Protests in Ethiopia over the murder of a popular Oromo singer leave 156 deaths

Protests in Ethiopia over the murder of a popular Oromo singer leave 156 deaths

© REUTERS / Simon Dawson
People gather to protest the treatment of the Oromo ethnic group from Ethiopia, outside Downing Street in London, UK, on ​​July 3, 2020.

Ethiopian pop star Hachalu Hundessa, 34, whose political songs gave voice to the Oromo’s former sense of marginalization, was shot dead on Monday, sparking ethnic tensions in the country. According to the authorities report, 167 people suffered “serious injuries” and more than 1,000 have been arrested.

A murder that threatens to spoil the country’s democratic transition. In the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and in the Oromia region that surrounds the city, angry protesters have been filling the streets for almost a week to protest against the death of singer Hachalu Hundessa, who became known as the “soundtrack of the Oroma revolution. ”

Police figures show that 156 people have died during the protests. “Following Hachalu’s death, 145 civilians and 11 security officers have lost their lives in the region’s unrest,” Oromia Police Deputy Commissioner Girma Gelam said in remarks to the Fana Broadcasting Corporate television channel.

In addition, the security forces also register 167 people “seriously injured” and arrested more than 1,000 protesters. However, protests by supporters of the singer do not stop, reflecting a new malaise of the Oromos, the majority ethnic group in Ethiopia.

Hachalu, very popular for his songs protesting in defense of the Oromo ethnic group, was shot several times in the Akaki Kality neighborhood, in the Ethiopian capital, and died in hospital moments later.

The situation worsened this Thursday when Oromo activists, who were expecting to see Hachalu buried in Addis Ababa, from where they feel they have been displaced, learned that the singer would be buried in Ambo, a city in central Ethiopia.

Milkessa Beyene, an Ambo spokesman, said Hachalu’s body had arrived in the city, but “a group of young men who wanted the funeral in Addis Ababa to be held clashed with the security forces, causing riots.”

Why do the omoro feel marginalized?

The majority Oromo ethnicity carries an ancient sense of political exclusion and oppression at the hands of smaller ethnic groups.

In fact, the lyrics of Hachalu’s songs played an important role in the country’s political transition, which in 2018 resulted in the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the first Oromo to take office.

His rise to the top of the government not only ended decades in which the multi-ethnic ruling coalition was dominated by leaders of the Tigray minority, but also earned him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

Abiy expressed his condolences on the passing of “this amazing and brilliant artist”, but also stated that both the murder and the violence in the protests are a plan to “ignite civil war and community violence and impede our journey towards peace, democracy and prosperity in general. ”

The protests have questioned his administration, when the president seeks a new victory in the elections that should have been held this year, but which have been postponed by the coronavirus.

With EFE and AFP


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