02/05/07 (B393) Statement from Afar Forum : The remaining Hostages are free, but the Afar plight goes on and on (En Anglais)

kidnapping of eight Ethiopians and five Europeans at the beginning of March
has put spotlight on Afar region and the people who inhabit this remote area.

The five Europeans were released after about two weeks when Afar elders successfully
negotiated with the rebel group that abducted them. The release of the eight
remaining Ethiopians recently has been once again secured as the result of
crucial role played by the Afar elders, and their successful effort has been
recognized by the Ethiopian authorities.

The Afar diaspora right from the beginning has been working unyieldingly to
secure freedom of all hostages. We are very delighted that it is all over
and all hostages are back to their homes and loved ones safe and sound. We
would also like to extend our thanks and express our appreciation for all
who contributed to their release and particularly the Afar elders who successfully
negotiated the peaceful end of the hostage drama.

Meanwhile, both Ethiopian and Eritrean governments continue to keep the Afar
society as hostage in their ancestral homeland and abuse their fundamental
human rights. As have been highlighted in our previous Press Releases of 25
March 2007, the root causes of the Afar dissatisfaction and resentment include:

  • Repeatedly
    broken promises by successive Ethiopian rulers in the center that resulted
    in ever increasing marginalization of the Afars
  • High-handedness
    and micro management by the ruling party through appointed puppets

  • monopolization of the Afar salts concessions by Tigray merchants and officials

  • the sustained military campaign by Somali-Issas against the Afar nomads
    in the west
  • Confiscation
    of fertile land around Awash River ( for expansion of Tandaho and Saburre
    sugar industries) resulting in forced displacement of hundreds of thousands
    of families

Afar Forum reiterates its call

  • Upon all human right
    organizations, the international community, all the peace loving people
    to put pressure both on Ethiopian and Eritrean governments to respect
    the basic human rights of the Afar people and stop immediately atrocities
    being committed against them
  • Upon Ethiopian and
    Eritrean governments to release all prisoners of conscience (hostages)
    without any preconditions

Stuttgart, Germany
April 30, 2007