16/04/2021

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Normalcy returning to Ethiopia capital, AU speaks, net still blocked

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Addis Ababa calm amid high security presence

Four days since the murder of famed Oromo entertainer Hachalu Hundessa, normalcy is returning to the Ethiopian capital after last few days of deadly protests, bomb blasts and deployment of the army to curb rising violence.

The BBC reports that many businesses and offices in Addis Ababa have reopened as of Friday morning. The city mayor had on Thursday evening addressed the populace urging people to get back to work.

The Africa LIVE page also says public transport has also resumed, amid heavy security presence on the streets. Clashes especially in the capital led to death of ten people with police quoted as saying there were active plans to incite communal violence.

The funeral of Hundessa, was held Thursday in his hometown of Ambo, in the Oromia region amid heavy security presence. Two people died in scuffles with security forces.

His death reignited tensions across Africa’s second most populous nation. Demonstrations resulted in the deaths of 81 people and increased political and communal tensions was only curbed by deployment of the military.

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Internet remains blocked – NetBlocks

Internet remains blocked for a fourth consecutive day according to Net Blocks, a net rights group monitoring the outage.

“Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm that internet has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 6:00 a.m. UTC (9 a.m. local time) on Tuesday 30 June 2020 amid protests and unrest.

“Real-time data show that the country remains offline as of Friday morning 9:00 a.m. local time,” Netblocks added. The blockade has impacted the release of COVID-19 statistics which prior to July 1 were released on a daily basis.

July 3: Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

We are deeply concerned at violent events in Ethiopia this week where a prominent singer and activist from Oromia Region, Hachalu Hundessa, was shot and killed in the capital, Addis Ababa on Monday.

The killing of Hundessa sparked protests across the country, including in the capital and in Oromia Region. While some of the protests were peaceful, a number were violent from the outset. According to information we have received, roads were reported to be blocked in most parts of Oromia Region and buildings vandalised and burnt, while there was gunfire and bomb explosions in Addis Ababa.

The authorities responded to the spread of the protests by shutting down the Internet in Oromia Region, as well as in Addis Ababa, making it extremely difficult to verify reports about the number of people killed and injured. According to the Government, around 50 people were killed, while media sources indicated some 80 people had died, including three members of the security forces.

We note with concern that the protests following Hundessa’s killing have increasingly taken on an ethnic undertone. We therefore call on all, including young people, to stop carrying out ethnically-motivated attacks and to stop inciting to violence, acts that only serve to exacerbate underlying tensions.

We also urge the security forces to exercise restraint when managing protests and to refrain from using unnecessary or disproportionate force.

Thirty-five people were reported to have been arrested by security forces on Tuesday evening during a protest over the location of Hundessa’s funeral. According to the police, the protesters, who wanted the singer to be buried in Addis Ababa, unsuccessfully tried to prevent his body being taken to his hometown of Ambo. His funeral went ahead in Ambo on Thursday.

The shutting down of Internet services is of particular concern as it disproportionately restricts the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and risks further exacerbating tensions. We urge the authorities to restore Internet access without further delay.

The authorities have announced that suspects in Hachalu Hundessa’s murder have been arrested. It is essential that there is a prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into his death to ensure those responsible are held accountable. The victims and their families have the right to justice, the truth and reparations.

We also stand ready to provide support to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in its investigation of potential human rights violations during these violent events.

Jawar, Eskinder appear before court

Addis offices of three TV channels accused of instigating ethnic tensions and attacks have been shut even though they continue broadcast from other studios; the three are: Asrat, Oromia Media Network, OMN; and Dimsti Woyane.

OMN owner Jawar Mohammed who was arrested on Tuesday appeared before a court on Thursday. The court adjourned with Jawar to reappear on July 16. Bekele Garba who was arrested with him is due to reappear on July 13. Over 30 other people are in custody.

State broadcaster EBC also quoted an official of the Federal Attorney General office as confirming that journalist Eskinder Nega was arrested on suspicion of “instigating chaos,” he is accused of dispatching groups of youth with the aim to create chaos.

Jawar is currently an opposition politician with the Oromo Federalist Congress, OFC, whiles Eskinder is leading member of National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) and Balderas for Genuine Democracy.

Meanwhile in the eastern city of Diredawa, where two people were killed in the aftermath of the musician’s killing, the police say they have arrested more than 270 people in connection with the violence, the BBC report added.

July 2: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission appeals for calm in Ethiopia

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat is monitoring the recent developments in Ethiopia closely, following the killing of the Ethiopian Artist and musician Haacaalu Hundeessaa. The violence has claimed many lives so far with scores of people injured.

The Chairperson wishes to extend his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the injured a speedy recovery.

While the country mourns the loss Hachalu Hundesa, the Chairperson appeals for calm, restraint by all sides and calls on all Ethiopians to refrain from acts that could further escalate the current situation.

The Chairperson calls on the Government of Ethiopia to bring the perpetrators of such heinous act to face justice and encourages all sides to resolve differences through dialogue and peaceful means in order to allow adequate efforts towards preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chairperson of the Commission reaffirms its support to the government and people of Ethiopia in their efforts to promote a stable, peaceful and prosperous country