Ethiopian PM on tightrope over abducted Dembi Dollo University Students

Massive protest rally planned in several cities of Amhara regional state of Ethiopia over abducted Dembi Dollo University students. Activists demanding Abiy Ahmed to break his silence.

abducted Dembi Dollo university students
#bringbackourgirls campaign poster for abducted Dembi Dollo University students

January 27, 2020

Several weeks after the Ethiopian government claimed that it had secured 21 abducted students (most of them are female) from “unidentified abductors” in the Oromo region of Ethiopia,  parents say they have not yet heard from their children.

Activists, celebrities, and politicians are expressing anger over the silence of Abiy Ahmed led Ethiopian government in connection with the abduction of students. Some brace for the worst.

On Sunday, US-based former talk show host and now activists, Tamagne Beyene released a video message demanding Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. “…why are you silent about it, and why is your government failing to rescue the students?…,” he asked.  

Global Amhara Coalition, a non-for profit organization, condemned the abduction in the strongest term, demanded PM  Abiy Ahmed explain about the situation – as reported by Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA).

Outraged Ethiopians launched an online campaign this past week with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls several days ago, and the drive is still underway to pressure the Ethiopian government.

In addition to the online campaign, a street protest is in the making and will take place in most cities and towns in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

Ethiopian government could have a severe political crisis over kidnapped Dembi Dollo University students. They were detained in late November 2019 from a passengers’ bus as they were returning to their parents’ places following the closure of the university due to what appeared to be a security problem that affected students, mostly from the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

On Tuesday, January 28, a protest rally will take place in many towns in Amhara  region of Ethiopia; relevant authorities have given permission.

Oromo regional state linked the abduction with the militant wing of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF – Shane).  But the ethnic-nationalist group has not claimed responsibility officially.

On January 11, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration announced that it has rescued 21 students and that negotiations are underway to secure the release of the rest of the abducted students.

Parents say they have not heard from them. They reached out to government authorities hoping to hear something about their children but to no avail, as reported by BBC Amharic service. BBC reporter said that he noticed a sense of despair and sad faces.  

Merigeta Yeneneh Adugna is Girmash’s father; she is one of the abducted students. He said, “we were happy when we were told on January 11 that they are released. But we have not heard from our children yet. We are worried that maybe the abductors killed them…let them [the government] tell us if they are killed…”  

Mare Abebe, Belaynes Mekonen’s mother – also abducted, told BBC Amharic that she does not have a cellphone, and she gets news about her daughter from other people. “I can’t eat; I groan day and night hoping God would answer, hoping compassion from the government to help release our children,” she is cited as saying.

The government’s silence seems to have triggered speculation that the abductees are killed, perhaps shockingly, given the abductor’s manifested  violent behaviors.

On Monday , Muferiat Kami, Minister for Peace, the most powerful office in the country, next to the office of the Prime Minister, led a delegation to Dembi Dollo. She consults with the University, community members, elders, and security forces in the region, according to state media, but the outcome of her meeting is unknown yet.  

Over 35,000 university students are said to have returned home following recurring killings of university students in the region.

The abductors demand that ethnic Oromo university students studying in the Amhara region of Ethiopia should return to the Oromo part of the country – which seems to be inspired by radical ethnic Oromo nationalist creed.

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