Amnesty International rages as Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed unleashes police on opposition in Oromia, Ethiopia. Vendor killed, musician injured

Winning a Nobel Peace Prize is looking more and more meaningless in Ethiopia where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seems bent on crushing the opposition, using state security services.

On Saturday, police in Ethiopia launched an attack on opposition party supporters in the Oromia Region, killing one person and arresting and injuring scores more.

Just hours after the date for Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections was announced, the Oromia Liyu police raided the inauguration of an Oromia Liberation Front (OLF) office in Welenchiti, firing live bullets and tear gas, killing one OLF supporter who was a clothes vendor.

Later that day, police arrested around 30 guests at a hotel launch party in Burayu and drove them to a sports stadium where they were beaten and humiliated for hours.

“These brazen attacks show just how dangerous it is becoming to assemble and express political stances in Ethiopia,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, Seif Magango.

“Raids on opposition gatherings must not be allowed to become a feature of the pre-election period. The authorities must immediately launch an independent and effective investigation into these attacks and hold suspects to account in fair trials.”

Following the attack on the OLF office in Welenchiti, the regional Liyu police beat up the gathered supporters and pursued those who fled, hitting them with sticks. They also immobilized a parked vehicle belonging to a local news crew, from the Oromia News Network (ONN), by shooting its tyres, then later moving it to a local police station with the journalists’ filming equipment still inside.

The second attack by the Liyu Police took place later the same day at the launch of a new hotel in Burayu. Police descended on the guests as the party was winding down, bundled about 30 of them into a police van and drove them to the Burayu Stadium.

Here detainees were beaten again, forced to do laps around the stadium on their knees and roll on the ground late into the night.

Hawi Haile Yesus Keneni, a female musician, was among those seriously beaten up in Burayu, sustaining injuries that require surgery. She told Amnesty International that members of the Oromia Liyu Police in green uniforms beat her on the head, hands and other parts of her body.

While the Burayu town administration has, on their Facebook page, dismissed the violence as a “brawl that broke out over a disagreement about the choice of song”, victims and witnesses told Amnesty International the party was over by the time the police arrived. One of the artists said he heard the commanding police officer at the scene accuse the detainees of being OLF supporters.

“It is outrageous that the authorities charged with ensuring the security and safety of members of the public can brutally attack people going about their business with no regard for human life. The Ethiopian authorities must denounce these attacks in the strongest terms and ensure such scenes are not repeated,” said Seif Magango.

The country’s parliamentary elections are due to be held on 29 August 2020.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Comment: Do you know what OLF mean? It’s ethnic political group that never allow national issues in Oromia region. They kill innocent people who are not member of their ethnic groups, supporters of abiy, they rob banks ( for instance 18 banks robbed in day light in oromia region), they block national roads, they kill Amharic language speaking students in the universities, they displace people from their Original places, even bombed Abiy Ahmed in front of his supporters in meskel adebabay in Addis Abeba, they beat government security forces…still we worry about every thing they do. I am amnesty’s member but I have never seen you making any news letter about human rights violation by opposition party members and nothing written about people who are killed by OLF members in that region. Abiy never see and pass when Ethiopian citizens are killed by terrorist groups because law enforcing is among his day to day activities. Thank you

  2. I am Ethiopian and I support Abiy with all my heart. These so called opposition members are killers. Abiy tolerated when they have killed peaceful people in different parts of Ethiopia. They are terrorists. Where was Amnesty when peaceful people got brutally killed by these barberian radical ethnic groups? Just because Abiy was Nobel Peace Prize winner doesn’t mean he has no responsibility to protect peaceful people from killers under the opposition party label.

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