Protesters rally to end ‘genocide’ in Oromia
A crowd of supporters of the Oromo people in Ethiopia staged a loud protest in front of the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse at Sixth and Broadway near noon Wednesday, saying the government is killing farmers and displacing them from their land to expand the capital city of Addis Ababa.
They also said students and others who are peacefully demonstrating against government policies are being imprisoned, tortured and killed.
Oromia is a regional state in the vicinity of the capital, and protesters said most of the people at the rally were either refugees from the killings, immigrants from Oromia or in the U.S. as students, with many living in the vicinity of the former Americana Apartments in south Louisville.
Men, women and children shouted for “justice” and held banners and signs calling for “Justice and Freedom for the Oromo People” and “Justice for Massacred Oromo Students” and condemning “state terrorism.”
“We’re here to demand that the American government stop supporting the Ethiopian government,” Fanta Ketu, an organizer from Columbus, Ohio, said. When farmers’ land is seized, “they don’t give them anything,” Ketu said.
Amnesty International reported in October 2014 that “Thousands of members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, are being ruthlessly targeted by the state based solely on their perceived opposition to the government.
The report “exposes how Oromos have been regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent,” according to Amnesty International.
At the Louisville rally, Waago Chaama wore a red T-shirt reading: “In Holy Memory of My Fallen Oromo Heroes.” He said he “stands in solidarity” with those in his native country.
The Oromo people makeup about a third of the population but protester Abdala Ali said they don’t have any representation in the government. Protesters have talked to representatives of U. S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office in the federal building, he said.
Andrew Condia of McConnell’s office said he and others were aware of Wednesday’s protest and that he would supply a comment to The Courier-Journal, after checking with Washington staff members.
“We need the U.S.A. to help us,” Ali said. “We need the world to hear.”