The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said on Sunday that government forces were responsible for burning a Tigrayan man to death, a barbaric act circulated in a widely-shared video that sparked outrage on social media.

Source: AFP

Ethiopian forces burned Tigrayan man alive – rights body

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said on Sunday that government forces were responsible for burning a Tigrayan man to death, a barbaric act circulated in a widely-shared video that sparked outrage on social media.

Ethiopia’s government on Saturday vowed to investigate and take action against anyone involved in “the extremely savage act” depicted in the video, which shows an unarmed man being set on fire as a group of people, including some wearing army uniforms, taunt him.

The atrocity occurred on March 3 in the northwestern region of Benishangul Gumuz, which borders Sudan and South Sudan. It followed an attack a day earlier that left at least 20 people dead, the state-affiliated independent rights body said.

Security officials later captured and shot dead eight Tigrayans suspected of involvement in that assault, it added.

“The bodies of the deceased were taken by security forces to a nearby forest and burned,” the EHRC said in a statement, citing eyewitness testimony.

“In between this, an ethnic Tigrayan who was suspected of having contact with the deceased, was arrested… and thrown (on the pyre) with the deceased, with him dying of fire burns,” the EHRC quoted eyewitnesses as saying.

“Those who were in the area were Ethiopian army soldiers, Amhara region special police forces and Southern region police forces,” the rights body said, calling for a criminal investigation.

The video could not be independently verified by AFP and it was not immediately clear if the atrocity was connected to the ongoing 16-month war in northern Ethiopia.

The conflict between government forces and Tigrayan rebels in Africa’s second most populous country has killed thousands of people. There are widespread reports of atrocities, including mass killings and sexual violence.

According to the UN, the fighting has also displaced more than two million people, driven hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation and left more than nine million in need of assistance.

Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council announced that Fatou Bensouda, a former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), would head a UN investigation into a wide range of alleged violations committed by all sides in the war.

Agence France-Presse


Ethiopia pledges action after video shows uniformed men burning civilians alive – Reuters

By Reuters Staff

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s government said on Saturday it would act against the perpetrators after a video appeared on social media showing armed men, some in military uniforms, burning civilians to death in the country’s west.

The Ethiopia Government Communication Service said in a statement on its Facebook page that the incident occurred in the Ayisid Kebele of Metekel Zone in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, a site of frequent ethnic violence for more than a year in which hundreds of civilians have died.

“A horrific and inhumane act was recently committed… In a series of horrific images circulated on social media, innocent civilians were burned to death,” the statement read.

It did not say when the events took place or who was responsible.

“Regardless of their origin or identity, the government will take legal action against those responsible for this gross and inhumane act.”

Reuters was not able to verify the time and location where the video was filmed or the actions it showed.

In the video, some of the men in the crowd are wearing Ethiopian military uniforms as well as uniforms from other regional security forces.

Military spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane and government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The violence in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, which is home to several ethnic groups, is separate from the war in the northern Tigray region that erupted in November 2020 between Ethiopian federal forces and rebellious forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Source: The Economist

