Ethiopia:Holy Synod calls the killings of two Orthodox Youth ruthless,evil

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church Holy Synod condemned the killings February 04, 2020. Demanded answer from the government

Ethiopia _ Church _ Holy Synod
Abune Mathias reading out Holy Synod decision. Photo credit : EOTC TV via Hara Ze Tewahdo

February 19, 2020

On the night of February 4, 2020, riot police shot and killed two Orthodox Christian youth in a church in Bole Sub-city of Addis Ababa.  Another man died from a bullet wound on the second day, and several others sustained injuries.

Media coverage for the tragic incident that shocked members of the Ethiopian Church in the country and outside was somewhat blurry.  State-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) depicted it as a clash between the police force and residents of 24 area of Bole sub-city near St. Gabriel Hospital.

Addis Ababa City Mayor Takele Uma made it appear like an upshot of a conspiracy to create a rift between residents and the Ethiopian Church on the one hand and the city administration on the other. He announced that seven people, including City Officials, were arrested and that an investigation is underway to determine what happened and why. Followers of the Ethiopian Church were to be informed about the result of the investigation.  

Many followers of the Ethiopian Church saw the killings as deliberate and as something which testifies the intensification of the attack on Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Church issued a statement on Wednesday following three days of meeting the capital Addis Ababa. The Holy Synod called the killing “evil and ruthless act.”  Ethiopian Church has established that the youth were killed inside the premises of the Church, and forces deployed at 1 a.m. in the morning opened fire on worshipers.

The Holy Synod condemned the killing and demanded the government to hold the perpetrators responsible for their action, and make the result of the investigation public to the followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The three young men were killed following a move to demolish the Church as the government claims that it was illegally constructed.

The Holy Synod also said that there has been communication with the government about the place for about four years, and an ArK, Holy scripture, and ecclesiastical items for the Church were giving service.  It is now also a place where two members of the Church were ruthless killed, said the Holy Synod. And demanded the government to give an order to recognize the place for Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Martyrdom of the two youth added significance to the site for the followers of the Church. A new church will be built on it, the Holy Synod announced.

Apart from physical attack and destruction, the Ethiopian Church has been a subject of propaganda war from radical ethnic nationalities who paint the Church in a negative light. The Holy Synod now responded to that demanding government authorities to hold media outlets like Oromo Media Network (OMN), LTV, and Oromia Broadcasting Service (OBS) responsible in light of relevant legal instruments, and discourage character assassination against the Church.

Also, radical ethnic nationalists have been politicizing church service and initiating the breakup of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church from within along ethnic lines. Radical ethnic Oromo nationalists employed the services of some priests who subscribed to their political ideology in that regard.  They are working to form “Oromia Orthodox Church.” According to the decision from the Holy Synod, these politically motivated moves to establish another Orthodox Church is now outlawed.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church is believed to have well over 50 million followers in the country. Prelates in the Church teach that the Church is as old as Christianity itself.  

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