, Over 50 killed in Ethiopia protests, 35 arrested, PM talks tough

Over 50 killed in Ethiopia protests, 35 arrested, PM talks tough

July 1: ‘Several’ killed in Ethiopia unrest after singer shot dead

Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week. Some reports say over 50 people were killed. Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

“Our enemies think they can easily disintegrate us; however we will use this incident to unify the country and to ensure our plans for peace and security of the country continue. The government will step up its works to realize the peace and stability and sovereignty of the country,” he added.

Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest. There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.


June 30: Ethiopia arrests Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed, OMN shut down

The arrest of prominent Ethiopian pro-democracy activist Jawar Mohammed has been confirmed by multiple sources from the country. His media outfit, Oromia Media Network, OMN, has also been shut down by authorities.

The arrest comes in the wake of mass protests against the shooting and killing on Monday night of a famed Oromo musician and activist in Addis Ababa.

Hachalu Hundessa, was celebrated as a symbol for the Oromo people – Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group. His songs spoke out about their political and economic marginalisation and became a rallying point for activists in their fight against Ethiopian regimes.

The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests, an analysis on the BBC Africa LIVE page added.

Jawar was reportedly arrested along with Bekele Gerba, a veteran opposition activist. The duo were arrested at the Oromo Cultural Center in Addis Ababa, where they were attending the funeral of Hachalu.

OMN reported on Tuesday morning via its Facebook page that their offices had been raided by federal security agents who ‘arrested’ employees. They also said the OMN offices in Addis Ababa was under control of the state.

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Jawar vs. Abiy: Season II

The latest incident is the second major face off between Jawar and state security agents. In October 2019, Jawar – now a member of the Oromo Federalist Congress, OFC; was shielded by supporters after he announced that the state wanted to arrest him.

Jawar’s supporters demonstrated against Abiy after Jawar said police had surrounded his home and tried to withdraw his government security detail. Protests in the capital and other cities resulted in 16 deaths and dozens of wounded.

“The majority of people believe the transition is off track and we are backsliding towards an authoritarian system,” Jawar said, sitting in his heavily guarded Addis Ababa home-office at the time.

In December 2019, Jawar joined the Oromo Federalist Congress, OFC, led by veteran politician Merera Gudina. The OFC has joined a bloc of other opposition parties in the Oromia Regional State. The state is Ethiopia’s largest and most populous.

It is also the home region of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Abiy and Jawar fell out last year after the PM told parliament of media personalities who were fomenting unrest with their outlets, Jawar said the claims were an attack on him.

Social media reactions

BREAKING: Jawar Mohammed arrested, Oromo Media Network shut down – Oromo activists, VPN comms.

Now that is pouring petrol on fire.— Rashid Abdi (@RAbdiCG) June 30, 2020

Wow! The arrest of Jawar_Mohammed will definitely ignite more anger among the Oromo people. It seems the Ethiopian government is unraveling & trying to control flow of information by shutting down opposition media networks & the internet. Could the military intervene? #Ethiopia https://t.co/Oj64QhOQiC— Adel El-Adawy (adeladawy) June 30, 2020

The Gov’t of #Ethiopia arrested Jawar_Mohammed the prominant activist and founder of OMN Tv. They also arrested #Bekele_Gabre the Oromo Federalist Coalition (OFC) leader. The gov’t also closed OMN Tv Studio in Addis Ababa. Internet was also shutdown. Undemocratic action!!! pic.twitter.com/lakjCRmIgq— Abdinasir Abdullahi (Abdinasir_Abdul) June 30, 2020

Police and state authorities should deescalate as much as possible to control this situation. Let people express their anger, heartbreak, mourn their icon, and grieve. Arrests and knee-jerk reactions are only going to lead to more protests and devastation. #HaacaaluuHundeessaa pic.twitter.com/19Ahz0VeAR— Mohammed Ademo (@OPride) June 30, 2020

Obbo Berkele Gerba, a prominent Oromo politician, was arrested alongside Jawar Mohamed. This is a man who’s been through a lot at the hands of Ethiopian state apparatus for much of the last decade.

Hidhaaf Ajjeechanis, asumatti nurraa dhaabatuu qabdi! #HaacaaluuHundeessaa— Fatuma Bedhaso (@FBedaso) June 30, 2020

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