24. Ethiopian Indigenous Victims of Corporate and Government Resource

by Project Censored
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Sources: World War 4 Report, Issue 97, April 2004, “State Terror in Ethiopia: Another Secret War for Oil?,”http://www.ww4report.com/97.html, http://www.allthingspass.com; Z Magazine Online, May 2004, Author: keith harmon snow

Faculty Evaluator: Tom Lough, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Thedoria Grayson

According to a report by keith harmon snow, after conducting Field observations in January, the U.S.-based organizations Genocide Watch and Survivor’s Rights International released a conclusive report on February 22, 2004. This report provides evidence that Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defense Front (EPRDF) soldiers and “Highlander” militias in the Anuak territory of Ethiopia have killed thousands of native civilians. The Highlanders are predominantly Tigray and Amhara peoples who resettled in Anuak territory in 1974. The Highlanders are on a quest to force the Anuak from the region. Ethiopia is the latest U.S. ally in the “War on Terror” to turn its back on its own indigenous peoples. The Annuak territory is a zone coveted by corporate interests for its oil and gold. EPRDF soldiers and settlers from Ethiopian highlands initiated a campaign of massacres, repressions, and mass rape, deliberately targeting the Anuak minority.

According to Snow, the U.S. government was informed about the unfolding violence in the Gambella region as early as December 16, 2003. Massacres were reportedly ordered by the commander of the Ethiopian army in Gambella, Nagu Beyene, with the authorization of Gebrehad Barnabas, Regional Affairs Minister of the Ethiopian government.

According to Anuak sources relying on sympathetic oppositionists within the regime, the EPRDF plans to procure the petroleum of Gambella were laid out at a top-level cabinet meeting in Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) in September 2003. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chaired the meeting, at which the militant ethnic cleansing of the Anuaks was reportedly openly discussed. December 13, 2003 marked the start of a coordinated military operation to systematically eliminate Anuaks. Sources from inside the military government’s police and intelligence network say that the code name of the military operation was: “OPERATION SUNNY MOUNTAIN.”

The killing of eight UN officials and Ethiopian government officials whose van was ambushed on December 13, 2003 sparked the recent conflict. Although there is no specific evidence about the ethnicity of the killers, the targets of the attacks have been mainly Anuaks. After this attack, EPRDF soldiers used automatic weapons and hand grenades, then attacked the Anuak villages, summarily executing civilians, burning dwellings (sometimes with people inside), and looting property. Some 424 Anuak people were reportedly killed, with over 200 more wounded. Numerous sources report that there have been regular massacres of the Anuak since 1980. Discrimination against the Anuak has been detailed in six reports published in the Cultural Survival Quarterly beginning in 1981(see e.g.: “Oil Development in Ethiopia: A Threat to the Anuak of Gambella,” Issue 25.3, 2001). There is no evidence of previous communal violence between the two indigenous groups (Anuaks and the local Nuer) as was claimed and reported by the NYT and other media, and by the EPRDF government.

As of November 4, 2004, at least 1,500 and perhaps as many as 2,500 Anuak civilians have died in the recent fighting. Intellectuals, leaders, students and other educated classes have been intentionally targeted. Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for and many have mysteriously “disappeared.” Thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of Anuak homes have reportedly been burned.

The Anuak men have been killed, arrested, or displaced, leaving thousands of women and children vulnerable. Anuak women and girls are routinely raped, gang-raped and kept as sexual slaves by EPRDF forces, often at gunpoint. Girls have been shot for resisting rape, and summary executions for girls held captive for prolonged periods as sexual slaves have been reported. Reports from non-Anuak police officials in Gambella indicate an average of up to seven rapes per day. Due to the isolation of women and girls in rural areas, rapes remain under-reported. Some 6,000 to 8,000 Anuak remain at refugee camps in Pochalla, Sudan, and there are an estimated 1,000 annual refugees in Kenya. In August 2004, approximately 25 percent (roughly 50,000 people) of Gambella’s population had been displaced.

To the Anuak and other indigenous peoples of southwestern Ethiopia, the government of Prime minister Meles Zenawi is a ruthless military dictatorship. Almost everyone links “the problem” to Gambella’s oil. “Since the problem, we are not able to farm or to fish,” said one Anuak survivor who was shot three times. He is shy, but he will show you where one bullet entered and exited his wrist. He was shot December 13, 2003-the day the EPRDF and local highlander militias launched their genocidal war on the Anuaks. “Many men ran away into the bushes and were killed since the problem began,” says one witness. “They are raping many girls. They keep some women by force.” The violence has almost completely disrupted this year’s planting season, and people believe that famine in the coming winter months (October-March, 2005) will be exacerbated by the destruction of milling machines and food stores.

