Monday, April 15 at 2:00PM, U.S. CONGRESS: Rayburn House Office Building

Comments of OSA Representatives at the US Congressional Briefing on Land-grab issue

Introducing Oromo Studies Association Representatives

Concerned about the massive and worsening human rights, environmental and hunger impacts of large scale land grabs in Oromia, members of the Oromo Studies Association are increasingly aware of how the tragedy striking the indigenous Oromo (who number 35-40 million in Ethiopia alone) also impacts the entire continent.  We welcome the opportunity to join with other scholars and activists concerned about land grabs across the continent of Africa and the globe to address remedies to the appalling injustice that indigenous African farmers experience.

Name: Abera Tefera

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US citizen residing in Washington DC, a founding members of the Oromo Studies association (OSA), an academic association with the mission of promoting scholarly research with emphasis on Oromo, the largest population in Ethiopia

Contrary to the Ethiopian constitution, that nominally guarantees indigenous populations protection against eviction from their possessions, the land grab policy by large buyers compromise the needs of the Oromo and other people by a) displacing them off their land b) polluting the environment with chemicals, pesticide, herbicides, fertilizers and c) causing deforestation as well as shortages of both water and food.

Name: Feyera Sobokssa
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Born in Oromia, NE Africa, resident of Wash, DC, Oromo Studies Association member

The negative impact of large scale land grabs on the human rights of indigenous Oromo people is a continuation of the pattern of violations against the Oromo by ethnic domination of successive regimes in Ethiopia.  This ethnic domination of a despotic regime over the country remains to be the major source of conflict – where a minority group controls all state machinery and the media, the judiciary, law enforcement, the economy and all civil society institutions.  It uses that control to trample on the rights and resources of the others. According to the Auckland Institute 75% of the land grabbers in Gambela are ethnic Tigreans. We are here to create awareness about this, particularly because the United States supports this regime without condition, empowering it to make land grab deals. The impact of land grab extends to me, my mother, my extended family as a whole. My experience causes me to speak against this and other injustice.

Name: Bonnie K. Holcomb

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US citizen, resident of Maryland, anthropologist of the Oromo in NE Africa, Senior Research Associate, ICPS, The George Washington University, founding members of OSA and a current member of the Board of Directors, Oromo Studies Association

Oromo Studies Association members are ready and willing to stay in touch with today’s panel members about how the Oromo in NE Africa provide a potent case study of a US-backed regime decimating the rights and productivity of a nation of people who have been exemplary stewards of the forests, ample clean water sources, animals and earth itself into the current day – and let’s not forget good stewardship of the human beings themselves who carry ancient wisdom for earth care in their homelands.  It is the world’s loss when productive African farmers are forcibly wrenched from their sacred lands to become day laborers or refugees, if they survive at all.