Dozens Feared Dead as Anti-government Protests Sweep Ethiopia

ethiopia protests
Gondar and Oromia protests are now evolved into a series of large and bloody demonstrations against the government, leaving hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

By TesfaNews,

A planned nation-wide, anti-government protests in Ethiopia’s northern town of Gondar and Oromia regions have turned deadly after security forces start shooting indiscriminately.

The situation in the country remains tense and volatile. Thousands of protesters from Borena to Gondar, Harar to Wollega started to engage the regime with mass demonstrations and protests. The people are now demanding for a change.

Protesters in the Amhara and Oromo regions were seen expressing solidarity to one another despite years of regime instigated ethnic divisions.

A resident of the city told BBC reporter in Addis Ababa that there are chaotic scenes as hundreds of people gathered amid a heavy police presence on the capital’s main Meskel Square, shouting slogans such as “we want our freedom” and “free our political prisoners.”

Video posted on social media (see below) shows security forces swiftly moved in and start brutally beating protesters.

Similar beatings were seen in Adama, Ambo and in all the towns where people took to the streets. In Nekemte, reports say one federal police officer was killed in a clash with the protesters.

In the last two days, embassies of the United States, Norway and the United Nations office in the country have all issued travel warnings for the weekend.

In a communique posted on its website, the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa said it “anticipates that communications such as cellphone and internet could be disabled”.

“Travelers should anticipate traffic restrictions on main roads outside of major cities in Oromia due to road closures and gatherings, and an increased presence of federal police,” it adds.

Today’s joint protest was the first of a series by Oromo and Amhara, the two main ethnic groupings making up some 80 percent of the population, to be held in the country.

Both groups say they suffer discrimination in favour of a minority ethnic Tigrayans, who they say occupy the key jobs in the government and security forces.

Earlier this week, Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn warns continued protests could slide the country towards civil war. Yesterday, he announced a ban on all demonstrations which, he said, “threaten national unity” and called on police to use all means at their disposal to quell them.

There are reports of an internet blackout in the country ahead of the planned protests. However, the blackout did not completely stop information from getting out to social media. According to information received by ESAT and other reliable sources, so far, at least ten protesters were killed in the Oromia region and three more in Azezo district, Gondar.

Security forces also made dozens of arrests today.


Social media reports


Protests also took place in the towns of Ambo and Woliso in Oromiya, where large crowds gathered early on Saturday before soldiers blockaded roads and began to shoot indiscriminately.

In Shashemene, hundreds of people holding placards gathered at Meskel Square in the centre of the city before police dispersed them.

In a statement Ethiopia’s information ministry said the country would not tolerate “forces that threaten the country’s hard-earned peace and development gains” and added that the government stood ready “to discharge its responsibility.”