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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