By Elias Meseret, DireTube Correspondent
(DireTube News. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) - Violent clashes between security forces and student protesters has entered into its fourth week in Ethiopia. The two sides began the confrontation, which opposition figures say has caused the death of more than 40 people so far, after Oromo students in various parts of the country began protesting against the government’s new master plan for Addis Ababa which they call will incorporate lands into the capital city and displace thousands of Oromo farmers.
“In addition to the controversy surrounding the planned Addis Ababa master plan, I think the government’s repressive nature is also the main cause for the latest student protests. For me, this is an expression of the youth’s frustration with the government,” Merara Gudina, a prominent opposition figure told DireTube.
However, the government alleges that no land will be acceded from the Oromia Region to the capital and police has called the organizers of the protests ‘anti- peace forces.’ Officials said the key pillars of the project are aimed at bringing structural change to the city and make it integrated and shared with its surrounding towns.
Speaking with local media representatives on Wednesday, Getachew Reda of the Government Communications Affairs office said the protests over the planned Addis Ababa Master Plan is now changing its course.
“The attempt of anarchists to confiscate arms from government security forces in some areas has claimed lives,” Getachew said adding that this act is indicative of the fact that the issue with those people has nothing to do with the master plan. He has went to blame organizations like Ginbot 7, OLF, the Oromo Federalist Congress as well as the Eritrean regime for the ensuing chaos.
Rights groups on this part have continued to draw alarm to the ongoing clashes.
Felix Horne, Human Right Watch’s Researcher, said the Ethiopian government should ensure that the use of excessive force by its security personnel stops immediately. “This would be the best way for the Ethiopian government to show its concern about the deaths and injuries inflicted on the students,” Horne said.
In the same manner, Amnesty International said on Dec. 16 that protesters have been labelled ‘terrorists’ by Ethiopian authorities in an attempt to violently suppress protests against potential land seizures.
“A statement issued by state intelligence services today claims that the Oromia protesters were planning to ‘destabilize the country’ and that some of them have a ‘direct link’ with a group that has been collaborating with other proven terrorist parties,” Amnesty said in its statement on Wednesday. “Instead of condemning the unlawful killings by the security forces, which have seen the deaths of more than 40 people in the last three weeks, this statement in effect authorizes excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”
The Oromo Studies Association, based in the US, has stressed that protesting students were met by heavily armed and equipped special Ethiopian police force units who fire into the crowds with deadly impact.
“The Master Plan is unconstitutional,” a statement the Association issued on December 9 reads adding that it fully support the rights of the students who initiated the protests and the rights of those who have now joined them in massive numbers. “The plan has the direct effect of forcible transfer, displacement, dislocation and dispossession of the Oromo population from the area in which they are historically indigenous.”
In April and May 2014, Oromo students’ protest against the Master Plan was also met with force and a number of students were also killed.
Dire Tube News
Image: Students on protest in Oromia. (google).
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