Various parts of Ethiopia are holding ceremonies on Sunday for dozens of victims of deadly clashes this weeks sparked by confrontation earlier this week outside the home of an influential ethnic Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed.
The deadly clashes which raged for several days earlier this week was sparked by claims from Jawar on Tuesday of an Ethiopian government- orchestrated attempt to physically attack him, with angry supporters of Jawar taking to the streets to denounce the alleged government conspiracy.
The protests quickly turned into ethnic and religious themed violence pitting members of the ethnic Oromo population against members of various ethnic minorities living in Oromia. The violence also affected some parts of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa which is totally surrounded by Oromia.
Ethiopia was rocked by deadly unrest between November 2015 to March 2018, with many ethnic Oromos who make up around 35 percent of Ethiopia’s estimated 105 million population taking to the streets to protest against alleged political and economic marginalization.
The protests are credited with bringing leadership change at the top with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, an ethnic Oromo assuming office in April 2018. However, in recent weeks tensions between Ahmed and Jawar had come to the front over a number of political issues.
Speaking to Xinhua, Aba Woldeyesus Seifu, Public Relations Officer at the influential Ethiopian Orthodox Church said 52 of their adherents including two clergymen have been killed in the violence, with him blaming supporters of Jawar Mohammed for the violence.
“Our adherents were killed by mobs who used sticks, guns, knives and stones to carry out their crimes in three different locations in Oromia,” said Seifu.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church held a ceremony on Sunday at the holy trinity church in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to mourn the dead and demand greater government protection for church properties and church faithful.
A hospital official in Addis Ababa on Saturday told Xinhua, he has received 20 bodies including of a police officer killed in clashes in and around Addis Ababa.
“We’ve received 20 bodies, with six of them dying by bullet wounds, while the rest were killed by head injuries caused by an attack using blunt weapons like knives, stones and sticks,” he said.
Addis Ababa,Ethiopia’s political and economic hub, is an ethnically mixed city, but is surrounded by ethnic Oromo villages.
With the Ethiopian government criticized for slow response to the violence,Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed broke his silence on Saturday evening issuing a statement vowing to bring to justice perpetrators of “savage” violence.
“The crisis we have faced will become even more dangerous and difficult if Ethiopians don’t unite and stand as one. There has been an attempt to turn the crisis into a religious and ethnic one. In the process our comrades have become victims in terrible circumstances,”
“We will unswervingly work to ensure the prevalence of the rule of law and to prosecute suspected perpetrators” said the statement from the Ethiopian PM.
In the wake of the Ethiopian PM statement, police in various parts of Oromia have announced they have arrested dozens of suspects and confiscated makeshift weapons. Enditem