[dehai-news] (Reuters): US turned blind eye to Somalia abuses: rights group

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Feb 01 2009 - 14:55:25 EST

US turned blind eye to Somalia abuses: rights group

Sun Feb 1, 2009 11:12am EST


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The United States has turned a blind eye to abuses
by its allies in Somalia and worsened the situation there by reducing a
complex conflict to a front in its "war on terror," a leading human rights
group said.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a letter to African Union Commission
chairman Jean Ping that the policies of many governments had been
destructive in Somalia.

"U.S. policy on Somalia has been particularly unhelpful, treating Somalia's
complex realities as a theater in the 'war on terror' while turning a blind
eye to rampant abuses by the Ethiopian and transitional government forces,"
HRW said in the letter that was handed to reporters at an AU summit on

The letter was sent to Ping late last month.

U.S. ally Ethiopia sent its army into Somalia to topple an Islamist
administration in Mogadishu and rescue the Western-backed transitional
government at the end of 2006.

At least 10,000 civilians were killed in an ensuing Iraq-style insurgency
that also created more than a million refugees and fomented piracy in
shipping lanes off the coast.

The Ethiopians withdrew last month and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate
Islamist who led the sharia courts government overthrown by them, was
elected on Saturday as Somali president, raising hopes that a way can be
found out of the conflict that has torn Somalia for 18 years.

Ahmed has made positive noises toward the new U.S. administration of
President <http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/barackobama> Barack
Obama, saying Washington's policy toward Somalia was positive and honest.

"America has become a force which supports peace," he told an Egyptian
newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch said all sides in the conflict over the last two years
had committed war crimes and human rights abuses.

It accused Europe of sending aid to Somali police without insisting on
accountability for serious crimes and said Eritrea had provided arms to
fighters in Somalia as part of a proxy war against Ethiopia.

HRW called on the AU, whose leaders are meeting until Tuesday in the
Ethiopian capital, to ask the U.N. Security Council to establish a
commission of inquiry into rights abuses in Somalia.

(editing by Elizabeth Piper)


C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved



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