Archive | August 2016

Ethiopia: Dozens killed as police use excessive force against peaceful protesters

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/Amnesty International/

At least 97 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia region and in parts of Amhara over the weekend, according to credible sources who spoke to Amnesty International.

Thousands of protesters turned out in Oromia and Amhara calling for political reform, justice and the rule of law. The worst bloodshed – which may amount to extrajudicial killings – took place in the northern city of Bahir Dar where at least 30 people were killed in one day.

“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.

“These crimes must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and all those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to death penalty.”

Information obtained by Amnesty International shows that police fired live bullets at protesters in Bahir Dar on 7 August, killing at least 30. Live fire was also used in Gondar on 6 August, claiming at least seven lives.

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

No deaths were reported from the Addis Ababa protests, but photos and videos seen by Amnesty International show police beating protesters with batons at Meskel Square, the capital’s main public space.

In Oromia and Amhara, hundreds were arrested and are being held at unofficial detention centres, including police and military training bases.

“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,” said Michelle Kagari.

“All those arrested during the protests must be immediately and unconditionally released as they are unjustly being held for exercising their right to freedom of opinion.”

Background

The protests in Oromia are a continuation of peaceful demonstrations that began in November 2015 against a government masterplan to integrate parts of Oromia into the capital Addis Ababa. Deaths were reported in multiple towns in the region, including Ambo, Adama, Asassa, Aweday, Gimbi, Haromaya, Neqemte, Robe and Shashemene.

The protests in Amhara began on 12 July 2016 when security forces attempted to arrest Colonel Demeka Zewdu, one of the leaders of the Wolqait Identity and Self-Determination Committee, for alleged terrorism offences.

Wolqait is an administrative district in Tigray Region that was part of Amhara Region before the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power 1991. It has been agitating for reintegration into Amhara for the last 25 years.

more :  Ethiopia: Dozens killed as police use excessive force against peaceful protesters

More than 30 killed in Ethiopia protests: opposition /Aljazeera/

Opposition party says at least 33 protestors shot dead by security forces in Oromia region and dozens detained.

Protests accusing the government of unfairly distributing wealth have also hit the capital [File: Reuters]
Protests accusing the government of unfairly distributing wealth have also hit the capital [File: Reuters]

/Aljazeera/ At least 33 people were shot dead by security forces in Ethiopia at the weekend in protests linked to an aborted government attempt to commandeer local land, opposition party officials said.

Police fired tear gas and blocked roads to several towns in the vast Oromia region as demonstrations erupted after a call from a spontaneous social media movement.

Ethiopian authorities had imposed a blanket internet blockade over the weekend.

Oromia saw unrest for several months until early this year, sparked by plans to allocate farmland in the region surrounding the capital for development.

Authorities scrapped the land scheme in January, but protests have flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.

At the weekend, protesters chanted anti-government slogans and waved dissident flags. Some demanded the release of jailed opposition politicians.


READ MORE: The ‘Ethiopia rising’ narrative and the Oromo protests


“So far, we have compiled a list of 33 protesters killed by armed security forces that included police and soldiers but I am very sure the list will grow,” Mulatu Gemechu, Deputy Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, told the Reuters news agency.

The deaths took place in at least 10 towns across Oromia, he said, including Ambo, Dembi Dolo, and Nekemt – areas that were engulfed by previous rounds of protests.

“Twenty-six people have also been injured, while several have been detained,” Mulatu said. Three members of his party were also being held, he said.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment, Reuters said.

The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency said “illegal protests” staged by “anti-peace forces” had been brought under control, but it did not mention casualties.

Oromia is the second region to be hit by unrest in the past few days. In Amhara, at least two people were killed in the ancient city of Gonder in clashes over the status of a disputed territory.

Tensions have been rumbling for two decades over the status of Wolkayt district – a stretch of land that protesters from Amhara say was illegally incorporated into the neighbouring Tigray region to the north.

Source: Reuters

Deaths and detentions in Ethiopia as protests flare

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Six people have been reported killed in the country’s Gondar region, and dozens detained during a rally in Addis Ababa.

Saturday's rally was the first rally to be held in Addis Ababa after a series of Oromo and Amhara protests elsewhere [Reuters]
Saturday’s rally was the first rally to be held in Addis Ababa after a series of Oromo and Amhara protests elsewhere [Reuters]

At least six people have been reported killed over two days of protests in Ethiopia while dozens were arrested in the capital, Addis Ababa.

A source told Al Jazeera that four people were killed on Saturday in the northern Gondar region, in addition to two people killed in the area on Friday. Located 700km north of Addis Ababa, Gondar is a region dominated by the ethnic Amharas.

Ethiopian authorities would not confirm the death toll.

The reported deaths come as dozens of ethnic Oromo protesters were arrested in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

At least 500 Oromo people – protesting against alleged economic inequality and discrimination – gathered amid a heavy police presence on the capital’s main Meskel Square.

The protesters, who shouted slogans such as “we want our freedom” and “free our political prisoners”, were dispersed by police using batons. Dozens were arrested.

READ MORE: The ‘Ethiopia rising’ narrative and the Oromo protests

A Reuters news agency video of the confrontation showed unarmed protesters being beaten and kicked by police officers, as protesters ran to evade arrest.

Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalegn on Friday announced a ban on demonstrations, which “threaten national unity” and called on police to use all means at their disposal to prevent them.

The rally was organised by opposition groups from the Oromo, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, who have held protests for months against what they say is government discrimination. They have been joined recently by ethnic Amharas, and protests have been reported in other parts of the country.

The Oromo and Amhara together make up the majority of Ethiopia’s population and claim they suffer discrimination in favour of ethnic Tigrayans, who they say occupy the key jobs in the government and security forces.

Ethiopian authorities told the AFP news agency that at least a dozen people have been killed in clashes with police over territorial disputes in recent weeks.

Local people told AFP there had been rallies and clashes with police in the city of Ambo and Nemekte, in the Oromo region, as well as a calls for protests in Baher Dar in the Amhara region.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies