Daniel Bekele, Human Rights Watch, Africa Division, Executive Director
Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ayalew Gobeze, President of the Amhara Regional State
Ahmed Nasir, President of the Benishangul Gumz Regional State
Tefera Derebew, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Abadula Gemeda, House Speaker, Ethiopian Parlament
Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons,
Recently, I learned through local news media reports that Ethiopian farmers who were settled in the Benishangul Gumuz regional state and living an established life are being uprooted en masse from their settlements. The eviction is being carried out under the pretext that the farmers are outsiders who inhibited the area illegally. The eviction reportedly began last month. This is the second time...
Recently, I learned through local news media reports that Ethiopian farmers who were settled in the Benishangul Gumuz regional state and living an established life are being uprooted en masse from their settlements. The eviction is being carried out under the pretext that the farmers are outsiders who inhibited the area illegally. The eviction reportedly began last month. This is the second time in recent memory that Ethiopian farmers are forced off their settlements as outside settlers. The latest wave of evictions affected thousands of Ethiopians including children, women and elderlies. They were deported to Bahir Dar and Fenote Selam cities in the Amhara Regional State.
The eviction process was marred by several instances of human right violations. First, the eviction was carried out hastily and without advance notice, leaving the victims little time to sort things out. They could not even pack their belongings. Second, the eviction began before alternative settlements were prepared for the victims. As a result, the victims are thrown out into the streets of Bahir Dar and Fenote Selam, surviving only on food handouts from local residents. Third, the victims were physically abused by local officials during the eviction process. This is a clear indication that the eviction was carried out against their will.
It should further be noted that these Ethiopians have been living in the Benishagul Gumuz area for several years and have worked hard under difficult circumstances to tend and cultivate the land that they settled. Although the challenge was overwhelming, through hard work and perseverance they managed to make the land cultivable and livable. These Ethiopians have no other place to call home. They are now in dire situations and are calling for immediate help. Therefore, I sincerely ask concerned government bodies to deeply study the matter and take corrective actions. In this regard,
1. I would like to see immediate action taken so that the evicted people can return to their settlements as soon as possible.
2. If retuning the victims to their settlements is not possible due to extraordinary circumstances, I would like to see the evicted people offered alternative settlement areas and compensated for their material losses and physical and psychological sufferings.
3. I would like to see legal actions taken against officials who are behind this ill conceived eviction which clearly breached Ethiopian and international human rights law.