At least four people died and several others were seriously injured in Ethiopia during demonstrations on Tuesday, the day after the murder of the famous singer Hachalu Hundessa, who belongs to the majority ethnic group Oromo.
At least four people were killed and several seriously injured in Ethiopia during demonstrations, Tuesday, June 30, the day after the murder of a famous singer of the majority ethnic Oromo, a new illustration of the political and social tensions that agitate the country.
This violence led the government to cut down the Internet in the capital, Addis Ababa. They underline the fragility of the democratic transition undertaken by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize 2019.
Singer Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead Monday night in Addis Ababa, radio and television broadcaster Fana reported. His political lyrics made him one of the strong voices of the Oromo ethnic group, the largest in the country, during the years of protests against the government that led Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018.
On Tuesday morning, crowds converged on the capital from the neighboring Oromia region, blocking traffic.
In Oromia, demonstrations also broke out in several locations, for example in Adama, in the center of the country, where the victims were allegedly hit by security forces, surgeon Desalegn Fekadu, a surgeon, told AFP. City Hospital.
“There are many victims, most of them gunshot wounds. Three patients died and there are still some in critical condition,” he said. “There are also more than ten burn patients. They said their homes were burnt.”
A resident of the Mirab Hararge area of Oromia told AFP on condition of anonymity that his cousin had been knifed to death by young Oromo nationalists because he was from the Amhara ethnic group. “They killed him because of the artist’s death” but “he knew nothing about politics.”
Federal police and Oromia police spokesmen said they had no information on the number of victims.
Amnesty International has reported “information on the deaths of several people during the ongoing protests”, but claims “unable to confirm their numbers and the circumstances (of their deaths) due to Internet outages since this (Tuesday) morning” in Ethiopia.
The motive for Hachalu Hundessa’s murder is not yet known, but Addis Ababa police chief Getu Argaw told Fana that “suspects” had been arrested. At the height of the demonstrations against the government, which began in 2015, the singer, during a concert in Addis Ababa, had expressed in his texts complaints from Oromos who considered themselves to be economically and politically marginalized.
“A volatile situation”
“We Oromos, we have done everything we can, we have done our best, we can do no more. We have served the little people and the big to be able to live together, but we can no longer tolerate this” said one of these songs .
On Tuesday afternoon, the independent media Oromo Media Network reported the arrest of a political opposition figure Oromo, Jawar Mohamed, critic of Abiy Ahmed.
In October last year, rumors of the next arrest of Jawar Mohamed had been the trigger for anti-Abiy demonstrations in Oromia, which had degenerated into riots fueled by ethnic and religious resentment and killed 78 people.
Merera Gudina, head of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) told AFP that he was “arrested” by police with other members of this opposition party, without being “done”, according to him “whether c” is temporary or not.
On Tuesday, the US Embassy in Ethiopia said “firearms in Addis Ababa”. “The situation is currently volatile. Please stay home until further notice,” she warned.
The streets in the center of Addis Ababa remained calm and the shops were open. But large groups of protesters gathered at various locations on the outskirts of the capital.
A group sang songs honoring Hachalu’s memory as they waved Oromia flags. “One day we will be free. Hachalu, you will not have forgiven your blood in vain,” they sang.
Abiy Ahmed demanded calm and expressed his “deep sadness” in a statement published on Twitter describing Hachalu as a “brilliant young artist”.
Although Abiy Ahmed is the first head of government for Oromo in modern history, many nationalists in this ethnic group accuse him of not doing enough to defend his social interests. Since taking office, the Prime Minister has worked to promote political and economic reforms. But this openness has left the field open to violence between communities that test the Ethiopian system of ethnic federalism.