By Abdullahi Hassan
September 10, 2012
‘The struggle of the Somali people against the Ethiopian Garrison rule is better understood as an anti-colonial war-no less intense and no less justified than the struggle of Mozambique and Angola against the Portugal or the struggle of the people of Namibia against South Africa.’
Editorial, New Internationalist, April 1978.
It is very encouraging to read that Ethiopia has finally accepted to settle the Ogaden issue through negotiation; thanks to the diplomatic role played by the Kenyan government.
After almost one hundred years of brutal colonial occupation and subjugations, it now seems that Ethiopia has finally realized the impotence of its imperial ambitions.
There is a limit to oppression and injustice!
The ongoing conflict in Ogaden is the longest unresolved armed conflict in Africa and, indeed, it’s the heart of the brewing political and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa. The tragic history of this conflict goes back to as early as the nineteenth century’s scramble for Africa as Ogaden passed from one European colonial rule to the other until it was eventually annexed to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) against the wishes of the Somali people.
The inevitable havoc and lose of life and property that came in the wake of the Ethiopia’s “ill-fated” colonial occupation haunts the region to this day.
As the above-mentioned editorial excerpt had rightly underscored, the struggle of the Somali people in Ogaden is a genuine national liberation struggle against one of the colonial remnants in the world. But unfortunately, our people were failed by the international community, particularly those who have created our problem in the first place.
Much of the evil and misery which befall mankind stems from ignorance and misunderstanding, and this applies not only to individuals but also to nations. … Subsequent to the “Ogaden” war of 1977-78, I became convinced that here was an issue basic to the concept of freedom, but an issue which was not properly comprehended to a point where justice was being withheld from the Somalis. … The Somali-Ethiopian dispute is no long a purely African matter, it must be one for international attention, and a concerted effort should be made to the notice of the United Nations. … Those, therefore, who have a debt of honor to repay (those who, in the past, involved in the origins of the Somali-Ethiopian dispute) should be in the forefront in striving for an initiative, both political and humanitarian. ... Unless and until there is greater understanding, the Horn of Africa will continue to be riven by strife with resulting suffering, lose of life, and an exodus of refugees (Fitzgibbon, 1982).
Today, Ogaden is in a dire political and humanitarian situation. With the hope to perpetually keep it as a colony, and in order to pave the way for foreign-owned oil companies to exploit our resources, the colonial regime in Addis Ababa has lately intensified its tempo of oppression against our people. Escaping from the ballooning genocide perpetuated by the Ethiopian colonial forces, many civilians-in their hundreds of thousands-have fled to neighboring countries for refuge where they languish in squalid refugee camps.
In its last report on the region, the Human Rights Watch has brought once again to the attention of the world the difficult situation faced by the people of Ogaden. The organization has given out a detailed and balanced report worthy of respect and implementation, but unfortunately the international community continues to shun, disregard, and treat the plight of our people rhetorically.
Where is the humanity?
Indeed, it flies in the face of logic and humanity to leave the Somali people in Ogaden to fend for themselves; its unfair to leave them reel so long under the pungent yoke of slavery and colonialism while the colonial orders in the above-mentioned countries-and many more after them-were liquidated decades ago or so with the help of the international community.
To end the Ethiopia’s century-old injustice, it is incumbent upon the United Nations, the African Union, and the rest of the international community to exercise their moral authority over Ethiopia so as to gracefully liquidate its colonial occupation.
People in the region are yearning for a world where freedom and peace reign supreme and a political settlement to the Ogaden issue is indispensable for that peace.