Terror by Another Name

An excellent news piece from Australia’s Herald Sun describing the recent massacre of 21 people by Ethiopian troops. What do you call this if not terrorism? The U.S. media has remained hush about this. As Chris Floyd points out, both The New York Times and the Washington Post ran the same Reuters story which was more about Ethiopia’s denial of the killings than about the actual killings. Floyd writes: ‘Except for a two-sentence summary of Amnesty’s charges, the entire top half of the story dealt with statements from minions of the Ethiopian dictator, denouncing Amnesty’s “lies.”‘ Imagine if this occurred in Venezuela. Every newspaper in the U.S. would publish the story and every Representative and Senator would be enraged, calling for President Chavez to resign. The American people would cheer on! Yeah, we are against the violation of human rights, they would say.

Of course, not the human rights of Somalis. That is a whole different matter…

AMNESTY International has accused Ethiopian soldiers of killing 21 people, including an imam and several Islamic scholars, at a Mogadishu mosque and says seven of the victims had their throats slit.

The rights group said the soldiers had also captured dozens of children during the raid on the al Hidaaya mosque in the north of the Somali capital earlier this week during operations against Islamist insurgents.

Ethiopia has thousands of soldiers in neighbouring Somalia to bolster a Western-backed government against rebels fighting an Iraq-style insurgency in the Horn of Africa nation.

The Ethiopian and Somali governments have not responded publicly to accusations of atrocities at the mosque. But they have frequently denied abusing human rights in the fight against groups they call al-Qaeda-backed terrorists.

Amnesty said those killed at the mosque included imam Sheikh Saiid Yaha and several scholars of the moderate Tabligh group that operated there.

“Eye-witnesses report that those killed inside the mosque were unarmed civilians taking no active part in hostilities,” Amnesty said.

“Seven of the 21 were reported to have died after their throats were cut – a form of extra-judicial execution practiced by Ethiopian forces in Somalia.”

Some moderate Islamist leaders have reacted to the mosque incident, and a recent upsurge of fighting in Mogadishu, by postponing plans to join UN-sponsored peace talks.

More than 100 people have been killed since the weekend in clashes in the coastal capital, and the takeover of several small towns by the Islamists’ militant al Shabaab wing.

Washington last month put al Shabaab on its terrorism list.

Amnesty urged the Ethiopian military to release all 41 children it said were held after the mosque raid.

“Witnesses have told Amnesty International that Ethiopian forces would only release the children from their military base in north Mogadishu ‘once they had been investigated’ and ‘if they were not terrorists’,” it said.

Some of the children – who were aged as young as nine – were reported to have been freed, though the majority were still in custody, Amnesty said.

Witnesses said they had seen beheaded bodies lying outside the mosque after the fighting.

Civilians have borne the burnt of Somalia’s near-incessant violence since the 1991 toppling of a dictator.

About one million of the nation’s nine million population live as refugees in their own land.

Abesha Bunna Bet writes:

Shame on you Ethiopian soldiers. Shame on you. You have managed to pull of the unthinkable. Now what? It will take generations to undo what you have done. This will not be forgotten in the minds of many Somalis, you wait and see.


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