Human Rights Violations Pave Way for Development in Ethiopia

23 Dec

**Trigger Alert: Anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse or has had a friend go through sexual abuse might feel triggered by this article, because it contains information about sexual violence used as state coercion against small farming communities.

By Sasha, Earth First! Journal — Portland Bureau

A recent article put out by the Guardian criticizes the English Department for International Investment (DfII) for failing to report crimes of rape, assault, and other violence against villagers resisting eviction in Ethiopia. In spite of Prime Minister Cameron’s “golden thread” policy of matching development with sustainability and human rights, the English have slipped back into their old colonial ways.

The damning testimony comes from Ethiopian villagers of the Gomo valley who are being driven from their land to make way foray for the Gibe III dam—soon to be Africa’s largest hydroelectric infrastructure point. The dam will flood the Gomo river valley, which includes one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, and extinguish a thriving and fertile ecosystem.

The transcripts from Mursi and Bodi indigenous peoples indicate that the Department of International Investment has chosen to ignore flagrant human rights violations to facilitate the development of the Gibe III as well as highways and “commercial investment”. According to one Mursi farmer, “They [government soldiers] … took the wives of the Bodi and raped them … then they came and raped our wives here.”

The guardian also reports that “DfID is embroiled in a separate legal action over its links with the Ethiopian government’s controversial “villagisation” programme, which aims to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages in four regions across the country.” This forced relocation is the paradigm of colonial enclosure: it was used by the British Empire during the Malay Emergency of the 1950s, then by the US in Vietnam (Strategic Hamlet Project) and Guatemala (Fusiles y Frijoles).

These dispossession projects in Ethiopia are clearly linked to agricultural investment, as well as British involvement in the Gibe III dam and other attempts to greenwash the energy infrastructure of Africa (particularly obvious from Greg Barker’s involvement with corporations like Parsons Brinckerhoff). Why else would the DfII turn such a blind eye to the naked truth?

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