Unrest hits Ethiopia after singer-activist murder, protests erupt

BY

Wed, 01 Jul 2020 - 09:21 GMT

Thousands of Hachalu Hundessa's fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night.

Thousands of Hachalu Hundessa's fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night.

CAIRO – 1 July 2020: Hachalu Hundessa, an Ethiopian singer well known for his political songs, was shot dead Monday, only to be followed by seven others who were protesting his death.

Hundessa, 34, who dedicated his voice to defend the rights of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group, was killed while he was driving.

Reasons behind his death are reportedly being investigated by local police authorities.

Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night.

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Hachalu Hundessa (Oromo: Hacaaluu Hundeessaa; 1985 – 29 June 2020) was an Ethiopian singer, songwriter and political prisoner.

Hundessa was more than a singer especially to the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalization that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

The crowd outside the hospital started setting fire to tires and chanting Hundessa’s songs, only to be met with gunshots and tear gas fired by security forces, news reports and social media footage and images showed.



In Adama, south-east of Addis Ababa, five people died after being shot during demonstrations and 75 others were injured, hospital chief executive Dr Mekonnin Feyisa told BBC Afaan Aromo.

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Five people died after being shot during demonstrations in Adama.

Nineteen others were injured in nearby Dera town, he added.

"There are a lot of casualties, most of them are bullet injuries. Three patients died and there are still critical patients," Dr. Desalegn Fekadu, a surgeon at the Adama Hospital told AFP.

"There are also more than 10 patients with burn injuries. They said their houses were set on fire."

Meanwhile, in the eastern town of Chiro, two people were shot dead during protests, a medic at the local hospital told the BBC.

Anger and condemnation


The killing drew condemnation from both inside and outside the country, with many remembering how his songs encouraged the country’s ethnic Oromo group to fight against repression.

Internet and phone services have also been shut down in parts of the country as the protests spread in Oromia regional state.

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Hachalu Hundessa (Oromo: Hacaaluu Hundeessaa; 1985 – 29 June 2020) was an Ethiopian singer, songwriter and political prisoner.

Images and footage of protests in various parts of the country, however, found their way to online platforms.

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Hundessa's death and the protests come as political tensions rise following the postponement of elections due in August, on account of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was "monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa."

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Demonstrators also protested the singer's death in front of the US embassy, the

alert

said, describing the situation as "volatile at this time."

“Abiy is the most dangerous person in Ethiopian his the one who killed Artist Hacalu Hundessa. Also he arrested Entire Oromo political party leaders. Oromo people need justice,” Anab Yusuf wrote on Facebook referring to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

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"Not only they assassinated the activist Artist, but they also arrested the entire Oromo Political party leaders,” Radia Anolee replied to the embassy’s post.

"These actions are going to cause more instability and violence in the country. As US closest ally in the region, US government must address Ethiopian regime. They also shut down Internet and phone lines.”

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Illegal security operations in Amhara, Oromia


Ethiopian security forces committed horrendous human rights violations including burning homes to the ground, extrajudicial executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sometimes of entire families, in response to attacks by armed groups and inter-communal violence in Amhara and Oromia, Amnesty International has said in a

report

published on May 29, 2020.

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Protesters have taken down the statue of Emperor Haile Selassie's father, Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael (former Governor of Harar) in Harar, Ethiopia following the murder of an Oromo protest singer, Hachalu Hundessa - Twitter


In 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government lifted a ban on opposition parties, some of which had been designated terrorist organizations and forced into exile, allowing them to take part in the postponed elections, the report said.

At least 10,000 people, including entire families, were arbitrarily arrested and detained in 2019 as part of the government’s crackdown on armed attacks and inter-communal violence in Oromia Region.

Many people were arrested multiple times, some detained for up to five months and put through political indoctrination to compel them to support the ruling party. Most were subjected to brutal beatings, the report added.

Rights groups also accuse the Ethiopian government of failure to bring to justice police officers accused of the deaths of dozens in anti-government protests that broke out late last year.



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