In Conversation with Felix Horne: Human Rights & Somali Region Crowd


May, 15, 2019

By: Abdiaziz Ali

Felix Horne is the Senior Ethiopia and Eritrea researcher for Human Rights Watch. In July 2018, Felix authored a comprehensive report titled ‘We are like the dead: Torture and other Human Rights Abuses in Jail Ogaden, Somali Regional State,’ it detailed the experiences of prisoners in one of the most notorious detention centres across Ethiopia. Jail Ogaden, officially known as Jigjiga Central Prison, was home to thousands of prisoners, who were brutalized and neglected; most of whom have never been charged or convicted of any crime.

It was a great Honour for me to participate the Crowd of “ In Conversation with Felix Horne: Human Right and Somali Region” as a guest. A Forum that wouldn’t be possible a months ago Organized By Jigjiga University where Lots of Discussions, Q & A, briefs and Interviews happened in the Forum and I will focus in this piece by sharing you how the electrified Event of Felix Horne was.

The event offered a platform to students, staff, policy makers, activists and all those interested in Human Rights and engaged directly with Felix Horne. It was and opportunity moment in the history of the region to reflect on past events and systems of violence, in order to determine a better way forward. The event consisted of a conversation style dialogue with Felix where he reflected on his experience researching human rights in the Somali Region- specifically his work on the Jail Ogaden Report, then followed by a Question and Answer Session.

Felix Horne briefed the Crowd how he come up with his research of the Jail Ogaden report while all the access was denied to touch the base and he said like this: we used to interview the people who are fled from the region and released from Jail Ogaden in Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa and many more places in Europe and America. He added to that to confirm that the victim is the right Person we used to ask some question about the Jail, at least to clarify whether he/she was their and said matched their answer to what we have in mind about Cell. That is how I Come up with this report.

The participants of this events asked him lots of question but will Capture Major once. The questions were about like this: 1. It was asked about his views about the changes of the Country in general and that of Somali Region in particular and the way forward. 2. Accountability of the perpetrators who are Harbouring the neighbour countries and even in the country and the Capability of the Somali Region to put these guys behind the bar. 3. The issues of The IDPs and their relocation plan in the country and that of the region and the 4th question which The participants who asked like this: Much your research focused in the detention facilities and what prisoners faced in this cell. Do you have any plan to focus this time the while you have every Access the road between the village and Jail Ogaden and show the world how the lives of the children who witnessed that perpetrators killed their father or mother in front of them or taken out at the middle of night and denied by their rights at all because they are the children of ONLF member father or mither and excluded even in the food aid not to mention linking the Social Schemes.

Here you go the Summery of the Felix Horne Responses to the above question.

The Change of the Country took different stages , first Oromo protest then Amhara then other places followed we witness today that the repressive Goverment is no more with you guys and dismantled for good. When it comes to the Somali Region here was the serious places and actually the hub of human right abuses happened under Abdi Omer ( Abdi-Ilay) and committed both Ethiopian EDF and Liyu Police and I can see good changes in the Somali Region according to Country where still Lawlessness is an issue. Here in Somali Region the Liyu polices was reformed and rehabilitated.

The Change of Country and that of the region is not perfect yet there are challenges still. When he talked about Hate speech and the Countries Bill while answering this question he said “people has to speak their mind in short” to my understanding the answer of the Hate speech was a big message and people needs has to interpret at their level and I agree from my own interpretation.

Answering the Second question he said the neighbour countries used to transfer ONLF into Ethiopian Goverment and the Region it self. So that they have no reason to hide them in their yards. But the Question of the Capability of the Government specifically the regional Government, he answered like a Yes or now question and no farther explanations.

Answering the question the IDP and there relocations, he said you don’t have to relocate2the IDP where they are not safe he added that “in English Don’t plan that if the people are not feeling safe and people are afraid to go there.

Answering the last question of the road between village and Jail Ogaden and the denied rights of the children, he said there are a lot of untold Stories in between not only the Children’s one only. I know Lots of children are traumatised because they may witness the shooting of their parents and relatives and they don’t get enough service yet like Psychosocial, wellbeing and Child Protection activities. But I am grateful that the government will expand these service and reach those places which was neglected by the past Regimes .

All in all that is all of how today’s events with Felix Horne looked like. And of course the reflections and the Summery of what happened today that Crowd.

Abdiaziz Ali

Abdiaziz Ali is an Educationist, Humanitarian, Campaigner and Child Right Advocate. Mr. Ali lives Jigjiga, Ethiopia and can be reached through [email protected]