In August 2003, the U.S. committed $28,000,000 to international trade enhancements with Ethiopia. Beginning July 2003, forces from the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) held a three-month bilateral training exercise with Ethiopian forces at the Hurso Training Camp, northwest of Dire Dawa. The U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division recently completed a three-month program to train an Ethiopian army division in counter-terrorism attacks. Operations are coordinated through the CJTF-HOA regional base in Djibouti, where the Halliburton subsidiary KBR is the prime contractor.

Because Ethiopia is considered to be an essential partner of the U.S. in its “War on Terrorism,” the U.S. provided some $1,835,000 in International Military and Educational Training (IMET) to Ethiopia between 1995-2000. Some 115 Ethiopian officers were trained under the IMET program from 1991-2001. Approximately 4,000 Ethiopian soldiers have participated in IMET and Foreign Military Sales and Deliveries programs. The U.S. also equipped, trained, and supported Ethiopian troops under the Africa Regional Peacekeeping program. Ethiopia has remained a participant of the IMET program in 2000-2004. A U.S. AID representative asked Congress to approve some $80,000,000 in funding for Ethiopia’s programs in the Fiscal Year of 2005. Ethiopia was described as a “top priority” of the Bush Administration.

In 2000, Texas-based Sicor Inc. signed a $1.4 billion dollar deal with Ethiopia for the “Gazoil” joint venture to exploit oil and gas in the southeast Ogaden Basin. Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, Texas is also involved in the Ogaden Basin through the subsidiary Ethiopia Hunt Oil Company. Hunt Oil’s chairman of the board and CEO Ray L. Hunt is also director of Halliburton Company. U.S. Cal Tech International Corp. is also reportedly negotiating a joint venture with the China National Petroleum Corp. to operate in the same regions. The Anuak are also gold miners in the Gambella district. U.S. based Canyon Resources has gold operations in southern Ethiopia. The interest of multinational gold and oil corporations indicate alterior motives in the terror campaign against the Anuaks.

Anuak sources in Gambella state: “The Anuak people have not been involved in the discussions about the oil, our leaders have not agreed on these projects, and they will not hire any Anuaks for these jobs. If any Anuaks say anything about the oil, he will be arrested.”

Update by keith harmon snow: It is important to recognize that the U.S. public is subject to an ongoing institutionalization of “truth” and “reality” that is premised on total information warfare. This is nowhere so starkly evident as with the stereotypes, mythologies and deceptions doled out to the U.S. public on the subject of Africa (the Arab world, and all things Islamic, run a close second). This includes mainstream reportage, policy debates, scholarly journals, tabloids, radio shows, and print magazines-from WIRED to National Geographic. This is also evident in supposed “alternative” media sources like The Nation and films like Hotel Rwanda.

Alternative? To what? Virtually all available media fall on a spectrum that serves up topics and frameworks that are tolerated and allowed, where “healthy debate,” “exposés” and (perceived) “hostility” (to what people in other countries are calling EMPIRE), are even encouraged. Hence we have Seymour Hersh offering us revealing exposés on torture in Abu Ghraib, but saying nothing about the profits being made over the dead bodies due to U.S. sponsored covert operations and destabilization in Congo during and since the Clinton regime.

Nation editor Katrina Van de Heuvel will steer sharply away from any challenge to the “humanitarian” actions of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a strong proponent of military intervention-allied with the other two big humanitarian agencies CARE and Refugees International-in the recent massive lobbying effort to “stop genocide” in Darfur, Sudan. Is there genocide in Darfur? If so, or even not so, why has it received overwhelming press attention while the Anuak genocide has received none? What about nearby Congo? And Rwanda?

Van de Heuvel has ties with Henry Kissinger, a member of an IRC board, and one of the few U.S. officials to be publicly labeled as a war criminal. The IRC is a powerful faction in Congo, Rwanda and Sudan, and the Congolese accused them of espionage. CARE’s “partners” include aerospace and defense corporation Lockheed-Martin, who is also a major underwriter of Seymour Hersh’s regular print venue, the war advocacy journal Atlantic Monthly.

A truly “investigative” journalist might hack through the propaganda of Hotel Rwanda to get to United Artists parent company Metro Goldwyn Meyer, whose directors, not surprisingly, given what the film does not tell you about the U.S.-sponsored invasion of Rwanda (1990-1994), include current United Technologies director and U.S. General (Ret.) Alexander Haig. Recall that “I’m in charge here” Al Haig served under a Hollywood actor named Ronald Reagan. Hotel Rwanda took off from the now celebrated but wholly mythologized book We Regret To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed by Philip Gourevitch, the New Yorker’s premier Africanist, and whose brother-in-law, Jamie Rubin, was Madeleine Albright’s leading man. The Nation runs the standard nonsense on Rwanda, usually by Victoria Britain. Another pro-military interventionist on Darfur, Samantha Power could surely satisfy The Nation, given her selective and patriotic journalism on Rwanda and the Balkans, for which she won a Pulitzer.

