Oromo community in SA appeals to President Ramaphosa to intervene in Ethiopian violence

Oromo community in SA appeals to President Ramaphosa to intervene in Ethiopian violence

By Crispin Adriaanse

Screenshot of Oromo protest video at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, posted on Saturday and using hashtags #OromoProtest2020 #OromoLivesMatter #justiceforhanchalu. Picture: Twitter | @StarOromia

CAPE TOWN – The Oromo Community of South Africa has accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of “political cleansing” of the Oromo people and urged South African President and African Union (AU) chairman Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

This follows the outbreak of violent unrest in Ethiopia in the wake of Oromo activist and musician Hachalu Hundessa’s murder on June 29.

“We want him [Ramaphosa] to be the voice of the voiceless … and remind him [Abiy] to stop human rights abuses in Ethiopia,” Oromo Community of South Africa chairperson Abdurahman Musa told the African News Agency (ANA) in an interview on Friday.

Abdurahman believes that South Africa is a beacon of democracy in Africa, upholding basic human rights with an inclusive government and universal political participation. Therefore, Ramaphosa is able to instill these values in Ethiopia by exerting his influence and placing it on the AU’s agenda as an urgent matter.

He is concerned about the loss of innocent Ethiopian lives and that the current situation in the country may escalate into a repeat of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 if there is no intervention.

“What we fear is that the government is instigating this kind of war between community to community,” Abdurahman said.

On July 3, the BBC reported that three television stations in Ethiopia were either closed or under investigation for inciting ethnic tensions. The TV stations,  Oromo Media Network (OMN), Asrat, and Dimtsi Weyane, are linked to the three ethnic groups  – the Oromos, Amharas, and the Tigrayans.

Abdurahman said he did not believe the TV stations were inciting tensions, adding that OMN in particular, had a multicultural narrative. He claimed that Abiy wanted to create a homogeneous culture in the country and was clamping down on these TV stations because of the multicultural narrative.

“He [Abiy] wants to promote or bring back a single Ethiopia, with single language, with single representation. Not representing other large or minority groups,” Abdurahman said.

According to TV news channel Al Jazeera, at least 239 people have died in violent unrest since Hundessa’s assassination. The deaths were attributed to lethal force by Ethiopian security forces as well as ethnic violence.

The internet was shut down in Ethiopia on June 29, and by Friday access was limited to about 20 percent of normal levels, according to technology website Tweakers, which cited NetBlocks as the source. NetBlocks is an NGO that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance, and believes the internet shutdown in Ethiopia restricts press freedom, endangers public safety, and limits accountability for “extrajudicial killings”.

– African News Agency (ANA)