Oromia Stampede – According to the Ethiopian authorities, about 52 people have been reported dead from the most recent Ethiopian protests.
The government confirms that the deaths were as a result of a stampede during a religious festival.
Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, says the incident, which has left many dead and more injured, was the doing of the Oromia rioters. He says the security agencies did not trigger the stampede.
Desalegn in a televised national address exonerated the police and praised them for gallantly handling the situation.
Opposing the Prime Minister were the testimonies of several witnesses. They say that the stampede occurred after the police employed tear gas, rubber bullets and baton charges.
It was an annual religious festival, Irrecha, in Bishoftu, and thousands of people from across the country had gathered at the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa to celebrate.
There has been diverse and conflicting details over what really happened at the festival which celebrates the end of the rainy season.
While some reports say that the Ethiopian police responded after Oromia protesters threw stones and bottles; other reports say the demonstrators were utterly peaceful.
“Crowds chanted “We need freedom” and “We need justice” and prevented community elders, deemed close to the government, from delivering their speeches at a religious festival, prompting police to fire tear gas that caused the stampede.”– Aljazeera
An Oromo activist, identified as Jawar Mohamed, had stated that hundreds were killed and injured from the Oromia stampede. He said troops and a helicopter gunship had opened fire, and that gave rise to the pandemonium.
From the inception of the tension between the Ethiopian government and the Oromo people, an estimated number of 500 deaths have been recorded.
Even after the government had dropped the idea of expanding the nation’s capital into the Oromia region, Ethiopia has been in turmoil. The Oromo tribe’s core cause of protests now is summed in economic and political marginalization, as well as human rights.
“For the last 25 years, the Oromo people have been marginalised in many things. Today we come together as one to chant for our freedom.”