Its prickly, isolated dictator has long been hostile to the West

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 02: People clap as the results of a General Assembly vote on a resolution is shown on a screen during a special session of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on March 02, 2022 in New York City. The U.N. General Assembly continued its 11th Emergency Special Session where a vote was held on a draft resolution to condemn Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. Since the start of the war seven days ago, there have been over 600,000 people who have been displaced in Ukraine according to the U.N. refugee agency. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service have said that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Mar 8th 2022
When russia invaded Ukraine most of the world reacted with horror: on March 2nd an overwhelming majority of countries supported a UN resolution condemning Russian aggression. But among the usual suspects who voted against it (Belarus, Syria, North Korea, Russia itself) one stood out. Eritrea, which was also the only country other than Russia to vote against a UN human-rights investigation in Ukraine, is a small and impoverished country with little to gain from resisting the tide of international opinion so flagrantly. So why is it backing Russia?
Eritrea’s solidarity with an imperialist, revanchist Russia is at first glance surprising. As a young country long threatened by a bigger neighbour, it appears more like Ukraine. Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia, a much more powerful country to its south, in 1993—just a couple of years after Ukraine broke away from Russia. As in Ukraine, nationhood in Eritrea is seen as something fragile which cannot be taken for granted. It took decades of armed struggle against successive regimes in Ethiopia—first the imperial government of Emperor Haile Selassie, then a Soviet-backed Marxist junta known as the Derg—before a referendum on secession was approved. Five years later the two countries fought a bloody border war which cost perhaps 70,000 lives. Even today there are some in Ethiopia who question whether Eritrea is really a separate country at all.
Part of the reason for Eritrea’s unlikely support for Russia lies in its leadership’s background in the liberation struggle. Unlike many African liberation movements in the 20th century, such as the African National Congress which fought apartheid in South Africa, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) was not supported by the Soviet Union. In fact the Soviets armed the Derg and even sent military advisers to assist in the fight against it. But Gaim Kibreab, the author of a recent book on Soviet-Eritrean relations, argues that despite this “the EPLF always considered the Soviet Union as a strategic ally against imperialism, and saw America as its number one enemy.” Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Issaias Afewerki, the EPLF’s former leader and Eritrea’s dictator since independence, has continued to see himself as part of an axis of anti-Western powers led by Russia.
More recent history helps to explain the intensity of Issaias’s hostility to the West. When war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1998, the Eritrean president felt America and its allies had sided with Ethiopia. After a humiliating defeat Issais retreated into embittered isolation. He put Eritrea on a permanent war footing, bloating its huge army with lifetime conscripts. Hundreds of thousands of Eritreans fled the country. In 2009 the UN, nudged by America and its ally, the Ethiopian government, imposed an arms embargo (in part for Eritrea’s alleged support for jihadists in Somalia). Ironically, Eritrea had briefly courted America in the early 2000s and even publicly backed its invasion of Iraq. Feeling stung, Issais’s regime gradually drifted into being the most anti-Western in Africa.
Eritrea’s controversial involvement in Ethiopia’s current civil war has set it on an even more confrontational path with the West. Eritrean troops are accused of slaughtering civilians, gang-raping women and blocking food from reaching the hungry. Tentative progress towards rehabilitating Issais’s regime, which culminated in the lifting of the arms embargo in late 2018, has screeched into reverse. In November last year America slapped sanctions on the Eritrean armed forces, the ruling party and connected entities. It has repeatedly called for Eritrean forces to withdraw from Ethiopia.
By contrast, the threat of a Russian veto has consistently stymied action against Eritrea or Ethiopia at the UN Security Council. Ethiopia, which also has Mr Putin to thank for this, is now trying to mend bridges with the West in order to rebuild its war-battered economy. But Issais has no interest in foreign aid, seeing it as a Trojan horse for Western interference in his country’s affairs. Nor does he care much for promoting the private sector. More important from his perspective are arms and large, strategic investments which bring lucrative rents. Russia has promised to sell Eritrea weapons and to build a logistics base for its own navy on the Eritrean coast. And in Mr Putin Eritrea’s president has a fellow autocrat who prizes bashing the West, and meddling with his neighbours, above the well-being of his citizens. Viewed this way, the two leaders seem like comrades-in-arms.

Mar 7, 2022

By Lord David Alton

International Women’s Day Commemorated in Parliament With An Event Focusing On The Use of Extreme Sexual Violence Against the Women of Tigray. “Beyond Surviving”. Call to reform the UN Security Council veto To Stop It Being Used In Cases of Atrocity Crimes Being Referred To The International Criminal Court.

Helen Hayes MP

International Women’s Day Commemorated in Parliament With an event hosted by Helen Hayes MP.

It was organised By Sally Keeble and focused on the use of extreme sexual violence against the Women of  Tigray.

Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed and Sally Keeble

It included speeches from Lucy Kassa, a brave Ethiopian journalist, Filsan Abdullahi, former Ethiopian Women’s Minister, lawyer Ewelina Ochab and Labour Spokesman Lord (Ray) Collins.

