Ethiopia: 81 killed in violence after death popular musician

Ethiopia: 81 killed in violence after death popular musician

Two days of demonstrations in Ethiopia have left nearly 81 people dead, a police chief confirmed Wednesday. This comes after the assassination of a prominent musician, Hachalu Hundessa, from the country’s largest ethnic group. It is fueling unrest that threatens to disrupt the democratic transition of the country. 

Moreover, Hachalu sang political songs to give strength to the Oromo ethnic, and he got shot on Monday evening. Besides, the Oromo tribe has a long-standing feeling of marginalization.

Meanwhile, angry demonstrations erupted in Addis Ababa. And also the Oromia region that surrounds it, the heartland of the Oromo people. They have long protested against oppression by lesser ethnic groups in a diverse nation of 100 million people.

Ambo spokesperson Milkessa Beyene stated on Thursday that Hachalu’s corpse landed in the city for burial. However, other violence broke out. “A group of youths who wished the funeral takes place in Addis Ababa struggled with security forces, triggering turmoil.”

More so, he said there have been “fatalities,” including Hachalu’s uncle.


Meanwhile, Oromia police chief Ararsa claimed, “there was a bomb strike on Hachalu Hundessa’s family home in Ambo. Furthermore, the grenade attack killed his uncle and wounded two police officers.”

He encouraged the people to remain calm until the funeral.


The arrest of opposition politician


The detention of prominent opposition leader Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo, also sparked outrage on Wednesday.

He was a former media mogul who had lately joined politics. Police arrested Jawar along with 34 others for attempting to snatch Hachalu ‘s body and return it to the city. Federal police commissioner Endeshaw Tassew stated in a release late Tuesday.

Additionally, security forces reportedly opened fire on protesters in the town of Holeta, west of Addis Ababa.  They sought the release of Jawar, ” says Teshome Bongase, an opposition leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, of which Jawar is a member.

“The demonstrators said Jawar isn’t a thief; he just needs to see the corpse of Hachalu buried with dignity. Moreover, that’s their culture, that’s what they’re calling for,” Teshome said.

In October, news that the government was seeking to withdraw Jawar’s security detail sparked days of ethnic conflict that left over 80 people dead.

Jawar initially backed Abiy, but like other Oromo nationalists, he is also skeptical of the prime minister, suspected for not speaking enough for the rights of the group.


A dangerous situation in Ethiopia

The Internet remained inaccessible for the second day of the government’s attempt to control the turmoil.

In Addis Ababa, young people clustered in groups with sticks attempting to keep Oromo nationalists from reaching the city, and armed military vehicles have been seen in the streets of the capital.

Security forces shot into the air to scatter the protesters who were attacking the statue of Emperor Menelik II, generally regarded as the father of modern-day Ethiopia.

Oromo nationalists perceive Menelik as a driving factor behind their alleged marginalization and for throwing them out of Addis Ababa. Last month Hachalu called for the statue to be taken down.

Also, in recent years, Ethiopia has faced violent inter-communal conflicts. A significant obstacle to Abiy’s attempts to bring about democratic reforms in a nation long run by an iron fist from Addis Ababa.

“The assassination of an influential Oromo singer, ensuing protests in areas involving the damage of properties and the use of deadly force by security forces, and the detention of Oromo leaders, are creating a dangerous circumstance and are another threat to the precarious transition in Ethiopia,” stated William Davison, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

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