On Monday, the Somali community across the globe were up in arms after the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) moved into Jijiga, the capital of the Somali Regional State (SRS) in Ethiopia.
The forces strategically positioned themselves in key installations after a break down of relations between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Somali regional President Abdi Mohamoud Omar.
Abdi Omar was a dictator who on several occasions was accused of violating the basic human rights.
According to HRW, Abdi has detained thousands of prisoners at Jail Ogaden, most of whom experience routine abuse and neglect. Many of the prisoners have never been convicted of or even charged with a crime.
Former prisoners described a horrific reality of constant abuse and torture, with no access to adequate medical care, family, lawyers, or even, at times food. Officials stripped naked and beat prisoners and forced them to perform humiliating acts in front of the entire prison population, as punishment and to instill shame and fear.
“Jail Ogaden is unthinkable. From the moment you are put there until the moment you are released, you do not know if you are alive or dead. You are tortured and humiliated day and night, you are starved and you can’t sleep because there’s so many people,” 42-year-old Mohamed who spent five years without charge in Jail Ogaden said.
Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch said that Ethiopia’s new prime minister admitted security forces have been torturing Ethiopians, but he has yet to tackle Ethiopia’s culture of impunity and ensure accountability for abuses by the security forces.
“The horrific situation in Jail Ogaden requires immediate and transparent investigation into the actions of the regional president, other senior Somali Region officials, and the Liyu police,” Felix stated.
Many children are born in Jail Ogaden, including some allegedly conceived through rape by prison guards. Female prisoners described giving birth inside their cells, in many cases without health care or even water.
In a series of tweets, senior Kenyan politician Farah Maalim noted why Abdi Iley was a thorn in the flesh for the Ethiopian Somalis.
“In time when everybody gets to know the moral rot Abdi Illey had subjected people of the Somali Region to, you will reconsider your opinion about Hitler. He forced elders to confess on TV to having sex with goats & sheep. He killed pregnant women including the wife of Qalbidagax,” Farah twitted.
“The butcher of Jijiga must have a day in court. I hope they hang him in the central square of Jijiga as a powerful message for all potential abusers of fellow humans. He made prisoners eat their faeces and starved many to death. Dr Abiy waited too long to bring Illey & co to book,” Farah added.