Journalist Lucy Kassa explains what she has witnessed

During “Beyond Surviving” – an event held at Westminster – Members of the Commons and the Lords heard disturbing accounts of the horrific use of extreme sexual violence against women and girls in Tigray by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers. Shocking and disturbing accounts were shared of gang rape by groups of soldiers; of rapes of girls as young as eight years of age; the mutilation of women’s genitals – in order to prevent them from ever giving birth to Tigrayan children.

Lord David Alton

Lord Alton of Liverpool (David Alton), speaking as co-chair of the All Parry Parliamentary Group on Eritrea, said that the UK Government needed to do much more to ensure that those responsible for these appalling crimes are brought to justice. He said that the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council had often failed miserably to uphold the Convention on the Crime of Genocide.

The UN Security Council been thwarted from referring perpetrators to the International Criminal Court because of the use of veto by permanent members with links to the regimes responsible. He said that France and the UK needed to act in concert in pressing for the removal of the veto in cases of atrocity crimes, including the use of rape as weapon of war against women and girls. He said that under the darkness of the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine the world must not be allowed to forget the continued suffering of Tigray.

Lord Alton.

AFRICA

There have been distressing examples of Africans – many of them students – being refused entry to trains as they tried to escape the war in Ukraine. Others have been attacked when they reach Poland and “safety”.

Such racism is disgusting and has been rightly criticised.

But there have also been examples of African states siding with the Russian aggression.

Eritrea was the only African state to vote against a UN General Assembly resolution criticising Putin’s invasion. But others – like Uganda – have come out in support of Russia. So too have the South Africans, who were among 24 African countries that declined to join the vote denouncing Russian aggression.

Martin


Source: New York Times

Shunned by Others, Russia Finds Friends in Africa

  • Declan Walsh and John Eligon

Fri, March 4, 2022, 1:11 PM·6 min read

The Russian flag is carried in a crowd in the national plaza in Ouagadougou, the capitol of Burkina Faso, the day after a military coup, Jan. 25, 2022. (Malin Fezehai/The New York Times)The Russian flag is carried in a crowd in the national plaza in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, the day after a military coup, Jan. 25, 2022. (Malin Fezehai/The New York Times)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Since the days of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s leaders have rejected American criticism of their friendships with autocrats such as Fidel Castro of Cuba and Moammar Gadhafi of Libya, whose countries backed them during the most desperate moments of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Now South Africans are defending their loyalty to another autocrat — Russian President Vladimir Putin — and sitting out the global outcry over his invasion of Ukraine.

At the United Nations on Wednesday, South Africa was among 24 African countries that declined to join the resounding vote denouncing Russian aggression: 16 African countries abstained, seven didn’t vote at all and one — Eritrea — voted against it, keeping company only with Russia, Belarus, Syria and North Korea.

The striking tally reflected the ambiguous attitude across much of the continent where, with a handful of exceptions, the Ukraine war has been greeted with conspicuous silence — a sharp contrast with Western countries that are expanding sanctions, seizing oligarchs’ yachts, pressing for war crimes investigations, and even openly threatening to collapse the Russian economy.

“Russia is our friend through and through,” Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s minister of social development, who studied in Moscow during the apartheid years, said in an interview. “We are not about to denounce that relationship that we have always had.”

Many African countries have a long-standing affinity with Russia stretching back to the Cold War: Some political and military leaders studied there, and trade links have grown. And in recent years, a growing number of countries have contracted with Russian mercenaries and bought ever-greater quantities of Russian weapons.

A few African countries have condemned Russian aggression as an attack on the international order, notably Kenya and Ghana. About 25 African nations voted for the U.N. resolution that denounced Putin’s actions on Wednesday. But deep divisions in the continent’s response were apparent from the start.

The deputy leader of Sudan flew into Moscow on the first day of the conflict, exchanging warm handshakes with Russia’s foreign minister as warplanes bombed Ukrainian cities. Morocco, a longtime American ally, offered a watery statement, annoying American officials who nonetheless kept quiet.

In Ethiopia, Russian flags flew at a ceremony Wednesday to commemorate a famous 19th century battle against Italian invaders, recalling the involvement of Russian volunteers who sided with Ethiopian fighters.

