On the east coast of Africa lies Ethiopia, a country that has recently suffered new villagization abuses. On April 2012, an attack occurred by unidentified armed men on the Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc. The gunmen killed one Pakistani and four Ethiopian employees. The Ethiopian military responded to the attack with arbitrary arrest, rape, forced displacement, and other abuses against scores of local villagers. A few days after the attack, Human Rights Watch interviewed Gambella residents; they said that Ethiopian soldiers went door to door looking for the gunmen in villages near the Saudi Star Camp, immediately arresting and beating young men and raping female relatives of suspects. Dozens of Gambella residents have reported that the Ethiopian military has accused the villagers of being in alliance with what the soldiers refer to as “the rebels.” It has been said that the Ethiopian soldiers have forced the villagers to march through the bushes looking for “the rebels”, and if they did not find them or report the names of the suspects, they were beaten.
These villages have been affected by Ethiopia’s controversial “villagization” program, a program
that is said to relocate people in Gambella from their existing villages into new settlements to better provide them with basic services, but along the way the only thing they have done is violate serious human rights. Villagers who have refused to move have been arrested, mistreated, and shot by the soldiers. The soldiers have burned down huts and broken water pumps in the original villages, so that the villagers would not return to their old location.
Although Human Rights Watch has urged the Ethiopian soldiers to stop the violence against the villagers and to release those who have been arrested, they have yet to do so.
Student Researcher: Nathalie Hinojosa, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
Ethiopia: Army Commits Torture, Rape , Human Rights Watch, August 28, 2012 http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/28/ethiopia-army-commits-torture-rape