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Ethiopian girl survives Woyanne massacre (LA Times)

Los Angeles Times

NAIROBI, Kenya | The teenager awoke under a pile of corpses to a pricking sensation on her face. Ants were biting her eyelids and the inside of her mouth.

The pain, however, brought relief to the 17-year-old. “I thought, I’m alive,’ ” Ridwan Hassan Sahid remembers. She felt blood oozing from rope burns around her neck and the weight of a body against her back. But fearing that the Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers who had left her for dead in a roadside ditch would return, she quickly brushed away the ants, shut her eyes and slipped back into unconsciousness.

Ridwan Hassan Sahid
Ridwan Hassan Sahid shows the marks on her neck after surviving hanging by Woyanne soldiers.

The assault and miraculous escape is one of the most chilling stories to emerge from an unfolding tragedy in eastern Ethiopia that largely has escaped the attention of a world transfixed by the humanitarian crisis in neighboring Sudan’s Darfur region.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands were displaced in the past year alone, although exact figures are unknown because the area is remote and Ethiopian Woyanne officials restrict access to humanitarian groups and journalists.

Survivors such as Sahid offer the only glimpse into the unfolding tragedy. Now living in a secret location, the petite young woman shared her story recently.

Now 18, Sahid at times seems to be an average teenager, picking absent-mindedly at her henna-stained fingernails and blushing when strangers express interest in her. But behind her soft brown eyes is a weariness that belies her age, and a necklace of scar tissue rings her throat where the rope cut into her skin.

She recounts her ordeal without emotion. Only occasionally does her veneer crack long enough for a tear to roll down her check, which she self-consciously laughs off and wipes away.

“I wonder sometimes,” she says, “what kind of life I can have now.”

She grew up in the village of Qorile with eight siblings. The family, like most everyone else in the area, were semi-nomadic cattle and sheep herders.

Ever since she can remember, Ethiopian Woyanne authorities were seen as the enemy.

“We feel as if we are living under occupation,” she says. “We grew up afraid of them.”

Ethiopian Woyanne officials accuse the Ogaden rebels of using terrorist tactics. In April 2007, the rebels killed more than 70 people at a Chinese-run exploration facility in the region.

The attack prompted what aid groups and witnesses call a heavy-handed response by the Ethiopian Woyanne government. Troops are accused of burning down villages believed to be sheltering rebels, forcibly recruiting young men into government militias, raping women and imposing a commercial blockade that sent local food prices and malnutrition rates soaring.

“They used mass indiscriminate measures to collectively punish the entire population,” Human Rights Watch researcher Leslie Lefkow said.

To Condoleezza Rice, raping and hanging civilians like Ridwan is not considered terrorism. It is protecting United State’s interest. We hope the next U.S. Administration will change this inhumane policy on Africa.

25 thoughts on “Ethiopian girl survives Woyanne massacre (LA Times)

  1. This is disgusting, killing people like they are animals will not get the TPLF far.
    I now encourage armed Resistance in Ethiopia to fight this evil and bring back justice to the people.

  2. It is a day-dream and sign of short-sightness to assume killings of thousands of Ogaden Somalis like Ridwan are means for eliminating deeply inspired IDEOLOGY.
    The inhumanity cases in Ogaden may be more than stars in the sky.

  3. I am one of those who helped in transporting Ridwan to Nairobi via Djibouti. The same day she survived, 9 elders died under the ropes. That was in the village of Qorille, In Danot Woreda.

    Shame on Bush, as you said; but also shame on those who are silent about it all.

  4. Response to #7 ye** anbesaw

    It is your ignorant right to side with the Weyane and its American supporters, but please don’t make a fool of yourself by not admitting the crimes that has been perpetuated against innocent people by your ** heroes and blame people like Elias who is just trying to tell it like it is. I wish there were more Elias’ and I can assure you there wouldn’t be any more wars in Ethiopia or Eritrea.

  5. To grow up afraid is the most horrible scar in the mind of a growing child, and you cannot easily erase such a lasting scar from ones’ mind.

    Even though a child refuses to go to sleep because of the every-day-ear-deafening gun shots he hears, through his compassionate mother’s sweet soothing, singing, and coaxing, he goes to a sound sleep, but suddenly, the Woyanne soldiers who do not care about the welfare of the Ogaden children fire their guns randomly into the quiet villages, and the child wakes up, sits in the middle of his bed, and begins searching for his mother whether she is alive or dead instead of taking care of himself. How heavily it would be for a small child to take the responsibilities of his family by himself! It is indeed heart breaking to hear the predicaments of the Ogaden children rarely through the news; rarely, because the Woyanne regime does not allow any news media to go to the village of Quorile and report to the world the human tragedies taking place there. Through its modern satellites, the United States may know what is happening in Ogaden: the indiscriminate killings, the village-burnings, and the burying of people alive, but it has refused to expose to the world the criminal activities of the Woyanne soldiers.

    If the United States cares, I’m sure it does, about the survivals of the Ogaden’s children, it has the absolute power to stop Meles Seitanawi from deracinating the Ogaden race from the rest of the Ethiopian people and from adding new terrorists, new hatreds to the old ones. The United States supplies the weapons and teaches the Woyanne army how to use them on the Ogaden civilians directly or indirectly. Indeed, this eighteen years old girl, Ridwan Hassan Sahid, is a living eye witness to the indiscriminate killings of her people, my people, your people – the Ogaden people – the Ethiopian people – by this undisciplined, immoral army, composed of the fanos and the shiftas (hooligans) of the Woyanne regime.

