We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) sounds an urgent emergency alert regarding the present endangerment of the people of the Omo Valley.
These fellow-Ethiopians are being threatened with human rights violations and atrocities by the TPLF/EPRDF’s troops in the region as the regime moves ahead to remove the people from their land in another crony development scheme for a state-owned sugar plantation on245,000 hectares of land with an additional 100,000 or more hectares of some of the most fertile land committed for other agricultural projects. Those who resist, face state-sponsored human rights crimes.
In all of Ethiopia, the 500,000 people of the Omo Valley may be among the most neglected of Ethiopians by the current TPLF/EPRDF regime.
These dark-skinned and marginalized tribes—the Bodi, the Mursi, the Kwego, the Suri, the Hamer, the Karo as well as others—have only been valued in Ethiopia for the tourism business they attracted due to their unique and primitive customs that have remained unchanged for centuries. Now, the TPLF/EPRDF has found a better use for their land and it does not include them.
The previous and present government of Ethiopia never did value them and even now, they do not see them as their own people. In the entire Diaspora of about a million Ethiopians, some experts suggest that only one person from Omo Valley is among them. This is an example of how marginalized these people are.
Not only have they been intentionally denied access to entering the 21st century—it would negatively impact tourism—they have also been denied access to clean water, education, health care and other opportunities to a much greater degree than most other marginalized groups.
Now, as their land is being taken away from them, they are also being denied their most prized asset, their indigenous land and water.
Just wait, the TPLF/EPRDF regime will suddenly pretend to be forcing the people from their land and into resettlement camps—where they have no means for independent sustenance—in order to “help” bring these people into the 21st century. Do not believe it! It is just an excuse to cover up for illegally stealing their ancestral land and they are ill-prepared to defend themselves!
The people of the Omo Valley are living in a nation set up under the flawed government policy of ethnic federalism. Each ethnic group is supposed to look after people of their own ethnicity, without the expectation that others will care about the rights, interests and well being of those outside their own groups. Because of this, the people of the Omo Valley are more deprived of their rights than many others. Who speaks for them?
Their land is being taken over by their own government without any consultation. The authorities did not care about them and now the people of the Omo Valley have taken matters into their own hands.
Some limited fighting has broken out and as the TPLF/EPRDF sends troops to silence them through intimidation, human rights crimes and secretive extra-judicial killings, they seem to think they can eliminate these people without the world knowing.
The people of the Omo Valley are depending on the world not caring about them, but the SMNE has already received information from the people and we want to warn the ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopia to stop the human rights abuses against these people and if they do not, they will be found accountable.
We also call on other peace and justice loving Ethiopians to stand up with the people of the Omo Valley. They are us. The people of the Omo Valley may be deprived and they may have been used as commodities for tourism in the past, but to God and to us, they are precious, just like everyone else.
The establishment of the SMNE was to educate Ethiopians about the value of those outside our villages, tribes and regions. One of the SMNE goal was to eradicate this primitive thinking where some devalue the humanity of others and turn away in apathy to their pain and suffering.
This SMNE principle of putting “humanity before ethnicity” and caring about the freedom, justice and well being of others—neighbors near and far—is the basis for healthy societies and cooperative global partnerships.
We in the SMNE will continue investigate and gather evidence to be used for future prosecution so perpetrators of these crimes will face justice and not get away with these crimes.
The people of Ethiopia will hold them accountable under the rule of law that is not simply rhetoric.
If any think that they can commit crimes without being found out, you are wrong as we already have our sources from this remote region of the country. We will continue to monitor what is going on there.
As we stand up for the people of the Omo Valley, let it bring us together as one people of Ethiopia who stand up for the freedom, rights and wellbeing of all of us.