Ethiopia’s Universities turning into ethnic violence grounds

Ethiopian Universities are becoming places where ethnic-based violence are being entrenched rather than socializing grounds for students from across the country

Ethiopian Universities  _
Fire that raged two buildings of students dormitory at Debreberhan University

June 10, 2019

Re-surging ethnic-violence in Ethiopian Universities seem to reflect the critical political situation and the ethnic tension that Ethiopia is living currently.

As we have covered it extensively over the past year, politically charged ethnic tension has created a humanitarian crisis and security problems in many parts of the country.

Over three million Ethiopians are internationally displaced, by far the highest figure the world over including conflict-ridden countries like Syria and Yemen, due to ethnic violence. And Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration is claiming that it is returning all internally displaced people to their places of origin.

In the past few weeks, ethnic-based violence is happening once again in University grounds – this time in Northern and central Ethiopia.

On May 26, 2019, Seare Abraham, a graduating student of economics from Shere Endaselassie, in Tigray in Northern Ethiopia, was killed in Debremarkos University. As the University spokesperson, Desalew Getnet, told the public via a government media outlet, the killing was mysterious. Three other students were admitted to the hospital in critical condition. Ten suspects are in custody and under investigation, as the university authorities said.

A week later, the violence moved to Northern Ethiopia. On June 5, 2019, news emerged that Yohannes Masresha who is said to be from Debreberhan in Central Ethiopia and a second-year mechanical engineering student was violently killed in the campus grounds of Aksum University. Tigray regional state authorities have confirmed the news and said that it will hold accountable those who committed the crime. Yesterday, DW Amharic reported that Aksum University students staged a demonstration in their campus. They demanded the Federal government to take measure to resolve security and safety measure in the university.

Last week, Debre Berhan University in central Ethiopia experienced ethnic-based violence. It was a fight between a few students during graduating class final soccer game that escalated to a full-scale ethnic-violence, as reported by Voice of America Amharic Service on Friday, June 7, 2019.

The University identified 58 students as responsible for the violence. The Senate dismissed 16 students ( two of them are female) on grounds of ethical breach. 12 students are suspended for a year, according to state broadcaster, EBC, report. Thirty other students who were involved directly and indirectly received written warning from the university senate. But that did not solve the problem.

On June 8, 2019, two buildings of students’ dormitory (Block No. 21 and 27) were destroyed by fire. Both blocks hold 1000 students, as reported by EBC. The University administration says that the cause of the fire is not yet determined. It is possible that the fire is an act of arson and could be related to the incident.

Before the recent incidents in central, north western and northern Ethiopia, universities in south and south eastern parts of the country experienced ethnic violence.

And there is no indication if the recent killings and ethnic-violence are the last. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration is not providing the much-needed leadership and students, for example in campuses like Aksum University, have all the reasons to be concerned about security and safety.

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