Target: Ethiopian Government
Goal: End military intimidation techniques and replace them with consultation and communication efforts towards mutual solutions for land development
To make room for state-run sugar plantations in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, the large population of indigenous farmers who have nurtured this land for centuries now find their farmland being leveled and their livelihood stripped.
Ethiopia’s government has not made an effort to reach out to these communities in any constructive way, preferring to ignore indigenous pleas for parity in the discussion and implementation of agricultural development. This is a serious breach of human rights. Collaboration with tribal leaders and an end to the deliberate destruction of these cultural communities must be made priorities.
It’s easy to see how Ethiopia’s government has become so blinded by their grand plans for the Lower Omo Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980. More than 100,000 hectares of this land will be used for commercial agriculture, which will be supported by vast arrays of irrigation canals and processing factories. However, while government officials dream lustfully of future economic rewards, almost a quarter million indigenous people from eight distinct communities are left helpless and ignored while their land is ravaged by these governmental development projects.
Not only have the numerous tribes in the region been purposely ignored, but the military has made a concerted effort to suppress the dissenting tribal voices that have united in condemning the forced land development. Military forces are dispatched routinely to various villages, intimidating local activists and even stealing and killing precious cattle, which are used as vital currency and food resources.
As canals continue to be completed, lands are completely leveled and villagers displaced, momentum is dangerously gaining speed at the expense of more and more innocent and desperate indigenous peoples. Without their rivers and without their land, these pastoral cultures will be wiped out.
Theft, destruction, and intimidation of tribal peoples must end immediately. The rampant, unchecked and swift development of the Lower Omo Valley must also be halted until Ethiopia’s government collaborates with the indigenous communities to reach sustainable, mutual solutions for agricultural development.
Dear Government of Ethiopia,
Your swiftly progressing agricultural projects in the Lower Omo Valley are coming at a cost greater than any fiscal budget you may have in place. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous rural farmers, whose ancestors tilled these lands centuries ago, stand to lose everything in the wake of this commercial development.
Their cultures are deeply intertwined with the flow of the rivers and their tender understanding of the soil. Irrigation canals, factories and numerous plantations will throw that sacred balance into disarray. Agricultural development may be an inevitable reality of modernizing your country, however permanent destruction of culture and livelihood is never a viable sacrifice for those ends.
Military intimidation, and killing and stealing of precious resources, such as cattle, are not solutions to this problem either. These tactics must be stopped and a system of collaboration put in place in which the indigenous voice is heard with equal value, and with equal weight, in the face of strong motivation for economic prosperity that drives these agricultural development projects.
[Your Name Here]