Ethiopia: No information about kidnapped Dembi Dollo University students after 95 days

Parents still attempt to reach out to government authorities hoping know if their kidnapped children are dead or alive. Ethiopian government authorities could soon disclose some information, regional government authority told VOA Amharic

borkena
March 10, 2020

Ethiopia is a country of contradictions. Progress in the status of women ( mainly measured based on gender parity cabinet and the appointment of the first female president in the country) is arguably one of the hallmarks of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration – as many observers tend to put it. 

Ethiopian Airlines’ traditions of only female crew flights on the occasion of International Women’s day is another example that people pull to demonstrate progress in the role of women in the Ethiopian society. 

But all is not well. Among other things, it has been more than 95 days now since Dembi Dollo University Students who were on their way to their parents were kidnapped. It is a politically motivated kidnapping. Radical ethnic Oromo nationalists (erstwhile they used to claim that Oromo rights in Ethiopia are violated) are behind the kidnapping, as one security official in the Oromo region said. 

There is no information regarding the whereabouts of the kidnapped students. 

A Federal government level task force was formed under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonen, who has been working on the issue. 

By now, people anticipate that authorities could have information about the issue, but it is not shared. Their parents are in pain – perhaps as much as the kidnapped students. 

The Voice of America Amharic Service spoke to them in Bahir Dar, the seat Amhara regional state where they went to knock on doors of the region’s president and police authorities. 

They were told that they could not meet with the region’s president, Temesgen Tiruneh. The reason is “meeting.” 

All they want is, they told VOA Amharic reporter in Bahir Dar that they want to know if their children are dead or alive. 

They recalled that they met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his deputy, and were promised that they would hear something about it. But they have not heard anything. Worse, Fikir Chekole, who is the sister of one of the kidnapped students, Estalu Chekole, is arrested by the government; their mother Endalech Gualu told VOA Amharic. She was arrested for “shouting.”

In late January 2020, Ethiopians in Washington DC demonstrated demanding an answer from the Ethiopian government regarding the students. 

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared in Parliament in early February, he faced similar questions from several parliamentarians. He said, “the issue is complicated as the group that abducted them has not claimed responsibility.” 

Although the students are believed to be kidnapped by the armed wing of the radical ethnic Oromo nationalists group, Oromo Liberation Front -Shane, the Ethiopian government claimed that the kidnapping is not ethnically motivated.



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