At least 45 people arrested over protest in Qorarit, Tigray

Protest continues in Tigray, in north Ethiopia, as is the case with TPLF’s forceful measure which aims at repressing the new movement

Tigray _ Ethiopia
Protest in Qorarit, Tigray. Photo : social media.

by Bernabas Shiferaw
borkena
June 3, 2020

Roads had been blocked in Qorarit, a city in the zone of Wetern Tigray, for the last two days. The blockage is an expression of protest by dwellers of the city who are asking the government for compensation payments for lands that have been taken away from them by the government seven years ago. 

The protest started as a peaceful demonstration but soon turned into a scene of stone throwing by the youth and road blockage that lasted until yesterday. Forty-five people have been arrested so far. 

Inhabitants of the city told BBC’s Amharic service that their lands were expropriated by the regional government with a promise of compensation. The purpose of the expropriation was to establish a large farm of sugarcane for the sugar factory that was to be established nearby. The farmers were then moved to Qorarit, which was actually the result of their resettlement. 

But ever since, the farmers have been asking for the compensation they were promised by the government, without receiving anything. This was what moved them to demonstration and then to blocking roads. In addition to the compensation, they also requested that a land management body be established in the city, and that they be given guarantees of ownership of their new plots of land in Qorarit and their right to inherit these plots to their children. 

According to BBC Amharic, one of the officials of the city, Mr. Kidane Mariam Abay confirmed the news, including the arrests. Acknowledging that the questions by the inhabitants are appropriate, he said that the administration is working to answer the people’s questions step by step. He also mentioned that the city administration has notified higher officials of the situation. 

However, Mr. Kidane Mariam said that some of the protestors who were initiating “unwanted rebellion and strike” have been arrested and that they will be released after being “admonished.” But he was unsure of the exact number of prisoners. 

Such news of protests and road blockages in different areas of the region had also been reported last week. The immediate causes of the protests are mostly questions of good governance. However, many have ascribed the protests to long term dissatisfaction with the regional government. And this series of protests has been represented as a political movement and named ‘Fenqel’. 



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