Nearly 100 Ethiopians Killed in Ongoing Protests

August 09, 2016 at 11:00 am | News

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

August 09, 2016 at 11:00 am | News

Hundreds of Ethiopians protesting in the Oromo region. Telegraph

Close to 100 Ethiopians have died following a violent clash between protesters and police in the ongoing Oromo protests in Ethiopia, the BBC reports.

At least 30 people were killed in Bahir Dar on Sunday in what Amnesty International has described as the most deadliest confrontation between opposition protesters and security forces. The human rights organization accused Ethiopian police of firing live bullets at peaceful protesters.

“The security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes.

Disgruntled Society

The ongoing unrest started last month, with people in the Oromo and Amhara regions accusing the Ethiopian government of marginalizing them both politically and economically.

Thousands of people in different parts of Ethiopia have staged peaceful demonstrations calling for political reform, justice, and the rule of law.

But according to Amnesty International, the excessive force used by Ethiopian security agents has resulted in bloodshed and unwarranted arrests.

“We are extremely concerned that the use of unofficial detention facilities may expose victims to further human rights violations including torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” Kagari contends.

However, Ethiopian authorities argue that the police have to use excessive force when reacting to violent protesters, who they claim are destroying government and private property and “inflicting deaths on innocent citizens.”

Through a state-affiliated media house, Fana Broadcasting Corporation, the Ethiopian government has blamed social media activists and local and international enemies for the ongoing unrest.

Previous Protests

The current civil unrest in Oromo and Amhara regions in Ethiopia is a continuation of peaceful protests that began in November last year against the government’s plan to integrate some parts of Oromo into Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa, according to Amnesty International.

During those protests, dozens of people died, particularly in Ambo, Adama, Aweday, Asassa, Haromaya, Neqemte, Shashemene, Robe, and Gimbi towns.

In Amhara, protests began on July 12 after security forces attempted to arrest Colonel Demeka Zewdu, a leader of the Wolqat Identity and Self-Determination Committee, for alleged involvement in terror activities.

The Wolqat region is an administrative district that was initially part of the larger Amhara region before it was moved to Tigray Region in 1991 by the current regime. Locals in the area have been calling for reintegration into Amhara.

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