Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Newsmakers covers the Oromo Protests  and resistances of discrimination and marginalisation 

(Advocacy for Oromia) By many measures, Ethiopia is an African success story, with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. But behind the economic boom is growing political and social unrest.

This picture of the Ethiopian marathon runner, Fiyesa Lilesa, at the Rio Olympics helped to draw global attention to plight of Ethiopia’s Oromo people.

The country’s biggest ethnic group says it has long faced discrimination and marginalisation at the hands of the ruling elite. Lilesa’s crossed wrists are the symbol of the Oromo protest movement, which has been growing for the last ten months.

And the government’s response has been increasingly violent – with reports of hundreds killed and thousands arrested.

Yvette McCullough reports.

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Wife of Olympic protester: ‘Scared but not surprised by protest’

(Advocacy for Oromai, 26 August 2016) The family of the Ethiopian runner who is planning to seek asylum in the US after staging a protest at the Olympic Games in Rio has been speaking to the Reuters news agency from their home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

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Feyisa Lelisa’s wife and daughter sit on a sofa at their home (Reuters

Feyisa Lelisa’s wife Iftu Mulisa spoke about how she felt when her husband crossed his arms at the finish line in solidarity with protesters from the Oromo ethnic group:

I was very scared at the time but I wasn’t surprised because I know him. He was burning inside when he sees on social media all these dead bodies… people being beaten and people being arrested. So I was not surprised because I know he had a lot of anger inside.”

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SOKO FEYISA speaks to the camera from inside the family home (Reuters)

His daughter Soko Feyisa had a brief message for her father, currently in Rio while lawyers prepare his US asylum request:

Baba I miss you, where are you?”

Soko Feyisa, daughter
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Biritu Fulasa (Reuters)

And his mother Biritu Fulasa cast doubt on the government’s assertion that her son would be treated as a hero if he returned to Ethiopia:

Do you really believe what the government is saying? I don’t believe so. He should stay there. I would have liked him to come but what can I do? I was crying too much the other day but now I am feeling better. I want him to stay there.”

What is behind Ethiopia’s wave of protests?

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world/africa/live

Crossed Arms Over Head: a symbol of solidarity that fuels Oromo freedom

By Jitu Dh

(Advocacy4Oromia, 22 August 2016) The one main thing I’ve taken from Feyisa Lelisa’s act of defiance is that at times of adversity, there are always going to be people who will arouse hope, there are always going to be people who enable us to envision a world where we can live freely without fear of prosecution, torture, rape, being silenced, institutionalised discrimination, murder and so on. His symbol of solidarity with his people adds fuel to our pre-existing need and want for, in simpler terms, freedom.

Fayyisaa Leellisaa 234

I mean, I understand that this doesn’t mean freedom is here because the struggle continues. There are more protests, and undeniably more crackdowns. But it does mean that not only is there a wider audience becoming aware of the plight of the diaspora but also lets the Oromo people know that there are people like Feyisa who use their platforms as means to project the demands and the cries of the Oromo.

He showed to the world, to the Ethiopian government that quickly attempted to silence him by shutting down the live program, and to the Oromo people who are facing the consequences of an oppressive system that the Oromo struggle is not one that will be forgotten. He showed that the Oromo cries are not unheard and that there will always be people there to project their demands when there are forces trying to silence them.

If we keep using whatever platform we have, whether be it on social media or connections with government officials, schools, television networks, popular media and/or news outlets, and raise more and more awareness to create a national uproar and outcry, a world of self-governance and a future where we can freely live on our land, speak our tongue and wave our flag with pride without fear and prosecution won’t be far away.

This is why we cannot let Feyisa become a one off, we can’t let him blow over. He has become relevant, a martyr to the plight of the diaspora. He can create a chain of reactions where we can all use our platforms, on and offline to ensure a just and prosperous future.

Feyisa Lelissa is afraid his government might kill him after Olympic protest

Feyisa Lelissa personified bravery.

ETHIOPIA’S Feyisa Lelisa marked his silver medal in the Olympic Games men’s marathon on Sunday by staging a dramatic protest against his country’s government, claiming his life could be in peril.
Lilesa, who was second to Kenyan favourite Eliud Kipchoge, crossed his arms above his head in an “X” as he finished the gruelling event as a protest against the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on political dissent.
“I have relatives in prison back home,” he said.
“If you talk about democracy they kill you. If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me, or put me in prison.
“It is very dangerous in my country. Maybe I have to go to another country. I was protesting for people everywhere who have no freedom.”
Human rights groups say that Ethiopian security forces have killed scores of people in recent weeks as authorities crack down on a wave of anti-government unrest in two key regions, central-western Oromia and Amhara in the north.
BBC World TV presenter Piers Edwards called the protest an “extraordinary moment”, while the Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff said on Twitter it was “the bravest act of the 2016 Olympics”. Plenty of others took to social media to praise the Ethiopian.
Follow
Piers Edwards ✔ @piers_e
Extraordinary moment. Feyisa Lilesa: “If not kill me, they will put me in prison. Maybe I will move country” #ETH http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37150673
8:22 AM – 22 Aug 2016
14 14 Retweets 8 8 likes
Follow
Kevin Sieff ✔ @ksieff
This is the equivalent of the 1968 Black Power salute in Mexico City, but riskier. If he returns to Ethiopia, Lilesa could be jailed.
2:56 AM – 22 Aug 2016
329 329 Retweets 197 197 likes
9h
Mohammed Ademo ✔ @OPride
His name will be mentioned next to historied US athletes Tommie Smith & John Carlos who displayed the Black Power Salute at the 968 Olympics
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Mohammed Ademo ✔ @OPride
#FeyisaLilesa used the biggest stage of his life to express a muzzled generational cry for freedom. He spoke without words. #courage
5:45 AM – 22 Aug 2016
88 88 Retweets 71 71 likes
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
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Zecharias Zelalem @ZekuZelalem
Staunchly defiant to the end. Feyisa Lilesa at the #Rio2016 press conference, explaining his #OromoProtests gesture.
2:39 AM – 22 Aug 2016
41 41 Retweets 39 39 likes
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
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Solome @Solitti
Feyisa Lilesa just made the biggest sacrifice by showing the sign of resistance. Our Hero. #OromoProtests
1:24 AM – 22 Aug 2016 · Takoma Park, MD, United States
177 177 Retweets 159 159 likes
Follow
Selamawit Adugna @selseladu
Someone hug Feyisa Lilesa for me. Who took #OromoProtests #EthiopiaProtests to Rio? #Rio2016 #mensmarathon
12:48 AM – 22 Aug 2016
8 8 Retweets 16 16 likes
14h
Fisseha Tegegn @total_433
A fantastic SILVER medal for Feyisa Lilesa of #Ethiopia. The Ethiopian finishes in second place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. #Rio2016 #ETH
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Fisseha Tegegn @total_433
Feyisa Lilesa has celebrated his silver medal by showing the resistance sign. RESPECT!!! #Rio2016
12:42 AM – 22 Aug 2016
40 40 Retweets 62 62 likes
Lilesa finished the marathon in a time of two hours, nine minutes and 54 seconds, but after the race, had no interest in talking about his sensational performance.
The 26-year-old is Oromo, making him part of the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. Protests have broken out in recent months over the government’s plan to expand the capital of Addis Ababa and reallocate land in Oromo, which would displace much of the population.

“The Ethiopian government is killing the Oromo people and taking their land and resources so the Oromo people are protesting and I support the protest as I am Oromo,” Lilesa told the press.
“Oromo is my tribe … Oromo people now protest what is right, for peace, for a place.
“In the last nine months, more than 1,000 people died.
“And others charged with treason. It’s a very dangerous situation among Oromo people in Ethiopia.”
According to the Washington Post, Ethiopia’s state broadcaster did not air footage of Lilesa finishing the marathon.

