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Oromo religious organizations on the Irreecha Massacre October 6, 2016

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The following is a statement from Oromo religious organizations: Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society, Oromo Muslim Association of North America, Oromo Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Minnesota and United Oromo Evangelical Churches (UOEC).

Public statement of Oromo religious organizations on the killing and injuries that took place at the Irreecha festival in Bishoftu on October 2, 2016

Dear my Friend,

Peace of the Lord be with you.

In repose to the tragic events unfolding in Ethiopia, the Oromo religious organizations: Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society, Oromo Muslim Association of North America, Oromo Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Minnesota and United Oromo Evangelical Churches (UOEC), have issued the attached public statement to express our grave sadness by the irresponsible killing and injuries that took place at the Irreecha festival in Bishoftu over the weekend, where thousands of people gathered here for the annual thanksgiving. The report that government’s troops and a helicopter gunship had opened fire, driving people off a cliff and into a lake, for entirely peaceful expression opinion, is beyond our comprehension.

We mourn the loss of precious lives and express our deep condolences to the families of the deceased.

In this Association, we have also made it clear that Ethiopia is heading toward unrecoverable human tragedy, only because of the irresponsible action of the Ethiopian government and absolute disregard for human life and dignity. We call on the Ethiopian government for an immediate corrective action, and the international community to take tangible direct involvement to save the nation from further loss of the human life, and serious national and regional destabilization, which is not in the interest of all concerned.

I want to encourage and comfort you all with a quote from Martin Luther King, and the scripture, that we should not lose sight with this tragic event, and not to be swept up into simple bitterness, but only work for a united action.

“Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all … Violence ends up defeating itself.” Martin Luther King

“Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.” Prov. 22:8

This evil government is paving a way for its demise, but we should be united and resolved more than ever to endure with the powerless majority, with one voice: advocating for justice, freedom, liberty, democracy now or never!

Peace and many blessings,

Rev. Gemechu Olana



EU needs new approach on Ethiopia. #OromoProtests #IrreechaMassacre October 6, 2016

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EU needs new approach on Ethiopia

By FELIX HORNE,  6 October 2016

  • Addis Abeba. As a valuable friend, the EU needs to push Ethiopia to respect divergent views, and rein in forces who rapidly turn to bullets, beatings, and mass arrests. (Photo: Henrik Berger Jorgensen)

(EU Observer) — In January, the European Parliament passed a 19-point resolution condemning the Ethiopian government’s brutal crackdown on protests that had left more than a hundred dead. Many Ethiopians rejoiced at the resolution. I read it to some Ethiopian friends, who cried.

They had assumed Ethiopia was part of an international order in which no Western institution would dare criticise a trusted ally despite the government’s brutal repression.  They hoped the resolution would be a watershed in Europe’s relationship with Ethiopia.

But in the nine months since, the European Parliament’s outrage has not been matched by the European Union or its member countries. This despite the hundreds more Ethiopians killed throughout the country, the detention of tens of thousands, and widespread torture in detention, as we have documented.

Instead, on the sidelines of EU Development Days in June, High Representative Frederica Mogherini and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn worked on a joint declaration “Towards an EU-Ethiopia Strategic Engagement” that proclaimed business as usual. While demonstrators were being shot, journalists and opposition members locked up, and peaceful activists punished, the EU was silently signing the cheques.

EU officials are quick to point to rare but tepid statements expressing concern for Ethiopia’s human rights situation but it’s not enough. The October 12 European parliamentary hearing on Ethiopia could be the catalyst for much stronger action —built on a willingness to use the considerable leverage that comes with providing various forms of support to the Ethiopian government, including €745 million in European aid for 2014-2020.

Ethiopia’s protests began last November in the largest region, Oromia, over the government’s development plans. Protests soon spread to the Amhara region where grievances focused on complex questions of ethnic identity and the dominance in economic and political affairs of people with ties to the ruling party.

Perfect storm

Security forces have shown no intention of changing their heavy-handed tactics, and the government hasn’t been willing to discuss the issues. The cycle of demonstrations and brutal government responses is feeding Ethiopia’s biggest political and human rights crisis in decades.

How this plays out could jeopardise Europe’s long-term interests in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia’s current crisis came as a surprise to many European policymakers, but it follows years of systematic government attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms, cutting off dissent.

