Oduu Haaraya

Saskatoon’s Ethiopian community protests government in home country


A group from Saskatoon’s Ethiopian community gathered outside City Hall in support of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group and protests going on in the African nation.

Earlier this week, at least three university students died — government opposition said Thursday as many as 10 people were dead — and many others were injured following days of protests by students at Haramaya University and other towns in Ethiopia’s Oromia state.

The students in Ethiopia have been demonstrating peacefully over plans to integrate the capital, Addis Ababa, with surrounding towns in Oromia — the largest regional state — in the past three weeks.

“We are giving voices for those silenced voices against the government brutality,” said Abebe Biratu, one of the Saskatoon protesters at City Hall on Thursday.

High school and university students from across Ethiopia’s most-populous region are protesting to demand the government shelve a master plan for the city, said Bekele Nega, general secretary of the Oromo Federalist Congress.

Ethiopia, which the International Monetary Fund forecasts will have sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economy this year, is experiencing tensions between its plans for rapid development and its constitution, which enshrines the right to ethnic self-administration. Oromo critics say the integration of the capital with surrounding towns amounts to annexation of the ethnic group’s territory because farmers will be evicted and the language and culture lost.

Integrated development will benefit Oromo residents of peripheral towns and there will be no changes to administrative boundaries, said Getachew Reda, Ethiopia’s communications minister.

He hopes the Canadian government can help stop the killing, he said.

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