Ethiopia unrest killed 669 in three regions: report

Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:25am GMT
 

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A total of 669 people were killed in unrest that gripped Ethiopia for several months until authorities imposed a state of emergency last October, according to an investigation report presented to parliament on Tuesday.

The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya, Amhara and SNNP regions. Demonstrators in the three areas say the government has trampled on their political rights.

Ethiopia has faced criticism from abroad as well as at home over its authoritarian approach to economic development, though the government has also presided over stellar rates of growth.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission - a body mandated by parliament to investigate the violence - presented its findings on Tuesday and acknowledged that security forces had taken disproportionate measures in some areas.

The report said 462 protesters and 33 security personnel had been killed in the unrest that engulfed 91 towns in the Oromiya region alone. The protesters opposed having their land incorporated into the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.

Commission head Addisu Gebregziabher told parliament that security forces had been "negligent" when firing teargas at protesters during a religious festival, triggering a stampede that killed scores.

In the Amhara region, 110 demonstrators and 30 security officials were killed in clashes sparked by the arrest of activists campaigning over disputed territory, the report said.

Tensions there have simmered for around 25 years over the status of Wolkayt district, which the protesters say was illegally incorporated into the neighbouring Tigray region to the north.   Continued...

Demonstrators show the Oromo protest gesture sign during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
 
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