The Ethiopian Government is using firearms to crowds of protesters to brutally suppress the large-scale Oromo students who are protesting government’s plan of expanding the capital city, Addis Ababa into Oromia Regional State. Over the last four weeks of sustained protests at least 70 people were killed, hundreds injured and several citizens are arrested. Instead of stepping back and examining the students protest in the context of constitutional framework, the Ethiopian government officials embarked on a propaganda campaign of demonizing the protesters. Particularly, we are disturbed to hear high ranking government officials such as the Prime Minister speak in an intimidating undertone using phrases such as ‘we punish protestors mercilessly’.
Over the last four weeks we believe the government has violated the following articles of the constitution:
1. Article 15 Right to Life
“Every person has the right to life. No person may be deprived of his life except as a punishment for a serious criminal offence determined by law”. Reports have indicated that at least 70 citizens have been killed by live ammunitions fired by red beret wearing security forces. Countless others are beaten, arrested and are made to live in fear.
2. Article 24 Right to Honor and Reputation
“Everyone has the right to respect for his human dignity, reputation and honor.” In a government presser broadcasted on the state owned television the protestors have been called ‘demons’. They are labeled criminals without any sort of due process of law.
3. Article 30 Right of Assembly, Demonstration and Petition
“Everyone has the right to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peaceably and unarmed, and to petition.” From reports we have learned that the protests are largely peaceful. From the media reports and the images of the protests being circulating on social media we can witness that citizens are using their constitutional rights of nonviolent tactics such as silence, turning their back, displaying symbols, putting their crossed hands in the air, marching and parading, but government is using its strong security forces to disband them.
In this age of information and communication technology attempting to conceal government’s misconducts or refusing to recognize citizens’ constitutional right shall only bring embarrassment to the government that claims it has been elected democratically just six months ago. We believe absolute shutdown of the public space will only lead to further grievances and aggravate the situation. Hence we ask the government to:
-Stop arresting and killing of innocent civilians
-Instead of shutting the public space the government must allow citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and express their thoughts and opinions about the Master Plan
-End impunity and bring those who have violated the constitutional rights of citizens to justice.
Zone9 has been always advocating for peaceful and non-violent ways of criticizing the government and demanding rights. This peaceful way of advocating for change is the one that we are living for, speak for, arrested for and exiled for too. We are in solidarity with peaceful protesters and all nonviolent actors who works to bring perpetrators to justice and demands their rights.
Respect the constitution.