Interview: Years of Untold Suffering at Jail Ogaden
Human Rights Watch just released a ground-breaking 88 page report titled “We are Like the Dead”Torture and other Abuses in Jail Ogaden, Somali Regional State, Ethiopia. The report is based on the notorious Jail Ogaden located in Jigjiga and includes hundreds of interviews with former detainees, torture victims, and civil servants providing first hand accounts of their experiences in the prison. This report provides an unparalleled insight into the systems of violence that ordinarily exist in the Ogaden region and the impunity with which the administration of Abdi Iley commit grave human rights violations on a daily basis. The report individually names specific perpetrators instrumental in orchestrating the systemic violence against innocent civilians.
This report sends a strong message to Abdi Iley and his gang of perpetrators; namely that the international community is closely documenting his crimes and that they will not go unpunished. Moreover, this publication comes at a very timely period in the context of imminent changes in Ethiopia led by the New Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Despite the wave of optimism in Ethiopia brought by the Prime Minister, continued oppression in the Somali Region sets it apart from the rest of the country, signalling the urgent necessity of rapid changes and a renewed focus on dismantling Abdi Iley’s administration and the notorious Liyu Police.
Thank you to all the victims that came forward to share their stories despite continued threats against their lives. Thank you to Human Rights Watch for creating the platform to document and highlight the extent to which human rights abuses are institutionalised in the Ogaden. We call upon Dr. Abiy Ahmed and his administration to immediately begin investigating those responsible for the crimes against humanity as evidenced in the report. In addition, to reexamine the systems of imprisonment that exist throughout the region such as the widespread use of informal detention facilities and military barracks where innocent civilians are illegally held under brutal conditions.