Unveiling Injustice: The Tragic Saga of Western Sitti in the Somali Region of Ethiopia

Unveiling Injustice: The Tragic Saga of Western Sitti in the Somali Region of Ethiopia

The population of the western Sitti zone in the Somali region has endured a saga of unfathomable suffering. They have been subjected to harrowing acts including extrajudicial killings, forced displacement, the utter destruction of their homes, and the ruthless plundering of their properties. Prior to these atrocities, the resilient Somali residents bravely withstood numerous assaults from Afar government forces, their militias, and the terrorist factions known as the Afar Red Sea, all supported by the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, alongside Fano Amhara militias. Despite their unwavering courage and fortitude, they were eventually coerced into a heart-wrenching exodus from their ancestral lands, victims of calculated pressure and betrayal orchestrated by the Federal government’s clandestine machinations.

Somali regional state and traditional Somali leaders have faced scrutiny amid allegations of failure to proactively manage the crisis. Accusations have emerged, implicating both the Somali regional state and Issa traditional leaders in turning a blind eye to the desperate pleas of the Garbo-Isse community. This community endured over three months of siege before being brutally massacred in broad daylight without any semblance of defense. While the reasons for the delayed response to these pleas may vary, it is essential to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts exerted by the elders and, ultimately, by the Somali region in supporting and defending their community against an unrelenting enemy.

Despite insurmountable challenges and the tragic loss of innocent lives, the elders, led by the traditional leader of the Issa community, the Ugaas of Issa, have tirelessly mobilized resources and human capital in defense of their people, steadfast in their pursuit of justice against the perpetrators.

Various negotiation and agreement platforms, facilitated by the Ethiopian federal government, have sought to address the Issa and Afar conflict. However, these endeavors have faltered, primarily due to the lack of commitment from the Afar side and the Federal government’s vested interests in the region. Stemming from their aversion to Somali-owned territories near the capital, Addis Ababa, and strategic Somali settlements along routes linking to the port of Djibouti, the Federal government’s reluctance to act has exacerbated the crisis.

Despite the commendable recent peace efforts initiated by the Ethiopian Islamic Supreme Council, doubts linger regarding their effectiveness. While trusted by the Afar community, skepticism abounds among the Somali populace, viewing the Council as a mere mouthpiece of the Federal government, prioritizing its agenda over genuine peace-seeking endeavors.

Moreover, lacking the requisite authority, resources, and security apparatus, the Council’s ability to enforce agreements between conflicting parties remains dubious. Afar representatives have a history of presenting superficial peace initiatives in collaboration with the Federal government, lacking sincerity and failing to address root causes. Negotiating with a desperate and losing Afar region offers little hope for genuine reconciliation.

To pave a path toward resolution, several recommendations are imperative:

  • Refusal to engage in negotiations until invading forces vacate Somali towns and land
  • Facilitation of the safe return of forcefully displaced populations, under full security guarantees from the Federal government, including the establishment of Somali forces for local protection
  • Ensuring accountability for perpetrators responsible for massacring innocent Somali populations
  • Compensation by the Federal government for the lives lost and properties destroyed in the western Sitti zone

The corrupt and inept Ethiopian Islamic Supreme Council, openly advocating for the government’s agenda, lacks legitimacy in mediating the Issa and Afar conflict. The elders of the Issa community must remain vigilant against Federal government-led conspiracies, steadfast in their pursuit of justice and peace for their people.

By @NomadlandSomali



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