    During this delightful Easter Holiday, the Pope is praying for peace, the children of the Christian West are gathering artistically decorated eggs, but the children of Ogaden are gathering the dead bodies of their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters on this desert land of Ogaden.

    Please, America stop supplying guns to Meles the dictator, instead send some decorated or undecorated eggs to the children of Ogaden, and that is the true meaning of Easter: to make peace, to make people happy wherever they are, to tell the good news that Christ Jesus has defeated death. In the same way, let us tell the children of Ogaden that Meles’ explicit atrocities will be, one day, exposed to the world, and you will be free again, and you are going to drive your cattle, your sheep, your goats, and your camels, singing your own beautiful songs on this pleasant land of yours – Ogaden.

  6. Stories like this makes me to think only through armed straggle that the woyanes will be force to accept the will of the people, which is political and economic freedom and democracy

  7. I agree with anbessaw. This story has all the dna of a lie. They are using the textbook of lies well written by the woyannes and shabia spokesmen when they used to be in the bushes in the 70’s and 80’s. Shabia used to bomb villages and scare people out of their homes to the refugee camps in the Sudan. Ziad Barre’s media used to tell us how so many thousands of Ethiopians well killed in the battle fields everyday. Their killing count almost equalled or exceeded the entire population of Amhara, Oromia and ‘Gudelas’. They used to call Mengistu Haile Mariam a ‘Baria’. They rarely took prisoners. If they did, no one was let go alive. They even killed students who escaped the derg prosecution. They gave those students to their militias for target practice. I hope someone will dispute this fact. Because I have a solid evidence since one of the victims was my friend from Afdem. He was a teacher there. May be one of his killers is among us somewhere here in the USA or Europe. My friend’s innocent blood is still crying to the heavens. He escaped the derg death squad and sought refuge in the area then ‘controlled’ by these same bandit thugs. After a few weeks they took out all those who they thought were Christian enemies to the hills. lined them up and used them a target practice by their newly recruited militias. You can imagine what they told the militia. I suggest to Mr. Elias to drop in uninvited in the area where these elements are and experience for himself. He may not make it back alive.

  8. Is there anyway that this girl can come to the US to tell her stories to a larger audience? If someone organizes this task, I am willing to help financially.

  9. TPLF can and will not live forever.TPLF can not last forever but the people will live on years to come.Meles can not keep on slaving and killing forever.Time will come for everyone and we will see where people like Meles and his gang TPLF will be living on this earth.Justices for Ogaden people.Justices for Oromo people.

  10. Shame to the Woyannie-slaves who are committing these crimes on our own people. Woyannies are the most disgusting and despicable creatures in the history of Ethiopia.
    If there is a decent Ethiopian that the Ogadien people will forgive anyone who is raping their mothers and sisters, burning their villages, burning their crops and animals, Allah help him.
    The Woyannies will pay the price this or that way!

  11. i personally believe the blind american support for meles, a sworn dictator, is turning the whole of the horn of african region into a slaughter-house. tigrian army are committing countless atrocities, like this one in ogaden, both inside and outside ethiopian borders. the time has come for meles to face charges, because accountability is the foundation for future democracy and good governance. america can not continue to look the other way, and let this regime get away with what its doing in ethiopia as well as in somalia. in the long run, ignoring these atrocities would prove to be counterproductive.

  12. My heart bleeds 4 my sisters.this is what was happening in ogaden 4 long time since the advent of TPLF. What i want to tell my pple is TPLF didn’t fal from the sky,or come from another planet they blieve GUN let us also believe gun and oust them.

  13. An action which has been taken by arrogant AND terrorist TPLF against innocent ethiopians like Ridwan will never forgetable and there will no single place for weyane sand their agents to hidde them selves at the end of the day. All an in justice which the have committed since dedebit untill mogkadishoa , from afar untill keniya border will follow them where they will try to hidde them selves. Such TPLF’s arrogancy by the help of USA to kill innocent civilians implies that the USA ‘s committement for democracy is simply an empty word . NO country will expect some thing good from usa is the same as dry dream which can not be turned to reality

  14. We thank Elias and ER for exposing the barbaric nature of TPLF and its leader Meles the menace.Ridwan`s story is very routine and what happens in Ogaden everyday.The Woyannes think that their breathtaking brutality and savagery will break our people`s will to fight for their dignity and human rights.To the contrary,it only reaffirms our determination to have a life that`s free from TPLF.To the rest of Ethiopians-you are next.

  15. Is there a way to protect the rights of innocent pple in Ogaden, massacred day and night by the Neo-Nazi dictator Meles Zenawi? These events are written on the minds and hearts of Ogaden Somali pple. Sorry my Redwan, Sorry for the Victims of Wetane perpetrators. I urge for US to restrain the financial assistance to TPLF traitorous and massacrous regime and not to take blind eye on the genocides committed their proxy alliance.

  16. this crime committed by the woyanne regime will not be HITLER,this crime is sponsered by its supporter back home.ogaden is third in number of population.unless we treat them like any other ETHIOPIAN,i am not surprise if they want to separete from ETHIOPIA.

  17. I wonder how many sisters and brothers are facing death like this young sister of ours everyday. We all should pray for a better day, love, peace….God help our country…..I wonder what meles is thinking right now? I bet we all will live and see what will happen to him and his gangs once it gets to the point, where they can’t control everything using their guns.

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