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The UN has drafted a set of voluntary guidelines that encourage countries to limit the size and duration of agricultural land deals made with foreign companies, deals that have become known  as ‘land grabs.’ The document is set to be ratified in May at a special session of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization after more than three years of discussions.

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In April of 2008, Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, an Indian businessman, was in Ethiopia, doubting that his proposed deal for 100,000 hectares of farming land would go through.

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In April 2014, Cultural Survival reported that there was a "mobilization of national military and police forces in the Gambella region of Ethiopia, accompanied by increasing levels of violence there." Recent reports now suggest that ethnic tensions have become particularly acute in the Godere district, home to the Indigenous Majengir community.

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So began Calixta Gabriel, a 32-year old Kaqchikel woman from the northwest region of Guatemala. Her three brothers were assassinated in the 1980s, her family lands destroyed, and her parents forced into a military-designed "model village." She herself sought refugee in the United States in the 1980s.

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"Isn't This My Soil?" Land, State and 'Development' in Somali Ethiopia

Conventional development discourse generally does not incorporate a historical perspective, instead it uses a project, or at best, program-oriented approach. In contrast, a historical and openly political framework is present in the Somali Ethiopian village of Hurso. Land, or the lack of it, was the central issue of Hurso testimonials about the life of grinding poverty that I collected in 1996 and in 1998.

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The Anuak are a tribal minority living as agriculturists in the fertile Gambela region of Western Ethiopia. In the Abyssinian Empire many became slaves and were taken to Addis Ababa and other large towns where they worked as domestic servants and carriers. Slavery was abolished in the area when it came under British rule in the early 20th century, but it was resorted when the Gambela region was ceded to Ethiopia after World War II.

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Anuak Displacement and Ethiopian Resettlement

The Anuak are a tribal minority living as agriculturalists in the fertile Gambella region of southwest Ethiopia. In the Abyssinian Empire, many Anuak were made slaves and were taken to Addis Ababa and other towns where they worked as domestic servants and carriers. When the area came under British rule in the early twentieth century, slavery was abolished, but was restored when Gambella was ceded to Ethiopia after World War II.

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Appeal by Western Somali Red Crescent Society

Continuous wars for the last two decades have brought the Western Somali people unprecedented suffering. Victims of the Ethiopian regime's repressive measures including massacre, robbery, torture, indefinite detention without trial and denial of basic human rights, hundreds of thousands of Western Somalis have been forced to abandon their homeland to live as refugees in neighboring countries. Others remain displaced inside Ethiopia, living in precarious conditions.

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Armed Struggle and Indigenous People

The two CSQ issues on militarization and indigenous peoples are intended to acquaint our readers with the important role militarization plays in the lives of even the most isolated tribal groups. The articles contained in these issues focus mostly on the consequences of shooting wars and on the increasing number of groups involved in them, directly or indirectly. This increasingly militarized world also affects the lives of indigenous peoples in a number of other important ways.

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Burji Recognition in the Kenya Constitution

At the turn of the 20th century, the Burji community arrived in Kenya from Yavelo Province, Ethiopia, courtesy of the then-commissioner of the Marsabit District in northern Kenya.

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An Ethiopian farmer could sue the British government after being evicted violently from his home as part of a villagization project that receives funding from a UK development institution.

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On September 22nd, Ethiopia’s new prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn was sworn into office, one month after the death of former prime minister Meles Zenawi, who had ruled the country for over two decades.

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Anuak refugees from Ethiopia are reporting mobilization of national military and police forces in the Gambella region, and increasing violence there.

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The Ethiopian government has come under criticism due to its use of anti-terrorism laws to incarcerate journalists critical of their administration. Two Sweedish journalists were recently sentenced to 11 years in prison, while local journalists have been sentenced to 14 years and even death.  Cultural Survival ally Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur onFreedom of Expression, stated that, "Journalists play a crucial role in promoting accountability of public officials by investigating and informing the public about human rights violations."

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Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture announced that it has temporarily suspended all land allocations in the country to take time for assessment. The Ministry plans to evaluate its internal structures and the use of land currently in the possession of investors before it will lease new allocations.

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Karuturi Global Ltd, an India-based agricultural company and the world’s largest rose grower, has stated that it will pursue funding from an undisclosed sovereign wealth fund after development banks denied the corporation financial assistance to continue projects in Ethiopia.

