Ethiopian opposition calls for inquiry into protester deaths

Ethiopia’s opposition blames government for deaths of 80 people in protests against land plan and requests investigation

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of Dinka Chala, a teacher who family members said was shot dead by security forces during a demonstration against a government land plan, in Holonkomi town, Oromia, Ethiopia December 17, 2015

An Ethiopian opposition party on Wednesday called for an investigation into the deaths of 80 people caused by government forces in the country’s Oromia region in the past four weeks.

"We are still discovering disfigured bodies in various locations. The government has continued its brutal killings so we call on the international community and donors to step in and force the government to stop these inhumane actions," Beyene Petros, president of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (EFDUF) told reporters.

The opposition leader also said the government has rejected their request to hold a public demonstration on December 27 for a second time.

Protests that led to violent clashes between the Oromo people and security forces have spread to several towns since November, after students spoke out against government plans that will expand the capital Addis Ababa into Oromia territory, which they consider to be a land grab that could displace thousands of farmers.

But the government has rejected claims that the 25-year development plan aimed at creating a new zone to attract business will take lands from the farmers and accused the protesters of working with "terrorists."

The opposition party's charge comes after Human Rights Watch condemned the Ethiopian government for the killing of at least 75 people in a statement released last week.

Other rights groups have also criticised the move, with the US expressing concern over the violence and urging the government to "commit to a constructive dialogue."

TRTWorld and agencies