For the last few Months, African Oil Corporation, an upstart oil company has been engaged in a propaganda stunt conspiring with the tyrannical Ethiopian regime in order to exploit Ogaden oil and try to bury and deny the documented human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian Army in Ogaden.
On February 17, 2013, Keith C. Hill, President and CEO of African Oil, started to regurgitate Ethiopian government false propaganda in an interview with reporters from the Swedish Expressen Newspaper. He stated that “most of the ONLF has now basically made peace with government and laid down arms” and that “there is one faction left and they’re conducting talks with the new administration”. Mr Hill further claimed that the people of the Ogaden were happy and that his company was providing services to help them develop. Mr Hill made similar statements to Swedish journalists last in Sweden.
Then the journalists were invited to visit Addis Ababa to interview Ethiopia’s Minister of Minerals, Mrs. Sinkinesh Ejigu, who, irritated by the journalists’ questions about the human rights violations in Ogaden, furiously responded by saying those making the accusations are “lying” and claimed that there was no a human-rights abuse or torture in Ogaden. The Journalist were then taken to Hargelle town, which was nothing more than few dusty huts, although it is classed as the regional Capital of the Afdheer region, a vivid reminder of the legacy of systematic marginalization of the Ogaden. There, the journalists were led through an arranged tour of Hargelle to meet with some of the town’s residents and ‘students’ who were assembled to give a well-choreographed Soviet-style speeches about how happy they were with African Oil’s presence in the region. What the Ethiopian minister did not know was that the journalists had already visited Dadaab refugee camps and had seen victims who were tortured by the Ethiopian Army and forcefully displaced from their lands and communities!
Setting the record straight
ONLF wishes to categorically refute the false claims made by Africa Oil’s President and CEO Mr Keith C. Hill, that the majority of ONLF has laid down arms and made peace with the Ethiopian government; and the other absurd claim about the existence of one ONLF ‘faction’ which is conducting talks with the Ethiopian government. Furthermore, the Ogaden National Liberation Army and the Ethiopian government are currently engaged in an active armed combat and the Ogaden is a battle zone that is not safe for an oil company to operate. For more than ten years, this has been Ethiopian government propaganda and it is tasteless and immoral when the CEO of an international company decides to repeat it without any qualms.
First, ONLF has no factions and there are no ongoing talks between ONLF and the Ethiopian government, since the Ethiopian government stomped out of the Kenyan mediation efforts last October. The Ethiopian regime’s phantasmagorical creations will not stop the march of the Ogaden people towards attaining their self-determination, nor will such artless and outmoded machinations bring peace to the Horn of African region.
Secondly, the Ethiopian government is committing gross human rights violations in Ogaden and has refused to allow neutral international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, African Rights Monitor, Amnesty International, the ICRC, UN human rights rapporteurs and independent journalists to visit the Ogaden freely and investigate the state of affairs in Ogaden. Therefore, African Oil’s association with Ethiopian government constitutes a deliberate act of collaboration in the on-going violations in Ogaden as Ethiopia uses the money they receive from the oil company to fund its army and local militia who perpetrate human rights violations in Ogaden.
Therefore, ONLF calls upon African Oil to desist from paying blood money to Ethiopia until a just settlement of the conflict is achieved and the people of the Ogaden are in a position to be masters of their wealth and interest.
ONLF draws the attention of the UN and the international community to the fact that African Oil and cohorts are violating the norms “on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/12/Rev.2 -2003)”, by engaging in unscrupulous business in a conflict zone, where the Ethiopian government is committing violations against the Ogaden civilian population which is tantamount to genocide.
Finally, ONLF calls on the UN and the Human Rights Commission to re-start the investigation on the rampant human rights violations that the Ethiopian government is committing in Ogaden.