By Ahmed Abdi
Somalilandsun – Ethiopian government has been putting all its limited resources and energies to deal with the continually increasing Ogadeni diaspora and to persuade them to cut their ardently support to ONLF for using a propaganda campaign of its primitive media known as Ethiopian Somali Television or ESTV.
To achieve that, the regime with its fantasy sent delegates to United States, European Union, Australia, Canada and many parts of the World to reach out Ogaden Somali communities in exile since TPLF’s catastrophic invasion and destruction of the Ogaden region .
The Ethiopian delegates were led-by Abdi Mohammoud Omar ( Abdi Iley), an Ethiopian security made politician, and deputy Prime minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekkonnen. They toured many countries in the Western World to meet the Ogaden communities. Their mission was simply waving to the diaspora to come to Jigjiga with cost-free manner. But those who accepted the call were only retired individuals and retired adults who suffered extreme homesickness for their long stay in the West.
The Ethiopian Embassies were their allotted meeting places due to their safety reasons in order to be away from the angry protesters.The attendants were hand picked by individuals within the community who were known spies for the embassies. There were chanting protesters outside the embassies and even some grievances occurred inside the meetings halls, were Abdi Iley as usual tried to use his fist.
The Ethiopian delegation lured those who attended by offering anyone who is ready, free tickets, free hotel accommodations, and khat (leaves, which are chewed as a stimulant) during his or her stay in Jigjiga. There were many other promises including offering lands they can build or invest.
Ethiopia’s main objective was to make them appear as individuals or as groups on the Somali Speaking ESTV and the main Ethiopian TV screens, while chanting that Ogaden is in peace and prosperity. It was a campaign intended for propaganda to the Diaspora abroad, expecting when the homesick elders listen that they will line up for the free ticket to Jigjiga and the other bonanza. In exchange they were asked to cut their relationship with the ONLF and to forget their long-life dream of achieving free and liberated Ogaden region. It was a hollow pact even though it satisfied the Ethiopian government as a major blow to ONLF.
When I asked ONLF officials about this propaganda they scornfully said; “We know the issue and Ethiopia will discover sooner that they were sold empty boxes.”
Besides that, the traditional dance known as “Dhaanto” was the main program for the Somali-speaking ESTV and was engrossed in many Ethiopian controlled Somali-speaking communities in the region.
The expectations of Ethiopia was to influence the memories of the Ogadenis, since “Dhaanto’ is used to play during the rainy,peace and prosperous seasons in the territory.
So the trick was to show the diaspora repeatedly those teenagers dancing in a very green bloom environment to brainwash the people in case to forget their lost families and loved-ones, which were brutally massacred by the Ethiopian security forces and the notorious Liyu police,which are commanded by Abdi Iley. But they were in vain, because the Diasporas,who mainly grow up in the west have strong avowal for Human Rights values, and were not ready to easily forget their humiliated relatives as merely showing the Somali’s tradition of –New Season, New Life.
Hence, Abdi Iley and his notorious close-friend, General Abraha,lied and fooled the Ethiopian government by telling that ONLF’s Diaspora support has come to an end. The non-stop celebrating around the globe by the diaspora for the 30th commemoration of ONLF is a good prove for that.
The real question is: Will the Ethiopian governments’ campaign to stop the Diasporas’ support of ONLF affect the ONLF’s military action,which is the biggest challenge that Ethiopia has been facing for the last couple of decades? The Ogaden people believe that it won’t stop the fighters on the ground. And history will back my analysis.
The Ethiopian diaspora project has helped ONLF in many ways. Many ONLF supporters and also its loyal members got a golden chance to enter into Ogaden, while financed by Ethiopian embassies.
Second, members from the diaspora united with their families that shared with them the hardship and the unbearable burden they are living under the current Ethiopian occupation. They have seen the Ethiopia’s army brutality, which is based on kill them all to secure oil and gas wells in the Ogaden region. Can’t we say then, ONLF gained more than it lost for the Ethiopian diaspora campaign?
If not so, why the diaspora showed this intimate support to ONLF on the occasion of this ONLF’s 30 years commemoration,and displayed their authority around the globe? The answer is simple, the majority of the diaspora regards ONLF as the only legitimate group on the stage that is fighting for the self determination of the subjugated and terrorized Ogaden region.