September 14, 2017
The General Assembly of the United Nations
United Nations Human Rights Council
African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) writes to draw your attention to the alarming conflict in the border areas of Oromia National Regional State and Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State that has led to grave violations of human rights; and to call for the establishment of an independent, impartial, and international investigation into the violations being committed in the aforementioned border areas of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is currently in a highly volatile situation whereby a border dispute in borders of the regional states of Oromia and Ethiopia’s Somali has escalated and claimed the lives of several peaceful civilians. According to AHRE’s source, thousands of civilians are also displaced from the regions because of their ethnicity. A special police force, called Liyu Police, established by the current regional state of Somali is reportedly responsible for the killings of several civilians. Liyu police has a repulsive reputation of committing heinous crimes against civilians, including killings. This is not the first time where conflicts, mainly instigated by border and economic reasons have led to conflicts in the Nation states of Oromia and Ethio-Somali borders.
The Heads of the two regions recently gave conflicting accounts regarding the cause of the incident, one accusing the other. The Communication Minister of Ethiopia Dr. Negeri Lencho said the federal government has taken the situation under control; he admitted to the killings and also said that around 600 civilians are displaced from Jijiga (the capital of the Somali region) and Awoday (a town in Oromia region) and surroundings, but stated that situations are now calming and the displaced residents are now being relocated back to their homes.
However, AHRE has enough evidence that clearly indicates the seriousness of the conflicts; we believe that this could escalate into a violent full-fledged ethnic conflict which could spread to other regions in Ethiopia. We are already aware of similar sporadic ethnic disputes in other regions in Ethiopia. We have received disturbing images, and have been informed that, the police forces instigated and perpetrated the killings; however, it is deliberately being staged to appear as if civilians and anti-peace forces are responsible for the killings.
Therefore, we kindly urge your delegation to look into the situation with utmost consideration and caution; and to immediately set up and send an independent inquiry commission to Ethiopia that investigates the alarming situation and the alleged killings and displacement of innocent civilians.
We also call upon your delegation to urgently demand the government of Ethiopia to:
Call upon the Liyu police to immediately stop killing civilians and ensure that those responsible be brought to justice.
End the border dispute peacefully by bringing both regional offices to come to agreement.
Allow an independent, impartial and thorough inquiry into the alleged killings and displacement.
Collaborate with international institutions and other local stake holders to put an end to the highly alarming conditions in the area, and other regions that are currently facing sporadic ethnic conflicts.
With assurance of your highest consideration,
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia