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Ethiopia arrests two suspects over death of famed Oromo musician

Ethiopia arrests two suspects over death of famed Oromo musician


July 10: Hachalu’s ‘murders’ arrested

The Ethiopian government says it has identified three people believed to have been behind the killing of Hachalu Hundessa. According to the federal attorney general, Adanech Abeibe, the suspects have confessed to their crimes.

Two of the suspects are in custody whiles one is on the run. Tilahun Yami is identified at the gunman while Abdi Alemayehou is accused of being an accomplice. The suspects held three meetings with a their ‘instructors’ as they planned the murder, the attorney general added.

Authorities say that they were given instructions to undertake the killing by a group called Shane, which broke away from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). OLF is a former rebel group currently registered as a political party. It is one of the main opposition parties in the Oromia region.

The region was the epicenter of protests that killed over 230 people demanding justice for the famed musician who was shot dead in Addis Ababa. The government cut internet as protests began to spread last week.

The capital Addis Ababa also recorded significant violence. Calm has been restored by the government has kept an internet outage in place since July 30. Over 3,500 people were also arrested for their roles in instigating violence.

TPLF tells Ethiopia PM to face challenges, stop scapegoating

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July 2: Hachalu buried in Ambo, blast rocks Addis

The funeral of Oromo protest singer Hachalu Hundessa has been held in his hometown of Ambo in the Oromia regional state, the BBC reports.

The event was under heavy security as a sparse crowd joined the final rites for the artist whose killing earlier this week sparked spontaneous protests in parts of the country leading to at least 80 other deaths.

Pictures on national television show the funeral procession at a stadium in the singer’s hometown of Ambo, about 100km (62miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Photos courtesy: BBC Africa LIVE page

Meanwhile there are reports of a deadly blast in the capital Addis Ababa with most people on Twitter citing local police. It will be the fourth blast in the last few days. Police confirmed three blasts during protests against Hachalu’s murder on Tuesday.

“Reports coming in of blast in Ethiopian capital Addis. Possibly hand grenade. Scores killed,” Rashid Abdi, a researcher and analyst of the Horn of Africa tweeted.

A Reuters report also said police fired in the air to prevent mourners entering the Ambo stadium for the funeral. Members of the military, federal police and regional police were out in force, and two residents said police were firing in the air to deter mourners.

A live broadcast showed sparse numbers of people seated inside. One resident said large crowds had been turned away by police.

The slain singer’s wife, Santu Demisew Diro, gave a short speech after mourners laid wreaths. “Hachalu is not dead. He will remain in my heart and the hears of millions of Oromo people forever,” she said.

“I request a monument erected in his memory in Addis where his blood was spilt,” she added. Shimelis Abdissa, President of Oromia region had earlier announced that a statue commemorating the deceased will be built in Addis Ababa.

The privately-owned Addis Standard reported that a relative dispelled talk of the family wanting him to be buried in the capital Addis Ababa.

Hundesa Bonssaa said “it was not our opinion. Why was this needed? His father, his mother and his family wanted him to be laid to rest in Ambo. To blame this on the government is not correct. This is tantamount to burying Hachalu’s truth.”

Federal and regional officials were present at the funeral including Head of Oromia’s Bureau of Agricultural and Natural Resource, who laid a wreath on behalf of the regional state.

July 1: Hachalu to be buried in Ambo, Thursday

The BBC is reporting that the burial of famed Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa will take place in the town of Ambo in the Oromia region on Thursday, July 2.

The musician was assassinated in Addis Ababa according to police in his car, federal police chief Endeshaw Tasew is quoted to have said the assailants followed him and entered his car where they shot him. It was “well organized & sophisticated.”

He stressed that the aim of the act was “plunging” the country “into chaos.” A joint task-force between Addis Ababa and federal police is handling the investigation, he added.

Hachalu, famed for his political songs critical of the government, will receive a hero’s farewell, with flags flying half-mast for five days in the region, the BBC report added.

A Reuters report said the death toll as of late Tuesday was 10 with over 80 others wounded from the protests. PM in a televised address Tuesday night called the killing of musician “an evil act.”

“This is an act committed and inspired by domestic and foreign enemies in order to destabilise our peace and to stop us from achieving things that we started,” he said.

Ethiopia federal agents arrest Jawar Mohammed, OMN Addis office closed

Meanwhile Committee for the Protection of Journalists, CPJ; and Amnesty International are calling on the government to turn on the internet on one hand and to fully investigate the assassination.

“Amnesty International is also calling for the security forces to exercise restraint when managing the ongoing protests and refrain from the use of excessive force.”

“Ethiopian authorities’ persistence of old patterns of censorship in response to crises, when the public most needs access to timely news and information, is deeply disappointing,” CPJ’s sub-Saharn Africa lead Muthoki Mumo said in a June 30 statement.

June 30: Death reported from protests

There are differing reports of deaths arising from protests across Ethiopia due to the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, the iconic Oromo artiste.

The BBC Africa LIVE page reported two deaths earlier in the day. Privately-owned Addis Standard portal reported that “At least seven people killed in Adama, Chiro as protests engulf Oromia regional state. A Reuters report put the death toll at eight.

At least eight people have been killed and 80 injured in protests in the Ethiopian town of Adam, the Reuters report said citing a doctor. Adama is about 90 km (56 miles) southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Six people died on their way to hospital and two died in intensive care, said Dr Mekonnen Feyissa, the medical director of Adama’s main hospital. The hospital received around 80 injured patients, he said. Most had been shot but some had been hit with rocks or stabbed.

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Jawar Bekele arrested in Addis Ababa

The arrest of prominent Ethiopian pro-democracy activist Jawar Mohammed has been confirmed by multiple sources from the country. His media outfit, Oromia Media Network, OMN, has also been shut down by authorities.

The arrest comes in the wake of mass protests against the shooting and killing on Monday night of a famed Oromo musician and activist in Addis Ababa.

Hachalu Hundessa, was celebrated as a symbol for the Oromo people – Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group. His songs spoke out about their political and economic marginalisation and became a rallying point for activists in their fight against Ethiopian regimes.

The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests, an analysis on the BBC Africa LIVE page added.

Jawar was reportedly arrested along with Bekele Gerba, a veteran opposition activist. The duo were arrested at the Oromo Cultural Center in Addis Ababa, where they were attending the funeral of Hachalu.

OMN outlets raided, Jawar reacts to death

Media magnate, pro-democracy activist and opposition politician, Jawar Mohammed, reacted to the killing of Haacaalu on Tuesday with a facebook post that said the Oromo nation had been attacked.

“They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !! La Aluta Continua,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, his media outfit the Oromia Media Network, OMN, reported on Tuesday that its offices in the capital Addis Ababa had been raided and staff taken away by security agents to an undisclosed location.

The notice posted in Afaan Oromo on their verified Facebook page said the premises had been taken over by state security actors.

Mourners believed to be escorting the body of the deceased to the city Ambo in Oromia were also forced to retreat. Reports say the body is currently back at the Oromo Cultural Center in Addis Ababa.

#ሰበርዜና፦ የፌዴራል ፖሊስ የOMN አዲስ አበባ ስቱዲዮ ጥሶ በመግባት ሠራተኞቹን እንዳሰረበት የቴሌቪዥን ጣቢያው በፌስቡክ ገጹ አስፍሯል። | #Breaking OMN is reporting its #AddisAbeba studio has been raided by Federal Police, employees under custody pic.twitter.com/pD7Kgk8ck0

— EthioTube (@EthioTube) June 30, 2020

Death of Oromo artist: Protests, internet outage, social media reactions

Thousands of Ethiopian youth on Tuesday accompanied the body of a famed Oromo singer and songwriter to the city of Ambo in the Oromia regional state for funeral rites and burial. His body was retrieved from the St. Paulos Hospital.

The death of artist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was widely reported on Monday evening in local media. Addis Ababa police commission confirmed the incident and said arrests had been made.

Commissioner Getu Argaw told the state broadcaster EBC, that 36-year-old Haacaaluu, was shot dead in Akaki Kality Sub City Wereda 4, Galan Condominium site.

Accompanied by thousands of youth, the body of #HachaluHundessa departed to #Ambo from St. Poulos Hospital. #Ethiopia#Oromia pic.twitter.com/Z7Nka8rI8Y

— Haimanot Ashenafi (@Haimanotwua) June 30, 2020

Protests amid calls for calm

The officer appealed for calm as did Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who posted an Amharic message on social media. Whiles expressing condolences to those affected by the loss the PM Abiy said it was necessary to remain measured and allow the police to fully investigate the incident.