African sympathies for Ukraine were also diluted by reports of Ukrainian border guards forcing African students to the back of lines as they attempted to leave the country, raising a furor over racism and discrimination. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, which has 4,000 students in Ukraine, decried the reports.

Putin has partly sidestepped opprobrium in Africa by calling in chits that date back to the Cold War, when Moscow backed African liberation movements and presented itself as a bulwark against Western neocolonialism. On Sunday, Russia’s foreign ministry paused its focus on Ukraine to remind South Africa, in a tweet, of its support for the fight against apartheid.

But Putin has also divided African opinion thanks to his own efforts to expand Russian influence across the continent through an unusual combination of diplomacy, guns and mercenaries.

In an effort to regain some of the influence that Moscow lost in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin hosted a glitzy summit in the southern Russian city of Sochi in 2019 that was attended by 43 African heads of state. A second Russia-Africa summit is scheduled for this fall.

But as Russia’s economy strained under Western sanctions imposed after the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, it could not afford the expensive enticements offered by other powers in Africa, such as China’s cheap loans or Western development aid.

So it has offered no-questions weapons sales and the services of Russian mercenaries, many employed by the Wagner Group, a company linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Putin’s who is known as “Putin’s cook.”

In recent years, Wagner mercenaries have fought in civil wars in Libya and Mozambique and are currently guarding the president of the Central African Republic, where they helped repel a rebel assault on the capital last year.

In January, Wagner fighters appeared in Mali, as part of a deal to combat Islamist insurgents that infuriated France, the former colonial power, which last month declared it was pulling its own soldiers out of Mali.

The military junta ruling Mali denies inviting Wagner into the country, but U.S. military officials say as many as 1,000 Russian mercenaries are already operating there.

Russia’s influence also stems from weapons sales. Russia accounts for nearly half of all arms imports into Africa, according to Russia’s arms export agency and organizations that monitor weapons transfers.

One of Putin’s staunchest defenders in the past week was a powerful figure in Uganda, a major customer for Russian weapons. Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, said in a tweet: “The majority of mankind (that are nonwhite) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine.”

He added, “When the USSR parked nuclear armed missiles in Cuba in 1962, the West was ready to blow up the world over it. Now when NATO does the same, they expect Russia to do differently.”

That reference highlighted a jarring contradiction in Putin’s new embrace of Africa, said Maxim Matusevich, a history professor at Seton Hall University, in New Jersey, who studies Russia’s relationships in Africa.

“During the Cold War, the Soviets were trying to sell socialism to African nations while criticizing Western colonialism and imperialism,” he said. Now, Russia is engaged in a fresh bid for influence in Africa but driven by right-wing nationalism.

A similar divide has emerged in Asia, where nations with authoritarian leaders or weak ties to the West have embraced Putin’s war or avoided criticism of Russian military aggression.

For Africans, the war could hit hard in the pocket. Last week, the Automobile Association of South Africa predicted that rising fuel prices would reach a record high in the coming weeks. Food, too, is getting more expensive — Russia and Ukraine are major sources of wheat and fertilizer in Africa — at a time when many African countries are still reeling from the pandemic.

But the war could also have an economic upside for Africa, albeit one that could take years to be felt. As Europe pivots away from Russian gas imports, it could turn to African countries looking to exploit recently discovered energy reserves.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, which is seeking a $30 billion investment to tap a huge gas discovery in the Indian Ocean, said the invasion of Ukraine could provide an opportunity.

“Whether Africa or Europe or America, we are looking for markets,” she told The Africa Report, an online news outlet.

Elsewhere, though, Putin is still benefiting from his image as a thorn in the West’s side. Many South Africans remember that the United States supported the apartheid regime until the 1980s. South Africans also took a sour view of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Sithembile Mbete, a senior lecturer in political science and international relations at the University of Pretoria.

However, aside from the historical ties with Russia, South Africa is motivated to call for diplomacy rather than fighting because that approach aligns with the country’s stance on international conflicts for the past 30 years, she said.

“That is the lesson they took from South Africa’s own struggle — that actually apartheid ended when the two sides sat down at the table,” Mbete said. “When it came down to it, the conflict only ended through negotiation and through compromise.”

