Ethiopia: Oromo leaders charged with ‘terrorism’

oromo flag

Ethiopia’s attorney general filed charges on Sept. 19 against 24 activists for alleged terrorism and incitement to violence. Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, two leading opposition politicians of the Oromo Federalist Congress, were among those charged. Despite being the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromo┬áhave historically faced political and economic marginalization. Jawar and Gerba actively oppose the Ethiopian government and have called for the federal state to give “self-rule”┬áto Oromos and other ethnic groups in regions where those groups constitute the majority of the population.

The charges arise from events that occurred after the death of Hachalu Hundessa in June. Hundessa, a popular Oromo singer and activist, was murdered, though the precise motivation remains unknown. Following Hundessa’s death, inter-ethnic violence erupted, resulting in the deaths of up to 239 people.

This unrest led to mass arrests of more than 9,000 people. Ethiopia’s attorney general charged the 24 suspects with “trying to incite ethnic and religious based conflict to cause citizens to turn on their fellow citizens,”┬áamong other crimes, in the wake of Hundessa’s death.

The mass arrests and the charges against Jawar and Bekele have ignited criticism of Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. Some believe Abiy is using the unrest to silence opponents of the Ethiopian government.

The group of 24 charged individuals are scheduled to appear in court this week.

From Jurist, Sept. 21. Used with permission.

Photo: Petterik Wiggers via Ethiopia Insight

  1. Villagers massacred in Ethiopia

    Gunmen have killed at least 50 people and set fire to homes in a series of attacks in western Ethiopia’s Oromia state.┬á Residents said dozens were rounded up and killed in the village of Gawa Qanqa┬áby suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Most of the victims were women, children and the elderly, according to survivors who hid in nearby forests. Those targeted were┬ámembers of the Amhara ethnic group, the country’s second largest. (The Guardian,┬áBBC News)

  2. Ethiopia: report on deadly repression of Oromo

    The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said Jan. 1 that Ethiopian security forces killed at least 76 people and wounded 190 during violent unrest in June and July following the assassination of musician Hachalu Hundessa. (Jurist)