October 6, 2011

Ethiopian tribespeople arrested over dam protest

by Jan Harris

Around one hundred members of the Mursi and Bodi tribes are believed to have been arrested for opposing the construction of the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia.

Damning the Omo River will provide water to irrigate sugar cane and biofuel grown on tribal lands in the South Omo region, which are being leased to foreign and state run companies.

However, the Omo River, feeds Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, which forms part of a fragile ecosystem relied upon by around 500,000 indigenous people.

Survival International has received reports that tribespeople living on the land are being intimidated by Ethiopian security forces.

It is believed that anyone speaking out against the dam is at risk of being threatened with prison, or beaten up, while women are at risk of being raped.

Herds of cattle have also been stolen.

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said: “They want to reduce self-sufficient tribes to a state of dependency, throw all who disagree into prison, and pretend this is something to do with ‘progress’ and ‘development’.

“It’s shameless, criminal, and should be vigorously opposed by any who care about fundamental human rights.”

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One Response to “Ethiopian tribespeople arrested over dam protest”

  1. Jennifer on February 10th, 2012 3:25 pm

    The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.
    India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.
    Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

    This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

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