Despite widespread frustration with the government, the ruling party is able to hold every one of the seats in the federal and regional parliaments.  The courts have shown little independence on politically sensitive cases, misusing  an anti-terrorism law to punish peaceful dissent.

There is little scrutiny of abusive security forces in part because of restrictions on independent media and NGOs. All of this has contributed to the complete closure of political space, creating the perfect storm.

An international investigation is needed

The EU is among many donors that have historically been silent about Ethiopia’s human rights abuses, afraid to risk strategic partnerships on development, migration, peacekeeping, and security.

Foreign diplomats and development organisations working in Ethiopia understand that you limit public criticism in exchange for access. The EU claims that “quiet diplomacy” is the most effective way to push Ethiopia in the right direction.

But given the dramatic deterioration in Ethiopia’s human rights record it’s hard to argue that this approach works.

Offering government benefits in exchange for silence is something many Ethiopians, particularly in rural areas, have known for years.

Ethiopia’s government carefully controls access to the benefits of development– including seeds, fertilisers, food aid, and jobs, much of it funded by the EU and its members.

To their credit, some African institutions have broken rank and expressed concern over the killings, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union. And the United States, a key ally of Ethiopia, has been stronger than usual in condemning the use of lethal force, with forceful resolutions introduced in the US House and Senate.

Last month the UN’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said an international investigation is needed. A recent EU statement at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva echoed his call for an investigation, an important step that needs follow-up.

Investigate the killings

The EU needs a new approach to Ethiopia. Strategic relationships will become obsolete if Ethiopia plunges further into crisis, and all the signs are there.  As a valuable friend, the EU needs to push Ethiopia to respect divergent views, and rein in forces who rapidly turn to bullets, beatings, and mass arrests.

Ethiopia’s current approach to dissent guarantees future unrest and makes it less likely that the government will be able to find a way back to gain the trust of its citizens, all of which jeopardises the EU’s long term interests in the Horn.

The EU and its member states should continue to push for an international investigation into the killings, press the government to grant the UN access to investigate, and urge the government to hold to account security force members responsible for abuses.

By taking these steps, the EU and its member states can improve the potential for Ethiopians to be stable long-term partners.

Felix Horne is the senior Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The genocidal massacres of Oromos at the Irreechaa Fesival: The lies of the Tigre-led Ethiopian government October 6, 2016

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The genocidal massacres of Oromos at the Irreechaa Fesival: The lies of the Tigre-led Ethiopian government

The University of Tennessee


On October 2, 2016, the Tigre-led Ethiopian regime massacred more than seven hundred Oromos and injured hundreds more at Irreechaa, the Oromo national holiday of thanksgiving held in Bishoftu in which millions had gathered. During the Irreecha festival, Ethiopian security forces shot live ammunition into the crowd and fired tear gas, although they claimed that the lives lost were due to a stampede. Western media have joined in this claim, spreading inaccurate information about the tragic events of this day. However, Oromo victims know what happened to them and they are telling their truth. They have used videos, pictures, and social media to release accurate information.

The victims say that the Tigre-led government used live bullets, tear gas, helicopter gunships, armored cars, and snipers to terrify and kill Oromo children, elderly, women and other sectors of the Oromo society that had gathered to celebrate Irreecha. During the holiday, many young Oromos had chanted anti-government slogans to show support for Oromo Protests, a protest movement that has been taking place since November 2015. Although the holiday festival had this political moment, the massacre of hundreds of people on this day was an inhumane violation of one of the most sacred rituals of the Oromo.Irrechaa is a sacred holiday of peace and a celebration of culture, and the Ethiopian regime continues to push the limits of its inhumane violent practices.

For a quarter of a century, the Tigre-led regime has targeted Oromo mosques, churches and Galma (the house of Oromo indigenous religion) and killed hundreds of Oromo religious leaders who have expressed their Oromummaa (Oromo identity, culture, and ideology) through their religions, language, clothing, and other activities. The regime, mainly representing the interests of the Tigre, 6% of the Ethiopian population, has been committing heinous abuses and violence against the Oromo people, the largest ethno-national group in Ethiopia, and others, since its coming to power. Furthermore, in the process of transferring Oromo land and other resources to Tigre colonial elites and their collaborators, the regime has also targeted Oromo activists, politicians, students, and farmers who oppose its discriminatory and terrorist policies.

