Hundreds killed in Ethiopia to quell Oromo protests

Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 since November, and arrested tens of thousands more, in hopes of quashing protests in the Oromia region, according to a report by Human Rights Watch June 17. The report calls the killings "the latest in a series of abuses against those who express real or perceived dissent in Oromia." It also discusses Ethiopian government efforts to restrict media freedom and access to information in Oromia. Most notably, the government has restricted access to social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and any "diaspora-run television stations." HRW called for the government to drop charges and release all those detained in protests, as well as a "credible, independent and transparent investigation into the use of excessive force by its security forces."

In January, several Ethiopian rights groups called on the international community to address the killing of protesters. In December, HRW reported that activists had witnessed security forces firing into throngs of protesters. That report came a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn issued a warning of "merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area."

From Jurist, June 17. Used with permission.

  1. Ethiopia: state of emergency over Oromia protests

    Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency following months of anti-government protests focused in the restive Oromia region. The state of emergency, declared for the first time in 25 years, will last six months. Protests reignited this week after dozens were killed in a stampede Oct. 2, sparked by police firing tear gas and warning shots at a huge crowd of protesters attending Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu. (Al Jazeera, Oct. 10; HRW, Oct. 8)