1. Send an email:
I am extremely concerned about reports of deliberate, persistent, and serious abuses of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in southwestern Ethiopia. The government’s program of “villagization” is forcibly removing at least 200,000 Indigenous people from their ancestral lands in the Gambella region and relocating them in new state-built villages. Although the government promises them better access to jobs, education, and health care in these villages, Human Rights Watch researchers found little or no evidence of these services. On the contrary, displaced people fear starvation since they no longer have access to their farms, forests, and rivers. Those who raise their voices against these abuses are frequently jailed, tortured, raped, and otherwise intimidated by government security forces. Those who try to return to their ancestral lands find that the government has already leased their lands to foreign investors who are hurriedly bulldozing forests, farms, and wetlands in order to grow commercial crops of agrofuels, tea, spices, rice, and sugar cane, mostly for export. The resulting environmental devastation and degradation will further undermine food security for Indigenous Peoples.
In spite of these well-documented human rights abuses and repressive government policies, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union combined give Ethiopia more than $2 billion in aid each year. How are you assuring that none of these funds support or facilitate, directly or indirectly, the forced villagization program and land lease practices that cause extreme suffering among Gambella’s Indigenous Peoples and violate their rights?
I urge you to use your influence as donor nations to demand that Ethiopia enforce its own constitution and international laws that recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and natural resources; free, prior, and informed consent for resettlement; and fair compensation. As officers of democratic donor nations, please call on Ethiopia to revoke its repressive laws that stifle civic participation, press freedom, and dissent. Take immediate measures to withhold funding that directly or indirectly facilitates forced resettlement and the loss of homelands and livelihoods of Ethiopia’s Indigenous minorities.
Thank you for your prompt attention to these grave concerns.
2. Write a letter, the old fashioned way!
Personal, mailed letters have the most impact. Click here to download and print the above letter or use our guide to write your own!
The Anuak Justice Council asks world citizens to send polite letters to the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States. In your letters, please:
● Express concern that the Ethiopian government is violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples and causing them extreme suffering through its forced “villagization” program and agricultural land leases.
● Urge them to ensure that no donor funds and other forms of assistance facilitate land-leasing and villagization schemes that violate Indigenous Peoples’ rights and cause them harm.
● Ask them to use their influence as donor nations to demand that Ethiopia enforce its own constitution and international laws that recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to ancestral lands, consultation, and compensation. Ask them to publicly call on Ethiopia to revoke repressive laws that stifle civic participation, press freedom, and dissent.
- Send letters, faxes, or emails to:
Mr. Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary
US Department of State
Bureau of African Affairs, Room 6234
2201 C Street, NW
Washington DC, 20520
Fax: +202 647 0810 Attn. Laura Hruby, Ethiopia Desk
Mr. Andris Piebalgs
European Commissioner for Development
Rue de la Loi 200
B-1049, Brussels, Belgium
Fax: +32 (0)2 298 8624
Address your letters this way: Dear Ambassador Carson, Dear Minister Mitchell, Dear Commissioner Piebalgs,
Postage within the U.S. is 45 cents.
Postage from the U.S. to the U.K. and the EU is $1.05.
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