By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
December 19, 2015
(ADDIS ABABA) – At least 75 people have so been killed during the weeks of protests that are taking place in Ethiopia’s Oromia region against the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa’s expansion plan, Human Rights Watch said Saturday.
Since last month, students from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, Oromo, have been protesting against the controversial “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan” proposed by the central government to expand Addis Ababa to parts of Oromia region.
The majority of those protesting have argues that the expansion plan will lead to large scale evictions of several farmers from their ancestral lands.
They also fear their land will be grabbed without appropriate compensation.
Presently, an estimated two million people, mostly farmers live in the Oromia region areas that have proposed by the government for expansion.
Hundreds of farmers have also joined the protest, which continues in larger parts of the region amid fears it could spread to other parts of the country.
The Ethiopian government has earlier acknowledged that only five of the protesters were killed following the ongoing clashes with security forces since began on 12 November in western Oromia regional state, but the rights body says 75 people died.
“Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists”, is said.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Ethiopian government on December 15 announced that the protesters had a “direct connection with forces that have taken missions from foreign terrorist groups” and that Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force would lead the response.
“The Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromia protests has resulted in scores dead and a rapidly rising risk of greater bloodshed,” said Leslie Lefkow, the deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
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