Genocide Alerts: Ethiopia

Genocide Alert: Ethiopia

In the remote western region of Gambella, tens of thousands of people have been forcibly relocated from their land. In 2010, the Ethiopian government initiated a villagisation program. The program intended to group scattered farming communities into small villages, with the aim of changing their lifestyles, and providing better access to food, education and health. However, the government’s plans are far from reaching these goals; the Ethiopian government has forcibly relocated approximately 70,000 people from their land with the intention to lease the land for foreign and domestic investment. There have been numerous reports of human rights violations. Many of the new villages where people are being relocated have inadequate food and lack healthcare and educational facilities. The Ethiopian government’s villagisation program has been extremely detrimental to the livelihoods of the people of Gambella. The government’s failure to provide food assistance has caused endemic hunger and cases of starvation. In addition, those who have resisted relocating are repeatedly assaulted and arbitrarily arrested. Through this program, the Ethiopian government is planning on relocating 1.5 million people by 2013 from the following regions: Gambella, Afar, Somali, and Benishangul Ghumuz
“My father was beaten for refusing to go along with some other elders,” one former villager told HRW. “He said, ‘I was born here – my children were born here – I am too old to move so I will stay.’ He was beaten by the army with sticks and the butt of a gun. He had to be taken to hospital. He died because of the beating – he just became weaker and weaker.”
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In light of the recent report issued by Human Rights Watch, Genocide Watch is deeply concerned with the rising number of human rights violations in Ethiopia; as a result Genocide Watch is classifying the situation as a Genocide Alert.

The early signs which indicate, the occurrence of genocide in the near future are the following:
– Forcibly relocating approximately 70,000 people from the western region of Gambella
– The use of force and coercion
– The deprivation of resources & the denial of rights
– The targeting & exclusion of indigenous groups
– The restriction on NGOs such as the Human Rights Council (HRCO )& the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyer Association
– The absence of free media and lack of tolerance on dissents

Genocide Watch calls upon the international community to take action to prevent Genocide from happening. Please help us sign this petition:

Report by Cultural survival : Gambella Land Grab alert
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ABN: 234 63841103
Anuak Australian Community (AAC)
59 Gilba Road, Girraween, NSW 2145
Ph: 61 2 9631 3629
Date: 25th March 2012
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton
President of Genocide Watch

Genocide Watch Emergency Update: Ethiopia

The Gambella Massacres
6 December 2012 

Genocide Watch first declared a Genocide Emergency in 2003 after massacres of Anuak people in Ethiopia’s far southwestern region of Gambella. EPRDF forces and Highlander militias initiated a systematic genocidal campaign targeting the indigenous Anuak people of Gambella province. Genocide Watch and Survivors Rights International (SRI) sent a fact-finding mission to Gambella, interviewed eyewitnesses, and thoroughly documented the massacres in a joint report released in January 2004 titled ‘Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks’.  It was followed a year later by a report by Human Rights Watch.


Dr. Gregory Stanton, founder and director of Genocide Watch, sent a letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi urging him to prevent the massacres from becoming a full-scale genocide. Rather than taking the necessary measures to protect the people of Gambella, the government instead continued the killings and Genocide Watch sent another fact-finding team to Gambella that produced documents proving that the Gambella massacres were planned at the highest levels of the Ethiopian government, and even given the code name “Operation Sunny Mountain,” the title of Genocide Watch’s resulting 1994 report.

Since 2004, Ethiopia has repeatedly targeted the Anuak community and has even sent EPRDF troops into Sudan to force refugees to return to Gambella, an action prevented by the US Ambassador to Ethiopia after rapid response by Genocide Watch.  Genocide Watch sent an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights asking her to investigate genocide and crimes against humanity in Gambella, the Ogaden, and other provinces of Ethiopia.

The Anuak are the predominant landowners in the Gambella region.  Dark –skinned African tribes such as the Anuak are shunned as racially inferior by Highlanders and the central government.   In 1991 the Ethiopian government implemented a system known as “ethnic federalism”. This system enabled the government to implement discriminatory practices that fostered tribalism and racial division.
The Gambella region has rich resources and fertile land. Nevertheless, the province lacks roads, electricity, and other basic economic infrastructure. The Gambella region also suffers from long-term political, social, and economic marginalization.
Gambella’s oil reserves are now being tapped by Chinese oil companies. The Ethiopian government’s appetite for large-scale agricultural development is causing catastrophic damage to the social structure and land of the people of Gambella. The people have been forcibly driven off their land, and the land is being leased to Chinese, Saudi, and Indian multi-national agro-corporations at rock-bottom prices. None of the money for the leased land is being used to benefit the people of Gambella.  Over the past decade, the Anuak have pressed the government for income from their resources.  In response, the government has initiated a genocidal campaign aimed at deporting, persecuting and killing the Anuak people.
– Genocide Watch considers Ethiopia to have already reached Stage 7, genocidal massacres, against many of its peoples, including the Anuak, Ogadeni, Oromo, and Omo tribes.
– Genocide Watch recommends that the United States government immediately cease all military assistance to the Ethiopian Peoples Defense Forces. We recommend strong diplomatic protests to the Meles Zenawi regime against massive violations of human rights in Ethiopia.