© 2022 The New York Times Company

RUSSIA

 

Source: New Statesman

Putin through the looking-glass

The Russian president has created a phantom enemy in “fascist” Ukraine and bet everything on defeating it. How does this end?

By Gabriel Gatehouse

Every year, just before Christmas, a bunch of BBC journalists get together in a studio in New Broadcasting House for what is known as the Annual Correspondents’ Look Ahead. As the title suggests, the idea is to try to predict the big events that will define the year ahead. This past December the presenter Lyse Doucet asked me: “Will Russia invade Ukraine.”

It was a reasonable question. Russia had, at that point, positioned around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders. But I told Lyse I didn’t think it was going to happen. For the next two months I maintained that Vladimir Putin would not mount a full-scale invasion. I may even have promised to eat my rabbit-fur ushanka hat if he did. (Thankfully there is no record of this on air.)

My reasoning was solid: it made no strategic sense. Moscow has been stoking conflict in Ukraine for eight years. In that time the Russian president’s tactic has been to keep the threat of escalation alive while avoiding all-out war. That way he keeps Ukraine out of Nato and gets himself a seat at the negotiating table with the Americans. I’ve been following Russia for the past quarter of a century. I thought I knew what I was talking about.

I seems I didn’t. As I write these words, Lyse Doucet is in a bomb shelter in Kyiv as an armoured Russian column 40 miles long inches its way towards the city and I am getting messages of shock and horror from friends in Kyiv and Moscow alike.

Over the past ten earth-shattering days, in between trying to figure out what is going on, whether my friends are safe and doom-scrolling on Twitter wondering if we’re barrelling towards global nuclear conflict, it has slowly dawned on me where I (and, to be fair, most analysts who know Russia reasonably well) went wrong.

When a popular revolution overthrew Ukraine’s Russian-backed president in 2014, Moscow called it a fascist coup. It is true that there were some neo-Nazis on Maidan, Kyiv’s central square, in 2014 — I reported on that at the time. But they were not the driving force behind the revolt. There are still neo-Nazis in Ukraine, including among its fighting forces, notably a group known as the Azov Battalion, which uses a Nazi symbol as its emblem. But they are a fringe. Indeed, the electoral influence of the far right in Ukraine has been steadily dwindling since the pro-Russian government was ousted: in parliamentary elections in 2014, the nationalist Svoboda Party got only 4.71 per cent; by 2019 their support had shrunk to 2.15 per cent.

I keep an eye on Russian state-controlled TV. Over the past eight years I’ve watched the Kremlin propaganda machine spewing out increasingly deranged fantasies about how Ukraine’s pro-Western government is in fact a regime led by fascists and neo-Nazis bent on the genocide of the Russian speaking people. You don’t have to know the intricacies of Ukraine’s parliamentary electoral maths to know that this is nonsense. It’s probably sufficient to note that Ukraine’s current president is Jewish, and was voted in by an electorate including millions of Russian speakers. That, and the fact that there has been no genocide.   

I always assumed this whole narrative about Nazis was just a cover for Putin’s less emotive but more realistic aims in Ukraine: keeping himself in power and his neighbour in Moscow’s orbit. So those were the issues I focused on: the tangible, the geopolitical. In the early hours of 24 February the Russian president went on TV to announce the start of the invasion. He was sending in the troops, he said, to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Again, I dismissed that as just propaganda, wracking my brain instead to try to figure out the real reason. What could he possibly hope to achieve, other than international isolation and, eventually, defeat? But like a mantra in the mouths of members of a deranged cult, “de-Nazification” is being repeated with increasing frequency and conviction by members of Russia’s ruling elite, some of them people I am convinced know that what they’re saying is total nonsense. Nato barely gets a mention.

It is beginning to dawn on me that Vladimir Putin has gone through the looking-glass, and is dragging the saner members of his entourage with him. He has ordered an invasion but forbidden anyone to call it that. He has identified an enemy that doesn’t exist and bet everything on defeating it. He has come to believe his own propaganda. A man I once thought to be a clear-eyed tactician, a realist who would employ whatever means necessary — however brutal — to achieve his aims, turns out to be, what? A madman? No, maybe not that, but someone who lives in an alternate universe, where black is white, war is peace, ignorance is strength… you get the picture.

