Ethiopian forces kill protesters

Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 people in the recent wave of anti-government demonstrations.

In its most comprehensive report into the Oromo protests, US-based Human Rights Watch-HRW lists the names of more than 300 it says were killed.

The government has acknowledged that protesters have died but has said HRW was “very generous with numbers.”

Fear of displacement
Protests were sparked by fears that a plan to expand the capital into Oromia region would displace Oromo farmers.

They began in November last year, but the government dropped the proposal to enlarge Addis Ababa in January.

Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, completely surrounding the city.

The change of policy has not stopped the demonstrations, but they have reduced in their intensity.

An investigation by the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, appointed by parliament, found that 173 people had died during the unrest.

Information Minister, Getachew Reda said that the security forces conducted themselves “in a very professional and responsible manner.”

He put the killings down to “a few bad apples.”

‘No Persecution yet’
The government has said that it will investigate and deal with those responsible.

But critics point out those previous investigations into alleged human rights abuses have not led to prosecutions.

The anger over urban planning was an expression of much older complaints over a lack of political and economic inclusion of Oromo people.

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.

 

BBC/Sammie