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Amhara regional state statement on Woldia noted as betrayal

Amhara Regional State statment on the situaiton in Woldia and in the region has angred residents and activists alike.

Alemnew Mekonen - ANDM
One of the most unpopular ANDM official, Alemnew Mekonen

February 4,2017

Administrative Council of Amhara regional state has issued a statement yesterday regarding the situation in Woldia and the region in the wake of civilians deaths during a religious holiday on January 21, 2018. Government security forces mostly believed to be from Tigray region according to residents, opened fire on people who were celebrating the holiday which claimed several lives.

Citing damages due to clash between supporters of Woldia city soccer team, now disbanded, and Mekelle city supporters in December, the statement noted fifteen people are killed due to the clash between security forces and residents of the city who were celebrating Kanazegelia, The figure include deaths in Kobo and Mersa, where there were protests to oppose the killing in Woldia, according to the statement.

It went on to say that the killing by security forces is unacceptable in any way although “there was a provocation on the part of people who were celebrating the holiday.” And this is one of the remarks from the regional authorities that made activists and opposition figures angry. And the reason is that people in the city believe that security forces were unprovoked when they opened fire on the people.

Yet, the statement from Amhara regional council says that it will resort to legal measures to hold “those who marred the religious ceremony by causing security issue, those who shot and killed, and those who shot and wounded” accountable.

Another point from the statement that angered activists and those who lost loved ones is that it blamed residents in Woldia, Kobo, and Mersa for attacking”investments” and for attacking people based on “identity” and “political belief.” Apparently, the regional governing body assumed that people would protest peacefully after several innocents are killed.

Many other details in the statement made activists think that the statement is a testimony that the regional authorities are still subservient to Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) unlike the leadership in Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) which is one of the member parties in the ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)

What made the anger towards Amhara regional state more stern is that government has been mounting crackdown in Woldia, Kobo, and Mersa.

President of the regional state was in Woldia a day after the massacre happened and had a meeting with residents and released detained youth in Woldia after the clash.

A new wave of the mass arrest this past week coupled with the statement issued by the regional state yesterday is perceived as another betrayal by Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) which is seen as a form of TPLF surrogate in the region.

It was in the news ( in VOA Amharic and DW Amharic, among others) government detained hundreds of residents from the region in connection with the post-massacre protest in the towns mentioned above. And many fear that it would aggravate the situation rather than intimidating people in the region.

Regional government, just like the federal government, tend to the problems in the region in light of unaddressed development needs and economic issue in a way overlooking the political grievance -something that makes many doubt if the government can get a solution at all.

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