The repression in Kobo was different in that the regime deployed helicopter. What was the motive?
January 26, 2018
When residents of Kobo town took to the street to demand perpetrators of Woldia massacre, during a religious festival, be brought to justice and the release of youth prisoners in Kobo town, the response was deployment of defense force (TPLF loyal Agazi forces to be specific) in the town to put the peaceful protest down.
A young resident of the town told VOA Amharic service that government used combat helicopters to terrorize people in Kobo. And that is what makes protest supression in Kobo totally different from protest suppression practices in the rest of the country. Not just that Kobo is geographically dangereous as it could pose problem to mobility but also the movement is mused with identity politics issue and the intention was to make peaceful protest appear scary.
However, the government didn’t seem to get the intended result, submission, out of terrorizing residents.
What rather happened was that residents responded to in kind to the attack from government soldiers. Two members of Agazi forces are killed according to eyewitnesses in Kobo.
In addition, residents selectively attacked businesses and store that are believed to be affiliated with Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) party. A couple of vehicles that belong to the government were also burnt. Farms owned by TPLF people are also burned.
From what a resident of Kobo told VOA Amharic service, there seem to be a pattern of thought in the town that Tigray speaking Ethiopians are considered as worshipers of TPLF – a political entity that is essentially epitomized as a merciless enemy of Ethiopia on grounds of unprecedented corruption, fascist-style repression and killings of Ethiopians.
Government forces killed dozens of civilians. And after two days of protest, the town is calmer today. But it is unlikely for government to effectively repress after this.
Government is always looking for and blaming an imaginary third party for protests like Kobo. Ironically, the government knows very well that it has not addressed the political demands -especially one that is related to identity issue in the case of Kobo and what was once its integral part, Raya.
People in Kobo believe that Tigray regime forcefully imposed Tigray identity on Raya. In fact, there seems to be a sentiment in Tigray now that Raya is an integral part of Tigray as is Wolkait, which used to be a part of Gonder region.
In the process, the conflict is spiraling into something that could consume the entire country.
No part of Ethiopia seems to accept an Ethiopia dominated and exploited by TPLF and its affiliates. The problem is TPLF leaders are not getting it or do not want to get it as they are painting a picture of being a victim of “hate.”
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