Ethiopia Had A Violent Weekend And The World Hardly Knows About It

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The country's Oromiya region has seen months of demonstrations over plans to include some of its territory into the capital as part of an expansion scheme.

 

 

The Ethiopian government switched off the internet and mobile services as dozens were killed during widespread political protests this past weekend.

Security forces shot tear gas and closed roads in major cities throughout the country as demonstrators protested against land reforms and alleged human rights abuses being carried out by the government.

On Aug. 6, hundreds of people gathered in Mescal square in the center of Addis Ababa, only to be dispersed by the police. Protests also broke out in the towns of Waliso and Ambo, both in Oromiya province. Eyewitness reports say that soldiers closed the roads and shot in the air. There is a large university in Ambo.

Ethiopian security forces used tear gas and blocked roads and other major towns to try to quell protests against alleged rights abuses.

Protests also took place in the towns of Ambo and Woliso in Oromiya, where large crowds gathered before soldiers blockaded roads and began to shoot in the air, witnesses said.

"We have rights but they are consistently violated by this government," one protester told Reuters.

"They jail everyone who opposes them. All prisoners should be released."

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

"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, said.

The deaths took place in at least 10 towns across Oromiya, he said, including Ambo, Dembi Dolo, and Nekemt — areas that were similarly engulfed by previous rounds of protest

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

Read More: How Successful Have Anti-Government Protests Been Lately?

Ethiopian authorities also imposed a blanket internet blockade that lasted throughout the weekend.

 

A 25-year development plan by the Ethiopian government, aimed at attracting investment to help industrialize its agrarian economy, first sparked small protests in 2014.

But when it emerged in mid-November last year that land was to be leased near Ginchi, a town in Oromiya, bigger protests erupted.

The Horn of Africa country's Oromiya region has seen months of demonstrations over plans to incorporate some of its territory into the capital as part of an expansion scheme.

The plans were scrapped after intense resistance from residents, but protesters are continuing to demonstrate against alleged abuses and for the release of people arrested during the campaign.

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."

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