The World Council of Churches has joined calls for demonstrators, security forces and the political establishment in Ethiopia to turn to dialogue in addressing the issues that have created tension in the country in the last few weeks.
According to a statement from the WCC, local church leaders report that the situation in the country remains tense with continued clashes between protesters and security forces.
“We appeal to law enforcement officers not to resort to excessive force on unarmed civilians, and encourage protesters to look for open dialogue,” the statement said.
We appeal to law enforcement officers not to resort to excessive force on unarmed civilians, and encourage protesters to look for open dialogue.
What are the reasons behind the violent protests?
Earlier this year, members of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, took the the streets in violent demonstrations. The recent protests were by the second biggest group, the Amhara, who were largely protesting over governance issues.
Africanews’ correspondent in Ethiopia, Antoine Gilando, confirmed the reasons for the protest on ‘The Morning Call’ program explaining further that even with their ties to a relatively smaller population, the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had established a hegemony at the helm of the political establishment.
The casualty figures from the protests and social media
Reports indicate that over 100 protestors were killed in Oromia and Amhara during the last two weeks alone during clashes between demonstrators and security forces. The government has however disputed the figure.
The ‘call to action’ was largely started on social media, the spread of news on the protests were also spread via social media. Subsequently access to platforms like Twitter and Facebook were blocked by the government.
What the WCC had to say
“We mourn the lives of those who perished during these protests, and regret the arrests and violence against protesters that have occurred during the demonstrations in different areas of the country,” Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs said.
The statement added that Catholic bishops of Ethiopia in an earlier statement had called for calm.
“Our dear young children, we wish that you take over from us a developed and peaceful Ethiopia, not a country that is full of unrest. We urge you to remember that you have the duty and the right to take over a country that is full of peace and hope for development so you must work for this,” it concluded.