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Attacks on the Saudi-owned rice plantation in southwestern Ethiopia left five people dead on April 28, 2012,  including one Pakistani worker and four Ethiopians, with at least another eight people injured.The attack took place about three miles from the headquarters of Saudi Star, an agriculture company owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed Al-Amoudi.

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The BBC World Service is hosting a series of debates on the topic, "Is 'land-grabbing' good for Africa?"  The debates are taking place within Africa, with participation from local communities who are experiencing the impacts of foreign agricultural investment.  The first debate was held today in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with panelists including representatives of the Sierra Leone minister of agriculture, foreign investors, local activists, and The Oakland Institute.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi met with President Obama and the other G8 members along with three other African leaders  on May 19th to discuss food security on the African continent.  On Friday, Obama pledged $3 billion in private-sector pledges to help feed Africa’s poor.  Our campaign partners, the Oakland Institute and the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE)  along with over 8,000 signees are calling on President Obama to “reassess the terms” of U.

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The Ethiopian government has committed egregious human rights abuses to make way for agricultural land investments, in direct violation of international law, said the Oakland Institute in a new briefing paper released in New Delhi today. The briefing paper, entitled "Unheard Voices: The Human Rights Impact of Land Investments on Indigenous Communities in Gambella,” calls on Ethiopia to put an end to the illegal forced evictions of indigenous peoples in areas targeted for land investment.

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After Cultural Survival supporters sent thousands of emails via our and other websites to the US government to urge it to cease funding the forced eviction Ethiopia’s Indigenous Peoples from their lands, the US government took a stance this year in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

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Listen to an interview with Global Response Program Manager Danielle DeLuca on the air Friday May 3rd at Radio CKUW of Winnepeg, Canada.  On Scott Price’s international news program ‘Warning Shots’ Danielle spoke about land grabbing in Gambella, Ethiopia and its affect on local Indigenous Peoples as they are forcibly evicted from their homelands by the government and moved into state-sponsored villages.Listen to the interview at 27:06 via CKUW.

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The Public Broadcasting Network aired a Center for Investigative Reporting video during the PBS Newshour on February 28. The video is episode 3, “A Land Grab in Ethiopia,”  of a series called Food for Nine Billion. Anuak people tell how the government forcibly removed them from their homelands so that foreign agro-industrial investors can plant food and fuel crops for export. The problem is examined from the point of view of feeding the world’s growing population.

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Children: The Battleground of Change

What does the child's mind make of the world? Each society has its own special concept of what it means to be a person and its particular way of embedding that sense in its young. By direct and subtle means, children are informed of what and whom they may become, admire, hate and fear. At least initially, the social and political consciousness of the adult world becomes mirrored in the mind of the child.

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Cultures Within Cultures: When laws ignore reality

When compared to the Americas, African practice on indigenous rights protection is unguided by law. This state of affairs is largely the result of Special Rapporteur Martínez-Cobo’s famous 1984 Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations, which literally made all Africans indigenous, without any need for extra protection of any particular group.

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Development Aid: Minorities and Human Rights

Many of the disputes taking place in the "Third World" at present follow lines of ethnic or religious conflict - between neighboring states as well as within national boundaries. Reference to social and class conflicts alone can often fail to explain the underlying power relationships.

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Djibouti - A Model for Repatriation?

One out of every two refugees today is African. The enormity of Africa's refugee crisis has incited international observers to take a hard took at how refugees are being handled by governments and international assistance agencies. The following case study of Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti, based on information collected by CS's Refugee Research Project, raises issues vital to refugee situations in Africa as well as the rest of the world.

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EDITORIAL - 6.4

In 1492, the estimated aboriginal population of greater Amazonia was about 6 million, more than 10 times what it is today. Comparable figures exist for the Philippines, Australia, the Pacific Islands, North and South America, the Caribbean, the Andes, the Southern Cone of South America, and many parts of Africa. Contact with colonizers and subsequent incorporation into nation states has led to the cultural and physical destruction of small societies throughout the world.

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Editorial - 7.1

As the global recession reaches the Third World, developing nations have begun to adopt "nationals first" policies. To relieve unemployment, many governments have decided to evict foreign nationals. Nigeria, Kenya, and Switzerland have all expelled foreign workers. It is likely that other African and Western European countries will soon follow suit.

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In October 1985, the Ethiopian government reported that 17,553 heads of families from Tigray had been resettled to unoccupied "virgin, fertile" lands in the Gambella region of Illubabor Province in the extreme southwest of Ethiopia.

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