A Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia

December 5th, 2015 Print Print Email Email

Student protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia’s Oromia region, as people demonstrate against the possibility that Oromo farmers and residents living near the capital, Addis Ababa, could be evicted from their lands without appropriate – or possibly any – compensation. Social media is filled with images of bloodied protesters; there are credible reports of injuries and arrests in a number of towns; and local police have publicly acknowledged that three students have died so far.

The current protests echo the bloody events of April and May 2014, when federal forces fired into groups of largely peaceful Oromo protesters, killing dozens. At least hundreds more students were arrested, and many remain behind bars. Both then and today, the demonstrators are ostensibly protesting the expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into the surrounding Oromia region, which protesters fear will displace Oromo farmers from their land. But these protests are about much more: Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies.

Of the student protesters detained in 2014, some have been released. Those I spoke with told me about the torture they endured as part of interrogations. But countless others remain in detention. Some have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law for their role in the protests; others languish without charge in unknown detention centers and military camps throughout Oromia. This week, five students were convicted of terrorism-related offenses for their role in the protests.

There has been no government investigation into the use of live ammunition and excessive force by security personnel last year.

Ethiopia’s tight restrictions on civil society and media make it difficult to corroborate the current, mounting allegations and the exact details of the ongoing protests emerging from towns like Haramaya, Jarso, Walliso, and Robe. The government may think this strategy of silencing bad news is succeeding. But while the fear of threats and harassment means it is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities, they eventually do, and the truth will emerge.

The government should ensure that the use of excessive force by its security personnel stops immediately. It should then support an independent and impartial inquiry into the conduct of security forces in the current protests – and last year’s as well. Those responsible for serious abuses should be fairly prosecuted. This would be the best way for the Ethiopian government to show its concern about the deaths and injuries inflicted on the students, that it does not condone the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, and that those who break the law are appropriately punished.

  1. Tesfa
    | #1

    The Nazi cult TPLF in advertently or may be by deign is, it matters little which method she uses as far as the people are concerned, digging its own grave. The anonymous writer of this article know nothing what TPLF stands for. His prescription TPLF to stop her killings and to persecute the perpetrators is laughable statement. The long line of blood trail upon the innocent makes TPLF members more bold and irresponsible. This is but a delusion of grandiose! Normal people have problem of fathoming why multiple destructive policies , the national drought, student protest against the proposed city limit and the ceding of Ethiopian land to the Sudan.

  2. Tesfa
    | #2

    The TPLF cult through her own contradictory polices eventually is going to end in the gutter. Accidentally or by design she begin to raise multiple storms upon the political landscape. On the one hand there is the ongoing man made hunger. On the other, TPLF’s announcement to expand the Addis city limit is sending the Oromo students in to protest. If these are not enough we here TPLG is ready to cede our fertile land to the Sudan. I ask how can one explain these multiple policies that are being crafted by TPLF when it is clear the actions of them will eventually land TPLF to her grave? Surly these things don’t
    make sense for normal people. May be behind these seemingly contradictory policies TPLF is reveling her last and secret agenda.

  3. Hussein
    | #3

    Here in San Francisco , california USA we got people that collect tens of thousands each day to feed the hungry in their country in the middle east legally. we Ethiopians need to go out on the streets and do the same. These Middle Easterners collect the money claiming they feed homeless many think they feed the homless of San Francisco but they feed the homeless the homeless in their home country which is legal and protected by the police.

    This man who was so mal-nutritioned who died in the hands of the police had to beg for food only to be denied by PIER 43 and 1/2 in San Francsico’s regular money mongers so called homeless advocates who raise tens of thousands from tourists visiting the Fishemrman’s wharf area each day where Kate Steinle was murdered. These scamers collect billions so far by claiming they feed the hungry only to pocket the money in their bank accounts in the Middle East.
    ——————
    San Francisco supervisors defend ordinance in wake of Pier 14 shooting

    The PIER 43 and ½ area homeless advocates that claim to feed homeless steal the money with the police protection al day everyday. They donot feed people after receiving tens of thousands each day in a good Day BY CASH DONATION AT pier 43 AND ½ . Homeless are left hungry with the tourists passing them by thinking the money they donated will feed them . These 43 and ½ homeless fund raisers are ready to become billionaires in San Francisco by claiming they are licensed by the city of San Francisco to collect cash donation all throughout the year claiming they feed the homeless which is far from the truth because all they do is harass the homeless of San Francisco who they were supposed to feed. It doesn’t take a genius to hang around pier 43 and 1/2 TO CALCULATE THAT the fake homeless advocates are stealing millions each year which are donated by tourists of the Fisherman’s Wharf most of them who the new Silicon Valley employees that want to do their part to help the poor of San Francisco , California . These PIER 43 and ½ so called homless advocates cheated many out their hard earned money while they fuel division among San Franciscans by creating confusion and unnecessary misunderstanding each day in a regular basis all day.”

