|By Cultural Survival
Posted to the web on April 16, 2012
April 13, 2012 (Cultural Survival News) - Anuak refugees from Ethiopia are reporting mobilization of national military and
police forces in the Gambella region, and increasing violence there. Okok Ojulu,
an Anuak refugee, reported that conflict recently arose between Surma and Diji
tribes after a land investor apparently bribed locals to spark violence that
would induce the Surma people to abandon their village. Forty-two houses and
grain storages were reportedly burnt down in the Surma villages, inciting
violence that lasted over five days without government intervention. "It appears
as if the government is using ethnic cleansing conflicts as means to acquire the
indigenous land for the extension of commercial farms," reported Ojulu.
In a press
release from the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), Obang Metho
reported the following: "New threats are again on the rise in Gambella region of
Ethiopia as the TPLF/EPRDF regime [government security forces] attempts to exert
increasing federal control of the region, leading to new clampdowns against
civilians. Many believe that these actions are meant to suppress the deepening
indigenous people protest over the increasing land-grabs."
On April 7, an Anuak student was gunned down in Gambella town by
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's security forces, apparently without provocation.
This comes with a rising trend of government police and security presence in the
region, and harassment of Anuak farmers. Gambella
Today reported that one Anuak man, Owar Oballa, was
gunned down last week and another, Omot Abook, disappeared three days after the
security forces took him.
More atrocities were reported in the
communities of Angela, Okuna, and Dumbang, where the government has been
implicated in beating hundreds of villagers as a means to force eviction from
For more information on landgrabbing in Gambella, and to take action, see our
campaign page here.