Ethiopia: People Living in Fear Under ‘Martial Law’ Says Opposition
A member of Ethiopia’s opposition Blue Party says people in the nation’s capital are living in fear as protests surrounding the city are met with continued violence.
The crackdown on protests in recent weeks has killed 150, according to activists and opposition groups, with many of the dead being students. And Blue Party member Eyasped Tesfaye says he and other around the capital are worried about the extent of government oppression.
Oromia ‘under martial law’
The protests revolve around government plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa into surrounding land of the Oromia region. Oromo students and local farmers have staged numerous demonstrations in recent weeks to protest what they’re calling a land grab, but the events they insist are peaceful descended into chaos.
Opposition groups claim government forces have opened fire on protestors, killing hundreds. The state argues only a handful of people have died and a full media blackout has been established in the country to silence coverage. Numerous reporters have been detained under terrorism laws for attempting to report on the demonstrations.
“The people in the Oromia region are under martial law,” Tesfaye says.
“Their protest is totally peaceful,” insists Tesfaye. “But the way the government is responding is with brutal methods. Now the death toll has reached 150 today.”
That equals five or six protestors being killed each day, according to the Blue Party member. Photos circulating social media have shown some of the gruesome results of protests shut down by government forces and there is little evidence of provocation on the part of demonstrators.
However, the government has labelled protestors as terrorists and enemies of the state. It has pledged to take an uncompromising approach to bringing the protests to an end and few would accuse the state of making hollow threats. In a country where reporting on the protests can land you in prison under terrorist laws, how far the government will go to squash opposition remains to be seen.