It is estimated that more than one million Oromos have been killed and thousands of Oromos have been suffering in prisons and secret concentration camps. Oromos who have been released from these prisons and concentration camps have exposed how Oromos are tortured, castrated, blinded, incapacitated, killed, and infected with HIV in various prisons and concentration camps. Also, hundreds of prisoners have perished due to the lack of adequate food, clothing, healthcare and other essential services. All these criminal acts have been committed on the brightest and conscious elements of the Oromo society. Unfortunately, the financial, military and diplomatic support of big powers has contributed to these genocidal and terrorist policies and practices for twenty-five years.  Still these big powers refuse to take practical actions to stop the regime from its criminal acts. While giving lip service, these powers have continued to provide material support to the regime.

Currently, the Oromo people are determined more than ever to establish their political destiny. Despite continuous violent crackdowns and heinous massacres such as that at Irreecha, they continue to protest peacefully and raise their voices to challenge the Ethiopian regime’s oppressive anti-Oromo policies. Tigre colonial elites and their collaborators have somehow convinced themselves that continuing and escalating violence against unarmed and peaceful civilians is their answer to controlling and quieting a people who are determined to struggle for their rights, sovereignty, and freedoms. The reaction from the Oromo has instead been more protests and more outrage at the Ethiopian regime’s inhumanity.

The Oromo, the Amhara, the Somali, the Konso, the Sidama, the Gambella and others need to join the Oromo protest movement to remove the Tigre-led terrorist and genocidal regime. Learning from the failures of the last two decades, the Oromo movement must rebuild its national organizational capacity and form an alliance with all peoples that are suffering from Ethiopian state terrorism, genocide, and war on the principles of national self-determination and an egalitarian multinational democracy.


Ethiopia: Moments Before & Aftermath of the Irreechaa Massacre in Bishoftu Against Oromos October 6, 2016

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Ethiopia: Moments Before & Aftermath of the Irreechaa Massacre in Bishoftu Against Oromos

By Finfinne Tribune and Gadaa.com  Onkoloolessa/October 4, 2016

The following video shows two segments: one is the moment immediately before the Ethiopian government’s security forces opened fire at the Oromo Irreecha participants who gathered around the main stage in millions – some voicing their protests peacefully; the stage is situated in front of Hora (Lake) Arsadi, which is the sacred ground where millions of Oromos come to every year to pay tribute to Waaqa, the Supreme spiritual power equivalent to God.

Secondly, immediately after the gunshots, the area around the stage is seen to have been evacuated massively and swiftly as millions run away from the gunshots — as a consequence, hundreds ran into their untimely deaths as they slipped into ravines around the lake. The government’s sniper gunshots were accompanied aerially with military helicopters (not shown on the video, but see photo below) – which entered the civilian perimeter to further escalate the situation. And, on the ground, military-grade Humvees were deployed (seen on the video) straight into the main stage area to drive Oromo Irreechaparticipants into the ravines.

These remain unanswered:
1) who gave the order to deploy the military as a response to the peaceful protest at the Irreecha festival;
2) the swiftness (fastness) with which the military responded (within minutes of the breakout of the peaceful protests) does initiate the question: was this a pre-planned massacre? Why was the military staged near the civilian festival?

Photo of the aerial force deployed against Oromo Irreecha participants:

Military-grade Humvee inside the civilian perimeter at the 2016 Irreecha festival (why was the soldier’s face covered with a bandanna?):



Oromia wide #OromoProtests (Reports covering 4-6 October 2016) Continues post Bishoftu Massacre October 6, 2016

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Bulchiinsi TPLF Bososee Irree Ummata Oromoon Diigamaa Jira,Qabeenyi Mootummaa fi Kuufami Meeshaa Humna Addaan Booji’amee Jira,Daandiin Cumaaa Jira.

Onkolooleessa 5,2016 Bulchiinsi TPLF Bososee Irree Ummata Oromoon Diigamaa Jira,Qabeenyi Mootummaa fi Kuufami Meeshaa Humna Addaan Booji’amee Jira,Daandiin Cumaaa Jira.