– Ethiopia is currently fighting a proxy war with US support in Somalia.  We strongly advise diverting all US aid for Ethiopia in that war to the African Union Forces in Somalia.
– Genocide Watch calls upon the government of Ethiopia to cease attacks on the Anuak and Ogadeni.

– Genocide Watch demands the immediate release of Anuak and Ogadeni prisoners.

– Genocide Watch calls on the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to the Gambella and Ogaden provinces, and other areas in Ethiopia threatened by famine.

– Genocide Watch urges the Ethiopian government to adhere to its own constitution and allow its provinces the legal autonomy they are guaranteed.

– Genocide Watch calls upon the government to hold free and fair elections that allow the opposition to participate fully in the electoral process.

– Genocide Watch calls upon the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Ethiopia to the International Criminal Court for prosecution of Ethiopia’s crimes against humanity.


Genocide Watch Emergency: Ethiopia

The Ogaden Massacres
6 December 2012 

The Ogaden region is predominantly inhabited by an ethnic Somali, Muslim agro-pastoralist clan, the Ogadeni.  The Ogaden is endowed with rich oil and gas resources, but its population lives in extreme poverty while Chinese oil companies pump the oil and gas from under their land.  Without the knowledge and consent of the Ogadeni, the Ethiopian government signed contracts and gave concessions to foreign oil companies to explore and extract oil and natural gas from the Ogaden.

Immediately after oil and gas was discovered in the Ogaden, Ethiopian government forces evicted large numbers of Ogadenis from their ancestral grazing lands, and herded them into Internally Displaced Persons camps, causing a humanitarian disaster.  Thousands of once self-sufficient Ogadenis have starved to death.

The Ogaden region has been a battlefield between Ethiopia and Somalia.  In 1960 when Somalia gained independence, it sought to unite all ethnic Somalis.  Somalia invaded the Ogaden under Siad Barre, but were repulsed when the Soviet Union switched sides and backed the Mengistu communist government of Ethiopia and sent Cuban troops to drive Somalia out of the Ogaden.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), founded in 1984, has been fighting a long-running insurgency against the Ethiopian government, seeking more autonomy for the underdeveloped, ethnically Somali region. In 2007, the Ethiopian army launched a counterinsurgency campaign in the Ogaden region, after the ONLF rebels launched an attack on a Chinese oil field.

The Ethiopian government has initiated a genocidal campaign against the Ogadeni civilian population.  The Ethiopian Peoples Defense Forces are using a systematic policy of intimidation, rape, assault and detention and deportation against Ogadeni civilians. Ten of thousands of people have fled to refugee camps in Kenya and Somalia.

The Ethiopian Army’s counter –insurgency campaign in Ogaden has included numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Ethiopian government’s policy in Ogaden is to suppress all demands for autonomy from Ogadenis.  It has included gradual starvation of the population in IDP camps – a policy Genocide Watch calls Genocide By Attrition.

It has cut off the IDP camps from humanitarian aid, and barred and arrested all journalists who could report on its crimes.  Two Swedish journalists are still serving eleven-year sentences in Ethiopian prisons for reporting on the Ogaden massacres.  Ethiopia even arrested the renowned New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman and held him for a week in an Ogaden jail, until the US government demanded his release.

The army has imposed an economic blockade on many towns and villages in the Ogaden. The government has restricted access to water, food and other necessities.  Food is being used as a weapon of war.  Massacres, torture, rape and disappearances are prevalent in the Ogaden region. Women and children are the most vulnerable groups to suffer abuse and violence.  They are accused of being relatives of ONLF members.  Thousands of people have been arrested without any charges and held in desolate desert prisons.

Ethiopian security forces are given blanket impunity to kill whomever they want under the pretext of suspected support and sympathy for the ONLF. In mid-2007, aid agencies were expelled from the Ogaden, despite a humanitarian crisis there.  Only a small number of aid agencies are now allowed to operate in Ogaden, and their activities are restricted by the army.  The army also continues to impose severe restrictions on the media.


According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) whole Ogadeni communities have been forcibly relocated to areas controlled by the army.  Villagers and nomads were given a few days’ notice to vacate their land. The Ethiopian Peoples Defense forces adopted a “scorched earth campaign,” destroying their property, confiscating livestock and burning their harvests.  The Ogaden has been transformed into a vast military occupied area, with thousands of Ogadenis in IDP camps.

– The Ethiopian government has ratified many international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Genocide Watch calls upon the Ethiopian government to abide by these treaties.

– Genocide Watch urges the Ethiopian government to allow all humanitarian and relief organizations and journalists to operate freely in the Ogaden, and everywhere in Ethiopia.

 – Genocide Watch demands that the Ethiopian government close all Internally Displaced Persons camps in Ethiopia, to allow Ogadenis and Anuak to return to their homes in safety with humanitarian assistance.

– Genocide Watch is alarmed by the massive number of rape victims.  Ogadeni women are being held in the Ethiopian military barracks as sex slaves.

 – Genocide Watch condemns these crimes, and has publicly written to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate.

– The situation in Ethiopia should be referred by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court for prosecution of these crimes against humanity.

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