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The Oakland Institute: Miracle or mirage? Manufacturing hunger and poverty in Ethiopia September 27, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Oakland Institute

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Miracle or mirage? manufacturing hunger and poverty in Ethiopia


Oakland Institute, 27 September 2016

 


As months of protest and civil unrest hurl Ethiopia into a severe political crisis, a new report from the Oakland Institute debunks the myth that the country is the new “African Lion.” Miracle or Mirage? Manufacturing Hunger and Poverty in Ethiopia exposes how authoritarian development schemes have perpetuated cycles of poverty, food insecurity, and marginalized the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

A key government objective is to make Ethiopia one of the largest sugar producers in the world. Several sugar expansion plans are underway, including the colossal Kuraz Project in the Lower Omo Valley, which will include up to five sugar factories and 150,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations that rely on Gibe III Dam for irrigation. Studies show that Gibe III could reduce the Omo River flow by as much as 70 percent, threatening the livelihoods of 200,000 Ethiopians and 300,000 Kenyans who depend on the downstream water flow for herding, fishing, and flood-recession agriculture.

Miracle or Mirage? offers lessons from the deadly impact of sugar and cotton plantations in the Awash Valley in the Afar Region, established in the 1950s. The projects drastically reduced land and water availability for people and cattle, undermined food security, destroyed key drought coping mechanisms, and stirred up violent conflicts between different groups over the remaining resources. The establishment of plantations was a critical factor in the 1972-1973 famine, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200,000 Afar people. These findings raise serious questions about the government’s logic behind sugar expansion, with $11.2 billion to be invested by 2020, and much more for irrigation schemes and dams – Gibe III alone cost Ethiopia $1.8 billion.

Using quantitative evidence, the report also details how plantations established in the Awash Valley have been far less profitable than pastoralist livestock production, while carrying massive environmental costs including the depletion of vital water resources.

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France 24: Focus: Anger among Ethiopia’s Oromo boils over. #OromoProtests March 30, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa OromooFrance 24

Oromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015

Focus: Anger among Ethiopia’s Oromo boils over

France 24,  March 29, 2016

 

In recent months, Ethiopia has seen its worst unrest in a decade. Members of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group, which feels left out of the country’s booming economy, have taken to the streets in protest.

Protesters are calling for equal rights and an end to what they call corruption, land grabs and government oppression. Some Oromo families have been forced off their land, and the government refuses to officially recognise the Oromo language. The government has cracked down on the protests, and activists and human rights groups say over 200 people have been killed. FRANCE 24’s reporter spoke to the families of several victims.

Click on the video player above to watch FRANCE 24’s full report from Ethiopia.

http://www.france24.com/en/20160329-focus-ethiopia-oromo-protests-crackdown-land-development?ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&ns_source=twitter&ns_mchannel=social&ns_linkname=editorial&aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&aef_campaign_date=2016-03-29&dlvrit=65413


 

FP: Dispatch: The Rotten Foundation of Ethiopia’s Economic Boom. #OromoProtests March 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa Oromoo

“There are so many problems facing the Oromo people… “But those who speak about it are getting arrested. Educated people, farmers, teachers, doctors — the government accuses them all of being part of the protests.”

The Rotten Foundation of Ethiopia’s Economic Boom

Oromo people mourn a suspected protester who was allegedly shot dead by Ethiopian security forces, Oromia, Dec. 2015#OromoProtests, Alge High School, Iluu  Abbaa Booraa, 22nd March 2016#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

ADAMA, Ethiopia — For those who would speak frankly about politics in this landlocked East African country, the first challenge is to find a safe space.

But on a recent evening in Adama, a city in the heart of a region reeling from the largest protest movement Ethiopia has faced in decades, most people seemed at ease. University students poured out of the city’s main campus, spilling into claustrophobic bars and pool halls. Others crowded around a cluster of aging taxis, jostling for a quick ride home.

Though it is one of the largest cities in Oromia — where members of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group have taken to the streets in recent months in unprecedented numbers to protest their political and economic marginalization — Adama has remained mostly quiet.

Hidden beneath the casual veneer of daily life, however, lurks a deep-seated suspicion of the government, which has built a massive surveillance apparatus and cracked down violently on its opponents

Hidden beneath the casual veneer of daily life, however, lurks a deep-seated suspicion of the government, which has built a massive surveillance apparatus and cracked down violently on its opponents.

 
 

Citizens feel they have to watch what they say, and where they say it. At the hangouts where crowds have gathered, a political statement might be overheard. Out on the sidewalks, government spies could be on patrol. Inside the university campus, security officials are on the lookout for suspicious behavior.

In a way, the recent unrest is rooted in Ethiopia’s rapid economic rise. The federal government claims to have notched double-digit GDP growth rates over the past decade, but its rigid, top-down approach to developing industry, and attracting foreign investment, has resulted in mass displacement and disrupted millions of lives. This, in turn, has heightened ethnic tensions that today threaten Ethiopia’s reputation for stability.

All across Oromia, government security forces have been struggling to control the spate of violent protests that erupted in November, partly in response to the government’s so-called master plan to coordinate development in Addis Ababa with nearby towns in Oromia, a sprawling central region that surrounds the capital on all sides. Like much of the country, the vast majority of Oromia is rural, home to small-scale farmers who feel left behind by the dazzling growth of Addis.

When this latest round of protests began last year, demonstrators seized on the master plan as symbolic of broader encroachments on Oromo autonomy. They also accused the government of taking land from Oromo farmers for little or no compensation, suppressing the Oromo language in schools, and unfairly redistributing the region’s natural resources.

In Adama, a 23-year-old engineering student, whose full name has been withheld for his safety, was initially reluctant to speak with this reporter for fear of reprisal. He relaxed only after he and some close friends sat down in a deserted cafe near campus, where a quiet woman brewing coffee over hot coals was the only person listening in.

“There are so many problems facing the Oromo people,” he said. “But those who speak about it are getting arrested. Educated people, farmers, teachers, doctors — the government accuses them all of being part of the protests.”

His caution was warranted. Less than two weeks later, a confrontation erupted at the university, reportedly in response to a small demonstration by students — though the details, as always, are hazy. One witness who asked not be named said he heard gunshots as security forces descended on the campus. Amid the confusion, at least two fires were sparked — one in the school’s backup generator.

“On campus, students already feared the armed forces,” said the witness, who is a student at the university. “Now, no one feels like they have any right to speak at all.”

Government security forces have been accused of exacerbating the crisis in Oromia by violently suppressing the protests. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch said it had “documented security forces firing into crowds of protesters with little or no warning, the arrests of students as young as 8, and the torture of protesters in detention.” The rights group said military and police forces have killed “several hundred peaceful protesters” since November.

Members of the Ethiopian diaspora have been equally vocal, taking to social media to call attention to alleged atrocities. Jawar Mohammed, who is based in Minnesota, is perhaps the most prominent online activist, manning a number of social media feeds featuring bloody photos of dead demonstrators and grainy videos of police brutality that have become hubs for Oromo diaspora members around the world. His Facebook page has amassed nearly a half million followers.

“We have freelancers embedded in pretty much every district across the country,” said Mohammed, who was born in Ethiopia but works abroad as the executive director of the Oromia Media Network, a news broadcaster whose satellite feed here has been repeatedly jammed by the Ethiopian government. “They infiltrate the system from top to bottom,” he said in a Skype interview.

How much of an impact social media activism has had on the actual protest movement is a matter of debate. In a country with limited Internet penetration, and where the sole government-owned telecommunications provider has the power to shut down signals and block opposition websites, online activists like Mohammed are necessarily limited in what they can do. According to the engineering student in Adama, people on the ground are driving the protests, and social media matters “only a little bit.”

Where online activists have succeeded is in channeling video and photographic evidence of abuses to the outside word

Where online activists have succeeded is in channeling video and photographic evidence of abuses to the outside word. But even this evidence is difficult to verify; several journalists, including this correspondent, have been detained by officials for attempting to report in some of the worst-affected areas.

There are also questions about the direction social media activists have steered the debate surrounding the protests. Comments by Mohammed’s passionate social media followers sometimes advocate violence against members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party from the northern region of Tigray that dominates the government’s security and intelligence agencies. And because he and other online activists are far from the front lines, some argue that their social media posts are ultimately a distraction. The student who witnessed the altercation at the university in Adama, for instance, said he agrees with Mohammed’s political analysis, but is concerned that the Facebook page has become a magnet for a dizzying array of viewpoints — about religion, regional politics, and ethnic strife — that make the movement more controversial than it needs to be.

Still, Mohammed has a clear strategy in mind. When it comes to human life, he advocates nonviolence. But he encourages demonstrators to block trade routes, destroy the property of companies that are seen as operating against Oromo interests, and avoid bringing crops to market in order to raise food prices.

Might such tactics be unethical during the worst drought Ethiopia has witnessed in decades, which has left 10.2 million people in need of emergency food aid? “Morally, yes,” Mohammed said. “Strategically, no.”

Officials have no time for these “activists on the other side of the Atlantic,” said government spokesman Getachew Reda. He claimed that agitators, some of whom have backing from Eritrea, Ethiopia’s archrival, have infiltrated the ranks of the protesters and are responsible for the current violence. The government security forces, by contrast, have generally handled the situation professionally, he said.

“We may have some bad apples,” Reda said. “Otherwise, the security apparatus that we have in this country is very much oriented towards serving the interests of the public.”

Amid this war of words, normal citizens are caught in the middle. In the quiet café in Adama, the engineering student spelled out a set of remarkably prosaic demands: He would like to see more Oromo professors at the university, for instance, and a fairer allocation of resources for the region. But, he said, he stays quiet for fear of Ethiopia’s pervasive security and intelligence apparatus.

“People don’t feel free,” he said. “We are all psychologically impacted.”

After two months of violent demonstrations, the government announced that it was scrapping the master plan. It wasn’t enough. Some protesters said they didn’t believe it had really been canceled. Others were motivated by grievances that run much deeper than any development scheme, citing marginalization stretching all the way back to the late 1800s, when the Ethiopian emperor Menelik II swept in from the north to expand Ethiopia’s borders and establish the capital city in Oromo lands.

On paper, today’s federal system is meant to ensure some measure of autonomy for all of the country’s ethnic groups, including the Oromos. The ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is made up of four regional parties, including the TPLF and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). But the government lost some credibility in May, when the EPRDF and allied parties won every parliamentary seat in a national election. Though the OPDO holds more parliamentary seats than any other party, protesters say the party either cannot or will not challenge the dominance of the TPLF — and Oromos remain marginalized as a result.

Officials say they are trying to promote meaningful dialogue. “It is the government’s responsibility to make sure that people’s legitimate grievances are addressed properly,” Reda said. To that end, OPDO officials have convened meetings with concerned citizens across Oromia, and hundreds of low-level officials have been dismissed for corruption.

But the government has continued to lean on its powerful security apparatus, which has both enabled Ethiopia’s impressive, state-led economic development and imperiled it by bringing ethnic tensions to the fore. The ongoing protests in Oromia point to cracks in the facade, where citizens feel left out as the government pursues its uncompromising vision of modernization.

By continuing to crack down on demonstrators instead of listening to their demands, Ethiopia risks compromising the reputation for political stability that fueled its unprecedented decade of growth and foreign investment. In that way, the government may soon erode the very foundation of its own economic ambitions.


The Ugly Side of Ethiopia’s Economic Boom

OMN: Collaborative public forum by Oromo Community of MN March 17, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromo, Oromo and the call for justice and freedom.
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Odaa Oromoo

 

Gambella: My Father, Who Dared to Defend Land Rights March 10, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Gambella, Land Grabs in Africa.
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Odaa OromooFTOakland Institute

 

My Father, Who Dared to Defend Land Rights


Financial Times &  Oakland Institute,  9 March 2016


 

 

Sir, Your Big Read article, “The billionaire’s farm” (March 2), captures well the ramifications of the takeover of land and natural resources on the most marginalised communities in Ethiopia, a destination for many of the foreign investors. The devastating impact is way too personal for some of us.

Okello Akway Ochalla, mentioned in the article, is my father. He was kidnapped and then renditioned to Ethiopia and has been languishing in jail for two years, charged as a terrorist. His crime being — having witnessed the massacre of his people in 2003 as the governor of Gambella, having had to flee the country since he feared for his own life, having been separated from his family — my sister and I spent half of our lives as refugees in Kenya, before coming to the US in 2013 — that he dared to advocate for the human rights of the people of Gambella and the Anuak community.

On March 7, a final verdict was expected in my father’s case and yet once again to break his spirit, the verdict has been postponed to April 6. The strongest evidence the court has against my father is his own confession. A confession obtained, as my father explained in his closing statement, “after being kidnapped and suffering in detention for more than three months without any defence lawyer and communication with anyone”. He added: “The defence statement was made to look as if it was voluntarily submitted to the court… at the time I was giving the statement to the police, I was in an environment where the police investigator had put the pistol on the table in front of me and I was being tortured.”

If anyone cares to read the evidence brought forward by the defence and my father’s closing argument, it is obvious that the crime committed by my father is one of dissent and that he has committed no terrorist activities. His dissent challenges the continued suffering of Anuak people and the theft of natural resources such as our land, rivers and forests, which is igniting social and political conflict. My father is no terrorist. A good man, a good father and a good leader, my father is a land rights defender!

In the light of the excellent coverage by the FT, my sincere hope is that big donors to Ethiopia, including the US, the UK and the World Bank, will reconsider the impact of this land rush on families such as mine and urge the Ethiopian government to release my father.

Obok Akway Ochalla
Spokane, WA, US

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN ETHIOPIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE? March 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Colonizing Structure, Development Studies, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooAddis Standard

 

The TPLF Corruption network

OPINION: FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN ETHIOPIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE?


By J. Bonsa, PhD,   ADDISSTANDARD,   MARCH 03, 2016 


 

In conflict prone contexts, foreign investors, especially whose actions while entering a given country were not subject to checks and balances, may undermine political stability and fuel social unrest.Depending on the level of accountability in the recipient country, foreign direct investment (FDI) could be a blessing or a curse.

In this piece, I will attempt to highlight Ethiopia’s political economy and the setting for the operations of foreign investors.

 

Peculiar political context

Notwithstanding the announcement of a 100% electoral victory by the ruling EPRDF, the fact remains that Ethiopia has never had a fully representative government. This rather unique situation means it is naïve to discuss Ethiopia’s current affairs by applying standard rhetoric.Doing so fails to capture the peculiarity of the situation on the ground. For instance, familiar phrases such as“dictatorial regime” or “totalitarian government” do not fully capture the essence of the current political system in Ethiopia.

 

The key to understand the strange nature of the ERPDF government, a coalition of four parties, is to recognize it as a system of “internal colonial rule” led by one powerful party, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).It is a conspicuous knowledge held by many that EPRDF essentially means TPLF.

 

The loyalty towards TPLF of Ethiopia’s military and security apparatus has remained the only source of EPRDF’s strength and tight grip on power. Without further ado it is suffice to mention that the country’s army generals and high ranking officers hail from Tigray, the geographic location home to TPLF. In turn the army’s brutal efficiency in military and security command system has earned the TPLF an extraordinary reputation and near complete political upper hand in the eyes of the other three parties within the coalition.

 

Technically that leaves Ethiopia with a reverse political system: the world is familiar with majority-rule and minority-rights, Ethiopia’s, on the other hand,is a political system without even some majority-rights. Today’s TPLF dominated EPRDF needed to be certain that the majority would not have the bare minimum of rights, because, if allowed, this might eventually lead to the emergence of democracy.

 

Business as unusual

The political and military power disparity favoring a single party has also caused divergences in economic and domestic private investment opportunities. This resulted in the emergence of domestic crony capitalism of the ugliest type. Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), the acronym that has more than 50 companies under its control, owns its presence and dominance to the growing trend of domestic crony capitalism.

 

In the last 25 years EFFORT has emerged as the most powerful domestic business conglomerate controlling the commanding heights of the Ethiopian economy. Its monopoly on the Ethiopian economy ranges from heavy engineering, construction, import and exports (of key capital and raw materials including fertilizers on which all Ethiopian farmers rely) to freight and passenger transport, wholesale and retail distributions. And yet, there is little information about EFFORT that is available for the general public.

 

It is a misnomer to describe EFFORT as a business group “affiliated to the government”. But Ethiopians know that the same groups of people who occupy government positions are also owners of the companies under EFFORT.

 

And as of late another unlikely business monopoly has emerged in the form of the military establishment, the same military whose top leadership is either loyal to or under the indirect control of TPLF. METeC, a company run by the national army, is having an elaborate business interest from production of computers and flat screen TVs to heavy metals, car assembly and hotels. Once again, there is no or little information available to the public on the exact nature of METeC’s business empire.

 

The dark horse

It is within this political reality that one needs to look into the economic aspects, including the manner by which the EPRDF led government is regulating the flow of FDI. It is a public knowledge that cronyism has, by and large, emerged as the trade mark of EPRDF’s economic governance over the past two decades, including its deals with foreign companies operating in the country.

 

As of this writing, news is coming that protesters in Guji zone of southern Ethiopia and Dembi Delo of western Ethiopia are targeting the two gold mines in the area owned by the MIDROC Ethiopia Investment Group. To understand this boiling public frustration, it is important to acknowledge that the people of Ethiopia have no knowledge about how these two gold mines were sold to MEDROC in the first place, and to evaluate whether the people in the areas where the natural resources are being ferociously extracted have stood to benefit from it in any way. It is also important to know that the name MIDROC stands for Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies, a name that implies nothing about the nature of the vast business functioning under its umbrella. For Many Ethiopians, therefore,MIDROC is the dark horse that appeared on the scene from nowhere but spread itself in all sectors of the Ethiopian economy at alarming pace.

 

For much of the first decade under EPRDF’s rule, Ethiopia suffered a serious setback in attracting foreign investment. Foreign investors were cautious (rightly), observing the unhealthy governance system as a risk not worth taking. However, during those days, MIDROC Ethiopia was often presented as a cover up to entice other foreign investors, giving the impression that the EPRDF regime was trustworthy and foreign investment was safe to flow in. That, and its sworn allegiance to the ruling party in power, gave MIDROC the opportunity to enjoy unparalleled access to Ethiopia’s natural resources. This was done primarily because the EPRDF could count on MIDROC as a foreign investor. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development once reported that about 60 per cent of the overall foreign direct investment approved in Ethiopia was related to MIDROC.

 

MEDROC’s expansions began with acquisitions of many previous public enterprises – manufacturing branches, state farms, gold mines, and other mineral resources mostly outside of public scrutiny. MIDROC is most commonly associated with land grabs in many parts of Oromiya, at the heart of Addis Abeba and Gambella, causing havocs through evictions of millions of households from their ancestral lands.

 

The other murky deals

The contradictions in Ethiopia’s business environment are rather perplexing. On the one hand the TPLF dominated regime in Addis Abeba has a very hostile attitude to private domestic investors. Ethiopia has remained at the bottom of World Bank’s country ranks in ease of doing business, ranking 146th out of 189 countries in 2015. But EFFORT, METeC and MDROC business empires and their affiliates are exempt from such restrictions and the little private businesses in the country have to survive the three to make a meaningful economic gain.

 

On the other hand Ethiopia is known for making extraordinary concessions to attract foreign investors, particularly during the last decade. Here is the question – why such officious treatmentfor foreign investors when private business are forced to eat dirt? The answer lies in the assumption that the government often acts in the interest of domestic cronies – foreign investors are needed to camouflage EFFORT’s aggressive expansions. The deals to couple EFFORT with foreign businesses are surrounded by dark secrets; details are unavailable to the general public. Foreign investors have often been lured into joint ventures with party owned or affiliated local companies. The recent US$30 million worth deal between a local pharmaceutical company owned by EFFORT and a foreign company symbolizes that assertion. The overlap between the operations of domestic oligopolistic companies and their foreign counterparts is so much that it is difficult to know where one ends and the other begins.

 

The recent fall out between the government in Ethiopia and the Karuturi Global Ltd has revealed the murky nature of foreign investment deals in Ethiopia that prompted many to summarize “in Ethiopia, foreign investment is a fancy word for stealing land”. In 2010, Karuturi Global Ltd was given a concession to develop 300, 000 hectares of agricultural land in Gambella. However, in Dec. 2015, the deal collapsed when the Agricultural Ministry’s land investment agency “cancelled the concession on the grounds that by 2012 Karuturi had developed only 1,200 hectares of land within the initial two year period of the contract.” There is a lot more into this fall out than meet the eye, least the fate of the hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who were forced to give up their lands to give way to a deal they know nothing about.

