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Claims of land dispossession of ethnic Amharas in Oromo region and the narrative from the regional government

May 21,2018

Hundreds of ethnic Amhara’s flocked to the capital city Addis Ababa this past week leaving their settlement and landholdings, for which the have been paying tax for years, in Dano district of Ambo region in the western part of the country. Amhara Mass Media agency (AMMA)reported about it (watch the video).

They left the area, they claimed, due to decisions by authorities in the district to dispossess land which they have been tilling the for well over two decades and they present supporting evidence that they lived on the land for decades.

The issue was reported in social media as “forced displacement of ethnic Amharas” from the above mentioned areas in Ambo region of Ethiopia.

Amhara Mass Media Agency investigated the matter. It spoke to Bezu Chanu, who is said to be Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) coordinator and adviser to the Amhara Regional state on matters happening outside of the region. He claims that there was no forced displacement and dispossession of land from those areas. Apparently, based on his claim, a discussion was held between authorities in the district and the ethnic Amhara farmers whose land was allegedly dispossessed.

The authorities in the district believe that there is a land that was acquired “illegally”, although ethnic Amhara farmers produce proof that they have been paying taxes for it, and that some authorities were corruptly involved in the process of appropriation of land. The decision to identify those lands came from higher authorities in the regional government.

The current Oromo region communication head, Negeri Lencho, did not officially issued a statement to clarify the issue. However, the region’s former head of communication, Addis Arega, came up with an explanation of the latest decision arguing that no violation of human or citizenship rights was committed on ethnic Amhara’s living in Dano district of Ambo zone.

As per his narrative,which is deemed to be a government position for he is Rural Political and Organization Affairs Head of the region, 721 ethnic Amhara households were living in the district since long time ago and that the authorities legally distributed 2 hectares of cultivable land per family since they have been living in the area. However, says Addisu, up to 40 hectares of land was misappropriated by the farmers and that the regional authority has verified that.Those who feared that they would lose misappropriated land mobilized even those ethnic Amhara’s who possessed land legally and created an image that ethnic based attack and dispossession is committed against ethnic Amhara, which he seem to say is not the case.

Bezu Chanu did not say details during brief conversation with AMMA other than that the measure by the authorities in Dano does not constitute forced dislocation and that the authorities have honored two hectares of legally appropriated land per household.

No other media entity carried out an independent investigation into it. While admitting that some land is taken away, Ethnic Amhara farmers say that they are intermarried with Oromos and that they have lived so far in peace and they think that the measure has nothing to do with Oromos whom they call brothers. They point finger to authorities.

The government in Oromo region of Ethiopia has not issued an official statement regarding the matter yet. But it is confirmed that ethnic Amhara farmers have returned back to Dano region in Ambo zone.

It is a fact that ethnic Amharas have been victims to attacks, killings and forced eviction in different parts the country including in Oromo region due to hate propaganda against Amhara, one of the largest ethnic group constituting close to Ethiopia’s one-third of the entire population.

Another report emerged today in social media that hundreds of ethnic Amhara’s are displaced from Illubabor zone of Ethiopia. Images of the displaced Amhara’s is circulating in social media but the regional government or media did not say anything so far.
Video credit : Amhara Mass Media Agency

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