(ナイロビ)-2012年4月にエチオピア・ガンベラ地方にある大商業用農地が襲撃された事件への応酬として、エチオピア軍は恣意的逮捕・レイプ等の人権侵害を多くの地元村民に行っている、と本日ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチは述べた。政府の「村落定住化」事業は2年目に入ったが、ガンベラ住民に対する強制移住や資源不足などの人権侵害の問題は依然として未解決のままだ。

2012年4月28日、ガンベラ地方での米生産のために土地数千ヘクタールを借り受けているサウジ・スター農業開発社の事務所を、正体不明の武装集団が襲撃、少なくとも1人のパキスタン人と4人のエチオピア人の従業員を殺害した。ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチの聞き取り調査に応じたガンベラ住民は、その事件後数日から数週間にわたり、エチオピア政府軍兵がサウジ・スター社作業員宿舎付近の村々に来て、戸別に容疑者捜索を行い、恣意的逮捕・若い男性への暴行・容疑者の家族の女性へのレイプなどを行ったと話した。

ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチのアフリカ局長代理レスリー・レフコウは「サウジ・スター社への襲撃は犯罪行為である。しかし、それはガンベラ住民への報復を正当化するものではない。エチオピア政府はガンベラ地方での軍による人権侵害をただちに止めさせ、捜査を行うとともに、そのような悪質な行為の加害者であると判明した兵士を、その階級にかかわらず起訴すべきである」と指摘した。

ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチは以前にも、エチオピア政府の「村落定住化」政策、あるいは、商業用農地の開発のためにガンベラ住民を彼らの土地から立ち退かせて移住させる計画に関して調査・報告をしてきている。政府は移住に抵抗する者に対して、脅迫・嫌がらせ・暴力を加えてきた。

サウジ・スター社への襲撃以来数ヶ月の間に、アボボ・ウォレダ(地域)出身の村民数百人が軍事作戦を逃れ、隣国南スーダンに入国した。ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチは6月、南スーダンに到着したガンベラ出身者の80%以上から聞き取り調査を行った。

軍による報復攻撃の目撃者らはヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチに対し、サウジ・スター社近辺の住民に対する、軍による人権侵害の実態について詳述してくれた。サウジ・スター社襲撃の翌日、エチオピア兵士は同社のアヌアク族警備員のうち4人に、襲撃事件の共犯者だという容疑をかけ射殺した。4月と5月にはエチオピア治安部隊が、アボボ・ウォレダ内にあるサウジ・スター社事務所に最も近い5つの村に入って、多数の若い男性を一斉検挙し、ガンベラにある軍兵舎に拘留した。その多くが拷問を受けたと訴えている。

以前拘留されていたある人物はヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチに以下のように話している。「兵士たちは、森の中に自分たちを連れて行って、どこに反乱軍がいるのか教えろって言ってたよ。反乱軍と俺たちが関係してるって言うんだ。反乱軍が何処にいるのかなんて知らないって言ったら、殴られた。殴られた後、兵舎に連れてかれた。3日間閉じ込められてた。夜になると呼び出して、どこに反乱軍がいるのか教えろって言うんだ。知らないって言うと、また殴られたよ。俺を殴って、靴下をぬいで俺の口の中に突っ込んで、叫び声をあげさせないようにしたんだよ。」

ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチは、兵士が探している男性の親族を見つけられなかったときに、自宅や拘留先のいずれかでレイプされたという、女性と少女からの6件の訴えを聞いている。

ガンベラの非常に多数の信頼できる消息筋は、4月の襲撃事件が政府の「村落定住化」事業と土地貸付に関係していると考えている。その襲撃は、3月12日にガンベラで武装集団がバスを襲撃し19人を殺害した事件の後に起きている。2つの事件が結び付いているのかについては明らかでない。

襲撃を実行した武装集団は、自分たちの正体や動機を明らかにしていないが、サウジ・スター社事務所を襲撃したグループの1人だと主張する、ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチの聞き取り調査に応じたある男性によると、4月の襲撃は、サウジ・スター社や他の外国人投資家がガンベラ地方で土地を借りていることへの報復だそうである。

襲撃犯の多くは5月に南スーダンのポチャラで、スーダン人民解放軍(以下SPLA)によって、襲撃犯4人とSPLA兵士2人が死亡した銃撃戦の末、捕えられたと伝えられている。以来ガンベラでの緊張は高まったままだ。

「サウジ・スター社襲撃への軍による人権侵害を伴う応酬は、ガンベラの不穏な状況を更に悪化させただけだ。同地方の住民が政府の手で苦しめられた後では、事件への包括的かつ独立した調査を行うことが、事態収拾への唯一の手段である」と前出のレフコウは指摘した。