 

But one of the most unsettling details to emerge out of this fiasco was the claim by Karuturi Global Ltd management that the land was forced upon them by the local authorities despite their insistence otherwise. At first glance this may sound awkward, as if the foreign investor and the Ethiopian authorities switched sides in the process of bargaining. However, for someone who is familiar with the shrewd operations of doing business in Ethiopia it is easy to know why Ethiopian officials were forcing the foreign investor to take 30 times more than it said it could handle. One plausible explanation held by many is that since enough land grabbing had already been done by the cronies during the previous decades, authorities found it prudent to frame a foreign investor as a vehicle to continue land expropriation.

 

In the wake of a possible persistence of protests by Ethiopians, protesters’ targeted attacks against foreign companies operating in Ethiopia may come as sheer anarchic for outsiders. But as long as the people of Ethiopia are kept in the dark as to the nature of the real deals between foreign companies and a government flawed by asymmetrical party coalition (deals that symbolize a life deprived of its means and style),incidents of targeted public outrage against selected foreign companies should not come as a shock.

 

The same explanation holds true for the land expropriations for flower farms and industrial parks in Oromiya, particularly in the vicinity of Addis Abeba. It is for such reasons that the infamous Addis Abeba Master Plan was formulated, eyeing 20 times more land that would be transformed into wasteful industrial parks all in the name of attracting foreign investment the nature of it is kept secret from the very people it greatly affects.

 

ED’s Note: J. Bonsa is an economist by training. He can be reached atdinade0612@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial principles of Addis Standard.


Opinion: Foreign investment in Ethiopia: a blessing or a curse?


 

Oromia: For development’s sake? Land grabbing and the Oromo People in Ethiopia March 6, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa OromooNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopiaoromoprotests-tweet-and-share1Gaaffiiwwan yeroo ammaa

Second Genocide Being Committed Against Anuaks in Gambella January 31, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoo

 

GPLM Press Release

The Second Genocide is Being Committed against Unarmed Anuak Tribe in Gambella, Southwest Ethiopia, by South Sudanese Refugees with Ethiopian Government’s Approval

It is with deep sadness that we learned that the Ethiopian government has once again embarked on carrying out a massive massacre of unarmed Anuak civilians in Gambella town of southwest Ethiopia, using similar killing style of 2003. Unlike the December 2003 – which involved Ethiopian highlanders’ civilians, this time, the Ethiopian government used South Sudanese ethnic Nuers to carry out the genocide.

The Nuers who are spearheading the killing of Anuaks are going front, while the Ethiopian military accompany them in the back. Any Anuak seen carrying traditional weapon, such as a spear, is shot dead by the Ethiopian military forces. In addition, the government ordered all Anuaks in police and special force to be disarmed by the Ethiopian military. Leaving all Anuaks vulnerable to be killed. In this rampage killing, the Nuer refugees are armed with modern weapons, such as AK-47, garnets and bombs, and are allowed to kill Anuaks and loots their properties before burning their houses to ground.

For the last three months, the Governor of Gambella region Mr. Gatluak Tut – who by nationality is a South Sudanese Nuer, with the knowledge of Ethiopian government, brought many guns to Gambella town from the Sudanese Nuer rebel base of Dr. Riek Machar Teny. These guns are distributed to all Nuers living in Gambella town in preparation to commit such mass genocide-plan. What availed itself on Wednesday January 27, 2016 around 2am and continued up to-date is the execution of such an atrociousness plan. Clearly, the plan was coordinated, and it was a combination of a strategic long-term plan by the EPRDF/Ethiopian government, South Sudanese Nuers, and their rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny to kill all Anuaks living in Gambella town.

Obviously, it was a continuation of the policy of genocide against the Anuaks which began its first implementation in December 2003. The Ethiopian government can not rest or stop its policy of genocide until all Anuaks are killed and the land is taken by the very government committing the genocide.

The Gambella People’s Liberation Movement (GPLM) strongly condemned this atrocity committed against our people by foreign forces with the support of the Ethiopian government and security organs. We believe such use of foreigners to kill Ethiopian nationals by the very government supposedly to protect them not only a violation of the country sovereignty and the constitution, but also is a violation of international law in the states obligation to protect it own citizens.

Thus, we calls on:

• International community to pressure the Ethiopian government to stop indirect and direct killing of Anuak civilians;
• To establish independent inquiries to investigate the massacre currently taking place in Gambella;
• The United States government and the Europeans community to pressure the Ethiopian government to desist from committing current genocide on our people;
• The United Nations and members nations, the African Union, in the East African countries to instruct the South Sudanese Nuer rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny to immediately stop supplying his Nuer tribe with deadly weapons to be used against unarmed Anuak civilians and creating instability in Gambella.
• Unconditional remove and transfer South Sudanese Nuers out of Gambella immediately;
• Finally, calls on government of EPRDF to stop its divide-and-rule politics in Gambella.

 

GAMBELLA PEOPLE’S LIBERATION MOVEMENT (GPLM) EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.

Contact Number: 1(204)-218-5988 Or 1(507)-383-0534

Ethiopia: EVICTED AND ABANDONED: THE WORLD BANK’S BROKEN PROMISE TO THE POOR: How a World Bank Translator Became a Hunted Man October 8, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Human rights advocates criticize the bank for failing to speak up about the jailing of a former employee

Pastor Omot Agwa knew he was in danger.

“Greetings from Ethiopia in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” he wrote in an online message to friends and colleagues on March 11, 2015. “I am informing you that since yesterday I have been hunted by security.”

The gentle, round-faced church leader had long been an embarrassment to Ethiopia’s authoritarian regime. As a prominent leader of the Anuak, a heavily Christian indigenous group, Agwa had spoken out against alleged beatings and killings of his kinsmen by government forces.

Days before his message, a federal agent had come looking for him at the Mekane Yesus Seminary, the evangelical church that he belonged to in Addis Ababa.

“He wants to arrest me,” Agwa wrote. “If I keep silent without communicating I will be in custody.”

The Ethiopian regime had various reasons for wanting to arrest Agwa, but at that moment, one loomed large: he had recently served as a translator and consultant for an investigation into whether government authorities had used World Bank money to bankroll a campaign of violent evictions targeting Agwa’s Anuak community.

The soft-spoken pastor arranged interviews for the bank’s Inspection Panel, its internal watchdog, with Anuak who told World Bank investigators about beatings, rapes and summary executions by Ethiopian soldiers —placing Ethiopia’s lucrative aid package from the bank into jeopardy. Months later, Agwa translated for a reporter from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on a newsgathering trip to Ethiopia.

Omot AgwaPastor Omot Agwa worked as a translator for the World Bank before his arrest. Image: Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas / WG Films

In February 2015, the Inspection Panel released its report, faulting the bank for failing to properly scrutinize the Ethiopian government’s programs before giving money to the regime.  Soon after, Ethiopian government agents began hunting for Agwa, visiting his church, his family and leaving messages on his phone, he told human rights groups.

“I have locked myself in the room now,” the frightened pastor wrote in his distress message. “Please pray for me for God’s protection and I don’t know what to do.”

He was arrested four days later as he tried to leave the country on a flight to Kenya. In September, Ethiopian authorities indicted him on terrorism charges.

Human Rights Watch called the charges “absurd,” a transparent attempt to punish Agwa for exposing government abuses and to intimidate other Anuak into silence.

But another key player in the church leader’s case has made no public objections: his former employer, the World Bank.

World Bank officials say Ethiopian authorities have assured them that Agwa’s arrest had nothing to do with his work for the bank’s Inspection Panel. The bank won’t comment on whether it believes the charges against Agwa are valid. And the bank has continued its financial relationship with Ethiopia’s government—approving more than $1.3 billion in loans to the regime since it learned of its former employee’s arrest.

“The World Bank just abandoned him,” said Obang Metho, the executive director of the advocacy group Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, who once belonged to Agwa’s congregation. “Had they not told Omot to investigate this, he would be at home today with his family.”

The World Bank’s decision to continue bankrolling Ethiopia’s government in the aftermath of allegations of human rights abuse is not unusual. The bank has repeatedly refused to intercede on behalf of protesters or local communities when they are mistreated by borrowing governments or to cut off funding in such instances, ICIJ, The Huffington Post and other media partners reported in September.

The bank maintains that as a development lender, it has a specific and limited mandate.  The bank’s rules against violent evictions, abuse of indigenous peoples and other safeguards apply to the projects it finances, not all activities of its borrowers.

Jim Yong Kim.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim. Photo: AP Photo/Geraldo Caso Bizama

The World Bank’s charter specifies that “the Bank and its officers shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member”—a clause that the bank has long interpreted as a prohibition against advocating for human rights.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, charged in a recent report that the bank has misinterpreted this ban on political interference  to justify treating human rights “more like an infectious disease than universal values.”

Alston said that while he generally opposes across-the-board sanctions as a reaction to wrongdoing by a borrower country, they could be justified in extreme cases and that the bank needs to develop clear guidelines for responding to cases of retaliation and other abuses by its borrowers.

The World Bank declined to answer questions for this story.

In a statement to ICIJ after the terrorism charges against Agwa were revealed, the bank said it often works “in places with complex political and social issues. When allegations of reprisal are brought to our attention, we work, within the scope of our mandate, with appropriate parties to try to address them. We have made several inquiries about Pastor Omot Agwa since his arrest in March 2015 and detention.”

The Ethiopian government did not respond to requests for comment to its embassy in Washington, D.C., and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Pastor and activist

The case of Omot Agwa offers a striking view of the bank’s hands-off approach.

Agwa was born in the fertile, low-lying Ethiopian state of Gambella, a traditional homeland of the Anuak, an indigenous tribe of several hundred thousand people living in Ethiopia and South Sudan. He attended an American missionary school and was “born again” as a Christian in first grade, establishing his lifelong ties to the Protestant church. He went on to earn scholarships for Bible translation that set him on a path to church leadership.

As he drew closer to the evangelical church, Agwa retained a strong Anuak identity. When he was a teenager, Agwa had the six front teeth on the bottom half of his mouth plucked out in a traditional initiation rite.

