Not even a week after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne’s vindicatory admittance that settled Amharic speaking agriculturalists were evicted from Benshangul regional state, another act of eviction happened in Methema, North Gonder zone, in North Western part of Ethiopia. There are also reports of deaths of farmers.
“Ethiopian Reporter” reported that it is district officials of Methema, in North Gonder zone who passed administrative decision to evict settlers who had legal land holdings and who were paying taxes. What looks like an investigative report seem to indicate that authorities in the district denied allegations of the eviction. For the authorities, the eviction is administrative re-arrangement of “ill appropriated” land in the area. In addition, the authorities have related the death of three farmers to “cross-border conflict” with Sudanese farmers. Administrative denials like these ones are not strange in the TPLF led government. A few weeks ago, for example, Federal government and Benshangul regional state were in state of silence and denial of forced eviction of citizens from Benshangul only to be officially confirmed later by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne at the parliamentary session. In fact, Hailemariam disowned the forceful eviction by way of relating it to “corrupt officials” rather than a policy agenda.
So far, no detailed explanation is given as to who is “corrupting” the “officials” in Ethiopia, as to how and what the motive is on the part of those who “corrupt” the officials, and as to how “corrupt practices” that devastated lives of thousands of citizens is entrenched in the system and recurring in different parts of the country. More puzzling is that the eviction seem to be targeted at specific language speaking groups. Seemingly, many Ethiopians are swinging towards the thinking that TPLF, the dominant political and military force in the ruling EPRDF coalition, is in the business of ethnic cleanings through the agency of local authorities and officials of regional states, which are instituted on the basis of ethnicity. The Federal government is not taking the matter seriously and providing information to the public or media in a transparent way. Nor holding a press conference on the matter by inviting members of the remaining free press journalists. ( It is to be recalled that TPLF regime has locked up many journalists and opposition members on trumped up charges of “terrorism” and defying calls for the release of journalists. )
In view of the chauvinistic ethnic mentality of TPLF and its unrelenting pursuit of evil political calculations to maintain imagined political supremacy and real military power, it would be very naïve to think that the forced evictions are simply functions of “corrupt officials” at the district administrative levels.
The political crime committed against settled farmers in Ethiopia is apparently coinciding with numerous political developments around the world that are taking away the attention of political actors at the global level who could otherwise have significant influence to reverse the illegal and inhumane eviction of citizens from their land holdings. Apparently, the TPLF regime in Ethiopia seem to be taking advantage of the situation and is deepening evictions of citizens. What is more worrisome is that the ethnic nature of the eviction could fuel ethnic-based conflict and risks the Balkanization of Ethiopia in the worst form. Equally worrisome is that the international community seem to have overlooked the nature of the crisis and the potential danger it poses not just for Ethiopia but for the region as a whole.
It is clear that opposition parties in the country exist in a state of repression. Yet, they should try to press hard for the formation of an independent inquiry commission to investigate the forced eviction, the alleged “corrupt officials” and the motives of those who are in the business of “corrupting” the officials.
Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena