May 12, 2018
Taysiir Omar-Food was a 25 year old young woman from Qabridahare who worked on women's programmes for the local administration in Jigjiga. After she returned to Qabridahare from Jigjiga on the eve of Thursday May 10th; Taysiir was taken from her home by the Liyu Police and detained in the local police station. By Friday morning her lynched body was found sprawled on the ground by locals. The Liyuu police ordered that she be buried, however local chiefs and religious leaders refused to bury her until those accountable were made known.
Protests immediately erupted throughout the city and were further fueled by the graphic images of Taysiir’s injuries on her neck from the lynching, which quickly went viral throughout social media. In an attempt to extinguish the protests and subvert the narrative, Abdi Mohamed Omar (Abdi Iley), the president of the Somali Region put out a false statement claiming that Taysiir had committed suicide due to mental health issues. This is a tactic that this administration has used in the past to delegitimize any dissident voices.
Taysiir was targeted because her uncle was among a delegation of elders and religious leaders from across the Ogaden region that traveled to Addis Ababa, to meet with government officials about the human rights violations committed by Abdi Iley. In addition, a few of Taysiir’s relatives have been vocal against Abdi Iley on social media. While it is common practice for the relatives of dissidents to be punished, the murder of Taysiir- a government employee suggests the extent of the systemic reprisals carried out by the Administration of Abdi Iley. For the past few days The Liyuu Police militia have been harrassing the relatives of the delegation of elders who travelled to Addis Ababa to convince them to return to Jigjiga.
The protests in Qabridahare sparked by the lynching of Taysiir occur in the midst of increasing protests across the Ogaden region. In the past few weeks, hundreds of protesters have been arrested in Shiniile, Dire Dawa, and Wajaale where several were killed as a result. Around 400 protesters have already been arrested in Qabridahare and Hassan Sheikh Mahamed Yasin lost his life to the injuries he sustained at the hands of the Liyu Police. The Regional administration has significantly increased the presence of Liyu Police militia reinforced by the Ethiopian military presence in Qabridahar in order to collaboratively crack down on the protesters.
Ogaden Youth and Student Union extend their solidarity with all protesters seeking change and reform from the administration of Abdi Iley and for those who are speaking up against the normalisation of human rights violations committed by the Liyu Police and the Ethiopian military across the Ogaden region. We are calling on the international community to condemn the gross human rights violations being committed in the Ogaden and to stand in solidarity with the protesters whose lives are in constant risk as they fight for their fundamental human rights.
Ogaden Youth and Student Union