“If your teeth are still there they say that, one, you are not pure Anuak,” the pastor explained last July, a mischievous smile crossing his face, “and second, that your face looks very ugly because your mouth looks like a goat’s mouth.”

An outbreak of violence in December 2003 prompted Agwa to take his first steps into activism. Ethiopian soldiers and members of Ethiopia’s lighter-skinned ethnic majority slaughtered hundreds of Anuak in the state of Gambella’s capital. Agwa survived by hiding inside a friend’s house.

By that time a well-known church leader, Agwa collected the names of the dead and traveled to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to seek out human rights groups that could spread word of the massacre beyond Ethiopia’s borders.

“I went to Oxfam America, I knocked on their door,” he said, “and they interviewed me in their office where, for the first time, I weeped. I cried loudly because I was traumatized, and it was a time now that I was released.”

Human Rights Watch later determined that 424 people from Gambella had died in the massacre.

Collecting names of the dead

Hear Omot Agwa’s account of hiding in a friend’s house as gunshots echoed outside during a 2003 massacre in Gambella, Ethiopia.

In the following years, Agwa’s fluent English and ties to the Protestant church made him a frequently sought out liaison by human rights observers and others who wanted to know more about the government’s repression of the Anuak.

In 2010, federal authorities launched the “villagization program,” a massive campaign in Gambella and three other rural states to relocate Anuak and other minorities into government-sponsored villages. The government said the plan was intended to provide health, education and other essential services, but many Anuak denounced it as a land grab and refused to move from their ancestral homes.

The former governor of Gambella described personally diverting roughly $10 million in World Bank money intended for the health and education program to finance a series of violent evictions of the Anuak, ICIJ reported in April.

When the World Bank’s Inspection Panel came to Ethiopia in February 2014 to investigate abuse accusations, it hired Agwa as a consultant and interpreter. Agwa travelled with the investigators through the communities in Gambella where he had grown up, translating interviews with Anuak villagers. One man who was interviewed reported that an Anuak who was a member of the Ethiopian military’s Special Forces was shot dead on the spot by a government police officer after he refused an order to evict fellow tribe members from their farms.

In summer 2014, Agwa worked with ICIJ during a reporting trip in Ethiopia to explore the alleged abuses linked to the villagization program. Despite his fears that he would be discovered by federal agents, Agwa assisted an ICIJ reporter with steady good humor, interspersing his painful recollections with an infectious smile and frequent references to his Christian faith.

When the Inspection Panel published its findings in February 2015, security police began looking for him soon after, Agwa reported to human rights groups.

The government claims the Swiss church charity’s workshop that Agwa was traveling to when he was arrested was a “terrorist group meeting.”

On a telephone call the night before his arrest, Agwa said the police were after him because of his work with the Inspection Panel, according to David Pred, managing director of Inclusive Development International, one of the human rights groups supporting Agwa.

On March 15, Agwa sought to leave the country for a food security workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, organized by the Swiss Protestant church charity Bread for All.

He made it as far as the airport.

Ethiopian security forces arrested Agwa in Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport and locked him up without charges, along with six other indigenous and pastoralist leaders on their way to the gathering in Kenya, according to human rights groups.

Church in Gorom refugee campAnuak refugees, who fled Ethiopia, worship at a church in the Gorom Refugee Camp in South Sudan. Photo:Andreea CampeanuThe arrest of the well-known church leader set off a flurry of activity by Agwa’s allies. They struggled to find out why Agwa had been detained, and pressed the U.S. State Department and European embassies in Ethiopia to appeal to the Ethiopian government for his release.

Both the human rights groups and the World Bank—as well as ICIJ—agreed to keep the matter quiet so that the Ethiopian regime could release the outspoken pastor without losing face.

On March 31, little more than two weeks after Agwa’s arrest, the World Bank made a move that surprised Agwa’s defenders: it approved a $350 million loan to the Ethiopian government. The money supported a five-year initiative to improve productivity and market access among small farmers.

Agwa was locked up in the Maekelawi police station, a site notorious for the torture of political dissidents. He was held for three weeks in solitary confinement, supporters say. For months after, his family was not allowed to visit him.

His supporters still hoped that the Ethiopian government might let Agwa free.  Instead, on Sept. 7, Ethiopian authorities charged the pastor with terrorism, alleging that Agwa’s contacts with an Anuak activist in London were a conspiracy to plan armed attacks in Ethiopia, according to a charging document obtained by ICIJ. The government claims the Swiss church charity’s workshop that Agwa was traveling to when he was arrested was a “terrorist group meeting.”

Human rights groups familiar with Ethiopian law say if convicted, Agwa would face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

The Ethiopian government has not responded to repeated requests for comment about Agwa. It is possible that authorities are in possession of evidence that would support their claims against the pastor. But Ethiopia has a  history of using its anti-terrorism laws as a weapon against journalists and political activists, and human rights groups that are active in the country say the government trumped up the charges against Agwa in order to silence him.

On September 15, just over a week after the government filed formal charges, the World Bank approved a new $600 million loan to the Ethiopian government.

The newest round of financing is for a project the bank says is intended to improve health, education and other services. It replaced a central component of the same health and education program that Agwa had helped investigate. Despite the testimony facilitated by Agwa that detailed abuses by Ethiopian officials associated with the program, the bank decided to continue funding a similar arrangement into the year 2019.

Human rights groups say they informed the World Bank of Ethiopia’s terrorism charges almost immediately after they were filed.

“I have no doubt that if they intend to convict him, they will,” said David Pred of Inclusive Development International. “He’s facing 20 years to life, which is a death sentence.”

Obang Metho, the Ethiopian activist who remembers Agwa as his former pastor, said that losing the imprisoned church leader would be a crushing blow for the Anuak people.

“Omot is not just a translator,” Metho said. “He is a husband, he is a father, he is a pastor. . . . The community loved and respected him.”

Worldwatch Institute:Land “Grabbing” Grows as Agricultural Resources Dwindle October 8, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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???????????

Land “Grabbing” Grows as Agricultural Resources Dwindle

As global agricultural resources shrink or shift, countries are crossing border to obtain new farmlands

Worldwatch Institute, October 6, 2015

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/14725

Washington, D.C.Since 2000, more than 36 million hectares—an area about the size of Japan—has been purchased or leased by foreign entities, mostly for agricultural use. Today, nearly 15 million hectares more is under negotiation (www.worldwatch.org).

“Farmland is lost or degraded on every continent, while ‘land grabbing’—the purchase or lease of agricultural land by foreign interests—has emerged as a threat to food security in several countries,” writes Gary Gardner, contributing author of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability.

About half of grabbed land is intended exclusively for use in agriculture, while another 25 percent is intended for a mix of agricultural and other uses. (The land that is not used for agriculture is often used for forestry.) Land grabbing has surged since 2005 in response to a food price crisis and the growing demand for biofuels in the United States and the European Union. Droughts in the United States, Argentina, and Australia, has further driven interest in land overseas.

“Today, the FAO reports that essentially no additional suitable [agricultural] land remains in a belt around much of the middle of the planet,” writes Gardner. As a result, the largest grabbers of land are often countries that need additional resources to meet growing demands.

Over half of the global grabbed land is in Africa, especially in water-rich countries like the Congo. Asia comes second, contributing over 6 million hectares, mainly from Indonesia. The largest area acquired from a single country is in Papua New Guinea, with nearly 4 million hectares (over 8 percent of the country’s total land cover) sold or leased out.

The largest investor country is the United States, a country already rich in agricultural land. The United States alone has acquired about 7 million hectares worldwide. Malaysia comes in a distant second, with just over 3.5 million hectares acquired.

Land grabbing is precipitated by the growing challenges shaking the foundation of food production: the water, land, and climate that make crop growth possible. Globally, some 20 percent of aquifers are being pumped faster than they are recharged by rainfall, stressing many key food-producing areas. Land is becoming degraded through erosion and salinization or is getting paved for development. The changing climate is projected to cause a net decline of 0.2–2 percent in crop yields per decade over the remainder of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The dangers of land grabbing are evident. Large-scale purchases often do not consider the interests of smallholders who may have been working the land over a long period. Additionally, the transfer of resources from poorer countries to wealthier ones increases the vulnerability of the target countries that surrender their own access to land and water resources to foreign investors and governments.

“As demand for agricultural goods increases, and as our planet’s water and fertile land become more scarce and its atmosphere less stable, greater effort will be needed to conserve resources and to exploit opportunities for greater efficiency throughout the agricultural system,” writes Gardner.

By preventing food waste, increasing water efficiency, conserving agricultural land, and decreasing production of meat and biofuels (both of which require large quantities of land and water for grain or crops), Gardner believes that the stress on food systems can be reduced. In addition, the international adoption of the right to food, already integrated in the constitutions of 28 countries, will ensure that food cannot be withheld for political reasons.

Worldwatch’s State of the World 2015 investigates hidden threats to sustainability, including economic, political, and environmental challenges that are often underreported in the media. State of the World 2015 highlights the need to develop resilience to looming shocks. For more information on the project, visit http://www.worldwatch.org/state-world-2015-confronting-hidden-threats-sustainability-0.