Over the past few years we’ve seen parallel realities take hold in different contexts: Covid doesn’t exist; a cabal of Satanic paedophiles is running the world; the 2020 US presidential election was stolen. People who inhabit the “reality-based world” have ignored these fantasies or underplayed their significance, often until it was too late. In America the Republican Party is now in the grip of a lie that threatens to break its democracy. And in Europe the leader of a nuclear-armed state is pursuing not a tangible security gain but the destruction of a phantom.

Where does that end? At what point might Putin think he’s won? The answer is, he won’t, because he’s fighting something that isn’t real. He will continue until he’s stopped. At least that’s the way it looks to me right now. That’s what I’ll say at the next Correspondents’ Look Ahead. If they’ll have me. And if we’re all still here.

AFRICAMOZAMBIQUESOUTH AFRICA

The US Treasury has named and imposed sanctions on what it says are “four ISIS and ISIS-Mozambique (ISIS-M) financial facilitators in South Africa.” 

Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller, Abdella Hussein Abadigga, and Peter Charles Mbaga are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters, among others.

ISIS members and associates in South Africa are playing a role in facilitating the transfer of funds from the top of the ISIS hierarchy to branches across Africa.  Those designated today have provided financial support or served as leaders of ISIS cells in South Africa.  ISIS and ISIS-M are distinct and separately-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTOs) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended.

ISIS has attempted to expand its influence in Africa through large-scale operations particularly in areas where government control is limited.  ISIS branches in Africa rely on local fundraising schemes such as theft, extortion of local populations, and kidnapping for ransom as well as financial support from the ISIS hierarchy.

We are taking today’s action to further disrupt and expose key ISIS and ISIS-M supporters who raise revenue for ISIS and exploit South Africa’s financial system to facilitate funding for ISIS branches and networks across Africa.

US STATE DEPARTMENT

This is from a blog by Frontier Post

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and ISIS-Mozambique (ISIS-M) financial facilitators based in South Africa.

ISIS members and associates in South Africa are playing an increasingly central role in facilitating the transfer of funds from the top of the ISIS hierarchy to branches across Africa. The South Africa-based ISIS members designated today pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, have provided support for the aforementioned transfers or served as leaders of ISIS cells in South Africa.

“Treasury is taking this action to disrupt and expose key ISIS supporters who exploit South Africa’s financial system to facilitate funding for ISIS branches and networks across Africa,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson. “The United States is working with our African partners, including South Africa, to dismantle ISIS financial support networks on the continent.”

ISIS has recently attempted to expand its influence in Africa through large-scale operations in areas where government control is limited. ISIS branches in Africa rely on local fundraising schemes such as theft, extortion of local populations, and kidnapping for ransom, as well as financial support from the ISIS hierarchy.

Illicit activities in South Africa, The democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique

Between 2017 and 2018, Farhad Hoomer helped organize and begin the operations of a Durban, South Africa-based ISIS cell. Hoomer, who is the leader of the Durban-based ISIS cell, has provided some of his known residential properties and vehicles registered in his name to sponsor the cell’s meetings and operational activities. In his role, Hoomer claimed to have recruited and trained cell members and was in contact with members of ISIS-Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC) and ISIS supporters throughout South Africa. Hoomer raised funds through kidnap-for-ransom operations and extortion of major businesses, which provided more than one million South African rand in revenue for his cell. In 2018, South African authorities arrested Hoomer along with his associates for their involvement in a plan to deploy improvised incendiary devices near a mosque and commercial and retail buildings.

Siraaj Miller, who leads a Cape Town-based group of ISIS supporters, has provided financial assistance to ISIS by training members to conduct robberies to raise funds for ISIS. In 2018, Miller also aided in acquiring temporary safe houses for ISIS.