Haaluma kanaan daandiileen bakka garagaraa geessu cufamee jiraachuun barameera. Magaalaaleefi Baadiyaaleetti bakkeewwan daandiin cufamee humna uummataa jala oolan keessaa:

  1. Waaqee Xiyyaa Mi’oo
  2. Malkaa Sa’aa
  3. Waaqa Malkaa Obaa
  4. Baattoo Dagaagaa
  5. Dirree Dagaagaa
  6. Magaalaa Bofaa
  7. Awaash
  8. Dooniifi KKf keessati ta’uun addaateera.

Namtokko Qeerroo irraa wareegamul illee dhagahameera.

Dabalataan shonkoraa warshaa sukkaara Matahaaraa zoonii sadii irratti guutummaa guutuutti gubuun daaraatti deebisanii jiru.

Oduu biraan ammoo magaalaa Adaamaa keessatti dhukaasni bakka garagaraatti uummataaf wayyaanee jidduutti banamee jira. Barattootni Yuunvarsiitii Adaamaa heeddumminaan bahanii mooraa kaampaasii irraa eegaluun BOOLEE IRRA GORANII FUULLEE ADAAMAA GENERAL HOSPITAL itti harka harka qaxxaamursuun mallattoo diddaa/Xumura Gabrummaa agarsiisaa jiru.  Continue reading

Click here for OMN #OromoProtests News (October 5, 2016): OMN: Oduu Onkololeessa 5, 2016

OMN: ሰበር ዜና/Breaking News (Oct. 5, 2016)

OMN: Oduu Onkololeessa 4, 2016

We need the end of TPLF! Jechuun Barattooti Oromoo University Mormii Dhageessisaa Jiru. October 5, 2016

Dhaabbata Deegarsa Qeerroo Idila Addunyaa irraa


Akkuma beekamu Qeerroon Bilisummaa Oromiyaa keessatti mirga uummata Oromoo fi walbummaa Oromiyaa kabachisiisuuf mootummaa abbaa irree biyya bulchu waliin qabsoo hadhooftuu gaggeessaa jira. Qabsoo kana keessattis lammiiwwan keenya hedduun lubbuu isaanii bakka bu’umsa hin qabne dhabaniiru, qaamaas hir’ataniiru akkasumas mana hidhaa keessatti dararaa dhala namaaf hin malle argaa jiru. Kunis mootummaan abbaa irree biyya bulchaa jiru mirga namoomaa uummatni Oromoo dhalootaan qabu mulquu bira taree duguuggaa sanyii kana jaarraa 21ffaa keessatti uumama jedhamee hin yaadamne geesisaa jira.Keesumaayyuu, Oromoon lagan, amantiinii fi saalaan osoo wal hin qoodiin ayyaana irreechaa kabajachuuf guyyaa har’aa (10/02/2016) manaa bahe  mootummaa nama nyaataa wayyaaneen haala suukkanneessaa ta’een tarkaanfii irratti fudhatame gochaa sanyii duuguginsaa waan ta’eef Oromotni biyya alaa jirtan marti balaaleffachuu irra darbee hojii qabatamaa keessa seenuun yeroon isaa amma dha. Namootni guyyaa har’aa du’an dhibbootaan kan lakkaawaman yommuu ta’u kan yeroo ammaa hospitaalaa keessatti du’aa fi jiraa jidduutti argaman daran heedduu akka ta’an odeessi Qeerroo irraa nu gahee jira.Kanaafuu:

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The Ethiopian Government is utterly responsible for the unlawful killings at the Ardsade Irrecha (Thanksgiving) Oromo Celebration


Appeal for urgent action:

The Ethiopian Government is utterly responsible for the unlawful killings at the Ardsade Irrecha (Thanksgiving) Oromo Celebration

To: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.

Dear Commissioner,

Oromia Support Group Australia extremely shocked about the killings of innocent Oromo civilians at the Ardsade, few Kilometers from the capital city (Finfinnee – Addis Ababa) during today’s Irrecha (Oromo Thanksgiving) celebration on 2 October 2016.

The Ethiopian Federal forces, racially affiliated and heavily armed, known as Agazi and part of the select force of the ruling Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), violently opened fire and killed more than 140 people out for the celebration (please see attached evidence).


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CCTV America: Who are Ethiopia’s Oromo and what’s behind the wave of protests in the country? October 6, 2016

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VOA: Ethiopia Protests Continue Despite Call for Calm. #OromoProtests #Bishoftu Massacre October 6, 2016

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#OromoProtests: “We want our own government and those in the current government don’t represent us. They are incompetent to administer us and we want them to leave power.”

Ethiopia Protests Continue Despite Call for Calm

 VOA, October 05, 2016  By Salem Solomon


FILE — Demonstrators chant slogans and flash the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is observing an official mourning period for more than 50 people killed during a crackdown and stampede at an ethnic cultural festival in the Oromia region Sunday.At the same time, the country is seeing a continuation, possibly an escalation, of the anti-government protests that sparked the violence.

Hundetu Biratu took part in a protest that turned deadly Monday in Dembidolo, a town in southwestern Ethiopia. She told VOA that her brother was shot and killed during the demonstration.

“We were taking my brother to the hospital. A bullet pierced his neck and exited through his ears. They fired tear gas and I fell. When I got up they shot me on my thighs and I fell,” she said.

Mulatu Gemechu, assistant deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said other protests took place Monday and Tuesday across eastern and western Oromia. He said clashes broke out in Sendefa, a town in central Ethiopia, as mourners returned from a funeral for a mother and a child who died in Sunday’s pandemonium.

The Oromia Police Commission deputy commissioner, Sori Dinqa, told reporters that protesters in the region are destroying property, burning cars and targeting government offices.


Demonstrators protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia. More than 50 people were killed in the violence.

“There are continued and sporadic efforts to block streets, disturb the peace and burn administrative buildings. Our police are continuing to prevent that. We want the people to condemn the uprising and discourage people from taking part in these acts,” he said.

But few people appear to be heeding his call.

A witness in Alem Gena, a town in central Ethiopia, said a funeral service for victims turned into an anti-government demonstration. He said no one was killed but anger in his area is running high.

“We want our own government and those in the current government don’t represent us. They are incompetent to administer us and we want them to leave power,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons.

Questions about the stampede

Official tallies put the death toll from Monday’s violence at 52, while Desalegn Bayisa, general manager of the Bishoftu Hospital, told reporters 55 people had been killed. Opposition members and activists, however, place the number of people who died in the hundreds.

Bayisa said the hospital also treated more than 100 injured people.

Advocacy groups such as Freedom House blamed some of the deaths on security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition at festival attendees.

Questions about safety precautions are also being asked of the organizers of the festival, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to a location that includes a lake and deep ditches.

FILE -- People assist an injured protester during Irrechaa, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia.

FILE — People assist an injured protester during Irrechaa, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia.

“It’s amazing really. There seemed to be no preparation or planning about how to manage the flows of people,” said William Davison, a reporter for Bloomberg News who attended the event and said there were no barriers between the people and the ditches.

“To make those mistakes given the high likelihood of a protest and a government response just seems sort of criminally negligent to me,” Davison added.

Stifling dissent and criticism

Free speech advocates say the government was attempting to silence critical voices even before the festival.

Seyoum Teshome, a prominent Oromo blogger and lecturer at Ambo University, was arrested on October 1 in Wolisso, 110 kilometers from the capital of Addis Ababa. His house was searched and the police confiscated his computer according to local reports.

“My attempts to reach him via his phone ended unsuccessfully. May he stay safe,” wrote Befekadu Hailu, another blogger, on his Facebook page.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a group advocating for the safety of journalists, condemned the arrest and called on the government to release Teshome without delay or conditions.

It is “deeply disturbing as it comes against a backdrop of government moves to stifle protests and criticism,” CPJ’s deputy director Robert Mahoney said.

“We want to see any pending charges or charges they might try to pursue dropped,” Kerry Paterson, the senior advocacy officer for CPJ’s Africa program told VOA. “The chilling effect that occurs as a result of arresting people doesn’t just hurt the individual journalist who gets arrested. It hurts all Ethiopia.”

What’s next?

Analysts see no end in sight to the ethnic tensions roiling Ethiopia.

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa Movement, a group that advocates for good governance, said protesters do not feel the promise of Ethiopian federalism, in which all regions are supposed to have a degree of self-governance, has been realized.

