(Commondreams.org) Ethiopians Break their Silence against Government Repression and Forced Displacement

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2015 22:38:37 -0400

or Immediate Release

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 11:30am
Oakland Institute

Anuradha Mittal,amittal_at_oaklandinstitute.org, +1 510-469-5228

Ethiopians Break their Silence against Government Repression and
Forced Displacement

New Landmark Testimony: "We Say the Land is Not Yours"

Oakland, CA - We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence
against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a landmark report from the
Oakland Institute documents testimony from members of several ethnic
groups from different areas of the country, bringing forward the
voices of those most directly impacted by land grabs and
villagization. The Ethiopian government’s villagization program aims
to resettle up to 1.5 million Ethiopians, mainly pastoralist and
indigenous communities, from areas targeted for industrial
plantations. These resettlements have happened without free, prior and
informed consent, and when communities resist, they have been forcibly
removed by means of violence, imprisonment, intimidation, political
coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.

“The Oakland Institute has released reports based on meticulous
fieldwork and years of research, exposing the human rights abuses
against indigenous and pastoralist communities in Ethiopia,” said
Anuradha Mittal, the Oakland Institute’s Executive Director. “As the
country now prepares for the national election in May 2015, it is
important for communities that have been shut out and locked up, to
tell their stories in their own words.”

Over the past few years, free speech in Ethiopia has been systemically
withdrawn. International media and NGOs have documented the threats,
arrests, and disappearances of those critical of government’s
policies. To add to this is the lack of media freedom: Ethiopia is the
second biggest jailer of journalists after its neighbor, Eritrea. Its
broadcasting and telecommunications sectors are controlled by the
state, and the minimal private media sector is heavily regulated and
frequently censored.

“The context in which we release this report is one of torture,
oppression, and silencing,” said Mittal. “A development strategy
without ensuring its citizens freedom of speech and expression is not
a development strategy but a scheme to benefit the ruling elites.
Those basic human rights are not being upheld in Ethiopia. It is
therefore urgent to make voices of those impacted heard.”

The report includes the voices of Ethiopians, some who remain in
Ethiopia, and others who have fled to neighboring countries and have
sought political asylum.

With the impending national elections, the government has escalated
its crackdown on political opposition and dissent. This report
  brings forth the voices that are being silenced, to bring this
oppressive situation to the attention of the members of the African
Union, international community, and donor countries. The time is now
to take decisive action.


The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank whose mission is to
increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical
social, economic and environmental issues in both national and
international forums.
Received on Tue Apr 14 2015 - 22:39:17 EDT

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