Although Ethiopia appears to be a stable country, it is actually plagued by decades of oppression, corruption, human rights violations and sustained repression of opposition to its governments. Today, executive power resides with Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, and his Tigrayan ethnic compatriots, who have held power since 1995. All land has been owned by the State since the communist Mengistu regime of the 1970’s. The Meles Zenawi regime has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and leased their land to Chinese, Indian, Saudi, and Malaysian agricultural corporations. Authoritarian government and the exploitative economic system negate the principles of a democracy. Genocide Watch considers Ethiopia to have already reached Stage 7, genocidal massacres, against many of its peoples, including the Anuak, Ogadeni, Oromo, and Omo tribes.
Ethiopia Genocide Emergency Update: The Gambella Massacres
Genocide Watch first declared a Genocide Emergency in 2003 after massacres of Anuak people in Ethiopia’s far southwestern region of Gambella. EPRDF forces and Highlander militias initiated a systematic genocidal campaign targeting the indigenous Anuak people of Gambella province. Genocide Watch and Survivors Rights International (SRI) sent a fact-finding mission to Gambella, interviewed eyewitnesses, and thoroughly documented the massacres in a joint report released in January 2004 titled ‘Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks’. It was followed a year later by a report by Human Rights Watch.
Genocide Emergency: Ethiopia - The Ogaden Massacres
The Ogaden region is predominantly inhabited by an ethnic Somali, Muslim agro-pastoralist clan, the Ogadeni. The Ogaden is endowed with rich oil and gas resources, but its population lives in extreme poverty while Chinese oil companies pump the oil and gas from under their land. Without the knowledge and consent of the Ogadeni, the Ethiopian government signed contracts and gave concessions to foreign oil companies to explore and extract oil and natural gas from the Ogaden.
Immediately after oil and gas was discovered in the Ogaden, Ethiopian government forces evicted large numbers of Ogadenis from their ancestral grazing lands, and herded them into Internally Displaced Persons camps, causing a humanitarian disaster. Thousands of once self-sufficient Ogadenis have starved to death.
The Ethiopian government has initiated a genocidal campaign against the Ogadeni civilian population. The Ethiopian Peoples Defense Forces are using a systematic policy of intimidation, rape, assault and detention and deportation against Ogadeni civilians. Ten of thousands of people have fled to refugee camps in Kenya and Somalia.
The Ethiopian Army’s counter –insurgency campaign in Ogaden has included numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Ethiopian government’s policy in Ogaden is to suppress all demands for autonomy from Ogadenis. It has included gradual starvation of the population in IDP camps – a policy Genocide Watch calls Genocide By Attrition.
It has cut off the IDP camps from humanitarian aid, and barred and arrested all journalists who could report on its crimes. Two Swedish journalists are still serving eleven-year sentences in Ethiopian prisons for reporting on the Ogaden massacres. Ethiopia even arrested the renowned New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman and held him for a week in an Ogaden jail, until the US government demanded his release.