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Urgent Need for an Independent Inquiry on Ongoing Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

---For Immediate Release---

Contact

Nyikaw Ochalla, Anywaa Survival Organization, [email protected], +44 (0)7939389796
Anuradha Mittal, [email protected], +1-510-469-5228

 

Urgent Need for an Independent Inquiry on Ongoing Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

 

Oakland, CA – The Anywaa Survival Organization (ASO) and the Oakland Institute (OI) are calling for a fact-finding mission and full independent inquiry by the UN Human Rights Commission and related UN Special Rapporteurs on Ethiopia’s human rights situation and the treatment of indigenous and minority peoples in Ethiopia.

Since the 2007/08 financial and food crises, the Ethiopian government has embarked on a large-scale land investment policy that has led to the displacement and forced eviction of Ethiopia’s most marginalized traditional societies. The policy has included leasing millions of hectares of land belonging to small-scale farmers and pastoralists in the regions of Lower Omo, Gambela, Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Afar and others without the prior informed consent of the affected communities, and without providing them with legal redress and compensation. Those who have resisted the change have been arbitrarily detained, imprisoned, tortured, and exposed to severe food shortages.

One of the regions worst affected by land-grabbing and associated displacements is Gambela. In July 2014, violence erupted in Gambela as a result of the government’s policy of settling migrant communities on the traditional lands of the Majang people without their prior consent or knowledge. In reaction to the situation, the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Federal Affairs Minister ordered the military to retaliate by killing Majang civilians. The Majang health clinic was destroyed in a subsequent raid, leaving them without access to basic health services. The offenders of gross human rights abuses against Majang ethnic minority and indigenous peoples have not been arrested.

Since then, federal police and the army continue to arrest, detain, and harass the Majang people. Without legal support and protection, the Majang community are arbitrarily detained on daily basis at Metti town and its surroundings. Former zonal chief administrator, Tinsael Ranjan, and Yonas Markos, Godare district administrator, were picked up at night and taken to an undisclosed location. Twenty more Majang civilians were rounded up by military personnel and are also in undisclosed locations. Their whereabouts are not known to their loved ones and the community.

Also, Mr Okello Akway, former Gambela region chief administrator and now holding Norwegian nationality, and a Gambela region special force commissioner, Mr. Philemon Kwot Agid are detained in Addis Ababa without charges. The latter is denied any visitors. On November 11, 2014 Federal police detained Mr. Oman Ogala, Gambela region Revenue Authority from his work place and he remains in custody without charges.

These are but a few of the many ongoing abuses taking place in Ethiopia today.

As a member of the UN, as host of the African Union and various UN bodies, as an active member of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional body whose mission is to work for stability and peace in troubled regions in the African continent, and as a strong ally of the West's war on terror in the region, the Ethiopian government has an obligation to respect its own constitution which claims to protect all citizens without discrimination and the international legal instruments it has ratified and is a signatory to.

The Ethiopian government should be held accountable and responsible for gross human rights abuses including arbitrary detention, destruction to livelihoods and properties, disappearances, torture and for degrading inhumane treatments carried out by the joint federal police and military forces against the pastoralist, indigenous and minority peoples in the country.

About the Anywaa Survival Organisation

Anywaa Survival Organisation is a not-for-profit organisation that believes in social justice and environmentally sensitive development that recognises and respects the rights of indigenous peoples’ active participation and enjoyment of the benefits of development in their own territories without prejudice (www.anywaasurvival.org).

About the Oakland Institute

The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues (www.oaklandinstitute.org).

 

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