Ethiopia says rights report fabricated
The government said the U.S.-based group’s “groundless” report was based on information provided by sympathisers of the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
“Ethiopia will not tolerate fabricated reports and slandering campaigns aimed at satisfying somebody’s geo-political agenda,” the Information Ministry said in a statement reported by the state news agency ENA.
“It is clear that such a campaign of defamation is the work of anti-peace forces that hate to see Ethiopia on the right track of development and democracy and the success of the peoples of Ethiopia in all sectors.”
Ethiopia, an important regional ally of Washington, accuses the rebels of abusing residents. It launched its latest offensive after ONLF fighters attacked a Chinese-run oil field in the region in April 2007, killing more than 70 people.
HRW accused Western donors, including the United States, Britain and the European Union, of maintaining a conspiracy of silence over the behaviour of the Ethiopian military.
The U.S.-based group issued two reports it said documented attacks on civilians in Ogaden, one based on witness accounts and another using satellite imagery to show villages that had been burned.
It said the government was limiting access to the region, that the violence was continuing and staff believed their findings represented only a fraction of the actual abuses.