—END—

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/14725

A THIRSTY THIRD WORLD: HOW LAND GRABS ARE LEAVING ETHIOPIA IN THE DUST, By Emily Ingebretsen September 19, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Land and resource Rights, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia.
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???????????Tigrean Neftengna's land grabbing and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocide

Land grab inOromiaEthiopian-land-giveaway

Attracting investment to Ethiopia by offering large plots of land to agricultural investors is a development strategy being aggressively pursued by the Ethiopian government. The government announced this strategy in 2009, stating it planned to lease 3 million hectares1 of land to foreign and domestic investors for agriculture use over a period of three years in order to increase productivity and earn foreign exchange (McClure 2009, 1). The simplest motivation for these actions is macroeconomic. In 2009, the IMF issued a staff report stating that the balance of payments in Ethiopia for the 2009-2010 year was “troubling” due to the global recession taking a toll on remittances, exports, and direct foreign investment. The impact of rising oil prices and decreasing foreign assistance was also expected to have an impact (IMF 2009, 5). In response to these prospects, the Ethiopian government created the Federal Land Bank to facilitate the acquisition of land by investors looking to acquire large tracts for cultivation. The foreign investors are mainly coming from India and Saudi Arabia, but also from Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Italy, China, and recently, even the National Bank of Egypt (Makki and Geisler 2011, 13). In addition, about half of the investors are domestic, representing Ethiopian diaspora or wealthy Ethiopian highland residents (Vidal 2011). The investors are mainly interested in growing crops to export to their home markets or in cultivating agrofuels, crops which are used to create biofuels. While some 1 Approximately 7.4 million acres A THIRSTY THIRD WORLD Page 7 of 74 companies promise to sell some produce on the domestic market, there are no contractual obligations to do such. The issue of transferring land and its productive uses from domestic cultivators to foreign interests is particularly concerning in Ethiopia as it is a country that has often made headlines for famines, and the underlying issue, droughts. Despite having a great deal of water in certain areas, sporadic rainfall and poor collection techniques make water security a central issue of concern for the country. Many of the countries that are choosing to grow crops in Ethiopia are countries that face water insecurities of their own. They are seeking to stabilize their food security, but the impact that this will have on water access and quality for Ethiopians who depend on subsistence agriculture for survival is not being addressed in the deals that have been made. Anders Jågerskog, a leading scholar on the issue of water and land deals from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has noted that, “The risk from poorly supervised land acquisitions is that a wealthy economy simply exports its water “footprint” elsewhere” (SAPA 2012). It is especially concerning that the design and implementation of this policy is having a stratified, possibly intentional, impact on the different ethnically divided regions of the country. The region experiencing the heaviest concentration of land deals is Gambella, a comparatively tiny region in the southwestern part of the country, bordered by newly formed South Sudan to its west. This area has had 42 percent of its land leased out to investors. Gambella also has had a difficult and increasingly violent relationship with the federal government. There have been numerous instances of the government targeting this region with oppressive tactics, violence, and biased policies. It is also one of the areas that has been identified for the latest wave of villagization, a process of relocation that is being undertaken to “increase service delivery.” However, Gambella’s villagization program appears to be being pursued with greater intensity than other regions’ programs as the government has stated it intends to relocate every indigenous, rural household in Gambella (HRW 2012, 22). The scale and intensity of these land grabs in this region coupled with the fervor of villagization is very concerning and merits much closer attention. –  Emily-Ingebretsen.-A-Thirsty-Third-World

http://wh2ojournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Emily-Ingebretsen.-A-Thirsty-Third-World.pdf

Also read at:-

A THIRSTY THIRD WORLD: HOW LAND GRABS ARE LEAVING ETHIOPIA IN THE DUST,  WH2O Issue 4,   pp 94-103

http://issuu.com/daniellegambogi/docs/wh2o_issue_4_pq

The Standoff in Afar State and the Arbiter from Mekele (TPLF) September 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia.
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The Afar were denied their fundamental right to vote for and elect their representatives and leaders. They are no exception in today’s Ethiopia. That is they have to fight together with the rest of the Ethiopians to dismantle this apartheid regime that has denied them their basic civil and democratic rights.

PRESS RELEASE

Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF)

Over the past one quarter century of its rule the TPLF mafia group has created a number of puppet organizations to represent various national groups in Ethiopia particularly in the so called backward regions of Somali, Ben Shangul, Gambela and Afar. But none is loyal to its masters in Mekele than the Afar regional leaders in Samara, as the regional capital is now known, none is glued as an appendix to TPLF than APDPA or ADE as it is known locally.

This particular relation between TPLF and ADE has its own reasons. Some are historical others are due to the fact that the Afar region occupies in long range strategy of the TPLF. This “QADE” mafia gang originally was part of TPLF itself. They brought them or assigned them into the power by TPLF to make the Afar politically unpredictable, economically weak and infrastructurally underdeveloped, and to impose Tigray ethnic hegemonic control forcibly over the Afar people. The three regional leaders who came with TPLF are Ismail Ali Sirro, Awal Seyoum and Mohamed Anbatta are still in power in the Afar region. One as President, one as Security Official and the third as speaker of the regional Parliament. The longest serving region leader Ismail Ali Sirro is already elected to the National House of Representatives. So by definition he is not liable any more to be President of the Afar region.

The current Executive Committee of the ruling Party (ADNP) has disgracefully failed to elect a new President for the region due to the deep political division and corruption caused by the outgoing puppet President Ismail Ali Sirro who claims that the Afar will be at each other’s throat if he quits. The fact is that the rampant corruption, bad governance, maladministration, discrimination and tribalism policies planted by TPLF in the puppet officials of the Afar region is going to put the Afar region into violent chaos and anarchy, but not because Ismail Ali Sirro is replaced. The Executive Committee left for Mekele as they do every time, they are not able to settle their differences. Every Afar official in Samara has his own lord in Mekele with whom he shares the money he pockets from his corrupt practices. The three puppets are afraid not to be accountable for their crimes, but one day they will have to face the reality. They want to make sure that their cronies are placed in their places. Recently, over a hundred innocent people are arbitrarily and unlawfully arrested in the Afar region because they protested against those practices.

Constitutionally, all federal regional states are equally accountable to the Federal Constitution, while the Afar Regional State is accountable to the Tigrai Regional State and it ruled from Mekele directly. Afar people have no say in deciding their own destiny. It is a fact that, corruption, famine, insecurity and instability which are currently facing the Afar is directly linked to the climate of unethical, unskilled and inexperienced leadership inability of the so called Afar Democratic National Party (ADNP). While the whole Ethiopia and probably the world is worried about the hunger and starvation which killing both the livestock and human beings in the Afar region, the regional officials are in standoff as they were not able to elect the Executive Committee.

They are waiting an arbiter from Mekele to arrive. The Afar were denied their fundamental right to vote for and elect their representatives and leaders. They are no exception in today’s Ethiopia. That is they have to fight together with the rest of the Ethiopians to dismantle this apartheid regime that has denied them their basic civil and democratic rights.

Victory to the Ethiopian people!
Victory to the heroic ARDUF/UGUUGUMO

Military Command Centre (MCC)
Information Desk
Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF)

Ecologist: USAID, the UK’s DFID and the World Bank are among those covering up for Ethiopia’s war on indigenous People July 22, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Omo Valley.
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???????????Gibe (Omo) valley

“The Mursi were told by government officials that if they didn’t sell off their cattle, the cattle would be injected with poison. This caused the Mursi in the north to leave their best cultivation land on the Omo River and in the grasslands in order to protect their cattle. They’ve lost three annual harvests so far as a result.”

US, UK, World Bank among aid donors complicit in Ethiopia’s war on indigenous tribes

Will Hurd, Ecologist, 22nd July 2015

USAID, the UK’s DFID and the World Bank are among those covering up for severe human rights abuses against indigenous peoples in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, inflicted during forced evictions to make way for huge plantations, writes Will Hurd. Their complicity in these crimes appears to be rooted in US and UK partnership with Ethiopia in the ‘war on terror’.

The Mursi were told by government officials that if they didn’t sell off their cattle, the cattle would be injected with poison. This caused the Mursi in the north to leave their best cultivation land on the Omo River and in the grasslands.

In the fall of 2012 my cell phone rang. It was an official from Department for International Development, DFID – the UK government aid agency. He implored me to remove his name from a transcript of an audio recordingI’d translated. He worried he might lose his job, which would hurt his family.

I’d translated for this official and his colleagues, both from DFID and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), during a joint visit they made, in January 2012, to the Lower Omo Valley of Southwest Ethiopia.

They wanted to talk to members of the Mursi and Bodi ethnic groups about a controversial government sugar development project. DFID was indirectly helping to fund the forced eviction and resettlement of thousands of people affected by this project, through a World Bank-organized funding program called ‘Promoting Basic Services’ (PBS).

DFID was the biggest state contributor to this program, which had also been accused of indirectly funding resettlement of Anuak in the nearby Gambella region. In Gambella, vast land leases were being given to international and domestic companies. During the visit to the Omo Valley, I turned on an audio recorder.

What struck me about the phone conversation with the DFID official was how much concern he had for his own livelihood and family, and how little concern he and DFID were showing for the hundreds, or even thousands, of families in the Omo Valley.

I acted on his request and left him unnamed.

Aid to ‘help the poor’ opens the way to international agribusiness

The resettlements were happening to clear the land for industrial-scale, international and national, companies. The donors deny a connection between the resettlements and the land leases, but the connection is all too obvious.

The behemoth Gibe III dam is under construction upstream on the Omo River. Its control of the river’s water level allows irrigation dams and canals to be built in the Omo Valley for plantations.

PBS is a $4.9 billion project led by the World Bank, with UK and other funding, under the guiding hand of the Development Assistance Group (DAG). The DAG is 27 of the world’s largest donor organizations, including 21 national government aid agencies.

The full membership of the DAG comprises: the African Development Bank, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, FAO, Finland, France, Germany, IMF, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain (AECID), Sweden, Switzerland, Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TIKA), UK (DFID), UNDP, UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank.

It is supposed to provide teacher and health worker salaries and water development in these resettlement sites. This is controversial in itself-only providing services to people who move off their land into resettlement sites – but some of the money was used by the Ethiopian government to pay for implementation of the resettlement scheme.

DFID and the DAG say that this resettlement plan is entirely about providing services to the people. If they believe this, they gravely misunderstand the aims of the Ethiopian Government, which have to do with political control.

Ethiopia’s long-standing plan to pin down the pastoralists

Most of the groups targeted in the southwest are people who depend on cattle and tend to move with the cattle-pastoralists. Pastoralists are difficult for governments to control. For the last 118 years pastoral peoples in the Omo Valley have successfully dodged many of the abuses suffered by settled agricultural tribes in the region, at the hands of the state.

The pastoralists simply gathered their cattle together and moved away, returning when government forces had left. With the help of the DAG, the government is now planning, finally, to pin the pastoralists down in resettlement sites.

David Turton, an anthropologist who has worked in the Omo Valley for more than 45 years, warned me about the possible motives of DFID and USAID for visiting the Omo at that particular time – January 2012.

“They may be reacting to the recent Human Rights Watch report which severely criticized their role in resettlement activities in Gambella”, he wrote. “It’s known that Human Rights watch is planning a report on the Omo, which is likely to be equally critical.

“So, by going to the Omo now, DFID and USAID will be able to argue that they have been keeping ‘a close eye’ on events there. In other words, their trip may have more to do with protecting their own backs against politically embarrassing revelations than with protecting the human rights of the Mursi and Bodi.”

But I’d once had a good experience with the World Bank, when it refused to give money to a conservation organization that was threatening to evict indigenous people from their land in the Omo Valley. I thought it might do good to show these aid agencies the gravity of the situation.

Off to the Omo Valley

We set off in a Land Rover through the grasslands of the Omo Valley. We stopped in a small Mursi village and arranged a meeting with approximately 40 Mursi. At the beginning, a Mursi man asked me, “Did you bring these people?” meaning did I vouch for them. “Yes”, I said.

This let the Mursi feel they could speak freely. DFID and USAID heard many accounts from the Mursi of forced eviction, beatings, rape, and coercion in agreements with the government. Some of these accounts were firsthand. We went on to a Bodi village and heard much the same thing.

Here is a translator telling what the Bodi next to him said:

“This man used to live in the Usso area. In that place one was able to grow a lot of grain … The government has thrown him out of his place and he doesn’t know what to do. His former place is behind that mountain. He says they are going to give it to someone else, a plantation investor.”

The accounts were irrefutable and I thought they must cause the donors to act. Months went by and the donors said they could not substantiate human rights violations in the Gambella region. But they had refused to visit Anuak refugees, although invited by the Anuak themselves, who had been evicted from their land in Gambella.

These Anuak were now living in refugee camps in Kenya and Sudan where they could have spoken of their experiences without fear of government reprisal. I was worried that the donors would also say they could find no evidence of violations in the Omo Valley.

So, I wrote DFID and USAID asking if anything had been done. I told them I had the tape recording transcripts. Had they taken this up with the DAG? I got the above call from a DFID official, after which they stopped responding to emails.

The donors report

Later DFID and USAID said in their report that the allegations of human rights abuses they had heard during their visit to the Omo Valley “could not be substantiated”.

The then British Minister for Overseas Development, Justine Greening, reported the same to UK Parliament. DFID and USAID had used the Mursi and Bodi to protect their reputation, and the reputation of the Ethiopian government.

But I had the tape recording.

At this time, there was strong disagreement between the reports that Human Rights Watch had published out about resettlement in the Gambella region, and the accounts that members of the DAG were putting out of their investigative trips to the same region.

Human Rights Watch was on the ground as the resettlement was being implemented and they also visited Anuak who had fled to refugee camps outside Ethiopia. From both populations they received reports that forced evictions, murders, and beatings had occurred.

The DAG, on the other hand, was saying it could not substantiate any human rights abuses. So, where was the disconnect?

One of the translators for the DAG investigation in Gambella said the communities had told DAG “to their face” of the human rights abuses. But still DAG reported nothing. What was important about the audio recording I’d made was it showed the inside of this investigation process by DAG, and it wasn’t pretty.

I heard in detail about one of the subsequent DAG trips in the Omo Valley in early August, 2013. Ethiopian government representatives had gone to a village in Bodi and told them they were bringing foreigners to ask what the Bodi thought of the resettlement.

The Bodi said, “This is good. When they come we will tell them the truth! How you swindle us, what you did wrong and about the people who abused us. We will tell it straight!” Some days later the villagers saw the caravan of aid agency officials and government officials drive past, on their way to another village.

Pushback

I published the recordings, HRW published a report about abuses in the Omo Valley, the World Bank Inspection Panel investigated the Bank’s resettlement program in Ethiopia, and earlier this year the tide began to turn. DFID pulled its funding from the PBS program.

The World Bank Inspection Panel report on the PBS program was also leaked. It contained damning evidence of human rights violations, and although the World Bank rejected the report findings, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim admitted to serious flaws with its resettlement programs.

This is all to the good, as the aid agencies have been faced with the consequences of their actions, but it doesn’t mean there are any protections for the ethnic groups of Southwest Ethiopia. The plantations and dam are moving ahead as before.

In April, reports surfaced that the Kwegu, the smallest ethnic group in the Omo Valley, were starving. They were not able to grow crops below an irrigation dam the government constructed on the Omo River for its sugarcane plantations. The Kwegu were giving their children to the cattle-herding Bodi to look after, so the kids would have milk to drink.

How can a $4.9 billion program be implemented and leave people starving? The answer, I think, is aid may not be the primary function of some of these organizations. Aid often is a way of paying a foreign government to provide a service for the country ‘giving’ the aid.

The long strings attached to aid

The US government needs Ethiopia as a stable and strategic place to carry out military operations in ‘the War on Terror’ in East Africa and the Middle East. The Horn of Africa has long been Washington’s ‘back-door of the Middle East’. The US now has a drone base in Arba Minch, with range to Somalia and Yemen. Arba Minch is not so far from Mursi territory. Aid has a long history of murky dealings.

In 1990, when the US was trying to get clearance from the UN to attack Iraq in the Gulf War, it bribed many UN member states for ‘yes’ votes with debt relief, gifts of weapons, and other things. When Yemen defied US wishes and voted against the attack, a senior American diplomat declared, “That was the most expensive ‘no vote’ you ever cast.” In three days, a $70 million USAID project was cancelled to one of the world’s poorest countries.

On its website, DFID explained its decision to pull its funding from the PBS Program as follows: “Recognising Ethiopia’s growing success, the UK will now evolve its approach by transitioning support towards economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth.”

But in the UK High Court where it was fighting a case brought against it by an Anuak refugee, ‘Mr O’. DFID said that it had pulled out of the PBS Program because “of ongoing concerns related to civil and political rights at the level of the overall partnership in Ethiopia … and continued concerns about the accountability of the security services.”

The DAG published a letter to the Ethiopian government on its website in February this year, in which it reported on visits it had made in August, 2014 to the Omo Valley and Bench Maji Zone. In this letter, it announced that it had found “no evidence of the Ethiopian Government forcibly resettling people.”

The truth is very different

Many more Bodi and Mursi have been imprisoned since the plantations started. Some were imprisoned after disagreeing with plantation and resettlement plans in meetings. Bodi cultivation sites and Mursi grain stores were bulldozed against their wishes.

Bodi have been in armed conflict with the police and military about the plantations. The Bodi were forbidden by the government to plant at the Omo River and told to move into the resettlement sites. When food aid didn’t arrive they went to plant against government wishes.

The Mursi were told by government officials that if they didn’t sell off their cattle, the cattle would be injected with poison. This caused the Mursi in the north to leave their best cultivation land on the Omo River and in the grasslands in order to protect their cattle. They’ve lost three annual harvests so far as a result.

Thousands of acres of Bodi territory were taken for the plantations and the Bodi ended up with small plots of land with no shade. When the Bodi left these plots, the government took them back for sugarcane. The DAG missed all of this. When are the DAG aid agencies going to start aiding the people of the Omo Valley, and Gambella, instead of participating in their demise?

Ethiopia has the right, and need, to develop its economy and industries, but impoverishing some of its most vulnerable people in the process is counterproductive.

The Mursi and Bodi have been trying to implement the Mursi-Bodi Community Conservation Area. This would capitalize on the already abundant tourism and wildlife in the area, in conjunction with Omo and Mago National Parks. If the government were to approve this, and let it be fully implemented, it may provide benefits for both local people and state.

 


 

Will Hurd lived in Ethiopia for eight years, primarily with the Mursi of the Southwest, who are now threatened by a 175,000 hectare sugar plantation. He speaks the Mursi language. He is director of the small non-profit, Cool Ground.

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2951671/us_uk_world_bank_among_aid_donors_complicit_in_ethiopias_war_on_indigenous_tribes.html

 

“JUSTICE, FREEDOM AND EQUALITY FOR MAJENGER AND ALL NILOTIC PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA” June 23, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley.
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“JUSTICE, FREEDOM AND EQUALITY FOR MAJENGER AND ALL NILOTIC PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA”

Gambella
Press Release
May 22nd 2015, Gambella

Gambella Nilotes United Movement (GNUM) strongly condemns the TPLF/EPRDF killings of the Mezenger people of Southwest Ethiopia. The massacre of Mezenger people has now escalated and spread to all neighbouring villages of Sheka, Surma, Bench and Menit tribes in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People Regional State. The massacre is jointly carried out by the federal police forces, ENDF (Ethiopian National Defence Force) and the illegal settlers (highlanders) in Teppi and Metti towns Godere Zone of the Gambella region. It has started in September 2014 and so far no investigation and action taken against the perpetrators to stop the massacre. Since January 2015 the killing intensified and all villages of Majengirs and neighbouring villages destroyed and all people from these villages went into bush leaving behind their belongings without anything to support their livelihood. However, attempted to return home from the bush is killed, chanting that the monkey has come home to live with human beings.

As our sources from the ground indicates so far more than 120 Mezenger are reported dead and the killing is indiscriminate against children, women and men. It is a systematic genocide to exterminate the Mezenger people, as many of their educated ones were packed into prison without any trial in the court. To weaken the power of Mezenger people, the police forces from the local community were disarmed and they were replaced with ENDF to manoeuvre the plan successfully and take over the land from Mezenger people. In addition to this the Kwegu and Hamer people are being displaced from their land and many more killed by the Ethiopian government because of sugar plantation project of Hailemariam Desalegn. Likewise, the Hamer tribe is now engaged in full scale war with the government soldiers in resistance to land grabbing and forced displacements.

The sugar plantation project in the South Omo zone has been carried out without the consultation of local community. The people of Southern Ethiopian should not be deceived by the leadership of the current prime minister because he is from the region. As he was baptized by the deceased Prime Minister Meles for the post he should be known for his hatred against the indigenous Nilotes in the southern region for which he can manipulate the system and exterminate the tribes.

The people of Majengers and other Nilotic people of South west Ethiopian have been in constant conflicts and frustration with the Ethiopian government and illegal settlers from the north, and the loss of land has been in alarming rates as clearing of the forests by commercial investors and the illegal settlers continue to surge. Since EPRDF took over, the Mezenger people were killed in 1993, 2001 and the current one of 2014/2015. The current massacre is worst of all kind as it has devastated and destroyed the properties of people and forced people to flee their land.

GNUM will continue to fight for justice, equality and freedom of the indigenous Nilotes to ensure their full recognition and identity in their land. The TPLF/EPRDF government is a racist government that puts ethnic conflicts as means to prosper its own people to settle in the southwest regions. It is a government that cares only for its citizens from Tigrai region, and it should be resisted strongly by all means as racist and divisive.

