Ethiopia : Eviction and Manufacturing ethnic violence (updated)

(Borkena) Emerging news in Addis Abbaba reveals another irresponsible and disturbing politically motivated eviction of settled farmers from Western Shoa, Ambo.

Eviction of settled farmers is now a recurring problem. Yet, it’s not like any other forms of maladministration and governance problems related to competence or corruption. Unfortunately, it seems the case that the eviction is rather a politically calculated administrative deliberation implemented in a way to deepen manufactured political ethnic divide.

Based on narratives of evicted farmers, who happened to knock on the doors of oppositions parties – particularly UDJ, the unlawful eviction of farmers involved savage attacks and brutal human rights violations. One person was killed in a mob like attack.

It’s not secret now that recurring attacks seem to target mainly Amharic speaking Ethiopians. Previous evictions in South and South western Ethiopia essentially bear same trait in terms of motive and pattern of execution of eviction.

Apparently, recently evicted farmers from Ambo area have been trying to appeal to Federal government authorities in the capital Addis Ababa which was not a success, perhaps a reason as to why they had to knock on doors of opposition parties in search of a voice that could speak on their behalf.

Eviction of farming communities is not just recurring. It’s also consistently exhibiting signs of radical ethnic politics and manufactured ethnic conflict something that was never a common form of conflict in Ethiopia before the ideology of ethic politics became a constitutional practice. The Federal States in Ethiopia are strictly instituted on the basis of ethnicity. But the eviction does seem a project of radical ethnic politicians who managed to have officials in government structure. In fact, many believe that the ruling party itself has stake, apparently rightly, in the manufacture of ethnic based conflict.

Evicted farmers from Ambo area claim that they have lived for over two decades in that part of Ethiopia and their small agricultural land holdings were recognized by local authorities and they paid taxes for it.

More than 80 % of Ethiopian population is dependent on subsistence agriculture. Due to population pressure in the densely populated parts of Ethiopia, land holdings in were extremely small and unproductive. And many farming communities from the north, north central and north western Ethiopia were compelled , by situations, to local migration to the parts of Ethiopia which are sparsely populated and where they can get land adequate enough to feed their families. Now much of Ethiopia’s arable land is sold in a land grab deal to commercial producers from Asia and the middle east which now have vast land holdings. Why small subsistence farmers have to be subject to eviction has a lot to do with manufacturing ethnic tension.

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