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As Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed Collects the Nobel Peace Prize, Abuses in the Lower Omo Valley Must Be Addressed

December 10, 2019

Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for achieving peace with Eritrea. Yet Indigenous groups in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley have been abused by government forces, a fact the prime minister must address, says the Oakland Institute.

By Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute & Naomi Maisel, Intern Scholar

Just as the calm before a storm, the notion of “peace” is relegated merely to a temporary ruse if not supported by the foundations of justice and equality.

This international Human Rights Day, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for securing peaceful relationships with neighbouring Eritrea, as well as domestic reforms supporting equality and justice. Yet he already made headlines days before the ceremony in Oslo, Norway, by refusing to attend a press conference called by the Nobel Institute and an additional one alongside the Norwegian Prime Minister, normally attended by each year’s Nobel Laureate.

The director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, expressed concern regarding Ahmed’s refusal to attend any events at which he would face questions by the press, especially as the ceremony comes in the wake of violence throughout Ethiopia, with reports of at least 67 people dead in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, during protests at the end of October.

Addressing violence in the Lower Omo Valley

While Ahmed condemned the bloodshed, promising to “bring perpetrators to justice,” he hasn’t yet addressed reports of violence among Ethiopia’s marginalised groups located in the country’s south, in the Lower Omo Valley region. The Oakland Institute has received evidence that Ethiopian forces have detained and abused members of two tribes in the area, the Bodi and Mursi, under the guise of a disarmament campaign, subjecting them to inhumane conditions.