- Posted August 17, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Breaking news: Share your story
- UNHCR's deviant behavior in Yemen -Will Donors Put Pressure on UN to do the right thing?
- Yemen and the Horn of Africa: U.S-China battle over the Ogaden Basin, different powers emerge to play in the same old field
- Somalia: Explaining why Somali people quit listening to BBC and VOA Somali Services
- Ethiopia: Abdullahi Hussein holds Seminar in Support of Ogaden Human Rights
- #Somalia: The Rising number in Jubaland schools and Universities enrollment
ONLF's 30 Years Commemoration : (Quotes from ONLF Chairman) -MOO
ONLF 30 Years Commemoration: (Quotes from ONLF Chairman) -MOO
By Ahmed Abdi
ONLF Chairman’s speech covered:
· The Formation of ONLF in 1984 and how the situation was that time
· Ethiopia forced ONLF to go to war even though they were not prepared for war.
· Ethiopian military are committing war crimes in Ogaden without international condemnation.
· ONLF warned oil corporations not to get involved in Ogaden genocide and will not accept any.
· ONLF is ready for comprehensive peace talks and Ethiopia should know that they cannot gain peace and stability through war.
Ogaden National Liberation Front or ONLF is celebrating its 30th anniversary around the globe. Founded in August 15, 1984, the group has been campaigning to realize the ambitions of the Ogaden people for independence from Ethiopia. The Ogaden territory, is mainly inhabited by 7-8 million ethnic Somalis, a territory which still suffer the betrayal of Italian-British colonial rule after British handed over Ethiopia in 1954 without its population's consent or the treaty between the British imperial rule and the Somali chiefs and elders.
ONLF was formed after the defeat of Somalia in the Ogaden war (1977-1978). The group were diplomatically active in several countries, period between early 1980s to 1990s before Tigray people's Liberation Front (TPLF) toppled the former President of Ethiopia, the socialist military Dictator , Colonel MengistuHailemariam, with the help of Eritrean revolution, or Eritrean People's Liberation Front.
In the 1991, ONLF established its offices throughout Ogaden territory for the first time since its formation as a political party, but were forced out by the TPLF after Ogaden's democratically ever elected parliament in the Somali region's history that survived only 2 years' service in Ogaden , had overwhelmingly voted for referendum according to the Transitional Charter of the time.
Ethiopia, which is one of the most brutal and violent nation in Africa passed a law to unearth ONLF, by killing the mayors of the provinces and districts, assassinating religious scholars and prominent elders, arresting and detaining members of MPs. They sacked the first legitimate Somali Ogaden president and his vice-president and put them in jail.Then Ethiopia began to mull over the possibility of capturing highly positioned in the ONLF and its former chairman, Ibrahim AbdallahMah, which at least 100 civilians that provided his defense line martyred in Werder, Ogaden region in 1994.
ONLF which had no appetite at that time to go war with Ethiopia,had no other option rather than fighting to the last.
"Ethiopia's Transitional Charter which was agreed by all nationalities stated that any nationality under its rule can ask for referendum up to succession from it, and that gave us hope.But when we demanded our rights to self-determination, the current Ethiopian regime declared a war on us, and forced us to enter with her a bloody war, which was not at our agenda. They knew the situation of our people after the collapse of Somalia and that we had limited guns and ammunition as well as resources, except the will to pursue our God-given rights to decide our fate", reads ONLF chairman's speech, Mohammed Omar Osman.
Despite being unprepared to counter the Ethiopian aggression on ONLF members, the group shut down all its offices when they understand the TPLF assassination plan and left behind them squarely to prepare for a longer, bloodier, and harder war with Ethiopian aggressive troops stationed in Ogaden region. A war of liberation that continues up to the present day.
"We were brooding about two options within a short time period : To surrender, which is to recede and vacuous or to resist the Ethiopian sordid ambition. We selected the latter, which was at that time the toughest decision ONLF has ever made", Said Mr. Osman in his speech.
ONLF worked to establish their liberation army and organize a die-hard supporters that mobilize the Ogaden communities inside and outside of the Ogaden region.Within a short period ONLF forces engaged with the Ethiopian army and were triumphant in most battlefields, largely because our boys were fighting for a just cause and were well trained. ONLF are fighting in their country, they know the terrain and the people supported their cause whole heartedly.
"We were strengthened by our people's dedication to their just cause. They are encouraging us to continue the armed struggle till Ogaden is liberated from Ethiopian occupation. They are supporting us to strengthen our fighting capabilities. We work inside and outside to mobilize, strengthen, and enhance our people. We are totally dependent on self-enrichment for the members within our society. And with God's help we will pursue our policy based on self-reliance". The Chairman said in his speech.
ONLF's strong correlation with Ogaden population unnerved several times the Ethiopian regime. They assembled the elders and informed them to stop supporting ONLF and to bring out their sons who are in the ONLF military service or to meet the consequences. But their intimidation and punishment threat do not deter as more and more people are joining the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA) voluntarily.
The Chairman mentioned that, Ethiopia by seeking help from existing traditional institutions in Ogaden region called for the first peace talks in 1998 which was held inside Ogaden. But Ethiopia's deceitful plan was to persuade the negotiating team for ONLF to disarm itself, if they refuse to kill the delegation.
"When Ethiopia could not persuade us to disarm ourselves without meeting our demands, by telling us that we are part of Ethiopia and are not different from the rest of Ethiopia, they did not kill the negotiators only, but also undertook a policy of killing our officials, members and prominent persons from the entire society. It was the hardest time ONLF passed through and we succeeded to overcome."
The Chairman's speech was long. He mentioned present situation of the Front inside and outside. He also mentioned the present requirements to continue the struggle and how to thwart the Ethiopian Plots. He concluded by demanding from the International world and those who admire liberty and Justice to intervene in part of stopping Ethiopia's scorched- earth-policy towards Ogaden people.
Finally, The Chairman called upon the International community to look for the Ogaden issue and ask Ethiopia to haltthe Ogaden genocide which is one of the worse in the World that is not covered. There are 100,000 refugees and displaced peoplein neighboring refugee camps and in Ogaden,but unfortunately, the mainstream media and diplomats won't touch the story.
The chairman warned the oil corporations to get involved in Ogaden genocide by supporting Ethiopian government ethnic cleansing and terror to get their hands on the sizable oil reserves. ONLF and the Ogaden will not permit this till they exercise their God-given rights.
The chairman made clear that Ethiopia is not ready for comprehensive talks to end this conflict peacefully and will never succeed to end through war and genocide.
"ONLF's door is open and ready to sit with Ethiopian government to resume the peace-talks in order to achieve peace, justice and stability in the Horn of Africa and to quit the blood-shed, therefore, we again call upon the international Community to do its responsibility for doing something about the Ethiopia's problems in Ogaden region."