Outrage in Ethiopia after police kill 'at least' NINE protesters, violations against Oromo continue

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Fri, 21 Aug 2020 - 01:49 GMT

CAIRO – 21 August 2020: Health officials has said clashes between Ethiopian security forces and protesters demanding the release of opposition figures have killed at least nine people in the Oromia region, Addis Ababa.

Jawar Mohammed, founder of the Oromia Media Network (OMN) and a member of the OFC, was arrested on 30 June alongside Deputy Chairman Bekele Gerba.

Bekele Gerba was arrested with his son, daughter and a nephew, who the courted ordered to be released.

Jawar and Bekele are being held on suspicions of “mishandling of a corpse” (of the late Hachalu Hundesa during a tussle about his burial location), “attempted murder on OPDO (now Prosperity Party) officials”, “initiating violence” and the “murder of a police official”.

The two were initially held at Addis Ababa Police Commission premises, where they were last seen by their lawyers on 10 July, then found at an underground cell at an unofficial detention location near the Federal Police headquarters in Mexico Square on 14 July. Other OFC detainees were moved to a school in Addis Ababa.

OFC leaders like Dejene Tafa are yet to be presented in court or charged with any crime.

His pregnant wife spends her days outside the courthouse just in case he is arraigned so that she may catch a glimpse of him, according to Amnesty.

The death of protesters has sparked outrage on social media, which despite a government blackout, was able to document violence against peaceful protestors.

 

 

 

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Furthermore, lawyers are unable to establish the whereabouts of key officials of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) including Michael Boran, Shigut Geleta, Lemi Benya, Kenessa Ayana, and Colonel Gemechu Ayana, who were arrested on various dates since Hachalu Hundesa’s death.

Another OLF leader, Abdi Regassa, arrested in February, remains unaccounted for, according to his lawyer, because the police have been moving him from one place of detention to another, such that neither his family nor his lawyers know his whereabouts.

The ethno-religious violence sparked by Halachu Hundesa’s killing and the deadly crackdown on protestors left at least 177 dead and hundreds wounded, according to Ethiopia’s Federal Police Commission.

Hundessa, an Ethiopian singer well known for his political songs, was shot dead Monday, June 29, 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

 

Unrest hits Ethiopia after singer-activist murder, protests erupt

 

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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