Source: http://www.news.com.au/sport/olympics/feyisa-lilesa-is-afraid-his-government-might-kill-him-after-olympic-protest/news-story/5696534bd8a05ca66ef0ea740ee54100

Oromo marathoner makes political protest at finish line

(Advocacy4Oromia) With the eyes of the world upon him, Oromo marathoner Feyisa Lilesa used the stage of Sunday’s Olympic marathon to daringly protest his own government back home.

Lalisa

As he neared the finish line and a silver medal, Lilesa raised his arms to form an “X.” The gesture is a peaceful protest made by the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and one that is facing a brutal response to widespread protests that began late last year.

Human Rights Watch estimated in June that 400 people have been killed and thousands more injured as the government attempted to stop the estimated 500 protests that the Oromo people staged to draw attention to systemic persecution by the government.

Lilesa is from Oromia, which is home to a large majority of the country’s 35 million Oromo. He didn’t back down from the protest after the race either, flashing the sign for cameras at a press conference and pledging to do it again during Sunday night’s closing ceremony.

Rule 50 of the Olympic charter bans political displays or protests, and the American duo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos was famously suspended by the USOC after the pair flashed the black power salute on the medal stand at the 1968 Summer Games.

Lilesa, however, has bigger things to worry about than the IOC response as such dissent puts his life in real danger if he returns to Ethiopia. He told reporters afterward that he would seek a visa to stay in Brazil or possibly come to the United States. He also said that his wife and two children are still back in Ethiopia.

Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ethiopian-marathoner-makes-political-protest-at-finish-line-170100498.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=fb

OLF is the immune system of the Oromo nations

Nobody has right to tell us about peace because we Oromo people are nation of peace, nation of democratic rule, nation of justice and equality. We are always against all injustices and we are ready to defend all kinds of violations.Nobody has right to tell us about generosity, because we are nation of love. We have helped and supporting innocent nations of Amhara’s, tiger’s when they come to our country to collect coffee or to work in the agriculture sector, we have treating them when they were sick, we have respected them as equal human being despite their social status, we are loving them us our families not as strangers.

Nobody has right to tell us about patriotism because we have nation of heroes, for century long there is no Ethiopian colonial rule survive without the patriotic act of Oromo sons and daughters.  But our price was humiliation and death  “when it comes to power and money Oromo’s are the last to touch the desk and when it comes to the human-right and equality Oromo’s are the first to be victim of the system”.

Now, when we say it is enough and it is time to build my country Oromia and regain my right as human being, individuals or groups with colonial system and mind have to setback and respect the demand of oppressed nations.  Refusing this fact and try to create all kinds of analysis, tactics and strategies will leads the Ethiopian Empire, horn of Africa and world in general to the hell of 21st century.

Source: OLF is the immune system of the Oromo nations

Press briefing notes on Ethiopia and Thailand

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Ravina-Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Date:  19 August 2016                         

(1) Ethiopia

Given the extremely alarming reports that emerged earlier this month about serious human rights violations in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, the High Commissioner reached out to the Ethiopian Government, seeking access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation. We have now received a reply from the Government, indicating that they will launch an independent investigation into the events.

We welcome the decision to launch an independent investigation, and we urge the Government to ensure that the investigation has a mandate to cover allegations of human rights violations since the unrest in Oromia began in November 2015, that it is indeed independent, transparent, thorough and effective, with a view to establishing whether the use of excessive force occurred and with a view to bringing to justice the perpetrators of any human rights violations.

We stand ready to assist in ensuring that the investigation is undertaken in line with international human rights standards. We also reiterate our request for access to the affected areas, as the situation on the ground makes it very challenging for independent civil society actors to operate, particularly given the tense situation in parts of the Oromia and Amhara regions, where a large security presence has reportedly been deployed, and there are reports of ongoing arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of people in the regions.

We call on the Government to ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are protected and that those detained for exercising these rights are promptly released. Protests must be handled by security forces with full respect for international human rights laws and standards on the use of force.

