GENEVA: Turning up the volume on Ethiopian protests
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Turning up the volume on Ethiopian protests
(thenewhumanitarian)—More than 90 people have died in protests in Ethiopia over the killing on Monday of iconic Oromo singer, Hachalu Hundessa. Seen as the voice of his generation, Hundessa’s songs captured the struggles of the historically marginalised Oromo people. The songs were a soundtrack to the anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. Hundessa was shot dead in the capital, Addis Ababa, by unidentified gunmen – although his supporters blame the security forces. There have been multiple bomb blasts in the city, and some residents have armed themselves fearing ethnic violence. Human Rights Watch called on the government to act urgently to reduce tensions and ensure the “security forces do not make a combustible situation worse.” But on Tuesday, the internet was switched off, and the police then detained Oromo opposition leader, Bekele Gerba, and media mogul and Abiy critic Jawar Mohammed. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has charted a reformist course after decades of repression. But ethno-regionalist passions have also been ignited, which are proving hard to contain, with the security forces playing by the old rule book of rights abuses. Delayed elections have added to the tensions.