The anti-government protests that rocked Ethiopia for the better part of last year is said to have claimed over 660 lives.
This is according to a report by the country’s human rights outfit. According to the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, (EHRC), a total of 669 people were killed in the unrest that hit the Amhara, Oromia and the Southern Nations and Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional states.
The report was presented by the head of the EHRC to the legislature – the House of People’s Representatives (HPR). Whiles blaming the lack of good governance and related issues for the unrest, they held that security forces applied proportionate force to protesters.
... deep-rooted problems of good governance, failure to implement the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa as per stated in the constitution and the Addis Ababa master plan were the main causes for unrest in Oromia regional state.
The state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting Corporate reported that EHRC boss, Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher, said “deep-rooted problems of good governance, failure to implement the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa as per stated in the constitution and the Addis Ababa master plan were the main causes for unrest in Oromia regional state.”
The report also blamed the Oromia Media Network (OMN) and social media for instigating violence on two occasions (August 5 and September 5, 2016). The two sources were again blamed for violence during the Irrecha festival held in Bishoftu.
The breakdown of casualties was as follows: 495 people (462 civilians, 33 security personnel) died in Oromia, 140 people (110 civilians and 30 security personnel) in Amhara and 34 people in the SSNP regional states.
The Commission, however, held that the illegal demonstrations orchestrated by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromia Media Network led to ethnic-based attacks, ruined religious equality, violated the right to life and inflicted physical injuries on people.
The owner of the OMN, Jawar Mohamed, is currently charged in absentia with treason along with the leader of the OFC, Dr. Merera Gudina and one other person. Social media has been restricted in the country since last year.
Ethiopia imposed a state of emergency in October 2016 to quell the widening protests – the government has reported a ‘return to peace’ since then. But the legislature recently extended the curfew after relaxing most restrictions.
Human rights groups have been battling with the government over the casualty figures from the protests. Addis Ababa has flatly turned down independent investigations into the deaths as proposed by the United Nations and the European Union – insisting that Ethiopian outfits were capable of doing that job.