“I don’t see it ending anytime soon,” he said of the widespread anger. “I think a lot of this resentment and a lot of this discord that we are seeing is because the highly intrusive, highly repressive central government has not allowed those basic democratic avenues to be opened up. They have not allowed the Oromo people in particular to exercise and to demonstrate their basic rights that are enshrined in the country’s own constitution.”

Adane Tilahun, the chairman of the opposition All Ethiopian Unity Party, said that to begin the healing process from this week’s events, the government needs to recognize the killings were unjustified, apologize, and offer compensation to the families of the victims.

Tilahun also called on international actors and human rights groups to put pressure on the Ethiopian government in order to establish an independent investigation into the deaths.

VOA reporters Tujube Hora and Solomon Kifle contributed to this report.


Aljazeera: Oromo protests: Ethiopia unrest resurges after stampede October 6, 2016

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Oromo protests: Ethiopia unrest resurges after stampede

Bloggers arrested, internet shut down periodically, and foreign firms attacked as anti-government protests continue.

File: A man at a funeral holds up the portrait of Tesfu Tadese Biru, a construction engineer killed in Bishoftu [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Often violent protests in which rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed by security forces have flared again in Ethiopia, with a US citizen among the latest deaths.

Protests reignited in the Oromia region – the main focus of a recent wave of demonstrations – after at least 55 people were killed in a stampede at the weekend, which was sparked by police firing tear gas and warning shots at a huge crowd of protesters attending a religious festival.

Fifty-five is the official death toll given by the government, though opposition activists and rights groups say they believe more than 100 people died as they fled security forces, falling into ditches that dotted the area. Ethiopian radio said excavators had to be used to remove some of the bodies.

 Are Ethiopia’s Oromo being repressed?

The anti-government demonstrations started in November among the Oromo, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, and later spread to the Amhara, the second most populous group. Though they initially began over land rights they later broadened into calls for more political, economic and cultural rights.

Both groups say that a multi-ethnic ruling coalition and the security forces are dominated by the Tigray ethnic group, which makes up about six percent of the population.

The government, though, blames rebel groups and foreign-based dissidents for stoking the violence.

Staff at the California-based UC Davis university  confirmed the identity of the US citizen as Sharon Gray, a postdoctoral researcher of biology, who had been in the Horn of Africa nation to attend a meeting.

The US embassy said she was killed on Tuesday when stones were hurled at her vehicle on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, where residents said crowds have attacked other vehicles since the stampede.

The embassy did not give further details or a precise location for the incident.

Foreign firms attacked

News of Gray’s death came as foreign-owned factories and equipment were damaged in the protests. Demonstrators in Oromia say farmland has been seized to build foreign factories and housing blocks.

On Tuesday, crowds damaged a factory run by Turkish textile firm Saygin Dima and the BMET Energy cable plant, which also has Turkish investors, officials from firms in the area said. Both plants are in the Oromia area.

READ MORE: The ‘Ethiopia rising’ narrative and the Oromo protests

A third of the Saygin Dima plant in Sebeta, 35 km (20 miles) southwest of Addis Ababa, was destroyed by fire, General Manager Fatih Mehmet Yangin said.

“A large crowd attacked the factory,” he said, adding three vehicles were also destroyed.

Yangin said a flower farm nearby was also attacked. The Oromia Regional Administration said vehicles and some machinery at a plant owned by Nigeria’s Dangote Cement were vandalised.

Oromia has been a focus for industrial development that has fuelled Ethiopia’s economic growth, but locals say they receive little compensation when land is taken by the government.

The death toll from unrest and clashes between police and demonstrators over the past year or more runs into several hundred, according to opposition and rights group estimates. The US-based Human Rights Watch says at least 500 people have been killed by security forces.

The government says such figures are inflated.

Ethiopia criticised over lack of press freedom

The attacks will cast a shadow over Ethiopia’s ambition to draw in more investment to industrialise a nation where most people rely on subsistence farming, and have been struggling with a severe drought in the past two years or so.

The government has been building new infrastructure, including an electrified railway connecting the capital of the landlocked nation with a port in neighbouring Djibouti, which was inaugurated on Wednesday.

At least seven foreign-owned flower farms in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, another area where protests have flared, were damaged in political violence at the start of September.

Bloggers arrested

Rights groups and opposition politicians accuse the government of excessive force in dealing with demonstrations, crushing opponents and stifling free speech.

