– Demonstrators say government scheme to expand capital Addis Ababa endangers farmers
By Hassan Isilow
PRETORIA, South Africa – Ethiopians protesting against human rights abuses in their homeland gathered outside UN offices in Pretoria on Monday to call for the international community to take action.
“We are protesting here to create awareness about the killings of Oromo protesters in Ethiopia,” organizer Muna Saidi told Anadolu Agency. “We want the UN to help us pressure the Ethiopian government to stop these killings.”
Demonstrations sprung up in Ethiopia late November after the government proposed expanding the boundaries of capital Addis Ababa into Oromia regional state, leading to concerns among Oromo farmers about a loss of land.
The Oromo are the country’s largest ethnic group.
Saidi said many organizations had been silent over human rights violations in Ethiopia, where, according to Human Rights Watch, at least 140 protesters have been killed by security forces.
Several journalists, bloggers and opposition members have reportedly been jailed for criticizing the government.
“There is no freedom in Ethiopia,” Abdurrahman Jibro, chairman of the Oromo People’s Association of South Africa, told Anadolu Agency. “Protesters are shot and killed. Hundreds of Oromo youth have now fled to neighboring countries because they fear they will be arrested.”
Monday’s protest of around 300 saw demonstrators carrying placards calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to evictions in Oromia.