Latest News

Deadly Protests in Ethiopia Over Plans to Expand Capital

 Ethnic Oromos protest in Cairo over violence in Ethiopia

 Protesters gather in front of Arab League to call for international intervention in violent situation in Oromia state, Ethiopia

 Ahram Online , Wednesday 7 May 2014

 Members of the Oromo community organised a protest in front of the Arab League in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Wednesday to denounce the killing of Oromo protesters in Ethiopia last week.

 Dozens of the Oromo protesters demanded the Arab League, African Union and the United Nations intervene in the situation in Ethiopia's Oromo state, where tens of ethnic Oromos were killed last week in protests over the expansion of the capital Addis Ababa.

 Ethnic Oromo students have been protesting since April against the Ethiopian, who they accuse of intending to displace farmers from their territories in the capital of Addis Ababa through plans to develop and urbanise the city.

 Ethiopia: Brutal Crackdown on Protests

 Security Forces Fire On, Beat Students Protesting Plan to Expand Capital Boundaries

 May 5, 2014 

 (Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces should cease using excessive force against students peacefully protesting plans to extend the boundaries of the capital, Addis Ababa. The authorities should immediately release students and others arbitrarily arrested during the protests and investigate and hold accountable security officials who are responsible for abuses.
On May 6, 2014, the government will appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva for the country’s Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record.
“Students have concerns about the fate of farmers and others on land the government wants to move inside Addis Ababa,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “Rather than having its security forces attack peaceful protesters, the government should sit down and discuss the students’ grievances.”
Since April 25, students have demonstrated throughout Oromia Regional State to protest the government’s plan to substantially expand the municipal boundaries of Addis Ababa, which the students feel would threaten communities currently under regional jurisdiction. Security forces have responded by shooting at and beating peaceful protesters in Ambo, Nekemte, Jimma, and other towns with unconfirmed reports from witnesses of dozens of casualties.
Protests began at universities in Ambo and other large towns throughout Oromia, and spread to smaller communities throughout the region. Witnesses said security forces fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters in Ambo on April 30. Official government statements put the number of dead in Ambo at eight, but various credible local sources put the death toll much higher. Since the events in Ambo, the security forces have allegedly used excessive force against protesters throughout the region, resulting in further casualties. Ethiopian authorities have said there has been widespread looting and destruction of property during the protests.
The protests erupted over the release in April of the proposed Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, which outlines plans for Addis Ababa’s municipal expansion. Under the proposed plan, Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary would be expanded substantially to include more than 15 communities in Oromia. This land would fall under the jurisdiction of the Addis Ababa City Administration and would no longer be managed by Oromia Regional State. Demonstrators have expressed concern about the displacement of Oromo farmers and residents on the affected land.|
Ethiopia is experiencing an economic boom and the government has ambitious plans for further economic growth. This boom has resulted in a growing middle class in Addis Ababa and an increased demand for residential, commercial, and industrial properties. There has not been meaningful consultation with impacted communities during the early stages of this expansion into the surrounding countryside, raising concerns about the risk of inadequate compensation and due process protections to displaced farmers and residents.
Oromia is the largest of Ethiopia’s nine regions and is inhabited largely by ethnic Oromos. The Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group and have historically felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments. The city of Addis Ababa is surrounded on all sides by the Oromia region.
Given very tight restrictions on independent media and human rights monitoring in Ethiopia, it is difficult to corroborate the government crackdown in Oromia. There is little independent media in Oromia to monitor these events, and foreign journalists who have attempted to reach demonstrations have been turned away or detained.
Ethiopia has one of the most repressive media environments in the world. Numerous journalists are in prison, independent media outlets are regularly closed down, and many journalists have fled the country. Underscoring the repressive situation, the government on April 25 and 26 arbitrarily arrested nine bloggers and journalists in Addis Ababa. They remain in detention without charge. In addition, the Charities and Societies Proclamation, enacted in 2009, has severely curtailed the ability of independent human rights organizations to investigate and report on human rights abuses like the recent events in Oromia.
“The government should not be able to escape accountability for abuses in Oromo because it has muzzled the media and human rights groups,” Lefkow said.
Since Ethiopia’s last Universal Periodic Review in 2009 its human rights record has taken a significant downturn, with the authorities showing increasing intolerance of any criticism of the government and further restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and association. The recent crackdown in Oromia highlights the risks protesters face and the inability of the media and human rights groups to report on important events.
Ethiopian authorities should abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which provide that all security forces shall, as far as possible, apply nonviolent means before resorting to force. Whenever the lawful use of force is unavoidable, the authorities must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. Law enforcement officials should not use firearms against people “except in self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.”
“Ethiopia’s heavy handed reaction to the Oromo protests is the latest example of the government’s ruthless response to any criticism of its policies,” Lefkow said. “UN member countries should tell Ethiopia that responding with excessive force against protesters is unacceptable and needs to stop.”

