UPDATED NEWS: Kofele massacre; mass arrests around the country; Ethiopia in high tension

4 Aug

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory

August 3, 2013 – Ethiopian government forces open fire on unarmed demonstrators throughout the country, killing 25 and injuring dozens more, according to Ethiopian activists who took part in the demonstrations.

One witness says at least one child was among the dead. He also stated government security forces arrested over 1,500 protesters on Friday.

For over a year, Ethiopian Muslims have been holding peaceful protests and mosque sit-ins over the regime’s human rights abuses against their community and interference in their religion.

Source: CNN

Meanwhile, immediately after the TPLF forces mowed down the victims in the town of Kofele, Arsi, in Oromia Regional State – without even warning shots into the air – the regime put out a news item on its news agency Fana page that “Moslem extremists” that tried to undermine peace and order were dealt with by Oromia Police, with support from the public.

The title of this news item clearly speaks to what the government needed Ethiopians and people around the world to think: “Extremists caused damages to life and properties in Oromia Zone“. It would not also be farfetched to assume that the government had pre-planned this massacre.

It would be recalled that on Thursday August 1, 2013, before the Friday Mosque prayers came the National Police Commission issued a statement warning that it would take action if Moslem extremists continued their protests around Mosque, as they have been doing for the last 19 months.

In that statement, the commission said: “በመሆኑም እነዚህ ወገኖች በዛሬው እለት በሀይማኖት ሽፋን በመስጊዶች ውስጥ የሚያካሂዱትን የጥፋት ድርጊት ለማስቆም ፖሊስ ተገቢና አስፈላጊውን እርምጃ የሚወስድ መሆኑን በመግለጫው በጥብቅ አሳስቧል።” TRANSLATION: “Therefore, to end once and for all destructive actions in and around mosques by those that masquerade in the name of religion, the police would like to make it known that it would take the requisite action.”

Since the protestors in Addis Abeba did not want to give the opportunity to the regime it was fishing, none of the religious celebrants attended prayers rites and their protests in mosques in Addis Abeba on Friday, August 2nd.

Therefore, the action moved to towns outside Addis Abeba, where many protests had taken place.

The Kofele Massacre from an eyewitness account

As far as the Kofele incident is concerned, an eyewitness to whom ESAT has spoken from Kofele stated, the commandos used heavy weapons, including tanks and personnel carriers, when they came and directly charged against the people. He said there was not even warning shots fired into the air.

This witness also underlined that the people were peacefully protesting, when they were suddenly attacked. The government was accused of behaving as terrorist, instead of the peaceful protestors, as could be heard from the video below.

The number of the dead was reduced to eleven, while numerous people have been injured. There is concern that the number of the dead could rise in the days to come.

It is also reported that a very significant number of people have been arrested, mostly young people. The cause of this latest protest is the regime’s arrest of an elderly Mosque leader. People were demanding his release.

The protest has spread to adjoining rural towns, people suffering similar fates in those areas too.

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Hereunder is also the full text of the information the TPLF regime released on its webpage Fana:

    በኦሮሚያ ክልል አክራሪዎች በሰውና በንብረት ላይ ጉዳት አደረሱ

    Oromia policeአዲስ አበባ ፣ሀምሌ 28 ፣ 2005 (ኤፍ ቢ ሲ) በኦሮሚያ ብሄራዊ ክልላዊ መንግስት በምዕራብ አርሲ ዞን በኮፈሌ ወረዳ ኮፈሌ ከተማ ውስጥ ሀምሌ 27/2005 አክራሪ ኃይሎች በፈጠሩት ፀረ ሰላም እንቅስቃሴ በሰው ህይወትና ንብረት ላይ አደጋ መድረሱን የኦሮሚያ ፖሊስ ኮሚሽን አስታወቀ፡፡

    የሽብር እንቅስቃሴው በፖሊስና በህብረተሰቡ ትብብር በቁጥጥር ስር መዋሉንም የኦሮሚያ ፖሊስ ኮሚሽን ጨምሮ አስታቋል፡፡

    ከተወሰነ ጊዜ ወዲህ የእስልምና እምነትን ሽፋን በማድረግ ህዝብን የመከፋፈልና ሰላምን የማደፍረስ አጀንዳ ይዘው ሲንቀሳቀሱ የቆዩ አክራሪና ፅንፈኛ ቡድኖች ሀምሌ 27 ቀን ከጧቱ አንድ ሰዓት ጀምሮ በምዕራብ አርሲ ዞን ዋቤ ከተማ የጀመሩት ሁከት ወደ ኮፈሌ ከተማ በመሸጋገሩ ፀጥታ ለማስከበር በተሰማራው የአካባቢው የፖሊስ ኃይልና በሁከቱ ተሳታፊዎች መካከል በተፈጠረው ግጭት የሶስት ሰው ህይወት ማለፉና በሰባት የፖሊስ አባላት ላይ ከባድና ቀላል አደጋ መድረሱን የኦሮሚያ ፖሊስ ኮሚሽን ገልጿል፡፡

    በአክራሪ ቡድኖች ተቀናጅቶ የተወሰኑ የህብረተሰብ ክፍሎችን በማወናበድና ለሁከት በማነሳሳት ኮፈሌ ከተማ ላይ ተቀስቅሶ በሰላም ፈላጊ የአካባቢው ህዝብና በፖሊስ ኃይል በቁጥጥር ስር የዋለው ይህ የሁከት ድርጊት አክራሪ ኃይሎች ከዚህ ቀደም በ2004 ዓ.ም በዚያው ዞን ገደብ አሳሳ ላይ ጁሃድ በማወጅ ሞክረውት ከነበረው የጥፋት እንቅስቃሴ የቀጠለ ነው፡፡

    ምንም እንኳን የሁከት እንቅስቃሴው በሰላም ፈላጊው የአካባቢው ህዝብ ትብብርና በክልሉ ፖሊስ ኃይል በቁጥጥር ስር የዋለ ቢሆንም ጽንፈኞች ኃይሎቹ ህገ መንግስቱን በመጻረር የህዝብን ፀጥታ ለማወክና በሰላማዊ ዜጎች ላይ ጉዳት ለማድረስ የጀመሩትን እንቅስቃሴ ለማምከንና የጥፋቱ አቀናባሪና ፈጻሚ የወንጀል ተጠርጣሪዎችን ለህግ ለማቅረብ የኦሮሚያ ብሄራዊ ክልላዊ መንግስት ከመቼውም በላቀ በቁርጠኝነት እንደሚሰራ ተናግሯል።

    ሰላም ወዳዱ ህዝብ ከመንግስት ጋር በመሆን አጥፊዎችን በማጋለጥና የአካባቢውን ሰላም በመጠበቅ የተለመደ ትብብሩን አጠናክሮ እንዲቀጥል የኦሮሚያ ፖሊስ ኮሚሽን ጥሪውን አቅርቧል፡፡”

This story is carried only on the TPLF news agency, Fana.

This another tragedy for Ethiopia. Implied by this cruel action is the failed notion that state violence is solution to this political problem of religious tension that has been deepening. If one looks at its cause, its fountainhead is the TPLF regime trying to pick faith and religious denomination for Moslems.

Therefore, this went against the individual freedom to faith. Consequently, they have been demanding the freedom to follow the religion they choose.

Our concern is that the regime is creating a terrorism that does not exist in our country.

Like any other situation, the existence of a few bad apples cannot be totally ruled out. They may have been trying their luck on the back of genuinely preoccupied people about their faith. To date, the bad apples, if any, have failed to achieve what they have been aiming for; nor could they in future either, not by any means, unless the TPLF surrenders the country to the extremists, as it is doing now.

The task of responsible government ought to be to carefully study, isolate the misguided and seek the help of genuine experts to engage and persuading them out of it

Such people stand, if at all there are any, against the interests of our people, our nation, history and the longstanding ties of togetherness/oneness Ethiopian Christians and Moslems have enjoyed for centuries. It has been the basis of Ethiopian unity, which the TPLF has been undermining since the day it seized power.

Consequently, having failed in good governance, the TPLF regime has, as usual, sought its heavy-handed solution: harassments of the faithful, the youth, massacres and imprisonments and tortures.

This much tested and failed way is likely to boomerang on the TPLF and our country!

Foreign governments issue travel advisories to Ethiopia


Since early July, Australia has posted the following statement.

    “°  We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa, at this time due to the threat of terrorist attack against Western interests and ongoing tensions.

    °  If you do decide to travel to Ethiopia, you should exercise extreme caution.

    °  Protesters have been killed in violent demonstrations in Addis Ababa. We advise you to avoid large gatherings throughout the country as they may turn violent. You should monitor the media and other local news sources for safety information. The Australian Embassy suggests that all Australians in Ethiopia be alert to possible increasing unrest and take sensible precautions including stocking up on provisions.

    °  We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

    °  Credible reporting indicates that militants may be planning to conduct attacks, including cross-border kidnappings, in eastern Ethiopia. The US Government has warned on two occasions in 2013 that it continues to receive information indicating a kidnapping threat to Westerners along Ethiopia’s border with Somalia.

    °  We strongly advise you not to travel to the border areas with Kenya, Somalia (in particular the Ogaden area in the Somalia Region in eastern Ethiopia) and Sudan, including the Gambella Region, or to the disputed border area between Eritrea and Ethiopia, including the Danakil desert area in eastern Ethiopia, because of the extremely dangerous security situation in these areas.”

United Kingdom:

Earlier travel advisory is said current at August 4, 2013 and in general states:

    “°  The FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] advise against all travel to parts of the country.

    °  The FCO advise against all but essential travel to parts of the country.”

United States:

The latest advisory for African countries does not mention Ethiopia by name. The existing advisory, applicable for “Throughout Ethiopia” states:

    “U.S. citizens are strongly advised to review their personal safety and security posture, to remain vigilant, and to be cautious when frequenting prominent public places and landmarks. While Ethiopia is generally stable, domestic insurgent groups, extremists from Somalia, and the heavy military presence along the border with Eritrea pose risks to safety and security.”

New Zealand:

    “Civil unrest

    New Zealanders in Ethiopia should avoid all protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. Explosive devices, such as grenades, are readily available in Ethiopia and are occasionally used in local disputes. On 14 and 15 July 2012, violent demonstrations took place in the Mercato Market area of Addis Ababa and further or wider unrest is possible.”

*Updated with additional information.

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