perpetrator, from the responsibilities of the crimes committed, despite organizing, training, funding and directing it. Genocide watch lists the use of local militia by governments as one of myriad of ways States commit genocide.

Another disturbing aspect of the Prime Minister’s interview is his shameful stigmatization of the Somali people, labeling the whole Somali nation as tribalists. His colonialist attitude, the divide and rule, is clearly demonstrated by his compartmentalization of the Somalis in Ogaden into tribal boxes and claiming that he reached an agreement with this or that clan. In 2007, he said ‘the Ceyr”, a clan in Somalia, alone is fighting against Ethiopia during his invasion of Somalia. Such despicable statement followed by a heinous crime is the behaviour of dictators not a rational head of a state.

The very nature of Ethiopian colonial rule increases the determination of Ogaden people’s struggle for their rights and enhances their unity against the genocidal policy of TPLF regime. Therefore, any attempt to use colonial tactics of divide and rule will be a futile attempt. Meles want to use the same tactic he employed in Somalia where he armed clans and warlords against each other and has led to the murky situation and unending civil war in Somalia. The International community and the West in particular, must have a clear understanding of these tactics by now and the take necessary measures to counter it.

Meles has denied in the past the existence of ONLF but is feeling intensification of the popular struggle of the Ogaden people led by ONLF. Meles’s rant is a signal of his government’s desperation of defeating ONLF, which has forced him to go an extra mile to create its own version of ONLF. The creation of a fake ONLF owned by the government is not new to Ethiopia Ethiopia’s ministry of Federal Affairs, in its “A week in the Horn” bulletin dated on 11.09.2009, in response to Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, lamented that “Much of this merely repeats claims made by HRW and bears no relationship to reality. It all shows little knowledge of the history of the ONLF, in participation that of a majority of ONLF members are in the political processes in the Somali Regional State after 1994/5 or of Somali political processes in general”. Since 1995, the Ethiopian government has declared the demise of ONLF on many occasions or organizing a group that “opted to participate peacefully in the political process in Ethiopia”. Creating and entering into bogus peace deals with organizations that only exist in the government’s imagination will not deter ONLF from the pursuit of justice, equality and self determination for the Somali people in Ogaden.

ONLF is an organization that represents all Somalis in the Ogaden and is striving to achieve the right to self-determination through an internationally supervised referendum. Meles Zenawi’s desperate attempts at contracting his own ONLF will not contribute to a peaceful resolution of the long-standing conflict between the Ogaden Somali people and Ethiopia. Instead, it will harden the resolve of the Ogaden people to struggle for their rights and will further obstruct any chance of peace in the Ogaden.

Such drama that the Ethiopian regime engages in can only be explained as a cheap trick to divert attention from the mounting pressure from the international community on its appalling Human Rights record in the Ogaden and other parts of Ethiopia.  This was coupled with its loss of face that resulted from orchestrating the so-called election that produced 99.6% “victory” for a party that claims to adhere to democratic value, and the apparent failure to register military and diplomatic gain in the Ogaden arena.

Finally, ONLF calls upon international community to condemn Meles Zenawi for dabbling in clan politics and inciting genocide and committing crimes against humanity. It is time for the international community, specifically the UN, US, EU, AU and peace loving nations to hold him personally accountable for his war crimes and this malevolent conduct in Ogaden.

Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)


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