We also call on the Government to work towards opening up the political and democratic space. This should include a comprehensive reform of the security sector, as well as legislative and institutional reforms.

(2) Thailand

We are very concerned about the continued, mounting constraints on the democratic space in Thailand, and call for a prompt return to civilian rule. Following the military coup in May 2014, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and opinion and assembly have been in place through the use of criminal and military laws and orders. Leading up to this month’s Constitutional Referendum, these measures actually increased. Overall, at least 1,300 people have been summoned, arrested or charged, and 1,629 civilians have been tried before the military courts.

Since June, at least 115 people have been arrested or charged under military orders, criminal codes and the Constitution Referendum Act for expressing their opinion on the draft constitution or reporting human rights violations, including torture. Twelve individuals arrested in Chiang Mai Province in late July and a student activist who was arrested on 6 August remain in detention. The remaining have been released, but remain under investigation or have been charged.

We urge Thailand to immediately drop all charges against political activists and human rights defenders, and to release those jailed for voicing dissent on the draft charter in the run-up to the referendum. We also call on the authorities to suspend the use of military courts and military orders in cases involving civilians. These measures are now urgently needed as Thailand moves towards an election in 2017 aimed at restoring democracy, as proposed in the military government’s roadmap.

The election next year represents an opportunity for Thailand to meet the commitment it made at the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in May 2016 to fully respect the freedom of expression, and therefore guarantee a more inclusive and participatory process that involves all political parties, civil society and the media in an open and non-threatening environment.

ENDS

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Reiterating the Oromo political Questions and Ultimate objectives of the Oromo struggle

The OLF press release

Today, the Oromo people is more aware and struggles for its rights more than any time in the history of the Liberation movement. This bitter and widespread struggle has shaken the TPLF regime from its base. The OLF – Qeerroo members have made huge sacrifices to arrive at this promising stage of the Oromo liberation movement.
The efforts to coordinate few “known” individual elites and Oromo organisations advocating for mere political reforms, making allies and re-allying will never be a solution for a century and half long political crises in Ethiopia but put the east Africa in another political crises. The OLF believe that this idea of coordinating from foreign is repeating the 1991 political game played on Oromo struggle. The Oromo political and economic rights can never be solved by external body and by those individuals who want to fulfill their power ambitions.
The Oromo problem is a fundamental political, economic and social issue that the Oromo people have realized decades ago and sacrificed their lives, properties and livelihood. Nobody can deny that the Oromo people shall gain its self- determination right not by external forces but by its united voice and coordinated struggle under the vanguard the OLF- Qeerroo movement.

Source: Reiterating the Oromo political Questions and Ultimate objectives of the Oromo struggle

Oromo protests: Why US must stop enabling Ethiopia

Awol K. Allo, Special to CNN*

Awol K. Allo is LSE Fellow in Human Rights at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights. He writes on the issues behind several months of protests by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromos. Around 100 people died following clashes with security forces and demonstrators at the weekend, according to Amnesty International.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

London (CNN)Ethiopia is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude, yet its government and Western enablers refuse to acknowledge and recognize the depth of the crisis.

The nationwide protest held on Saturday by the Oromo people, the single largest ethnic group both in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, is clear evidence of a crisis that is threatening to degenerate into a full-scale social explosion.
The protests are the most unprecedented and absolutely extraordinary display of defiance by the Oromo people and it is by far the most significant political developments in the country since the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the strongman who ruled the country for over two decades.
The protests took place in more than 200 towns and villages across Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, and were attended by hundreds of thousands of people. According to Oromia media Network, security forces used live bullets against peaceful protestors, killing over 100 protestors.

Annexation

Oromos have been staging protest rallies across the country since April of 2014 against systematic marginalization and persecution of ethnic Oromos. The immediate trigger of the protest was a development plan that sought to expand the territorial limits of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, into neighbouring Oromo villages and towns.

