June 5, 2012

Human rights violations intensify in Afar region of Ethiopia

Filed under: Afar,Azeb Mesfin,EPRDF,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 8:38 am
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The conflict between Afars the Tigray People�s Liberation Front (TPLF) led government has been intensified during the last few months. The core issue of this disagreement is related to forced eviction of the pastoralists and the aggressive land grabbing investment policy.


The regime has continued its military repression, harassment and intimidation of the civilians as they refuse to submit and leave their homes to sugarcane plantation project owned by an Indian company. Hence, in many part of the Afar region a well-orchestrated and systematic human rights abuse has become a daily pattern. The recent strategy used by the regime is to instigate internal and external conflict in the Afar region and thereby use its military to silence the civilian resistance against the illegal land grabbing policy.

In the north of the Afar Region, resource potential has been a serious issue at stake. Among others a huge Salt source of Amole, Salt block of Assale area, has been a well-known commercial item between Afars and Tigray peoples. This has been also a huge tax revenue source for the administration in the region. Throughout the history the Assale area is administratively situated within Brahle.

However, lately the increasing economic significance of the Assale attracted much attention of the TPLF affiliated investors, who are effectively lobbying to control the area. Currently, the regime is being diverting the Salt rich area of Assale to Afdera district � another Salt rich area currently solely exploited by those Tigrean investors.

The Barahle district administration has rejected the arbitrary decision of diversion of the Salt rich area to Afdera. However, the regime deployed its Military on the border area of Afdera and Barahle in order to implementits diversion plan. The Barahle district called for elders and mass meeting of 750 people to divert the conflict.

These elders led meeting is repelled by the regime and over 6 district leaders including the Head, Ali Osman, removed from their position in administration of Barahle and are kept at house arrest in Mekele.The local community is fretful about that this deadlock gradually could lead to army-led confrontation, where the Afars the two districts are positioned to fight each other. The conflict concerns about 70 000 inhabitants combined into two districts.

The other serious confrontation is taking place along the Awash Valley in Rumaytoabout 3 km west of Aysaita. The regime arbitrarily assigned this area for a Sugarcane plantationproject. Local population is removed by force and forests are cleared by over 20 bulldozers day and night. The local community called for a self-defense to protect the forest and the land, because they have no other place to go.

The regime has placed a huge army around the Rumayto people and nobody is allowed to move in or out of the area. The ecological and forest destruction is clear where the rain forest is destroyed. The armyof the regime threatens to clear the forest by force but the confrontation is at sight. The confrontation concerns about 50 000 inhabitants in the localities.

In search of land for investment along the Awash Valley, the regime is allowing the neighboring Issa contrabandist not only to claim part of Afar Regional territory but also to inspire their claim and oversee their recurrent raids against the Afars along the Middle Awash Valley. As late as yesterday, June 2nd these raided was carried on a feeder road project at a place called BaareytainAmibara district at Zone three. The project wasimplemented by Afar Regional government.

In this confrontation more than 10 Afarswere killed and some more injuries were reported. The raid said to have supported by Issa Special Forces and also in turn backed by Djibouti government. Both the Regional and Federal governments are watching the incidents without any preventive action.

Finally, the Awash River which is a life line of the southern Afar for water sources is being curtailed by Dam and diversion so that people have no alternative water sources. Afar Human Rights Organisation is concerned about both the short- and long term consequences of the ill planned and non-inclusive economic policy of the regime, and the Afar civilians are already paying the heavy toll. Therefore,we call:

  • On international community to give a serious attention to the suffering of Afar people.
  • On the regime in Addis Ababa to stop harassing and killing of civilians
  • On to observe and investigate the case of those who are affected and lost their lives
  • On to sendthe Red Cross and other relief agencies to visit the area.
  • To investigate the human rights violations inside these areas!

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