Uncategorized

Top international news reported that At least 140 killed in Ethiopia protests

 

Ethiopian security forces have killed at least 140 people taking part in mass anti-government demonstrations since November, activists say, according to US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The protests have been sparked by fears that a plan to expand the capital’s administrative control into the Oromia region will displace Oromo farmers.

HRW also called for the release of an Oromo politician arrested last month.

The government has accused Oromo protesters of links with terror groups.

Last month, officials said five people and an undisclosed number of security personnel had died in the protests.

Prominent Oromo intellectuals “who they feel have influence over the population” have also been targeted by the government, HRW researcher Felix Horne said in a statement.

Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested on 23 December, HRW said.

“He was first taken to the notorious Maekalawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment are routine,” it said.

“The 54-year-old foreign language professor was reportedly hospitalised shortly after his arrest but his whereabouts are now unknown, raising concerns of an enforced disappearance.”

The OFC is Oromia’s largest legally registered political party, but holds no seats in parliament, the rights group said.

Two journalists were also arrested in December – it is not clear on what charges but the country criminalises any reporting considered by the authorities to be an encouragement to terrorism.

Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa.

The government says other views are being taken into consideration for the “master plan” to integrate parts of Oromia into Addis Ababa.

BBC Africa correspondent Alistair Leithhead says demonstrations are rare in Ethiopia and the current Oromo anger over urban planning is an expression of much older complaints over a lack of political and economic inclusion.

At the last census in 2007, the Oromo made up Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, at about 25 million people out of a population at the time of nearly 74 million.

VOA: Rights Group: 140 Dead in Ethiopia’s Oromo Protests

A rights organization says at least 140 people in Ethiopia’s Oromo state have been killed by security forces during anti-government protests, far beyond what the government has confirmed.

Human Rights Watch said Friday that Ethiopian sources killed at least 140 people and wounded many more in what the group says “may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence.” The rights group’s new estimate is nearly twice the death toll it estimated last month.

The government has only confirmed five deaths since the protests began in November.

Human Rights Watch spokesman Felix Horne said Friday that Ethiopian forces are treating demonstrators and opposition politicians “with an iron fist,” closing off ways that the protesters can express their grievances nonviolently. He called the development “a dangerous trajectory that could put Ethiopia’s long-term stability at risk.”

The protesters have been demonstrating over plans by the government to develop farmland outside the capital, Addis Ababa, into a new business zone. The deaths are attributed to clashes with security forces.

The protesters say the government plan will lead to a loss of autonomy and marginalization for Oromo people living on the outskirts of the capital.

The government argues the plan to develop the farmland will bring new business and will benefit all groups.

Opposition groups say the protesters are mostly students and farmers of the Oromo ethnic group, while the government describes them as “extremist Oromo groups” and “armed gangs.”

Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, comprising about 40 percent of the country’s population.

Forbes: 140 Dead In Ethiopia Land Dispute: The Problem With Government Ownership Of Land

http://www.forbes.com

Reports from Ethiopia that up to 140 Oromo protestors have been killed by security forces during protests over the expansion of the capital city, Addis Ababa, onto farmland. The underlying cause of this is the country’s very strange policy of insisting that all land belongs to the government: essentially a feudal method of land management. If land were privately owned there simply would not be this problem, would not be these protests and of course would not have been these deaths. Who owns what and how they may dispose of it goes to the very heart of the most basic economic and public policy questions. And one of the things we’ve learnt over the centuries is that private ownership of these things, with the freedom of the owner to keep, lease or sell as they wish, is the foundation of both a wealthy and a peaceful society.

One report:

A rights organization says at least 140 people in Ethiopia’s Oromo state have been killed by security forces during anti-government protests, far beyond what the government has confirmed.

Human Rights Watch said Friday that Ethiopian sources killed at least 140 people and wounded many more in what the group says “may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence.” The rights group’s new estimate is nearly twice the death toll it estimated last month.

The cause?

The protests began in November when students opposed government proposals to take over territory in several towns in the Oromia region, sparking fears that Addis Ababa was looking to grab land traditionally occupied by the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group.
“Over the past eight weeks, Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa,” Horne said.
“The generally peaceful protests were sparked by fears the expansion will displace ethnic Oromo farmers from their land, the latest in a long list of Oromo grievances against the government.”

And the real underlying problem is that those farmers do not in fact own their land. Nor do they rent or lease it from a private sector landlord. Instead, the Ethiopian constitution has this to say about land ownership:

Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.

If politics is the only way of deciding land use then of course decisions about land use will become political questions. And we might observe that current Ethiopian politics is not quite as free, democratic and liberal as we might wish. That is, political questions are not being solved in quite as democratic or liberal a fashion as most might desire.

And that of course it what leads to the protests and the deaths. Simply because land is not privately owned.

Think of what would happen if the land were privately owned: whether by the farmers themselves or by landlords they rented from. If more people wanted to live in Addis, or people wished to build factories near or by the town, then those who wished to do so would have to purchase lots of land from the current owners. The price paid for those lots would have to be high enough that it was a voluntary transaction. And when there are voluntary transactions then people don’t protest about them: nor do security forces then kill protesters.

Yahoo news: Ethiopian forces ‘kill 140’ in land row over Addis Ababa expansion

http://news.yahoo.com/

Nairobi (AFP) – At least 140 people have been killed in Ethiopia over the past two months in a crackdown on anti-government protests sparked by plans to expand the capital into farmland, Human Rights Watch said Friday.

“Security forces have killed at least 140 protesters and injured many more, according to activists, in what may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence,” HRW’s Felix Horne said.

The number reported by HRW is almost double the previous toll of 75 the group gave last month.

There was no immediate response from the Ethiopian government, which has previously put the death toll at five.

The protests began in November when students opposed government proposals to take over territory in several towns in the Oromia region, sparking fears that Addis Ababa was looking to grab land traditionally occupied by the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group.

“Over the past eight weeks, Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa,” Horne said.

“The generally peaceful protests were sparked by fears the expansion will displace ethnic Oromo farmers from their land, the latest in a long list of Oromo grievances against the government.”

– Leaders and journalists arrested –

On December 23, police arrested Bekele Gerba, 54, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party. Bekele was previously convicted in 2011 of being a member of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), spending four years in jail.

Bekele, a foreign language professor, “was reportedly hospitalized shortly after his arrest but his whereabouts are now unknown,” HRW added. “Other senior OFC leaders have been arbitrarily arrested in recent weeks or are said to be under virtual house arrest.”

The United States, a key ally of Ethiopia, last month expressed “grave concern” over the unrest. Washington has also criticised Ethiopia’s arrest of journalists following the crackdown.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) say Fikadu Mirkana, from state-run broadcaster Oromia Radio and TV, and Getachew Shiferaw, editor of the Negere Ethiopia online newspaper, were arrested last month.

“By treating both opposition politicians and peaceful protesters with an iron fist, the government is closing off ways for Ethiopians to nonviolently express legitimate grievances,” Horne said.

“This is a dangerous trajectory that could put Ethiopia’s long-term stability at risk,” he warned.

With at least 27 million people, Oromia is the most populous of the country’s federal states and has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Ethiopia’s official Amharic language.

HRW has said the protests — and bloody crackdown — echoed protests in April and May 2014 in Oromia, when police were accused of opening fire and killing “dozens” of protestors. The government said eight people died in the 2014 unrest.

Some 200 people were killed during post-election violence in 2005.

Advertisements

Discussion

No comments yet.

Give a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: