Severe Ethiopian crackdown on Oromo Irrecha Bishoftu celebration

Security forces have blockaded the highway from Addis Ababa to Bishoftu in fear of protest gatherings forming at Irrecha celebrations

Although an official police statement from Bishoftu says that visitors are welcome to today’s celebration of Irrecha, the Oromo national unity holiday, the truth is far different. Since yesterday the 39 kilometer expressway from Addis Ababa (known as Finfinne to Oromos before the Amhara conquest) to Bishoftu has been mostly blocked off. Many witnesses report that numerous Oromo youth from Addis Ababa and other areas have been arrested by police trying to enter Bishoftu.  Despite the roadblock the editor of Addis Standard in her twitter reports says that many are still choosing to walk the 39 kilometer distance by foot to attend the celebrations at lake Hora Arsedi. Many have been quoted as saying that Abiy Ahmed will not succeed in stopping Oromo protestation to wrongful imprisonment of Oromo leaders and other grievances including extrajudicial killings.

Oromo celebrants of Irrecha at Hora Arsedi in Bishoftu are not deterred by threats from Ethiopian security forces under orders from Abiy Ahmed to stop embarassing protests before instillation of the new government

The Ethiopian Federal government is so fearful that large formations of federal police and soldiers are now deployed in Bishoftu. A complete blackout of telephone, cell, electricity, and internet services has been done. Hospitals and clinics are under strict orders not to report any injuries in Bishoftu just as yesterday doctors and nurses in Addis were rebuked for reporting injuries at Irrecha celebrations in Addis Ababa. Additionally there are now reports that prominent human rights leaders from Addis Ababa including Tesfalem Waldyes, founder of Ethiopia Insight, have been arrested.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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