There is huge presence of federal and regional security forces in and around Debre Zeit, a.k.a Bishoftu, 25 miles from the capital Addis Ababa, ahead of Ireecha celebrations on Sunday. Ireecha is an important annual celebration by the people of Oromo, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.
The United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) office in Addis Ababa meanwhile advised its staff to stay away from large gatherings and to avoid Debre Zeit this weekend.
Vehicles and passengers entering the town are being searched and the administration of the town has informed local media that there was a boost up in security in and around Debre Zeit.
As part of the ongoing protest in the Oromo region, Debre Zeit and its environs have been the scene of demonstrations against the regime. There is speculation that the tens of thousands of Oromos coming to take part at the celebrations could use the occasion to express their grievances against the TPLF regime.
The Oromo region of Ethiopia has seen violent crackdown by the regime against protesters, mostly students, who took to the streets to denounce the land and economic policies of the regime. The protest in the Oromo region that began in October 2015 was sparked by plans by the government to expand the city limits of the capital to neighboring farming communities, who are predominantly Oromos.
At least one thousand protesters were reportedly shot and killed by security forces while tens of thousands remain in detention.
The Ireecha is celebrated on the arrival of spring every year. The tens of thousands of participants at this year’s celebrations are expected to give respect to those who lost their lives in the hands of security forces.