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The Conversation: #HaCaaluuHundeessaa: charismatic musician who wasn’t afraid to champion Ethiopia’s Oromo July 8, 2020

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Anyone who steps into the public sphere in Ethiopia is also a potential political leader. In this atmosphere, an outspoken musician runs a high risk of falling foul of the authorities.

One such story unfolded last week – the inexplicable, and still unresolved, murder in Addis Ababa of Hachalu Hundessa, the 34-year-old singer from the southern region of Oromia. The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group and are frequently referred to as a ‘marginalised majority’ that has been locked out of power until the last election.

The country is still stunned. Addis Ababa has erupted in protests that have left scores dead and dozens arrested. With the arrests of Oromo leaders, protests have spread as far as Minneapolis and London, cities with Oromo diasporas.

Politically motivated killings are certainly nothing new for Ethiopia, but this particular murder has touched the biggest nerve in decades, in part because Hachalu Hundessa was perceived to be a man of the people.

The murder is consistent with an ongoing story of musicians as political dissidents in a tinderbox regime. As perhaps the most beloved Oromo musician, he was a pre-eminent cultural figure for a third of the population – some 35 million people. His murder illustrates the total enmeshing of cultural, political and economic challenges in a country experiencing seismic changes.

Hachalu Hundessa always considered himself to be at risk, and people loved him because he didn’t let that risk keep him quiet. Click here to read the full article

DW: Ethiopia’s democratization at risk July 7, 2020

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Ethiopian prime-minister Abiy Ahmed was once awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a war and raising hopes of democratic change. These hopes are being dashed by his heavy-handed response to anti-government protests.

Large anti-government protests that broke out last week, following the assassination of popular Oromo musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, soon led to a government clamp-down. So far, more than 166 people have been killed and almost 2,300 arrested, including leaders of the opposition. Ethiopians have been cut off from the internet for an entire week as soldiers and police continue to patrol the streets of the capital Addis Ababa and other hotspots.

The scenario is reminiscent of similar crises in authoritarian-led countries.

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