While many of us are celebrating holidays of peace and good will, the Somali Diaspora Network reminds us that thousands of Somalis are still suffering and dying as a consequence of Ethiopia's US-backed invasion of their country. Its latest press release charges that the world is guilty of ignoring the tragedy and calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, the Africa Union, and the United States, to:
- Intervene immediately to stop the bloodshed, the displacement of civilians, and further destruction
- Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately withdraw all its forces from Somalia without precondition or delay
- Facilitate all inclusive dialogue among warring groups and the formation of unity government followed by free and fair elections
- Bring to justice those who ordered or implemented the massacre and the forced displacement of civilians
NOTE: To read more about the Somali Diaspora Network, the newly established "Somali Cause" coalition of which it is a part, and the two-day conference in December at which it was formed, click here.
Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 24 December 2007: Once again, the Ethiopian military and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have intensified their campaign of indiscriminate shelling, systematic killings, detainments, and utter destruction resulting in the deaths, injuries, and maiming of many civilians, mainly women and children and renewed forced exodus of Mogadishu civilians.
According to the United Nations, the increased violence of the past weeks has caused the forced exodus of an estimated additional 100,000 civilians, mainly women and children, as such adding another layer of complexity to the alarming humanitarian crises already underway as an estimated over one million internally displaced Somalis are suffering from lack of basic services essential to their survival.
On October 30, 2007, 40 international NGOs have released a joint statement ominously warning against a gathering cloud of humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia urging the international community to respond to this man-made calamity as the Ethiopian forces and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) callously prevent the delivery of food aid, and bluntly stating that “there is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in South Central Somalia”. The United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, noted trucks carrying relief supplies to southern and central Somalia are often
faced with up to 200 different roadblocks. [Source: VOA 10/26/2007]
Ethiopia’s invasion and occupation of Somalia is a flagrant violation of the provisions of Resolutions 1725 (2006) and 1744 (2007)). Ethiopia also willfully violated the UN Charter, Article 2 (1) that describes the UN as being an institution “based on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members.” Furthermore, Article 2 (7) clarifies that nothing in the UN Charter authorizes intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.
The brutality of the occupation has been described as the worst atrocity of the Somali civil war: According to The Hague Conventions, Article 23: “It is a war crime to launch an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population in the knowledge that such an attack will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians”. Moreover, the Geneva Conventions are part of U.S. law- being ratified by Congress and by the President. Therefore Ethiopian leaders and their Somali counterparts could be found guilty of war crimes under the War Crimes Act of 1996 which carries the death penalty for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
The Ethiopian occupation forces have been committing gross human rights violations, indiscriminate shelling and targeting of civilians, targeted assassinations of those opposing the occupation, and rape thus creating poisonous environment where perpetual war in the Horn is not unfathomable. These gross human rights violations have created the humanitarian tragedy currently unfolding in Somalia. The complacency of the international community at large and the United States and the UN Security Council in particular have resulted in failure to bring this calamity to the forefront, let alone prevent its continuation. A disaster Alex Perry of Time magazine describes as being “on a par, in numbers and acuteness, with Darfur. The U.N. says 1.5 million people need assistance, of which a mere 60,000 are getting it.” [Source: Time Monday, Nov. 12, 2007].
It is within that backdrop that the Somali Diaspora Network (SDN) condemns the global complicity that made it possible for Ethiopia to invade in the first place and the lack of action and outrage from the UN and the larger the international community. We regard this silence tantamount to support of the atrocities committed by the Ethiopia’s occupying force. It is particularly egregious since the United Nations and Unites States provide financial and diplomatic support to the TFG in whose name these atrocities are being committed. SDN calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, the Africa Union, and the United States to:
• Intervene immediately to stop the bloodshed, the displacement of civilians, and further destruction
• Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately withdraw all its forces from Somalia without precondition or delay
• Facilitate all inclusive dialogue among warring groups and the formation of unity government followed by free and fair elections
• Bring to justice those who ordered or implemented the massacre and the forced displacement of civilians
ABOUT SOMALI DIASPORA NETWORK (SDN) – SDN is a grass-roots organization committed to advocate on critical policy matters pertaining to Somali-American interest and issues of concern through communication and information sharing, raising public awareness, and educating the public and government officials.