 Advocate Human Dignity

 Cracking down on Peaceful Protest and Political Dissent in Oromia region of Ethiopia

 For Immediate Release: Killings and beatings by the government against Peaceful Protest in Oromia Region of Ethiopia grows

 May 1, 2014

 Over the last few days, it has come to the attention of Advocates for Human Dignity that there is evidence to suggest that the Ethiopian government took violent measures against its own citizens. These measures, aimed at peaceful protesters, appear to have led to severe injuries and the deaths of civilians.

 Oromo students and opposition groups protest against the expansion of Addis Ababa

 Thousands of ethnic Oromo students and other groups have taken to the street this past week to express their displeasure over the government’s plans to extend the boundaries of the nation’s capital.

 Reports indicate that under the ‘Integrated Development Master Plan’ the state’s limits is set to be extended by more than one million hectares. Commentators have projected that this will swallow up about 36 Oromia cities into the jurisdiction of Addis Ababa.

 Protests have been reported in all the eight major universities in Oromia since Tuesday. Official sources say up to 7 people have been killed and about 70 injured since the protests began. However, the other reports claim the death toll is more than 20.

 Addis Ababa (called ‘finfinne’ by the Oromo) was reportedly at the heart of Oromo culture until it was conquered in the 19th century. Although Addis Ababa has managed to flourish into a large, powerful state, it still remains largely dependent on the neighboring Oromia – the largest state in Ethiopia.

 The protesters accuse the government of marginalizing the Oromo people. They have also charged the authorities of systematically stifling the growth of Oromo nationalism and perpetuating the loss of the ethnic group’s culture.

 Addis Ababa is reportedly one of the fastest growing states in Africa – supported by a buoyant economy and a high rate of rural-urban migration. With a population of over 4 million, Addis Ababa is already regarded as one of the largest cities in sub-saharan Africa.

 While Addis Ababa is manifesting all the unwanted features of a crowded state (i.e. bad traffic, large slum settlement and an increase in crime rates). The state has also experienced an increase in the rate of new constructions and employment opportunities.

 Meanwhile, many commentators continue to underscore the delicacy of the situation – noting that Ethiopia’s deep ethnic division will negatively affect efforts to resolve the dispute.

 The Ethiopian government has, however, dismissed the protests as unrest generated by “confused” students who went on to spread rumours and mislead others.

 Reports indicate that Oromo people in Ethiopia and around the world are planning to stage global protests this month against the contentious plan of their government

 Edale Dessalegn 9TH GRADE STUDENT Killed in AMBO All across the Oromia region of Ethiopia, high school children and youth groups from Universities took to the streets expressing their demand for freedom, justice, and respect for universally recognized civil and political rights.

 Since yesterday, our contacts on the ground have been documenting evidence that suggests that in Oromia cities including: Ambo, Guder, Bale, Adama, Nekemt, Haromaya, Gimbi,Nejjo, Horro Guduru, and Addis Ababa dozens have been killed and several hundred jailed incommunicado by the Ethiopian government. The detaining of the online bloggers known as “zone9ers” in the capital Addis Ababa remains an example of the worsening hostility by the government against freedom of the press in the country. The reports of beatings and killings perpetrated against Oromo students by the government, being done in a manner that appears to single out members of an ethic group, is worrying. The information coming out of the Omoro region suggests that there is reason for significant concern that human rights abuses have been perpetrated by organs of the state and more abuses are likely to continue. AHD calls for the end of this violence and for an effective investigation to take place. Recognizing the poor track record of Ethiopia in relation to human rights and the severity of the harm caused, it is imperative that the international community gets involved to ensure an effective investigation including charges being filed against perpetrators where evidence warrants such charges.

 As an international human rights organization that stands for and advocates for dignity and equality for all human beings, we express our deepest condolences to the relatives and families of those who lost their lives in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. We would like to take this opportunity to call on all other organizations to listen to the voice of the people in Ethiopia. We are extremely concerned by reports that the Ethiopian military is using live ammunition against innocent children and students from high school and universities in the region. We will continue to closely monitor this situation and report as events continue to unfold.

 For Immediate Release: Advocate Human Dignity Statement on the ongoing violation of human rights in Ethiopia. 

 April 30, 2014

 It is with deep concern that Advocates for Human Dignity learns of the appalling and atrocious acts of human rights violations by the Ethiopian government against peaceful public protesters and innocent university and high school students in Oromia region. In different districts of the region including Ambo, Bale, Adama, Dire Dawa, Gimbi and Dembi Dollo, where students and the public went out on the street to claim their constitutional right, the government responded with bullets and beatings and dozens are reported dead. Our organization has learned about numerous killings and beatings by the notorious military force known as Agazi and there are reported disappearances and other inhuman and degrading acts carried by the regime. The regime also jailed online bloggers known as “zone9”, showing utter disregard for freedom of press, equality and justice in the country. It is to be noted that Ethiopia journalists and political dissidents are languishing in jail since the draconian laws were enacted by the state.

