Ethiopia: army 'massacre' of tribespeople


By 4report

UK-based advocacy group Survival International says it has received reports that violent conflict between Ethiopian soldiers and Hamar pastoralists left dozens dead last month.

The Hamar are one of several tribal peoples of the Lower Omo Valley who are subject to the government's policy of "villagization." They are being forcibly relocated to government-created villages along new roads through the region, while their ancestral grazing lands are sold off to investors for commercial plantations.

These land-grabs have already led to starvation in parts of the Lower Omo Valley. Tensions have been rising as a result of these evictions and, at the end of May, Hamar were reportedly attacked by soldiers with rifles and mortars. Survival says a "news blackout" imposed by the government makes it impossible to know the exact number of casualties, but one observer referred to what took place as a "massacre."

The incident follows a pattern of abuses in the Lower Omo, including beatings, rape and arbitrary arrest. One displaced Hamar told Survival, "The government told us that if we don't give in to them we will be slaughtered in public like goats." (Survival International, June 5)
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