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HVA's Ethiopian fluoride poisoning?
by The Ovi Team
2009-06-05 09:13:37
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In December 2007 I went to Ethiopia to attend the wheelchairs distribution event for fluoride victims who are bed-ridden for over 35 years in Wonji/Ethiopia. When I met those victims there was a flow of tears from victims and their family and fighting back my tears was impossible. Through no fault of their own, these innocent victims were bed-ridden prisoners in their own home but now with the help of the Free wheelchair Mission donation- they can move around and after many years they saw and felt the fresh air and the sun light.

pic1_400Their family members were like sitting behind the bars taking care of the sick; they were also prisoners in an emotional prison due to a situation beyond their control. HVA International NV is responsible for all the damages on these poor victims by knowingly providing them excess fluoride drinking water. Despite all the evidences, the Human Rights Corporate violators like HVA International NV profits and trade take precedence over public health concerns.
Fluoride targets a part of the brain that makes people less inclined to stand up to authority, which is used as rat poison and cockroach bait. Hitler was using fluoride in the Nazi Concentration camps to keep the Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses calm, stupid and weak - fluoride is a key dumping down ingredient of Prozac and Sarin nerve gas. These were the reason (in addition to profit) why HVA INTERNATIONAL NV was interested to continue the consumption of fluoride to Wonji, Wonji/Shoa and Metehara residents for over 17 years without their knowledge. But HVA INTERNATIONAL was very cautious, caring for its Dutch citizens who were in Wonji, Wonji/Shoa and Metehara by providing them fluoride-free drinking water. The dangerous of fluoride was told to Wonji/ Wonji/Shoa and Metehara residents when HVA International was nationalized and was kicked out of the country.
It's not secret that donor countries tend to emphasize their narrow concepts of human rights as a prerequisite to sanction development assistance or financial aid so poor countries' governments are pressured to suck up any human right violation by the corporate. Why, oh- why Wonji residents were not told 17 years before that the water they were drinking is poisonous? To make things worse the roofs of the houses built for them by HVA international NV were made from asbestos!!
Being poor or in a vulnerable situation means being exposed to a variety of human rights violations. The issue is who's rights value most – the right of the poor to water or the right of a corporation like HVA International NV to maximize its return on investment – human rights or investor rights? The answer to that question lays on morally conscious corporate who are willing to fulfil their obligations to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and advocate that human rights come first which is apparently contrary to HVA International NV. 
Probably Wonji victims' lives didn't matter because they were underdogs and less than human and undeserving of respect and dignity. To this day HVA International continues to be reluctant to ratify violating the human rights of those poor voiceless Wonji/ Wonji/Shoa and Metehara residents. May love and compassion prevail!

* * * * * *


While researching this email we discovered that New Internationalist, another online magazine, had received a similar contact email from Almaz Mequanint a few years ago. The magazine forwarded her email to the Dutch company HVA, which built and ran the places she describes. Clemens JM Rolink, the current General Manager of HVA International NV, replied. This is a shortened version of what they had to say. They paint two quite different pictures – we leave readers to judge which is the more convincing:

The sugar estates formerly owned by HVA were nationalized by the Ethiopian Government in 1976... HVA International NV has no juridical link whatsoever with the former HVA and its interests in Ethiopia.

As we probably are the only party that might give some answers to questions, we may have a moral obligation. On the other hand, there is not a single person active in our company that is knowledgeable on details of the sugar estates in Ethiopia.
During the time of nationalization... the Ethiopian Government claimed a large amount as compensation for the fluoride problem and at the same time accepted responsibility for all future claims.

Drinking water was not available in that area in the 1960s, for which reason HVA bored water wells. After some years it became apparent that these wells contained a high fluoride percentage. The effects of fluoride were not known at that time. Even before the 1970s HVA ordered an official study, from which it became clear that drinking from the wells over a long period could have a negative impact on teeth and bones, especially those of children.

HVA instantly took measures by creating separate water distribution points where special bone-filters were used to produce low-fluoride water, or so-called “children’s water”. Everybody without exception could collect water, and information was widely spread around the estate. The whole fluoride matter was taken extremely seriously... Except for the consequences of fluoride, no other illnesses of a serious nature are known...

White and black people were not segregated. On the contrary. There were two areas, one for labourers (all black) and one for staff, where white and black lived together and shared the same facilities...

The air pollution from sugar factories is very limited if compared to other industries like steel, chemicals, etc. Anti-pollution measures were taken as was common practice and valid for West-European plants in those days...

To our knowledge no asbestos was used for houses. However, asbestos was applied for heat insulation in the factory. This has never created problems due to the fact that the asbestos, after being installed, stayed in place and could not spread dust particles.

All in all, the living conditions within the factory premises were undoubtedly much better than outside in the villages... For sure, industrialization also has its other side, just as in Western Europe. However, in our opinion, it is on a comparable scale in Ethiopia – not much worse and not much better.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-06-05 15:10:36
Indeed there is always another side to any coin and Ovi, as a magazine of opinion, does well to present both opinions and let the readers free to judge for themselves where the truth lies, for truth is one and not relative to one's ideology or convenience. It is that ability to give space to differing opinions that distinguished Ovi from other more ideologically slanted on line magazines yelding spirited dialogues and discussions and even debates among its contributors and readers. Those are the life lines of a vibrant magazine and without them no truth will ever be glimpsed and envisioned.

gmariamm2009-11-25 13:12:57
I live with the consequence of the high floride water consumtion. But this was the first time I heard HVA intentionally poisening the residents of Wonji. Here, in USA, my dentist told me I was the first case he saw with this case. otherwise, his knowledge was only in theory. How is the case in Netherlands?

Almaz Mequanint2011-08-23 23:03:31
My comment is to gmariamm, you stated "But this was the first time I heard HVA intentionally poisening the residents of Wonji. No, HVA International didn't intentionally poisoned Wonji victims. HVA International withheld information that there are excess fluoride in the drinking water while informing it's Ducth citizens not to consume the water. But intentionally kept it secret by not telling us. And that constitutes a crime and they are accountable to all damages and cost of lives.

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