 Along with a number of other international human rights organizations, AHD expresses its concern that the government of Ethiopia continue to diminish its own citizens by extra-judicial killings and dispossession of indigenous people from their heritages. We strongly condemn the widespread and systematic violations of human rights of every Ethiopians particularly the ongoing killings and discrimination against the Oromo people should come to an end. The government shall refrain from its long-held tradition of discriminating against the Oromo people and all other people in Ethiopia. These acts are contrary to the international legal obligations of Ethiopia. Advocates Human Dignity is closely monitoring the situation in Ethiopia as it unfolds and will post the updates on this page.

 Agence France-Presse


 May 5, 2014 8:19May 5, 2014 8:19 

 Ethiopia shot 'peaceful protesters': rights group

 Ethiopian security forces shot dead peaceful protesters in student demonstrations last week, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, quoting "credible" claims of a death toll "much higher" than the official figure of eight.


"Witnesses said security forces fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters in Ambo on April 30," HRW said in a statement accusing security forces of using massive force.


The state news agency said last week that mass protests caused "loss of lives and property" in several university towns in Oromia, Ethiopia's largest region.


The government said eight were killed in the violence, which it blamed on "anti-peace" forces, but according to HRW "various credible local sources put the death toll much higher."

 "Security forces have responded by shooting at and beating peaceful protesters in Ambo, Nekemte, Jimma, and other towns with unconfirmed reports from witnesses of dozens of casualties," the HRW statement added.

 "Ethiopian security forces should cease using excessive force against students peacefully protesting... the authorities should immediately release students and others arbitrarily arrested during the protests," it added.

 With nearly 27 million people, Oromia is the most populated of the country's federal states and has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Ethiopia's official Amharic language.

 According to local media reports, the students were protesting government proposals to extend its administrative control to several towns in Oromia, sparking fears of land grabs.

 But the government accused protest leaders of trying to destabilise the country.

 "The forces behind the chaos... have a past violent history," the government statement read, claiming the protests had been encouraged by "media inside and outside the country" for "their evil purpose", without giving further details.

 Government officials were not immediately available to comment on HRW's claims, but have routinely dismissed its reports in the past.

 Last month government spokesman Getachew Reda told AFP that "we don't take orders" from the group, after HRW criticised the arrest of nine journalists and bloggers.

 Addis Ababa said the nine were arrested for "serious criminal activities".


 Human Rights Watch condemns Ethiopia’s crackdown on media, activists

 By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

 May 5, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday urged United Nations member states to exert pressure on the Ethiopian government to end the targeting of activists and media under its controversial laws.

 On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) begins a review of Ethiopia’s human rights record under the universal periodic review procedure, only days after Ethiopian authorities arrested nine news providers.

 On 25 and 26 April, police arrested six bloggers from the Zone 9 website and three journalists reportedly accusing them of plotting to incite violence and instability in collaboration with foreign activists.

 Government officials denied their arrest was in connection with their journalistic duties, claiming that they were implicated in “serious criminal activities”, without giving further details.

 The arrests were made a few days before US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit to Ethiopia as part of his tour to three African countries.

 The arrests prompted widespread condemnation from international press freedom groups and rights human organisations.

 The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the mass arrests were one of the world’s worst crackdowns against free expression.

 While Amnesty international said the arrests fit into Ethiopia’s long term trend of arresting and harassing human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents.

 An Ethiopian political activist, who asked for anonymity, told Sudan Tribune that such arrests against critical journalists and political opponents is not a surprise considering that elections are less than one year away.

 Exercising free speech and particularly criticising the ruling government when elections are approaching is considered an absolute crime, he added.

 In a statement, HRW said that UN member states should use the periodic review to openly press Ethiopian government to stop the sweeping crackdown against freedom of speech and respect constitutional and international laws on media freedom.

 “The UN review is taking place just as Ethiopia is renewing its crackdown on free speech,” said Leslie Lefkow, HTW’s deputy Africa director.

 “To make this review meaningful, UN member countries should forcefully tell Ethiopia that its attacks on the media and activist groups are a blight on its human rights record,”added Lefkow.

 HRW said Ethiopia has failed to comply with the recommendations of 2009, when the UN made its first Universal Periodic Review of the East African nation.

 The human rights group said that the human rights situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated substantially and the authorities in Ethiopia have shown intolerance of any criticism and they have sharply restricted the rights to free expression and association.

 According to international rights organisations, Ethiopia is one among some of the worlds most closed press environments.

 The Horn of Africa nation is the continent’s foremost jailer of journalists next to neighbouring Eritrea.

