#Mauritania Police Cause Another Death with Tear Gas


Local new site Essirage reports that an expectant mother  was overcome by tear gas while shopping in an area where police were firing tear gas to disperse anti-slavery demonstrators. The woman was taken to hospital shortly after the incident, when she noticed the baby had stopped moving. A scan just 3 days earlier had shown the child, in its third trimester, was healthy and developing normally. Doctors delivered the child as a still birth. The bereaved parents are in shock and distraught at the loss of their  child.

This is not the first reported case of foetal death caused by indiscriminate tear gas use by Mauritania police in recent months, more than one female student has miscarried as a result of the ongoing crackdown. This tragic news also comes close behind the death of a young shopkeeper from tear gas asphyxiation by the deadly chemicals used by police to quell unarmed peaceful demonstrators on 9 June. Activists have retrieved spent tear gas canisters clearly showing some of the cartridges were past their use-by date. It is suspected that the regime buys the expired gas from neighbouring countries in a sort of black market for cheaper expired munitions. Whether buying it direct or through a third party, we do know that the tear gas is made by Nobel Industries of France.

9 Jun 2012 Police Tear Gas Kills Young Shopkeeper


#Mauritania protest demanding release of jailed students


Classmates and families of expelled students staged a protest Monday 18 June 2012 to demand the release of five students held by police after raids on Nouakchott University medical school last Thursday. As is their usual habit, police dispersed the gathering with tear gas and batons. 

The National Union of Students in Mauritania reported on Sunday that they have documented evidence against the dead of the Medical school for his part in the violent repression and abuse of students and are ready to press charges. Parents of medical students who were expelled during the crackdown have also protested several times in recent weeks to demand their reinstatement.

#Ethiopia ‘forcibly displacing’ tens of thousands


The Ethiopian government is forcibly displacing tens of thousands from their land to make way for state-run sugar plantations, a campaign group has said.

The displacements are happening in the country’s Omo Valley, according to a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The valley, a World Heritage site, is also the site of a controversial dam.

The Ethiopian government has denied forcing anyone from their homes and says the project will create jobs.

HRW says that in order to make space for the plantations, government security forces are compelling communities to relocate from their traditional lands, using violence and intimidation.

In its report, the campaign group says that at the time of its visit to the area – in June 2011 – “military units regularly visited villages to intimidate residents and suppress dissent related to the sugar plantation development”. It added that “soldiers regularly stole or killed cattle”.

These allegations were denied by government spokesman Bereket Simon.

“There is no forcing out of people from their residence, if there is any reason to relocate people, then it is based on… open communication,” he told the AFP news agency.

‘No shortcut’

The sugar plantations will be irrigated in part by the Gibe III hydropower project, the group says.

The dam, which would become Africa’s largest and the fourth-biggest in the world, has provoked much controversy.

Flooding effect of dam on Omo River

At present

The Ethiopian government says that the project must be completed in order to bring energy and development to the country.

But campaigners fear it will fuel conflict over already scarce water resources, and rob communities of their livelihoods.

According to the report, previously unpublished Ethiopian government maps show plans for sugar plantations covering nearly a quarter of a million hectares.

The maps, HRW says, also show processing factories, irrigation channels and large tracts of land reserved for other forms of commercial agriculture.

The group says that if the plans go ahead they could affect at least 200,000 people in the Omo Valley and another 300,000 Kenyans living across the border around Lake Turkana, which derives up to 90% of its water from the Omo River.

The Ethiopian government has said that the dam’s impact on Lake Turkana will be negligible.

HRW describes the region as among the most ecologically and culturally diverse areas on the planet and says it is currently home to eight different agro-pastoral communities.

“Ethiopia’s ambitious plans for the Omo Valley appear to ignore the rights of the people who live there,” said Ben Rawlence, of Human Rights Watch.

“There is no shortcut to development; the people who have long relied on that land for their livelihood need to have their property rights respected, including on consultation and compensation.”

Many other African countries are reserving huge tracts of land for commercial agriculture – often leased by foreigners in order to export the crops cultivated there abroad.

Graphic of GIBE-3Gibe III would be one of the biggest dams in the world, dwarfing its neighbours

BBC News