    California Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee regarding the case. It reads in part: “The tragic death of could have been avoided if the Sheriff’s Department had notified ICE prior to the release of Mr. Sanchez, which would have allowed ICE to remove him from the country.” WHILE MANY San Franciscans say “The tragic death of could have been avoided if the Sheriff’s Department had stopped the Pier 43 and ½ of San Francisco area five or six individuals so called ‘ Caliofornia’s homeless advocates’ from dividing the giving and the needy San Franciscans.

    http://abc7.com/news/sources-sf-pier-14-suspect-used-federal-agents-gun/834205/

    http://hoodline.com/2015/09/tech-companies-speak-we-can-t-afford-the-city-either

  4. ሚሊዮን
    | #4

    Free higher education should not be wasted through meaningless protests.

  5. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #5

    This is going to be a sticky situation for this or any other governments at any time in the future no matter how democratic it will be. I know some of you will remember the protest the democratically elected government of Japan was facing in the middle to the late 1960′s when it decided to construct the new and modernized international airport just outside Tokyo. That is now called Narita. There were bloody demonstrations that lasted for a while. There was a lot of emotions flowing on the decision on both sides where it looked everyone was caught up with it. But Japan had no choice but to build that modern international airport to keep up with (accommodate) its fast growing economy. What I think should be done now there in Addis(Finfine) is to learn from Narita experience and do something different to solve the dispute in making sure the landowners are well compensated and make sure they are provided places to live. We all know that farming in that country is not only a line of work but the only means of making a living for all farmers. You take away their farm they are as good as dead. So, cool heads should prevail on both sides. I believe it can be resolved peacefully without the need of bloodshed. Therefore, this is an issue with the Oromos themselves. Far is fair, right? Let the chip falls where ever it may.

    Now I say this to those individuals and groups who are fanning this dispute to create chaos so they can swell up their numbers. Our beloved and glorious Oromo people will hold you responsible for inciting it young children into a burning furnace. You are sitting here and in Asmara in your comfy homes munching down missionary, Al-Toweel Isaias and Wahabi cakes and getting sugar drunk when the future of that society, the cream-puff of the crop of the Oromo are cut down by the bullets fired not by a Tigrayan or as you always try to blame everything on including your indigestion, an Amhara Neftegna soldier. I have called and talked to people I know back home. They have told me that those members of the Federal Police who are cracking down on the demonstrators are almost all Oromos themselves.

    We should all try to admit that there is a forward movement in the economy and airport expansion is a must.

    I may add this to comment above.

    Now the youth is incited by this plan, both the federal and regional governments must understand that chasing out farmers without commensurate with what will be taken from them will not go down that easy. In fact it may create offshoots of deadly radicals who will be hell-bent on wanton destruction. That was what happened in Japan and to a considerable extent it happened in the former West Germany and Italy where murderous left wing extremists such as Baader-Meinhof, the Italian and Japanese Red Armies came on the scene. They were wreaking havoc on the peaceful societies doing harms to innocent people. Those savages are long gone now but the protest against Narita International Airport has not gone away yet and it is still being protected from unruly protestors. It should be noted that the Bole Airport expansion protest has another element in it that the Narita did not have. Bole has a nationalist fervor in it. I am for the expansion if it is done with the full understanding and backing of all stake-holders. The mentality that ‘power comes out of the barrel of the gun’ is the motto of the discredited and by-gone era. That should have been left behind in the bushes of the ‘old’ days.

  6. Ethio Observer
    | #6

    Ethiopia would have done better if it
    could put people like prof. Al Mariam
    or Dr. Nega Birhanu in the prime minister
    post than people like Hailemariam or Nega
    Sebhat who do not have any knowledge or
    enlightment of government or modern Global
    politics.
    It is a shame for the ruling party not to
    put the right posts with qualified right people.

  7. tobba
    | #7

    addis abeba should be out of the equation of tigre created ethnic federalism.