 Many critical journalists face lengthy jail terms under the country’s controversial, vague and broadly defined anti-terror legislation.

 With 49 journalists forced into exile, Ethiopia is also third worst after Somalia and Iran in terms of forcing an exodus of journalists.


Amid rising tensions in Ethiopia

 Wednesday May 07, 2014 - 11:40:10 in Articles by Super Admin

 As political crisis rise in Ethiopia only few months before the general election, the main powerful opposition groups discussed about the recently peaceful protests that left at least 40 students killed, during demonstrations against, Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, the ruling party's endeavor to expand the capital city of Addis Ababa in part of the Oromia state.

 Violence erupted in several university campuses across Oromia state as ethnic Oromo students protested against Addis Ababa's annexation. 

 Amid increasing tensions in Oromia state and fresh killings of Aware by the Ethiopian Security Forces in Ogaden Region, The assistant of ONLF Foreign Secretary for Ethiopian Affairs and deputy Communities mobilizer and the Group's affairs ,Hassan Moalin, called Addis Ababa regime " a state-sponsored terrorism," the ONLF's news portal, Ogaden News Agency reported today.
"Mr. Moalin condemned the killings of the Oromo students in a cold-blooded and sends condolences to the students victims and their families behalf of the ONLF," the report said.

 "The ONLF official suggested that the importance of collaborating against what he called "the common enemy" of the two nations under Ethiopian occupation in order to resist the merciless Ethiopian regime," The Ogaden News agency stated. 

 Dr.Shugt Gellat ,OLF Foreign Secretary , in his part first thanked Somali people from Ogaden Region around the globe saying that he will always remember their overwhelmed with tenderness for the students,when they saw the Ethiopian army brutality" .

 During the call, both officials called on the two-brotherly civilians to unite in-and-outside of the country to oust the ruling party of TPLF, in part of liberating Oromia and Ogadenia territories.

 It is not the first time that officials from Ogaden National Liberation Front and Oromo Liberation to reach out and discuss the future states of Ogadenia and Oromia ,since January 2014, a number of official meetings took place in abroad ,even though, Oromo and Somalis from Ogaden protested side-by-side against the Ethiopian regime,it was only earlier this week when they held a joint-meeting in Minnesota, United States.

 At least 9 killed in Ethiopia student riots: govt

 May 2, 2014

 Addis Ababa (AFP) – At least nine people have been killed and 70 injured at student protests in southern Ethiopia this week, including in a grenade attack, the government said in a statement late Thursday.

 The government blamed “anti-peace” forces for inciting violence, while opposition groups accused the police of brutality.

 According to a statement on the state news agency, mass demonstrations caused “loss of lives and property” in several university towns in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region.

 The riots, which began Wednesday after “students confused by deliberately misleading rumours and gossips created havoc”, had been brought under control, it added.

 Five people were killed in Ambo, about 125 kilometres (80) west of Addis Ababa, and another three people killed near Bidire, about 415 kilometres (260 miles) from the capital, the statement read, without giving details on how they died.

 A hand grenade killed one person and injured 70 in Alem Maya, 366 kilometres (230 miles) east of Addis Ababa.

 According to local media reports, the students were protesting government proposals to extend its administrative control to several towns in Oromia, sparking fears of land grabs.

 “The students… tried to show their grievances by submitting their questions to the local government but the answer they got was beatings, killing, harassment and coercion,” Bekele Nega, secretary of the Oromia Federal Congress party, told AFP.

 “These people not only will lose their land, they are also going to lose their culture, their language, their identity, their representation in parliament.”

 But the government accused protest leaders of trying to destabilise the country.

 “The forces behind the chaos… have a past violent history,” the government statement read, claiming the protests had been encouraged by “media inside and outside the country” for “their evil purpose”, without giving further details.

 With nearly 27 million people, Oromia is the most populated of the country’s federal states and has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Ethiopia’s official Amharic language.



May 2, 2014 (VOA News) — Witnesses say Ethiopian police have killed at least 17 protesters during demonstrations in Ethiopia’s Oromia region against plans to annex territory to expand the capital, Addis Ababa.

 Authorities put the protest-related death toll at 11 and have not said how the demonstrators were killed. The main opposition party says 17 people were killed while witnesses and residents say the death toll is much higher.

 Residents say that an elite government security force opened fire on protesters at three university campuses.

 The demonstrations erupted last week against plans by the Ethiopian government to incorporate part of Oromia into the capital. Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region and Oromos are the country’s largest ethnic group.

 Oromos say the government wants to weaken their political power. They say expanding the capital threatens the local language, which is not taught in Addis Ababa schools.

 Ethiopian officials say the master plan for expansion was publicized long ago and would bring city services to remote areas.

 They accuse those they call “anti-peace forces” of trying to destroy Ethiopia’s ethnic harmony.

 Source: VOA