Dr. Awol Allo

Oromos saw the proposed master plan as a blueprint for annexation which would further accelerate the eviction of Oromo farmers from their ancestral lands.
When the protest resumed in November of 2015, the government dismissed the protestors as anti-peace elements and accused them of acting in unison with terrorist groups — a common tactic used by the government to crackdown on dissent and opposition.
The government used overwhelming force to crush the protest, killing hundreds of protestors and arresting thousands. In its recent report titled “Such a Brutal Crack Down”, Human Rights Watch criticized the “excessive and lethal force” used by security forces against “largely peaceful protestors” and puts the number of deaths at over 400.
The figure from the activist group is considerably higher.

Historic Injustices

The Oromo make up well over a third of Ethiopia’s 100 million people. Historically, Oromos have been pushed to the margin of the country’s political and social life and rendered unworthy of respect and consideration.
Oromo culture and language have been banned and their identity stigmatized, becoming invisible and unnoticeable within mainstream perspectives.

Ethiopians from Oromo group marching a road after protesters were shot dead by security forces in Wolenkomi, Addis Ababa, December 15, 2015

Oromos saw themselves as parts of no part — those who belong to the country but have no say in it, those who can speak but whose voices are heard as a noise, not a discourse.
When the current government came into power a quarter of a century ago, it pursued a strategy of divide and rule in which the Oromos and Amharas, the two largest ethnic groups in the country, are presented as eternal adversaries.
Oromos are blamed as secessionists to justify the continued monitoring, control, and policing of Oromo intellectuals, politicians, artists and activists.
By depicting Oromo demands for equal representation and autonomy as extremist and exclusionary, it tried to drive a wedge between them and other ethnic groups, particularly the Amharas.
This allowed the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and Tigrayan elites to present themselves as the only political movement in the country that could provide the stability and continuity sought by regional and global powers with vested interest in the region.
Although these protests are triggered by more recent events, they are microcosms [of] a more enduring and deeper crisis of political representation and systematic marginalization suffered by the Oromo people.
In its 2015 comprehensive country report titled “Because I am Oromo”, Amnesty International found evidence of systematic and widespread patterns of indiscriminate and disproportionate attack against the Oromo simply because they are Oromos.

US Influence

The United States see the Ethiopian government as a critical partner on the Global War on Terror.
This led administration officials to go out of their way to create fantasy stories which cast Ethiopia as democratic and its leaders as progressive. In 2012, then US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, described Meles Zenawi, the architect of the current system, as “uncommonly wise” and someone “able to see the big picture and the long game, even when others would allow immediate pressures to overwhelm sound judgment.”
In 2015, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman praised Ethiopia as “a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair, credible, open and inclusive.” She further added, “”Every time there is an election, it gets better and better.” That election ended with the ruling party winning 100% of the seats in parliament by wiping out the one opposition in the previous parliament.
In 2016, President Obama became the first sitting American president to visit Ethiopia amid widespread opposition by human rights groups. Obama doubled down on previous endorsements by administration officials by describing the government as ‘democratically-elected.”

A police state

However, consistent reports by the US government itself and other human rights organizations depict an image of a police state whose apparatus of surveillance and control permeates the entire society down to household levels.
The US led ‘war on terror’, started by President George Bush, provided the government with a political and legal instrument with which the government justified severe restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
The 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, one of the most draconian pieces of anti-terrorism legislations in the world, enabled the government to stretch its power of prosecution and punishment beyond what is permissible under standard criminal and constitutional law rules.
In recent years, terrorism trials have become the most significant legal instrument frequently used by the authorities to secure and consolidate the prevailing relationship of power between the ruling ethnic Tigrayan elites and other ethnic groups in the country.
Under the pretext of ‘fighting terrorism’, the regime exiled, prosecuted and convicted several opposition leaders, community leaders, journalists, bloggers, and activists; paralyzing criticisms of any type.
In its 2015 report titled Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent, the Oakland Institute details the ways in which Ethiopian authorities systematically appropriate the anti-terrorism law to annihilate dissent and opposition to the policies of the ruling party.