Abdella Hussein Abadigga has recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp. Abadigga, who controlled two mosques in South Africa, used his position to extort money from members of the mosques. Abadigga sent these funds via a hawala to ISIS supporters elsewhere in Africa. Bilal al-Sudani, a U.S.-designated ISIS leader in Somalia, considered Abadigga a trusted supporter who could help the ISIS supporters in South Africa become better organized and recruit new members.

Peter Charles Mbaga facilitated funds transfers from South Africa. Mbaga sought to provide support to ISIS-M by helping the group procure equipment from South Africa. Mbaga also sought to procure weapons from Mozambique.

Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller, and Abdella Hussein Abadigga are being designated pursuant to Executive E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS.

Peter Charles Mbaga is being designated pursuant to Executive E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS-M.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, must be blocked and reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making or receiving of any contribution of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of those persons

Furthermore, engaging in certain transactions with the individuals designated today entails risk of secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account of a foreign financial institution that has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of a SDGT.

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the List of Specially Designated Nationals or Blocked Persons (“SDN List”), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897.


Alleged terrorist Farhad Hoomer kicked out of Islamic conference

Source: IOL

By Charlene Somduth Time of article published Nov 1, 2019

Farhad Hoomer in Court

Durban – Farhad Hoomer claims he is being treated like an outcast by sections of the Muslim community. This after he was kicked out of an Islamic conference and allegedly labelled a “terrorist” by the organisers.

Hoomer, 42, a businessman from Overport, Durban, is facing a charge of terrorism in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court. He is also accused of having links to the militant group Islamic State.

The father of eight said he was shocked and hurt when he was prevented from attending the Southern African Ulama Forum Conference hosted by the Darul Ihsan Humanitarian Centre at the Crescent Hall in Parlock.

The conference was set down for two days – October 19 and 20 – and, according to Hoomer, the public was invited to attend via radio.

He attended the conference on Saturday and was welcomed by other guests. However, when an official noticed his presence, Hoomer claimed he was asked to leave.

He said he left the conference to attend prayer at a nearby mosque. After the prayer he noticed an official taking pictures of him with a cellphone, but he didn’t do anything about it. He returned the next morning but was stopped at the entrance of the parking lot.

“The official told me I was not allowed in the area. When I questioned him, he said I was a terrorist and I was affiliated to Isis. The official added that those in charge of the conference did not want to allow me in.”

Hoomer refused to leave the venue and asked to see the officials in charge.

He said five officials subsequently met him, together with members of the police and a private security company.

“They again asked me to leave. I told them I wanted clarity on why I was not allowed to attend the conference. They promised to arrange a meeting for us to discuss the matter.”

Hoomer said he left the conference but felt like an outcast.

“I was hurt and what shocked me the most was that this was an Islamic event. Before my arrest, I was welcomed by this organisation. We have prayed shoulder to shoulder together. Now, all of a sudden, I am an outcast. The court is yet to determine if I am innocent or guilty but the organisers have already found me guilty.”

Hoomer said he was confident he would be found not guilty.

“I was arrested just over a year ago and none of the maulanas or Islamic scholars have spoken to me or called me about the allegations against me. How do they now find me guilty without even speaking to me? How can they label me as a terrorist? They have already prosecuted, put me on trial and sentenced me.”

Hoomer has written to the centre seeking an apology but is yet to receive a reply.

“They never set up a meeting to clarify why I was not allowed into the conference.

“They need to apologise for the injustice they have caused and the fact that they have impaired me in front of people that morning.”

Hoomer was arrested in October last year in Reservoir Hills along with 17 other men. He has been accused of being the mastermind behind the attack on the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam in May last year.

The attack claimed the life of Abbas Essop.

The group is also accused of planting incendiary devices around Durban.

“The allegations levelled against me has put a strain on me and my family. I ran a property business and a diamond and gold business. I have lost R15million in revenue since I was arrested.”

Hoomer said he had only recently been granted permission to travel aboard for business.

“I am trying to get my businesses back on track. The majority of my suppliers and business affiliates have pulled out of business with me because I am now labelled as a terrorist.

“I was kept in custody for 53 days and this was emotionally traumatic for my eight children, four of whom are in school as well as my wives.”

