ESAT News (March 10, 2016)
A former Member of Parliament and deputy administrator of the Bench Maji zone in south Ethiopia said the crimes perpetrated against the people of Surma in the lower Omo Valley had direct links to the unbridled land grab by officials of the minority regime as well as the 100km land given to South Sudan.
The former MP, Mr. Bodi Baykeda, who spoke to ESAT in connection with the recent photos released on the social media showing the Surma people of South Ethiopia in a chain gang, which caused an uproar among Ethiopians and rights groups, said that was not the first time the people of Surma were treated inhumanely. He said the Surma were forced out of their land and have been wandering in neighboring localities which became a source of conflict.
Mr. Bodi said 100km of land that belonged to the Surma was given to South Sudan by the Ethiopian regime and a vast tract of fertile land was also taken by officials of the minority regime, leaving no option to the Surma but to wander from place to place.
He said he brought the issue to the attention of the parliament when he was an MP but it fell on deaf ears. He recalled that the response from the powers that be was that of threat.
He called on the international community and Ethiopians to help stop the human rights violations against the Surma people and the rampant land grab by members and cronies of the oligarchy in Ethiopia.