Human Rights Watch’s recent mediocre research report on Ethiopia
By Yohannes Gebreellasie (Ph.D) Canada
There are few international institutions that claim to have a monopoly on human rights, democracy and governance. Human Rights Watch is one of them. This institution more often than not conducts its research based on its own methodological evaluation standards on what individuals, groups and even nations do or not do. The research and data collection, data evaluation and delivery of information by this self appointed international institution based in North America and Europe has been put in question by many individuals, groups and even nations because many a times this and other similar western so called advocates of human rights are quick to come to conclusion on diversity of issues of significant importance to individuals, groups or nations. Often times than not, their research is based on information gathered from unknown individual and/or groups residing way far form the area where the issue in question has taken place or from unknown sources residing next door from their offices . Here, I remember my former professor who used to make a joke on a bad weather man. A bad weather man says “it is raining when in fact it is shining outside and says it is shining when in fact it is raining outside.” This is so because this bad weather man is making a judgment from his closed office that has no window to look at the outside condition Therefore, this bad weather man always makes a big mistake. The same way , these self appointed Human Rights advocates such as the Human Rights Watch make judgments and decisions from their oval office in North America and Europe way far from the area where the issues in question is taking place. Further, these so called human rights advocates have no time to go and visit where the activity is taking place; they do not care to ask the people who reside there and they hate to ask local, regional and national government representatives who are the main stake holders of the issues in question. Most importantly, their mediocre research methodologies are not substantiated by facts or by the objective and subjective reality on the ground; thus, their conclusion has been way far from the truth. One typical example of such a situation is the recent allegation by Human Rights Watch on Ethiopian major Hydro Electric Dames.
On many occasions, Human Rights Watch claimed that the Hydro Electric projects undertaken by the Ethiopian government with massive participation of the Ethiopian public is damaging the environment and displacing the local residents. On the other hand, Human Rights Watch has never been concerned about many mega hydroelectric projects undertaken in its back yard in Europe and North America. One wonders why it is so concerned about other projects that are under construction way far form their oval offices in North America and Europe. More importantly, why didn’t this so called institution failed to send its experts to the area in order to evaluate the situation if in fact it is so concerned about environmental impacts or residents’ rights. Further, why didn’t Human Rights Watch care to ask residents of the area about the whole situation prior to commenting or accusing developmental projects of Ethiopia that will benefit not only Ethiopians but indeed neighboring countries as well? Considering Human Rights Watch’s repeated allegations, I came to believe that Human Rights Watch may have other hidden agenda than the environmental or residential issues. Perhaps the following could be some of its hidden agenda.
A/ Hunan Rights Watch is not concerned about the environment because the Hydro Electric Dams under taken by the government of Ethiopia have been assessed and their impact on environment and other social issues have been evaluated by world class environmental and engineering experts as well as representatives from nations that are stakeholders and every assessment thus far shows that the projects are free from any environmental or other social impacts what so ever.
B/ Human Rights Watch has never cared and does not have any reputation helping residents where the projects in question are taking place because it never asked or approached the people in question. More importantly, residents of the project area are fully satisfied with the projects because they have become sources of employment for them and for their neighbors.
C/ Human Rights watch has never initiated any developmental projects in the area whereas due to those mega projects, schools, clinics and other social services have been built in order to benefit local residents.
D/ Human Right Watch perhaps is not interested or does not benefit from the projects or perhaps, the out comes of the projects do not benefit nations where Human Rights Watch is located or belong to. Therefore, since it does not profit from these projects, it has to blame others for what they do or for what they did not do. Further,
E/ There may be an ideological hidden agenda Human Right Watch wants to impose on nations that do not follow its political agenda; thus, it wants to indirectly force its will through environmental or residential excuses.
Generally, any nation has full rights to use its own resources as deemed necessary for the benefit of its people. A responsible nation like Ethiopia does not dare to conduct mega projects such as those currently undertaken without consulting the best environmental and engineering experts. Human Rights Watch should have been the first one to notice that and if not, to ask environmental or hydroelectric experts who are responsible in that regard. Human Rights Watch does not possess environmental or hydroelectric engineering experts. On the other hand, Ethiopia does have one of the best environmentalists in the world that received the highest international environmental awards. Ethiopia also engaged the best environmental and engineering experts prior to any projects let alone huge and magnanimous projects currently under construction. Therefore, it is time for Human Right’s watch to conduct a batter research and to use better experts on the field, to ask residents and government representatives prior to making any judgments that are regrettable. Human Rights Watch has failed often times than not in its judgment regarding Ethiopian project thus far. I hope it will learn from its mistakes and improve on the mistakes it made in the future. Defaming a proud nation and a proud people is not the answers, conducting first class research, gathering primarily and secondary information based on scientific research methodology is the right answer. Hope Human Rights Watch dose just that to improve on its own reputation.
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