Behind the mass hysteria whipped up in the post-September 11th America are the dirty little and not-so-little but secret wars whipped up in defense of predatory capitalism and empire in “uncivilized” and “savage” places like Djibouti, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo and (Gambella) Ethiopia.

By February 21, 2002, the U.S. DOD had already purchased 79 RQ-1 Predators from General Atomics, for a per unit price of about $7 million, or some $553 million dollars. “State Terror in Ethiopia” was the first report, and WW4 Report the first venue, to illuminate the U.S. military alliance with the Ethiopian regime and the regional base of U.S. covert operations in Hurso, Ethiopia as well as the presence of RQ-1 Predator Drones being operated over the entire Horn region by the Central Intelligence Agency. Smith College students recently working to “stop genocide” in Darfur held a letter-writing campaign demanding that George Bush authorize that unmanned Predator drones-impersonal, indiscriminate killing robots-be launched against Arabs on horses, and other “undefined” targets, in Darfur.

It takes more than one party to wage a war. From Chad, Uganda and Ethiopia come weapons and logistical support for the enemies of the Islamic regime in Khartoum. At the same time, the Bush gang has reportedly “allied” with the Sudan government in its “war on terror”-if we believe the Ken Silverstein “exposé” in the L.A. Times (which is merely being expedient in its truth-telling). Off the agenda are any discussions of the U.S. regimes of terror in Uganda or Cameroon, for example, or U.S. support for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and other warring militias and factions in Darfur, Chad, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Congo.

Like nearby Chad, Ethiopia has become a favored territory from which transnational corporate interests can be served by launching clandestine terror operations against Islamic governments, Al Queda phantoms, and other hostile enemies. The latter category, of course, includes Arabs on horseback, machete-wielding Hutus, Mai-Mai “wearing bathroom fixtures” on their heads, innocent men, women and children all over Africa, and, of course, the Anuaks of Ethiopia who, like the Ogonis in Nigeria and the Fur of Darfur, have the audacity to be living over someone else’s oil.

Shortly after “State Terror in Ethiopia” appeared in WW4 Report and Z Magazine, Marc Lacey, Nairobi Bureau Chief for the New York Times, ran some damage control, and reported from Gambella with a nasty little blame-the-victims story that deflected attention from the undesirable details: “Amid Ethiopia’s Strife, a Bathing Spot and Peace” (New York Times, 6/11/04). There was hardly a word about oil or U.S. interests, and Lacey framed the story to suggest that peace had returned to Gambella, an area rife with ancient tribal animosity, he declared, where the Anuaks “once went naked and ate rats.” (Curiously, not one New York Times link to this story is active today, perhaps because it has been widely noted for its racism, and so it is being electronically erased.)

Doug McGill of the McGill Report has done some wonderful and consistent work to report on the Anuak story. World War 4 Report also published a second follow-up story titled “Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia.” Soon after this appeared, Human Rights Watch finally published a major report on the Anuak genocide based on the field investigations “Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks” and “Operation Sunny Mountain?” (undertaken for Survivor’s Rights International and Genocide Watch by this author, as an unpaid volunteer). While their researcher received a copy of “Operation Sunny Mountain?” several months prior to its formal release and before traveling to Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch never cited their sources or contacts.

The U.S.-supported regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia is going to fall, imminently, as widespread domestic dissent and protest, which remain underreported, further escalate. June 2005 saw massive government repression, troops firing on crowds, and torture spreading across Ethiopia after the people protested obvious election-rigging (sanctioned by Jimmy Carter and election monitors). Ethiopia’s secret U.S.-sponsored war (2000) against Eritrea has destabilized the border region, causing untold death and despair. Murder, extra-judicial execution, rape, disappearances, arrest and imprisonment of Anuaks, Oromos, Nuers and other indigenous Ethiopian people continue. What makes “State Terror in Ethiopia” so poignant is its sharp juxtaposition to the stories of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, which received widespread attention, and to Congo, which is mostly off the media agenda.

With Darfur, what is really at issue is not genocide, and it is not about “humanitarian” anything, or there wouldn’t be so many people dead already-and still dying. It is about regime change, and some people will do anything to get us to support that. In Congo, the death toll has struck seven million since the U.S. invasion began, and the war rages on while both Clinton and Bush factions profit from diamond and gold and other hundreds-of-multimillion-dollars-a-month material thefts. Next to the holy wars of Congo and Darfur, the Anuaks are a mere thorn in the side of Empire. Such is the political economy of genocide.