Photographs of damage to Aw Abdal Institute properties. Photo: Harari Council of Ontario

Please click here to download the full document, including letters from correspondents.

Addis Ababa – The first known incident in which the Aw Abdal Institute (the Institute) was targeted by criminal elements dates back to August 2018 (Nehase 2010). It began with the illegal destruction of the 700-meter fence that protected the Institute and its properties. The Institute owns approximately 66,000 square meters of land. Inside the Institute’s property are classrooms, laboratories, offices, fields, religious sites such as a mosque, and other facilities, all of which are owned solely by the Institute.

After the destruction of the Institute’s fence, the illegal activities escalated to the illegal construction of a few slums and shops on the Institute’s properties and the illegal destruction of parts of its natural environment. Although the Institute has officially lodged a complaint with all relevant authorities and several Harari civic associations have mobilized on this issue, no apparent official action has been taken and these criminal activities have continued unabated.

Damage to institute property. Photo: Harari Council of Ontario

Thus, today, nearly 50% of the Institute is invested with more than 50 shantytowns and several businesses on the domain of the Institute; and the fence of the Institute still remains demolished.

Since the beginning of these illegal activities, the administrators of the Institute have made every effort to solve the problem by bringing it to the attention of local authorities, government authorities, the police, the general public and by initiating legal proceedings. judicial

The images below are aerial photographs from the Google Earth Institute: November 2017, the most recent image available before the incident; December 2018, the last image available just after the incident, showing some recently built structures on the Institute site; and December 2021, the most recent image available, showing many structures built on the Institute site.

The Google Earth Institute. Photo: Harari Council of Ontario

Since the beginning of these illegal activities, the administrators of the Institute have made every effort to solve the problem by bringing it to the attention of local authorities, government authorities, the police, the general public and by initiating legal proceedings. judicial.

In September 2019, the Board members of the Institute convened a community meeting to be held at the Amir Abdullahi Conference Center to discuss the ongoing matter of the Institute. Although he followed normal procedures, Commander Abdi Ibrahim, along with local police, came and forcibly canceled the community meeting moments before it was to begin. On the other hand, in the past, the Institute had organized several meetings and events at the Amir Abdullahi Conference Center on several occasions without any problem. No official explanation was ever provided for this forced cancellation.

Criminal charges

Among the many people involved, the institute was able to identify at least 36 culprits and these individuals have two (2) counts brought against them: the destruction of the fence; and the illegal construction of houses and other structures on Institute property.

The filing of the charges was slow as well as the trial. So far, a judgment against the 36 people has been issued regarding only the illegal destruction of the fence. Judgment on the second charge is still pending.

Although there is a judgment against the 36 individuals, relating only to the fence, they are still at large, escaping conviction and justice.

Although the court process itself was unusual and difficult, it should never have gone this far. It is an affront to any sense of justice, fairness and the rule of law that these criminals were able to destroy all this property and build all these structures in broad daylight and for so long without any intervention from the forces order or any general condemnation.

Aw Abdal Mosque

In continuation of the assault on the integrity of the Institute, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of the Harari region (Harari Majlis) violates the competence of the Institute by arbitrarily installing a new imam and creating a new department for the mosque of the Institute, the Aw Abdal Mosque.

This was all the more surprising since the Harari Majlis had initially upheld the independence and individual authority of the Institute.

In September 2019 (Puagme 2011), the Aw Abdal Mosque was robbed and a stranger took up residence there, assuming the role of “imam” for the mosque. Institute staff and students were banned from using their mosque, and the group of elderly women who had regular morning coransessions for several years were kicked out.

After the perpetration of these outrageous crimes, shockingly, the Harari Majlis sanctioned these same crimes by recognizing the invaders as legitimate. This was all the more surprising since the Harari Majlis had initially upheld the independence and individual authority of the Institute.

This mistaken reversal of the Harari Majlis emboldens the criminals. The Harari Majlis should quickly right its mistake and publicly reaffirm its support for the Institute and unequivocally denounce the criminals.

Illegal land grabbing in the Harari region

Since 2018, illegal land grabbing in the Harari region has been excessive and out of control. Over 1,100 hectares of land have been illegally seized and over 10,000 houses illegally built, all in violation of the government’s master plan.

It has been reported in several media, by the Head of Construction Bureau of Harari Region, that a comprehensive report on illegal land grabbing and illegally constructed buildings has been provided to all enforcement authorities. of the law.

It has been expressed by Harari government officials that a town will die if construction is done outside the master plan. This is especially true in the case of the Harari region, with its small geography and large population and rate of such illegal activities.

Such illegal activities jeopardize the integrity of the city, jeopardize its UNESCO status, and put the residents of the city, both those who follow the law and those who engage in these same illegal activities, at great risk.

The land grab includes, but is not limited to, agricultural land, sacred and religious sites, schools, and large parts of the Aw Hakim mountain. The majority of the victims are Hararis; most of the land belongs to the Hararis or are sites considered important by the Hararis.

One of the most egregious and heinous is the targeting of the Aw Abdal Institute.

The Aw Abdal Institute

The Institute was established in the 1970s by the Harari community. The site of the Institute was chosen from the same site where the tomb of Saint Aw Abdal is located. The institute was established with the aim of ensuring Harari ethnic and cultural preservation.

More than 50% of the students who attend the Institute can be described as coming from low-income families. Much of the school’s funding comes from the public in the form of donations.

As a result, the entire Harari community came together to ensure the success of this project and many contributed generous sums of money and other personal or family assets.

The Institute now serves approximately 1,600 students. More than 50% of the students who attend the Institute can be described as coming from low-income families. Much of the school’s funding comes from the public in the form of donations.

Photographs by the Aw Abdal Institute. Photo: Harari Council of Ontario