最近ガンベラから南スーダンに逃げた村民の何人かが、「村落定住化」計画のもと治安部隊が新たな人権侵害を行っていると報告した。彼らの訴えによると、政府が提供すると約束していた、移住先での村民へのサービスが履行されない一方、人びとが移住させられた元々の村落は、村民が元の家に戻るのを防ぐために、破壊されつつあるそうだ。

ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチはエチオピア政府に、ガンベラ住民に対する恣意的逮捕・暴行・脅迫を止めると共に、恣意的に拘留されている人びとを釈放するよう強く求めた。政府は、「村落定住化」過程に伴う人権侵害に関与したと見られる軍関係者と当局者を捜査し起訴するべきである。

「村落定住化」事業のもとで強制移住させられた人びとの多くは先住民である。エチオピア法と国際法のもと、移住の計画と移住に伴い失う資産や土地に対しては損害賠償する意向であるという計画について、エチオピア政府は事前に先住民から、インフォームド・コンセントを得る必要がある。

「私たちが1年前に明らかにした、ガンベラでの政府による移住事業の過程に伴う人権侵害は今日もまだ起こっている。『村落定住化』の理由付けを政府が如何にしようとも、暴行や拷問を正当化することは出来ない」とレフコウは語る。 

Arbitrary Arrests, Beatings, and Torture
Between June 23 and June 29, Human Rights Watch conducted a research mission to Gorom refugee settlement, South Sudan, and interviewed 80 people who had fled the crackdown and villagization in Gambella.

Several dozen Gambella residents described to Human Rights Watch the Ethiopian military’s mass detention of scores of villagers, primarily young men, in Abobo woreda in late April and May, accusing the villagers of supporting what the soldiers referred to as “the rebels.”They said that men, women, and children were forced to march through the bush looking for so-called rebels and were beaten if they did not find any, or if they did not provide any names of suspects to the soldiers.

One man described being stopped by soldiers while carrying food, and then being forced to help them search for firearms in Perbong village near the Saudi Star farm. “The [soldiers] asked me ‘Where are you taking this food? To the rebels?’” he told Human Rights Watch. “They checked the food, told me to lie down, and beat me all over my back. [They said]: ‘We will take you to Perbong to check houses one by one. If we find a gun, we will kill you.’ So we went to the community leader’s house, my house, and others’ houses and they found nothing, so they released me.”

A dozen villagers said they were detained, then beaten and tortured in military barracks by soldiers until they revealed a name of an alleged rebel. Most victims described frequent beatings with sticks and rifle butts. Some also saw or experienced other forms of torture.

An 18-year-old named Omot told Human Rights Watch that in April he was arrested by soldiers in his home village and accused of being a rebel. He was taken with his arms tied behind his back to the military barracks in Pugnido where he was detained for two months. He said he was beaten daily on his back and legs with truncheons. After his release soldiers came to his home and threatened him again, causing him to flee to South Sudan.

A local police officer described being arrested by soldiers and accused of supporting the rebels. Soldiers detained him in Gambella’s military barracks where they tied him up and beat him repeatedly, often at the urging of a federal government security official who told them, “Beat him, he has something to say.” After his release the soldiers came to his home and beat him unconscious in front of his wife. His wife said the soldiers beat their four year old son in front of them. The family fled to South Sudan.

Ethiopian soldiers detained and tortured people in locations in addition to the military barracks. One witness said he was detained in a makeshift prison within a school in Chobo-Mender and witnessed soldiers torturing a young man by making him walk on hot coals. He told Human Rights Watch:“I saw a young guy who was forced to stand barefoot on fire coals for 15 minutes. Soldiers would push him back on whenever he would try to get off. He was blistered half way up his calves. ‘I am going to die,’ he would say. ‘Then show us where the rebels are,’ said the soldiers.”

Another local police officer described being beaten and tortured inside Saudi Star’s compound by Ethiopian soldiers shortly after the attack: “They said to us, ‘As people are being killed, yet you have not died, you must know who was behind this.’ So they took me to the Saudi Star farm and beat me there, inside the compound. There were many of us there: two police and others who had been picked up in the sweep. When they saw that I was not ready to talk, to say what they wanted me to say, they started removing my toenails. They were asking a lot of questions about the others who died: ‘Don’t you know who did the killing?’”

