OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA AND DONOR COUNTRIES BY IMRU ZELLEKE
January 27, 2012
The Honorable Barak Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D. C.
Ethiopia is deemed to be an ‘important regional security partner’ by the US government and is one of the largest recipients of US aid – over $1 billion a year since 2007. According to Human Right Watch and the Oakland Institute the regime is forcibly evicting and relocating 70,000 people from Gambella and another 1.5 million people from other parts of the country to make land available for investment in agriculture. In implementing this policy they are illegally expropriating people’s property, making the people landless vagrants condemned to permanent poverty and misfortune, if not death. Dislocating people instead of improving their means of lively hood, implies psychological, social, economic and moral disarray that no foreign aid can substitute. According to the Oakland Institute people have been relocated in inhospitable places where they can’t feed themselves and likely to cause many deaths and extreme hardship. It will also aggravate the current hunger while laying the groundwork for future famine in Ethiopia .
The most alarming part of the article states that President Obama has authorized assistance of US Aid for this inhumane project with consultation with Raji Shah, the administrator of US Aid. We find it extremely difficult and distressing to believe that US funds should be used to support such illegal acts committed by a corrupt and nefarious regimes; which has never respected the rule of law and has been governing by dictate for the last 21 years, thanks to the support it gets from Western Powers among which the US and UK are the most prominent. Recollecting the forced removal of the indigenous people and settling white people in the Kenya Highlands, which directly led to the war of liberation spearheaded by the Mau Mau; and closer at home here in the US to what happened to Native Americans and their land. In Ethiopia violent crashes have already occurred in certain areas, and a very strong public opposition to this measure is evident. It is difficult to believe that the US, who should know about these precedents would support this type of inhumane and unjustifiable population displacement. As reported by reputable organizations like the Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute, the relocation project in Ethiopia amounts to actually settling Indian and other foreign farmers, while evicting and dislocating the local population. We believe that the President has been ill advised in this matter, which is contrary to the principle that he announced with regards to the rich exploiting the poor, particularly in view of the extreme poverty that prevails in Ethiopia. It is our hope that the President will rescind this measure and direct the US Aid administration to focus on projects that help those that are less fortunate, instead of being instrumental to detrimental to their well being.