Ethiopia’s Oromo call for freedom for jailed leaders
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, demonstrated against the government on Saturday and called for the release of opposition figures imprisoned as they gathered in the capital for their annual Thanksgiving holiday.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Saturday protested the government and called for the release of jailed opposition figures as they gathered in the capital for their annual Irreecha Thanksgiving Festival.
Dozens of people in central Addis Ababa chanted slogans such as “Down, down Abiy! A reference to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, after performing ritual ceremonies to mark the end of the rainy season and the start of the harvest in Oromia State.
They also chanted their support for opposition Oromo politician Jawar Mohammed, who was arrested last year following a deadly spike in violence sparked by the death of a popular Oromo singer. He remains behind bars with several others accused of terrorism. Activists say their detention is politically motivated.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended Saturday’s celebrations, which went off peacefully despite the protests and amid a heavy security presence. A police spokesperson did not comment on the arrests of protesters.
The Oromos have always expressed frustration with their perceived economic and political marginalization. Abiy is the country’s first Oromo leader, but he is increasingly criticized by some Oromo that he has not done enough for them.
Parts of Oromia have seen outbreaks of violence in recent years as regional security forces fight a secessionist insurgency there. They were accused of committing human rights violations against civilians, including summary executions.
Ahead of last year’s celebrations, hundreds of people were arrested on suspicion of planning attacks and causing unrest. During the festival in 2016, several dozen worshipers were killed in a crash after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anti-government protesters.
The Associated Press