Toronto – Ahmed Nasir, president of Benshangul regional state, confirmed the news that settled farmers are displaced from Benshangul region of Ethiopia. In an online interview with “Ethio Civility” Forum, which is run by supporters of the regime in the diaspora, Ato Ahmed gave a rather arrogant TPLFish response to questions posed by the chat room operator.
While admitting a moderate figure of 1700 cases of eviction of settled farmers, Ato Ahmed claimed that the eviction is enforced on those settlers who illegally settled in the region by clearing forests. His claim of illegal settlement is in total contradiction to news report published in Amharic by local newspaper Addis Admas on March 25,2013. Evicted farmers informed Addis Admas that they lived in the region for more than 9 years and were recognized by the appropriate local authorities, issued with identification cards and paid taxes.
Without a sense of shame, Ahmed Nasir told civility room operator that he has arranged a meeting with regional authorities, from which the settlers are said to have originated before their settlement in Benshangul, and the purpose is to discuss about the situation of the displaced farmers: the cart before the horse.
Theoretically, Ethiopian constitution stipulates rights of citizens to live and work in any parts of Ethiopia without any restrictions in which case even the term “settler” might not sound appropriate. As many Ethiopians have argued, the regional government does not have a constitutional right to displace settled farmers who have been living in the region and paying taxes.
From Ato Ahmed’s interview one can clearly understand that apart from stepping on constitutional rights of citizens, the regional state made no logistical and humanitarian arrangements to implement its compulsory eviction. Those evicted are in the middle of nowhere with their children and there are even reports of 59 deaths of evicted farmers and their families due to car accident following the eviction, which the regional president denied.
Ethiopia is divided into federal states instituted based on ethnicity and language. Many sources indicate that the eviction is specifically targeted on Amharic speaking Ethiopians which Ato Ahmed denied. He said the displaced people are Amharic and Oromigna speaking peoples.
This is not the first forced eviction. Amharic speaking Ethiopians were displaced from Gurafarda in the southern part of Ethiopia and Amharic service of Voice of America has reported about it.
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