All youth appear to be at risk from the soldiers. An 18-year-old student at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia’s capital said that soldiers beat him and his friends when he returned to Gambella for a vacation shortly after the Saudi Star attacks. After showing his student ID card he was told by soldiers: “You are educated, you know all the political issues and things about governments so you are the ones encouraging the rebels.” They beat him unconscious.

Rape and Sexual Violence
Ethiopian soldiers frequently arrested and abused the female family members of young men they were seeking. Three women and a girl told Human Rights Watch that soldiers arrested, detained, beat, and then raped them to pressure them to disclose their male relatives’ whereabouts. Two additional women said that they witnessed other women being raped in detention.

One woman said her husband had been arrested after the attacks because “the soldiers said he knew where the rebels were.” When she went to the prisons to try and find him, soldiers followed her back to her home and raped her, she said. Her husband’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Another woman described what happened after soldiers arrested her in Wancarmie and took her to the military barracks in Gambella: “One night they took me out of the cell and said, ‘Show us where your husband is or else we will rape you.’ I persisted saying that I didn’t know where he was. Then finally they raped me. After that they released me and I decided to leave the country.”

Attacks and “Villagization” in Gambella
After the attack on the Saudi Star compound the Ethiopian military targeted five villages, all within a 16-kilometer radius of the area leased by the company. These villages had been affected by Ethiopia’s controversial “villagization” program, a three-year plan to relocate 225,000 people in Gambella – and over 1.5 million people across four states nationally – from their existing villages into new settlements purportedly to better provide them with basic services.

Human Rights Watch documented serious human rights violations associated with the first year of the villagization program in Gambella in 2011. The January 2012 report Waiting Here for Death”: Displacement and “Villagization” in Ethiopia’s Gambella Regiondescribed how the Ethiopian government and military forced reluctant villagers to leave their homes and build new villages in arid, infertile areas, often intimidating, arresting, and beating people who refused to move. The most abuses were recorded in Abobo woreda, the location of the Saudi Star concession.

Many of the recently arrived villagers in South Sudan interviewed by Human Rights Watch in June said they had fled Gambella because of abuses experienced in connection with the villagization program, as well as the recent military operations following the Saudi Star attack.

They described new abuses in the second year of the government’s villagization program, including forced displacement, arbitrary arrests, and torture in detention. The new settlements are located far from water sources and the land is typically dry and arid. More than a year after people were forced to move to these villages virtually none of the promised basic services such as schools and clinics have been provided. To prevent resettled villagers from returning to their original homes soldiers have allegedly been destroying infrastructure in the old locations.

All of the Gambella residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch and who fled to South Sudan told Human Rights Watch that their resettlement was involuntary.

A 17-year-old girl from Abobo woreda who had recently arrived in South Sudan said that soldiers killed her father when he refused to move from their farm near Tegne to the new village: “We were sitting at our farm and soldiers came up to us: ‘Do you accept to be relocated or not?’ ‘No.’ So they grabbed some of us. ‘Do you want to go now?’ ‘No.’ Then they shot my father and killed him. We all fled into the bush. I still do not know where my sister or husband is.”

Human Rights Watch found that regional and state government officials appear to have a role in the forcible relocation of villagers. The former committee head responsible for villagization in Gog woreda told Human Rights Watch: “I was told [by regional officials] to make the community aware of the need to move. All the responses from the people were rejections, they did not like it. We went back and did our report [to the regional parliament] that they did not want to go. Parliament blamed me and said, ‘Why do you tell us this? Go do it by force.’ [A senior state official] said this to me directly. We then went with the military and did it by force.”

Villagers who have been unwilling to move or refuse to mobilize others to do so have been arrested and mistreated by the soldiers. An elder from Batpul village said he was ordered by woreda officials to organize the villagers and persuade them to relocate. “There were many trees and food in the old place and nothing in the new place so I refused to get them to agree,” he said. “Government officials told me, ‘Since you do not accept what government says, we jail you.’” The elder was jailed in Abobo for 17 days. “They turned me upside down, tied my legs to a pole, and beat me every day for 17 days until I was released.”

Soldiers burned down tukuls (huts) and broke water pumps in the original villages as soon as villagers were moved to their new locations, the displaced villagers told Human Rights Watch.

One man from the Majangere ethnic group, who lived in Gooshini village in Godere woreda, described the forced relocation in his village: “Those that resisted the second time were forced by soldiers to roll around in the mud in a stagnant water pool then beaten.” He said he returned to his old village after dark for seven nights before deciding to flee to South Sudan. Each night he saw that more and more of his village’s farmland had been cleared by the bulldozers of an Ethiopian investor who had been awarded the land by the government.