“We are at a time when, by understanding the depth of the incident, we pay attention to events happening in our country. Let’s express our grievances while taking care of ourselves and preventing additional crimes,” PM Abiy said.

Songs of the deceased are said to have played a crucial role in promoting freedom and rights for his Oromo ethnic group. The popular Oromo uprising was crucial in the coming to office of Abiy in 2018.

Despite the calls for calm, a number of security watchers and journalists are reporting protests in parts of the capital Addis Ababa.

“Unrest in Addis far more serious, according to one source. Youths engage riot police in running battles in many districts. Internet shut down. Sustained gunfire reported on the Hill – where the National Palace, govt offices located,” Rashid Abdi, a regional researcher and analyst tweeted.

#BREAKING Massive protests are currently going on in Addis Ababa & other parts of Ethiopia after a well-known singer was murdered last night in Addis Ababa. Hundessa’s songs are in the Oromo language were played during the protests that led to the resignation of the former gov’t. pic.twitter.com/Hg9CCQaspX

— Mowliid Haji Abdi (@MowliidHaji) June 30, 2020

Internet outage reported

Internet access has been cut nationwide, the Access Now group has confirmed. A number of activists have also confirmed the development.

Ethiopia has in the past taken the same route of blocking the internet. One of the most recent being a year ago when the federal government reported having thwarted a coup d’etat in the northern Amhara region.

The then army chief, Seare Mekonnen, who was working to restore order was also killed with another retired general in Addis Ababa.

But PM Abiy is on record to have said, Ethiopia will cut the net as and when necessary: “For sake of national security, internet and social media could be blocked any time necessary.

“As long as it is deemed necessary to save lives and prevent property damages, the internet would be closed permanently, let alone for a week,” he told lawmakers in August 2019.

Confirmed. Complete internet shutdown and blackout in #Ethiopia. Literally zero traffic. #KeepItOn https://t.co/uYJaCmlqYV

— Berhan Taye (@btayeg) June 30, 2020

Social media reactions

“I express my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the entire country, expressing my deepest condolences on the death of the artist,” WHO DG Tedros Ghebreyesus tweeted on Tuesday morning.

በአርቲስት ሃጫሉ ሁንዴሳ ግድያ የተሰማኝን ጥልቅ ሀዘን እየገለፅኩ ለቤተሰቦቹ ፣ ለወዳጅ ዘመዶቹ እንዲሁም ለመላው አገራችን መፅናናትን እመኛለሁ፡፡ pic.twitter.com/8mSsZSGF0q

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) June 30, 2020

“This was a brother you could believe. There was the sense that he was not in it for something. That was the extraordinary thing about him. He was in it because of his commitment to our liberation.” — James Turner. That’s the #HaacaaluuHundeessaa I knew. pic.twitter.com/Fzrj1GYpY0

— Mohammed Ademo (@OPride) June 30, 2020

May his family and loved ones find comfort, hope and inner strength in this time of great pain and difficulty. May justice, peace, freedom and sustainable life return to our country.

— Obang Metho (@ObangMetho) June 30, 2020

Last night we didn’t only lose #HaacaaluuHundeessaa, a husband, a father of 3, a son, & a brother; we lost the #Oromo nation’s institution of conscience; a star, who, through his music, was the melodic company of the struggles, dreams & hopes we continued to live through. R.I.P✊? pic.twitter.com/tsn1mI6FXV

— Tsedale Lemma (@TsedaleLemma) June 30, 2020

My deepest condolences to the people of Ethiopia on the shocking murder of Hachalu Hundessa, one of the finest musicians of his generation.

His music, protest lyrics united and galvanised the whole nation, let not his death sow division.

Rest in Peace Legend ! pic.twitter.com/q1SwIe1u6C

— Rashid Abdi (@RAbdiCG) June 30, 2020

Hachalu_Hundessa, a young, energetic superstar artist & brilliant songwriter whose songs of resistance gave wide currency to popular youth movement aka QEERROO, was shot dead tonight in Finfinnee/Addis Ababa, #Ethiopia. His death promptly triggered nationwide protest in Oromiya. pic.twitter.com/iMFvxf4NCa

— Leta T. Bayissa (Letabayissa) June 30, 2020

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