WATCH: What is triggering Ethiopia’s unrest?

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) called on authorities on Tuesday to free Seyoum Teshoume , a blogger critical of the government, who writes for the website Ethiothinktank.com. CPJ said he was reported detained on October 1.

Another blogger who has expressed support for the protests, Natnael Feleke, was arrested on Tuesday, according to a blogging collective of which he is a member. Natnael was previously arrested in 2014 and released after more than a year in prison when charges against him were dropped.

There were also reports that the internet had been shutdown periodically over the last two days.

Officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but the government says it only detains people who threaten national security and says it guarantees free speech.

The opposition failed to win a single seat in a 547-seat parliament in a 2015 election and had just one in the previous parliament.

Source: Al Jazeera News And Agencies

Related Article from Financial Times 


Ethiopians chant slogans against the government during a march in Bishoftu © AP

Ethiopian anti-government protesters are escalating attacks on foreign investors as anger grows over the regime’s crackdown on demonstrations, in which hundreds of people have been killed.

Activists torched a Turkish textile factory and attacked a mine owned by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, damaging trucks and machinery on Tuesday, days after more than 50 people were killed when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests at a religious festival. The US embassy in Addis Ababa said an American woman died on Tuesday when her vehicle was struck by rocks thrown by Ethiopians on the outskirts of the capital.

The violence comes after a wave of protests this year that were originally triggered over a land dispute in the Oromia region of central and southern Ethiopia. They have since escalated into broader demonstrations against the autocratic government and spread to other regions, threatening the stability of one of Africa’s best-performing economies.

Addis Ababa has responded with force — activists accuse security forces of firing live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators and say hundreds have been killed in the protests.

Washington has called the government’s approach to the unrest “self-defeating,” while the EU on Wednesday called for the authorities to address the “wider aspects of the grievances”.

Activists and analysts say the attacks on foreign companies are becoming increasingly co-ordinated.

More than two dozen foreign companies, including flower farms and other agribusinesses have suffered millions of dollars in damage in recent weeks, according to Verisk Maplecroft, a UK-based consultancy.

Juan Carlos Vallejo, co-owner of Esmeralda Farms, pulled out of the country after his business was attacked several weeks ago.

“Right now, everyone is really scared,” he said. “We never expected something like this to happen. I don’t think anyone is going to want to invest here any more.”

Ethiopia has been one of Africa’s star performers, recording 10 per cent annual growth and attracting tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment over the past decade thanks to a carefully planned, state-led development and industrialisation policies.

But it is also a tightly controlled society, with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front — which has governed with an iron grip since 1991 — and its allies controlling all the seats in parliament.

Dissent is swiftly repressed and the political opposition was severely weakened by a government crackdown — during which scores of people were also killed — after disputed 2005 elections.

“We have made clear that Ethiopia’s prosperity depends on the ability of its government to maintain a stable and predictable investment climate and to expand political space,” a western diplomat said.

The current protests began in Oromia region last November over plans to expand Addis Ababa into Oromo lands. The initiative was shelved but the government’s aggressive response to the protests saw them spread to northern areas, which are dominated by the Amhara ethnic group.

Both the Amhara and Oromo are frustrated by the political dominance of the Tigray minority, which makes up 6 per cent of the 100m population, analysts say. The Oromo and Amhara comprise some two-thirds of Ethiopians.

Awol Allo, an Ethiopian law lecturer at Keele University, said foreign investors were being targeted because “they are seen as the source of legitimacy for the government”.

“The government has to attract foreign investment to keep the economy growing and has to provide land and services cheaply,” he said. “People are taking out their anger on investments by foreigners to undermine the government.”

The government has sought to play down the protests, blaming overseas agitators and criminal elements.

Analysts say the Tigray-dominated regime has maintained its grip in part by keeping the larger ethnic groups divided. But they add that now the Oromo and Amhara have united in their opposition to the government, it will be hard for the authorities to appease them without making significant concessions.

However, Rashid Abdi, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said some ministers, and the Tigray-controlled military, are loath to do this.

“The protests have now reached a serious level, a different scale,” he said. “We should not exaggerate and say the government is going to keel over tomorrow, but it portends future trouble unless they get a grip. What’s worrying is that so far they haven’t.”