GNUM also call upon the international community to investigate the killings of Majengers and other Nilotic people of southwest Ethiopia through their body, and force the perpetrators to be brought to justice. We call upon all the donors to withhold their funds from the TPLF government to make sure their funds are not used to perpetuate the killings against the innocent indigenous populations. Further, we also strongly ask the international community to analyse and make serious investigation toward the root cause of the increasing killings against the indigenous populations in Southwest Ethiopia and come up with strong recommendations and actions for maximum self determination as the only lasting solution to protect the life of the indigenous populations.

Therefore, GNUM would like to call upon all the indigenous Nilotes to unite themselves as one people and resist and fight the racist TPLF/EPRF government to protect their land.

In conclusion the Gambella Nilotes United Movement (GNUM) will continue it struggle for all people of Gambella and all the South-western Nilotes to ensure freedom, liberty, justice, security and prosperity are brought to people in their God given lands.

“All Nilotic People Should Stand Together and Fight As One to Overthrow TPLF/EPRDF Government from Their Land”

Gambella Nilotes United Movement/Army

Central Committee

Our contact:                   gambellagnuma@yahoo.com   OR

gambellagnuma@gmail.com

http://www.ayyaantuu.net/justice-freedom-and-equality-for-majenger-and-all-nilotic-people-of-ethiopia/

Leaked Bank Loan Record of Land Grabbers in Gambella June 21, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa and debt, African Poor, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Dictatorship, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Poverty.
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Leaked Bank Loan Record of Land Grabbers in Gambella

Leaked Bank Loan Record of Land Grabbers in Gambella

(The Gulele Post) – The following document contains names of individuals and companies who borrowed money from a branch of Development Bank of Ethiopia located in Western Ethiopia for the purpose of investment on farm land development. We have redacted some information to protect our sources. The data shows how much money has been borrowed, by whom and where the supported farm land is located. With exception of few cases, most of the land is taken from Gambella. http://www.gulelepost.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Bank-Loan-for-Land-Grab_Ethiopia.pdf

Bank-Loan-for-Land-Grab_Ethiopia

78 % of land grabbers in Gambella are fascist TPLF from Tigray, evidence from Gambella state. Dhiba keessa qabxii 78 saamicha lafaa Gambella irratti kan bobba’ani woyyaanota/ ilmaan Tigreeti. Ragaa motummaa Gambeellaa irraa argame kan armaa gadiitiin mirkaneessa.

land grabbers in Gambellaland grabbers in Gambellalandgrabbers1 in Gambella

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/06/omn-oduu-waxabajjii-18-2015/

The Global African: Land Grabs in Ethiopia & The Legacy of Belgian Colonization May 18, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Oromia, Omo Valley.
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???????????Land grab inOromia

The Global African looks at land theft in Ethiopia & the connection between Belgian colonization and HIV in the Congo.

 

Bio

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a columnist, activist, author and labor organizer. He is the executive assistant to the national vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees. Bill is an editorial board member of BlackComentator.com, as well as the chairman of the Retail Justice Alliance. He is also the co-author of “Solidarity Divided”; and the author of the newly released book, ‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions . He is a co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal, and has served as President of TransAfrica Forum and was formerly the Education Director and later Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO.

Transcript:

 

 

BILL FLETCHER, HOST, THE GLOBAL AFRICAN: Today on The Global African, we’ll talk about the legacy of Belgian colonization in the Congo and a recent report on land grabs in Ethiopia.That’s today on The Global African. I’m your host, Bill Fletcher. Thanks for joining us again. And don’t go anywhere.

~~~FLETCHER: According to a new report from the Oakland Institute entitled We Say the Land Is Not Yours, the government of Ethiopia has been forcibly removing many Ethiopians from their native lands through a so-called village-ization program. The program, supposedly intended to modernize the East African nation, has sold off millions of hectares of land to foreign investors. These investors, often large-scale agriculture companies, are buying very valuable land at a cheap price. Instead of cultivating land and producing food for the people, most of the yields are being used to export to other nations.After being forced off their land, natives are cut off from access to fertile land, health care, and educational opportunity, languishing in poverty.The country’s villagization program has faced allegations in the past of torture, political coercion, imprisonment, rapes, and disappearances against those attempting to form resistance.We’re joined now with our guest from the Oakland Institute in California, Anuradha Mittal, who is the executive director and founder of the institute, which aims to create opportunity for public participation and democratic debates on key issues worldwide. Under her leadership, the Institute has unveiled land investment deals in Africa and around the world.Thank you very much for joining us on the program.ANURADHA MITTAL, EXEC. DIR., OAKLAND INSTITUTE: Thanks for having me.FLETCHER: So I just read this report that you issued concerning land theft in Ethiopia. And I had not seen anything about this in the mainstream media. And I was curious. Let’s start with how did you uncover this situation and what brought it to your attention.MITTAL: Well, in the case of Ethiopia we at the Institute have been working since 2007, 2008, when we were contacted by the communities both within Ethiopia as well as people who are now in the diaspora, people who have been forced to live in exile, who have fled the country because of the political oppression. And what we started hearing about was that in the name of development, vast tracts of land are being cleared where ethnic groups, indigenous communities have been living as agropasturalists, or growing their food, or using the forest for their medicines, for their farms.And with this displacement, you’re seeing large-scale plantations of cotton, of sugarcane coming into being in the name of development, that this will lead Ethiopia to the next century and make it a renaissance state.So we were really concerned by the kind of displacement that is happening. The government plans to give away 7 million hectares of land, leading to the displacement of over 1.5 million people. And there’s no consultation, there is no free prior informed consent. The way communities are being moved is through forced displacement, and we were very concerned about it.FLETCHER: When the Ethiopian regime that currently is in power took over in the ’90s, overthrowing Mengistu, their program seems to be completely antithetical to what we’re witnessing right now, where the regime seems to be serving the interests of global agricultural capitalists.MITTAL: You’re right on, I mean, what had happened earlier, the so-called villagization, when people were forced off their lands and the so-called villages were supposed to be created where better social services would be provided. And that was challenged. But not today. It is the same pretext that is being used that better social services would be provided, better education opportunities would be provided to communities who are being moved. And so this is the whole rhetoric of development. But our research on the ground shows that the lands which have been cleared, actually then given away to foreign investors who are coming in from India, from Malaysia, from Turkey and just about everywhere, especially in areas such as Gambela or Lower Omo, and leading to forcible displacement of people.The other shocking thing, Bill, that–I think it’s important to remember is that this kind of development, which leads to eviction of people against their choice from their homes and lands, is happening thanks to donor countries. It is happening because it has the blessings of financial institutions such as the World Bank.FLETCHER: I’d like you to explain that a little bit more. Why–what are the, what’s the interest of the World Bank in all of this?MITTAL: Well first of all, there is this belief that large-scale plantations, large-scale agriculture will lead to development and the benefits of which will somehow trickle down to those at the bottom. We have seen that trickle-down does not really ever happen.Secondly, you have these loans that are being provided. When you look at Ethiopia, over 60 percent of its budget comes from outside. Some of the key donors are United States, United Kingdom, the World Bank.And also we have another relationship. In the United States, Ethiopia is our closest ally in Africa. It is our ally in the war on terrorism. So we tend to turn a blind eye to the repression that is happening on the ground.FLETCHER: Is there an ethnic side to what’s going on? That is, are there certain ethnic groups in Ethiopia that are disproportionately affected by this? Or is this pretty much across the board?MITTAL: Well, this is happening across the board, and it’s happening to the ones who are in minority. So, for instance, in Lower Omo you have the Bodis, the Suris, the Mursis, the Nyangatoms, the Hamars who are being impacted. In case of Gambela, Anuaks are predominantly targeted. So it is a country which is ruled by a minority, the Highlanders, or the Tigrayans. And their control is being maintained through political and economic repression by displacing people from their lands, which makes their livelihoods even more difficult. And secondly, it helps to control the country politically and stay in power.FLETCHER: There’s two questions here. One is: what is happening to the populations that are being displaced? In similar situations around the world, there’s a tendency for people to move into the urban centers. Is that what’s happening here? Are people leaving the country? And the second question is about resistance. What kind of resistance is building?MITTAL: Well, both are great questions. I think Ethiopia is a little bit unique, because given the kind of political oppression you have, given there is no political space to be able to speak out as you hear from the testimonies presented in the report, which we basically felt we had to do because our fieldwork, when we have put out in reports, has been challenged by the Ethiopian government, and this time we could say it is not some Western NGO challenging the Ethiopian government, these are the voices of people within Ethiopia.So it is a very, very dire situation.In terms of resistance, again, when we look around the world, given we work around the world, we see resistance on the ground, but it is pretty appalling. In Ethiopia, again, because of the lack of civil society, lack of freedom of media, and the fact that you can be arrested, the fact that Ethiopian security forces are not just arresting people within Ethiopia, but taking away people from Kenya and South Sudan who might have challenged government’s policies, we are finding very little resistance on the ground.The resistance is more of having the courage to storytell groups such as Human Rights Watch or tell groups like the Oakland Institute what the reality is on the ground. So the resistance is of people who refuse to give up and refuse to move from their lands. And in return they’re facing persecution, they’re facing arrest, intimidation, beatings. You know, the prisons of Ethiopia are full of people who have challenged government’s development strategy.FLETCHER: Is there any sense of global support for the peoples that are facing these evictions? Or are they pretty much on their own?MITTAL: Well, I think more and more of the world knows what is happening in Ethiopia. There are groups from International Rivers, Human Rights Watch, Oakland Institute, Survival International who have been supporting the communities on the ground who have been putting out information to inform and educate. For instance, the U.S. Congress just recently deferred–UK’s development agency stopped financing PBS, the program for basic services, which was linked to the villagization scheme of the Ethiopian government. So this pressure from outside is resulting in kind of taking away some of the resources from the Ethiopian government that is financing and is facilitating displacement of people.But, of course, a lot of work remains to be done. Because of our research, it was exposed by Channel 4 in Sweden that H&M was sourcing its cotton from Lower Omo, these plantations which have come into being by displacing indigenous agropasturalists from Lower Omo. And because of the pressure, H&M had to announce that they would not source cotton from Lower Omo. So I think it is very important to keep spreading the word, to keep educating, and to keep exposing that development strategy which is based on a denial of human rights–and not just denial, but abuse of human rights cannot be a development strategy for any nation.FLETCHER: Ms. Mittal, thank you very, very much.MITTAL: Thank you. Pleasure to speak with you.FLETCHER: Absolutely. I look forward to it in the future.MITTAL: Same here. Take care. Bye-bye.FLETCHER: Bye-bye, now.And thank you for joining us for this segment of The Global African. I’m your host, Bill Fletcher. And we’ll be back in a moment, so don’t go anywhere.