  8. Waqoo
    | #8

    Forgive me, but my Oromo brothers and sisters message simply lost just from their lips. The whole extravaganza derailed from a national agenda into a racial rhetoric. The truth of the matter is TPLF is the only winner as a significant part of the Ethiopian population is sidelined by the very nature of the theme of the protest. The script of the whole drama is much like authored by political elites with understandably divisive agenda than the actors on the ground with legitimate misgivings. As an Oromifa speaking Ethiopian, I can hear the ugly slogans and read counterproductive contents on the Oromo social media. It is totally racial in nature and even lacks the true aspiration of ordinary Oromifa speaking Ethiopians. In my view, such blatant approach of my clan is better than yours will only damage the good standing of the Oromos within the broader community of the Ethiopian people.
    Ethiopia is a very much complex society. And competition on racial or sectarian ground will simply drag the country into unstoppable crisis. And, neither the Oromo society nor other groups of Ethiopia will benefit from the ensuing tragedy. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, the list is long could be unmistakable lesson to begin with. The horn of Africa is a troublesome part of the world and rocking that peaceful coexistence of various groups in Ethiopia is like putting a gasoline on a flame. More importantly, given to the current reality of international terrorism, instability in Ethiopia may also lead to religious sectarian dimension. Guess, who is losing? All of us!
    It is quite ironic that most of the Ethiopian people subscribe either to Christianity (Orthodox, Protestant) or Islamic religions. That means they are people of faith with God fearing personalities who believe man is created in the image of God and all of us are the children of God irrespective of the language we speak, the color of our skins or wherever we reside. Yet, we despise the other guy for the reason that he belongs to the wrong ethnic or tribal affiliation. How in the world can we reconcile that blatant hypocrisy as a faithful people?
    It is equally ironic that the people who are living abroad (in someone’s country) bogged down in that racial worldview while enjoying the full protection and privileges of their host nation. What a blatant hypocrisy!!
    In my view, the current struggle is messy and unwinnable to say the least, as long as the Oromo students are fighting under the banner of my race is better than yours. Let’s come to our senses and oppose the lawless regime of TPLF on principled national (common) humanistic agenda by coordinating the entire people of Ethiopia as a formidable force. The current approach of the protest simply offends a broad spectrum of Ethiopians and serves as a tool for the TPLF led divisive regime.
    Let me be frank, and many close friends of mine are worried by the development of current protest by raising serious questions. How could Oromo students promote “my race only” agenda on the pretext of expansion of the capital city while standing against a system they felt marginalizing them? Brothers and sisters, it is a brutal question we shall seek to answer if we aspire for a win-win solution.
    Let me be clear. I am not supporting the unlawful eviction of Ethiopian farmers from their properties. And I am not against any development project which is beneficial to the Ethiopian people. Whenever there is a project that matters to the nation, there should be due process to adequately compensate and give sufficient time to the people who are affected by that project extension. Full stop! The excuse given that TPLF gangs will misappropriate the land to their kin will not hold reasonable ground. We like it or not, TPLF has the power and urge to misappropriate it irrespective of the expansion of the Capital City. What about the lands already stolen in Gambela Afar, etc?
    Come on brothers and sisters, united we stand and divided we fail? Our destiny is intertwined in one big family of Ethiopians and rocking that family is not a vacation in Hawaii. There is a huge price tag to be settled by blood and flesh. And that is not profitable. Look to our brothers in Eritrea. After that bloody 50 years’ war, they are succumbed into ruthless dictator and grinding poverty. So many families were divided and meager infrastructure was devastated. Eritrea is now a synonym of African North Korea. Do you think that is profitable?
    If it has been for resource, Saudi Arabia would have been the strongest country on earth and it turns out to be 16% of its youth is unemployed. Look at Japan, in natural resource it is the poorest nation on earth but the 3rd richest GDP on the planet. You should know that the economy in the 22nd century is a knowledge economy. Since economy is dependent on human intelligence and the size of consumers, small nations will have no significant economic base and their voices on international platform is miniscule. They have to learn to live under the mercy of big nations. While the world is coming together to form a unified bigger blocks, clan or ethnic based worldview is obsolete and retarded at best. Look, how China, India, Nigeria, Brazil and Indonesia are slated to be the dominant forces of the world in 2030! The reason is simple – a huge manpower is at their disposal. A bigger and wealthier Ethiopia is in the best interest of all of us! Therefore, we shouldn’t confuse the struggle against TPLF with the nation Ethiopia. Moreover, as a privileged part of the society who afforded to go to higher education, you should use your reasoning power than emotions and blind hatred. A youth that has been driven by emotion will be a liability than an asset to its country. The youth that has been going down that drain in the 1960-1980 in Asmara and Mekele has been a mess that bleeds our country to death. Will not that be enough to be a lesson for a higher education student unless there is some serious issue with the level of the education itself? Get to realty men!
    Thank you, God bless Ethiopia!

  9. አብራሃም
    | #9

    በአዲስ አባባ የየካ ክፍለ ከተማ .ከስጋና ከሌሎች የምግብ ቁሳቁሶች ከወጣው ወጪ ሰርቀዋል በሚል ሰበብ ከፍተኛ ድብደባ ከደረሰባቸው መካከል የየካ ክፍለ ከተማ ወረዳ 8 የኢህአዴግ ድርጅት ጉዳይ ኃላፊ የሆኑት አቶ በላይነህ ሙሉነህ ይገኙበታል፡፡ አቶ በላይነህ
    በግጭቱ ወቅት በመጎዳታቸው በአሁኑ ወቅት ሆስፒታል ውስጥ እንደሚገኙም ምንጮች አክለው ገልጸዋል፡፡ አቶ ሙሉነህ ከኢህአዴግ አባል ድርጅቶች መካከል የኦህዴድ አባል ናቸው።

  10. Danqqilllala
    | #10

    The police and possibly the arm act and respond according to the command and instruction of the murderers from above. When there is a mass protest just like what has been observed and witnessed, just on agent dressing in a police uniform or military gives order to the police or the army at the protesters; that is it; then people will die. This regime is chronically addicted to consuming and shading human blood, as per history tell and as it has been seen for years. There is always a panacea for social and economic ill that these murderers are causing; that is, to remove them by any necessary means for once and for all.

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