Hoomer said he knows nothing about Isis or terrorism.

“These things are happening in Syria and Iraq. I cannot comment on them. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Just look at the life of Nelson Mandela.”

The Darul Ihsan Humanitarian Centre said the Southern African Ulama Forum Conference was only for Islamic scholars.

Muhammad Ameer, the centre’s secretary, said the conference was part of a professional development programme.

“Being a conference of Islamic scholars, participation is strictly by invitation only and confined to individuals belonging to the fraternity. Delegates were required to register electronically. Only registered persons were allowed entry into the conference.”

However, certain individuals, added Ameer, served as volunteers and support personnel.

“Mr Hoomer arrived at the conference venue in Parlock on Sunday morning and insisted on being allowed to attend. He was intercepted by security at the entrance, denied entry and (was) requested to leave.”

Ameer said Hoomer was told about the attendance protocol and requirements and he left the venue.

An IPRA Report

By Awet T. Weldemichael, Yibeyin Hagos Yohannes and Meron Estefanos

Full Report:

between_a_rock_and_a_hard_place-eritrean_refugees_in_tigray_and_ethiopian_civil_war_weldemichael_et._al._2022Download

TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................. ix

RECOMMENDATIONS .............................................................. xiii

INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 1

IN THE RUN UP TO THE CONFLICT AND IMMEDIATELY

AFTER ............................................................................................ 7

WHEN THE REFUGE IS NO LONGER SAFE ........................... 13

Unaccompanied and Separated Children ................ 37

Looting and Destruction ................................................ 40

Sexual Violence ................................................................ 43

FLIGHT NARRATIVES ............................................................... 47

Persecution, Detention, and Abduction of Eritrean

Refugees .............................................................................. 53

Traumatic Experiences .................................................. 55

CURRENT NEEDS OF THE REFUGEES ................................... 57

FROM FLATTENED CAMPS TO THE DEEP BLUE SEA ....... 61

CONCLUSION ............................................................................. 65

A NOTE ON THE METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY ............ 67

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

➢ Overshadowed by the atrocities of the dreadful civil war in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Eritrean refugees there have endured – and continue to endure – grave human rights violations in the hands of the various warring sides.

➢ Before the outbreak of the conflict, Tigray region was home to more than 90,000 Eritrean convention refugees sheltered in four UNHCR camps.

➢ Following the start of fighting, safety, security and sustenance imperatives compelled many of these refugees to flee the camps.

➢ Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) soldiers forced others out of two camps, looted UNHCR facilities, and destroyed existing physical infrastructure.

➢ Whereas Eritrean soldiers targeted some refugees for kidnap and involuntary return to Eritrea, they variously lured others to repatriate, including by promising them blanket amnesty.

➢ Soldiers of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and Amhara forces abused fleeing Eritrean refugees at various check points, demanded bribes and stole/confiscated their valuables.

➢ Tigrayan forces, militia and armed civilians from around the camps also launched organized or kneejerk reprisal attacks against the refugees and ransacked the camps of their remaining supplies of basic necessities.

➢ Many refugee women and girls were sexually assaulted while others were forced to endure “survival sex” because of the precarious situation in which they found themselves and their loved ones.

➢ Many refugees on the move lost – or do not know the whereabouts of – loved ones and friends.

➢ In their desperate quest for safe ground and onward migration out of Ethiopia, some refugees have fallen victim to human traffickers, who have started to badger the refugees’ loved ones for ransom.

➢ Previously separated and unaccompanied minors faced a higher risk of separation from their caregivers, and of being smuggled and trafficked.

➢ Refugees fled the camps with little to none of their belongings. Those who gathered what little belongings they could lost them to various forces manning the many security checkpoints along the way.

➢ Refugees who managed to escape the war zone and managed to reach Addis Ababa at great physical and emotional risk to themselves and heavy financial burden to their loved ones were forcibly returned to the very camps that they escaped, government claims of their protection and transfer to the newly instituted refugee camp in Gondar notwithstanding.

➢ More than a year after the outbreak of the war and dramatic shifts in the balance of power on the ground, the plight of Eritrean refugees persists.