Denial

As of July, the protests have been spreading into the Amhara region, home to the second largest ethnic group in the country.
The Amharas and Oromos, which constitute well over two-third of the country’s population, are seen as ‘historical antagonists’. The ruling party transformed this antagonism between the two ethnic groups into a productive political tool.
According to the governing narrative, Oromos are narrow-minded and exclusionary people who seek to disintegrate Ethiopia into smaller republics while Amharas are chauvinists who seek to restore the old feudal order, leaving the ruling party as the only political force that can rescue Ethiopia from both threats.
These governing narratives are being exposed as the two groups begun to see how these narratives were crafted and are expressing solidarity towards each other as victims of the same system.
The Ethiopian government is in denial and making the same promises of restoring ‘law and order’ through further repression and crackdown.
However, this can only exacerbate the situation and throws the country into chaos in an already volatile region.

Grand Oromo rally crackdown exposes Ethiopia’s deceptive-democratic process

(Advocacy for Oromia, 9 August 2016)  At least 150 people were killed in Oromia and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia; over 10,000 people were arrested in Oromia after police cracked down on the grand Oromo rally calling for freedom, justice and equality.

13876155_1667550590234168_1743565534769357291_nReports we are receiving form various direction indicate that more than 150 Oromo protesters have been killed by Ethiopians security and military forces in Oromia following massive anti-government protests over the weekend.

The challenge to receive accurate and timely information is still unresolved as the government entirely shut down internet connections throughout the country.

The regime also determined to continue jamming and blocking any media out let that providing information for the general public.

Reports from Oromia indicate that Oromo Voice Radio (OVR), VOA, Deutsche Welle Amharic service have been jammed since Yesterday, 8 August 2016.

Several tips from individuals indicates death tolls were high in east Hararge, Awaday, West Hararge, Qobbo, Hirna,West Arsi (in Assasa, Adaba, Shashemene and Kofele cities), West Shewa in the city of Waliso, Ambo and Ginchi town, West Wellega, Mendi, Qilxu Karra, and east Wolega, Naqamte in Oromia.

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This is martyred Mammush Birhanu who was killed by Agazi forces in south west Shawa Waliso 6 August 2026.

Accordingly more than 150 individuals identified who were believed to have been shot dead by security forces on Saturday alone.

Hundreds of protesters have also sustained gunshot wounds and denied medical treatment; hundreds detained by security forces while several people have disappeared without a trace.

According to eyewitness accounts, Oromo protesters were beaten with batons and sticks by security forces and then dragged into trucks.

More than 500 people were arrested from Finfinne and taken to unknown concentration camps where family and legal advisers are unable to reach.

Witness from Finfinnee- a city originally belonging to the Oromo, named as Falmata Oromia for the security reasons says Agazi police have quickly, and brutally dispersed protesters on 6 August 2016.

“They brutally beat us for no reason . . . . I was hit about 20 times. They hit me with batons and black plastic sticks and with their hands. Someone slapped me many times on the back of my head. Even now, my left ear hurts. I was hit in the head with a black baton. On 6 August 2016, the Grand Oromo Rally the Agazi police have sealed roads leading up to Mesqel Square where we-(Oromo online activists) called for the grand protests to happen.”

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Michelle Kagari, condemned the police response to the protests as disproportionate, arguing that “the security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices.”

Th Addis Ababa’s protesters photos and videos seen by Amnesty International show police beating protesters with batons at Meskel Square, the capital’s main public space.

In Oromia and Amhara, hundreds were arrested and are being held at unofficial detention centres, including police and military training bases.

“We are extremely concerned that the use of unofficial detention facilities may expose victims to further human rights violations including torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” said Michelle Kagari.

“All those arrested during the protests must be immediately and unconditionally released as they are unjustly being held for exercising their right to freedom of opinion.”

Unrest flared in Oromia for several months until early this year over plans to allocate farmland surrounding the regional capital for development. Authorities scrapped the scheme in January, but protests flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.