Medrek, Ethiopia opposition forum, urges TPLF to end killing rights-protester youths

16 Dec

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Andualem Sisay, The East African

The Opposition has accused Ethiopian security forces of killing at least 32 people in Oromia in the outskirt of Addis Ababa in the past few weeks.

The dead, claimed the opposition, include the Oromo students who took part in two demonstrations.

Presenting the names, the relatives and the homes of the victims, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek), urged the government to stop the killings as they were a violation of the constitution.

Medrek urged the government to respond to the demands of the protesters in a peaceful and civilised manner.

“How could the military shoot and kill children demonstrating against the killings of their brothers and relatives? We keep on recording such crimes of this regime, and will one day bring the people who committed the crimes before an international court to account,” said the Medrek chairman, Prof Beyene Petros.

Medrek came third in the May General Election in which the ruling party and its allies won with a landslide.

A 10-year-old boy was among the protesters killed by security forces Monday, according Dr Merera Gudina, the vice-chairman of Medrek.

The Oromo students have been protesting against the Addis Ababa city’s expansion plan, which they claim will encroach on the land owned by smallholder farmers in Oromia.

Dr Merera claimed the government was buying one square meter of land for 4 to 5 birr (a quarter of US dollar) and selling it to the so called investors for 20,000 birr ($1,000) per square metres.

“Where is this money [profit] going? Is it really going to change the lives of the farmers who used to live on that land? Are we doing something that sustains the lives of the farmers, such as helping them to own bank shares that protect them from becoming beggars after finishing the money?” Dr Merera asked.

He claimed that some 150,000 farmers were evicted from around Addis Ababa following the disputed May 2005 General Election in which 193 demonstrators were killed.

The government maintains that the new Addis Ababa masterplan aimed at benefitting the Oromo people living around the city through better infrastructures, among others.

A week after the protests erupted and the death of some students was reported, the government also indicated in public media that the masterplan was at a draft stage and would not be implemented without consultations with the people.

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