Ethiopian Gov’t Embarked on Genocide

B. McPherson

Ethiopia has a rich resource in the Omo River and Lake Turkana. Fertile lands fed by annual floods provide a renewal of the agricultural land each rainy season. The Omo River falls from the highlands to Lake Turkana providing opportunities for hydro-electric production.

The only obstacle to rapid development of hydro-electricity and massive plantations is that the land is occupied and has been occupied for thousands of years. The people there who have lived peacefully and self sufficiently are being forcibly removed from their traditional areas and herded into small reservations. They will lose their cattle and lose their agricultural lands.

The government of Ethiopia has partly finished the Gibe III Dam which, when finished will be the largest in Africa. The impoundment of water will end the seasonal renewal of the land. On the other hand, electricity generated by the dam will be able to power electric lights in Adis Ababa with enough power left over to sell to other countries. The impounded water can be used to irrigate the massive sugar cane plantations slated for the traditional lands of the 500 000 or so people who live there now.

Lake Turkana is estimated to rapidly decline as it becomes starved of fresh water, leading to increased salinity and the death of its rich fishery.

The Oakland Institute compiled a report in September 2011 outlining the concerns for the people and
the very real danger of environmental catastrophe in turning to industrial agriculture covering thousands of hectares of tribal lands. There are reports of weapons and tasers being used against those who do not immediately agree to move. About 90 000 hectares of plantation concessions lie within Omo National Park and a further 40 000 will be taken from Mago National Park.

The FDRE Sugar Plantation is a state owned enterprise. Other land deals are in effect, robbing the residents of 445 501 hectares (109,961,895 acres) and pushing them onto small plots of land away from the water sources.

The people living there now may be leading simple, sustainable lives, but they are far from stupid. They recognize genocide when they see it. They know that giving up their lands will be giving up their lives and they have tried to resist the might of the modern.

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