~~~FLETCHER: One of the greatest holocausts of the 19th century, indeed of all time, was the murder of 10 million Congolese when the Congo, then known as the Congo Free State, was the personal property of King Leopold of Belgium–more than 10 million Congolese murdered in order to enrich this monarch of Europe.The legacy of that holocaust lives with us today and is detailed in an excellent piece by Dr. Lawrence Brown. The impact of that holocaust and the colonization of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo resulted in conditions that were fertile for the development of what came to be known as HIV and AIDS. HIV-AIDS first surfaces in what is now Kinshasa, which was at that time, in the 1920s, Leopoldville, in 1920, and spread as a result of the practices that were carried out by the Belgians as they tore the country apart.The Ghost of Leopold Still Haunts Us is the title of an essay written by our next guest, Dr. Lawrence Brown from Morgan State University, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.Dr. Brown, thank you for joining us again.DR. LAWRENCE BROWN, ASST. PROF., DEPT. HEALTH POLICY AND MGMT, NSU: Absolutely. Pleasure to be here.FLETCHER: Great. I was really struck by this article. It’s the connection that you make between Belgian colonialism and the development of AIDS. I had not seen anything like that before. And it was so different from the conspiracy theory pieces that people read, the utter denial that we see. What inspired you to write it?BROWN: Absolutely. I really had been doing a lot of thinking and studying around colonization, how that impacted health of populations and how enslavement, how these historical traumas impact the health of populations. So when I ran across this article that basically found the authors conducting a genetic analysis of the virus itself and tracking it down, through this sort of forensic process, to Kinshasa in the 1920s, I was really fascinated, because I had been looking at the Democratic Republic of Congo and its history. And so when I ran across the article and I began to read it, I noticed the word Belgium really didn’t come up in the article at all. And I was familiar with Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost, and the story of how King Leopold and his Force Publique, this military regiment, had brought such terror and devastation to the Congolese populations, killing up to 10 million of the Congolese people, that I was really fascinated by the sheer absence of the mention of Belgian colonization.So that got my mind to thinking, and I decided I needed to write something to sort of understand, help people understand how the social determinants of health would have impacted the development and the ignition of HIV.FLETCHER: And you’re describing the Congo Holocaust.BROWN: Essentially, yes.FLETCHER: I mean, more people were killed in what was then the Congo Free State, right?BROWN: Right. It started out as the Congo Free State.FLETCHER: ‘Cause it was the personal property of King Leopold.BROWN: Absolutely. King Leopold II of Belgium.FLETCHER: That’s right.BROWN: He owned it for about 26 years.FLETCHER: That’s right. More people were killed there than the Nazis killed in their Holocaust.BROWN: Absolutely. It was terrible.FLETCHER: Now, one of the things that I was struck by then is that there are those that have tried to dismiss the issue of HIV and AIDS as being related to a virus by simply saying that it’s because of poverty.BROWN: Right.FLETCHER: President Mbeki, the former president of South Africa, was one who was very much in that direction. But you’re making a very different argument.BROWN: Absolutely. You know, the World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as the conditions in which we live, play, work, and pray. And so the social determinants of health help contribute to a disease’s spread, how it evolves, how it is able to infect and spread among human populations.And so what happened in the Belgian Congo in the 1920s is that–this article says it started in 1920s in Kinshasa. So it gives us a starting point. So we know, for instance, that the CIA starts in 1947, so the CIA didn’t create this virus. We know that certain things–we can basically say we can rule out some of the conspiracies based on this analysis.But what we do need to know and figure out is that in the ’20s it wasn’t called Kinshasa, it was called Leopoldville.FLETCHER: That’s right.BROWN: This was part of King Leopold’s domain and the Belgians’ domain by the 1920s. They had built an extensive railway system in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as we know it today, using free African labor–or forced African labor of the Congolese. They had thousands and ten thousands of men and women carrying the supplies and materials that were needed to create this railroad. They had folks who lived and died under the strain of the push to create this sort of transportation. And the railroads were used to extract ivory, and then rubber, from which King Leopold II became rich, to extract those resources from the African people.And so in the article it mentions that having this railway was critical to the spread of the virus because it allowed the transportation from places like Kinshasa, as we know it today, to /kəngɑːli/ and different cities within the nation. And so, understanding that the railways did help the spread of the virus is important, but it’s also important to understand the forced African labor that was used to build that railway and to transport the laborers, even later, after the real railroad was built, along those railways, so the transportation of people back and forth, all in the service of colonization.FLETCHER: Let me go back for a second, 1920 Leopoldville, when they say that that’s when HIV-AIDS emerged. It didn’t pop out of the air.BROWN: No.FLETCHER: So what happened?BROWN: Well, you have the animal-to-human transmission. It’s just like we’ve been talking about the Ebola virus recently, a zoonotic disease that emerges out of animal-human contact. So, in this case the theory is that chimpanzee meat in some form or fashion was consumed by an African Congolese, and thereby transmitting the simian form of that virus.Well, how might that have happened? People in that region maybe had been eating that meat on and off for several hundreds of years. They’d known how to eat that meat very properly, cooked it quite well. But under the conditions that the Belgians were putting the Congolese under, they totally disrupted the Congolese food supply to such that witnesses say that laborers were starving because they couldn’t grow their own food. So now they’re importing food from Belgium, they’re importing food so that the Congolese can eat other people’s food to survive, but they’re sending them into the forest to go and extract rubber down from the vines, they’re sending them into the forest, and folks have to climb up the trees to extract this rubber from the tree, many of them falling asleep and dying or injuring themselves in the process. And so, in this environment of extreme hunger, I could see someone saying, I don’t have anything to eat right now, maybe there is a dead chimpanzee somewhere, I’m going to take that and not cook it properly because I’m so hungry under these conditions, and then you have the transmission from animal to human in this case.FLETCHER: Fascinating. So forgive the very basic questions, but I’m not a scientist. Nineteen-twenty.BROWN: Right.FLETCHER: Okay. Then it seems to emerge publicly around 1980.BROWN: Right. So where was the virus hiding?FLETCHER: Where was a virus? Right.BROWN: Well, you know, I think that from what we understand there, really sort of this article gives three primary vectors. We’re talking about the railway that we talked about earlier. It allows for humans to travel up–the host for the virus to travel across the country, transmitting the virus. It talks about–so you have host, you have the transportation.Then you also have another vector they talk about, commercial sex workers, and so what we know as or what people commonly referred to as prostitutes. And so there are Congolese scholars that say, well, even the commercial sex work is rooted in colonization, because the Belgians would take Congolese women and exploit them in various ways. They would exploit them in terms of helping–using them to please the workers in vile ways. They would use women to–they took some of them as their second wives in the Congo Free State and later the Belgian Congo. So they perverted the very being and the spirit of the Congolese women, and as such created a sort of commercial sex work industry that allowed the virus to sort of proliferate originally.Now, in terms of spreading beyond the borders, the analysis basically says that by the ’60s or ’70s there were Haitian workers that were working in the Belgian Congo. And by the ’60s, of course, the Congo becomes Zaire under Mobutu. And so the Haitian workers working there, professionals, they go back to Haiti having contracted the virus, and then maybe a few Haitians go to New York or go to the United States, and the virus sort of emerges there in the 1980s. But it had been sort of percolating all along. I think you see in the medical literature there were people dying that they can sort of trace back and say, this was probably the disease. In the ’60s and ’70s they were starting to see something’s going on and it’s not right.FLETCHER: But what did the Belgians see between 1920 and 1960, when the Congo became independent? Is there any evidence that they even noticed that there was a problem?BROWN: I don’t think they knew that there was a specific problem with this particular disease. Now, they did have public health campaigns to help stop, like, sleeping disease and other diseases that are infectious diseases that were there at the time.Now, the important thing to know is that they were reusing syringes to sort of inoculate people against certain diseases that they knew about at the time. And so, inadvertently, I believe, you’re reusing needles, and that could have helped proliferate the spread of the virus as well at the time. So those are the kind of dynamics that even in terms of the colonial public health system, the Belgians could have played a role in terms of helping to proliferate the virus. So, whether it’s the colonial public health system, whether it’s animal-to-human transmission, whether it’s commercial sex workers or the railroads, the Belgian colonization system, first with King Leopold and then under the Belgian government, played a role in the transmission of this disease.FLETCHER: When the Belgians left the Congo in 1960, they did nothing to help in any kind of transition. They were trying to actually Balkanize the Congo, as you know, the whole fight around the Katanga province and trying to separate it off. There’s no indication that there was–I’m assuming that there was no indication of any effort to deal with any medical issues when they moved out.BROWN: Yeah, not to my knowledge. But the Belgian government did collaborate with the CIA in terms of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. So the Belgian government plays a very powerful role, in terms of even after they leave, determining, charting the future course of the Democratic Republic of Congo, so that it’s much more likely to move in a less Pan-African direction and more so in a much more brutal dictator direction.And why is that important? Of course, if you have someone who’s in your stead managing in a neocolonial arrangement, that continues the facilitation of extracting resources from the country. And so you have critical minerals that are predominant all over the country–copper, diamonds, or coltan that’s in our smart phones and cell phones, right? And so people are fighting over those resources today. There’s been a tremendous civil war that’s been going on. Up to 5 million Congolese people have been killed in this civil war.And you see under King Leopold people’s hands being cut off because they didn’t produce enough rubber. And then in this civil war you see sort of the same thing, people’s hands being cut off as a form of punishment. And it sort of–you know, we look at how people tend to reproduce the trauma that they have experienced under these sort of extreme, harsh forms of brutalization and oppression. And that’s what I think is important to know is that so much of what’s going on in the Congo today finds its root in that period when King Leopold II–.FLETCHER: Dr. Brown, thank you very much for joining us on The Global African.BROWN: My pleasure.FLETCHER: And thank you for joining us for this episode of The Global African. I’m your host, Bill Fletcher. And we’ll see you next time.

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