by Efe Ebelo reporting from Washington DC
Ethiopians in their numbers Saturday morning stormed the 17th Street Office complex of the World Bank in Washington DC, protesting the bank’s alleged support for land grab and ethnic cleansing by President Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Displaying placards with various inscriptions like “World Bank stop financing Human rights violations,” “USA say no to ethnic cleansing of the Amharas in Ethiopia” and what will it take to end poverty? Empower people not dictators” among others, they claimed that they decided to protest to the headquarters of the bank against forceful eviction of poor farmers by alleged corrupt tycoons and foreign corporations to enrich themselves.
According to the protesters, “in Gambella more than three million hectares of Annuak land was sold to foreigners to produce food for their own people. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations claim securing land to feed their people for the future. More than 70,000 Annuaks have already been forced from their land and another 150,000 will be displaced in the coming few years.
They alleged that these evictions and ethnic cleansing is financed by the World Bank as they claim the Ethiopian government cannot do them without support from the World Bank and financing by the International Monetary Fund, (IMF).
“The World Bank and IMF are financing it at all levels including paying salaries for those who are killing the poor people. Annuaks are now an endangered species so are the Mursi people who were chased away from the South Omo Valley hunting ground to clear the land for the regime’s sugar company.
They said that if the World Bank could deny loan to Cambodia in 2011 when that government was displacing its farmers, there is no reason why the Ethiopian case should be different demanding the Bank to come clean and distance itself from the alleged crimes being committed by the present administration in that country.
“We endorse the demand of the Human Rights Watch on its recent press release on Ethiopia for the World Bank to do its own internal investigation on the land eviction issue in Ethiopia and make it public. Thousands of Ethiopians were and are evicted; many children, women and elderly are dying as a result of this. The World Bank either has to condone or condemn this human rights violation and crime against humanity” they added.