In a latest string of attacks on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, at least three people were killed on Thursday when Oromia police opened fire on the followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who were in a religious procession as part of Epiphany celebration in the capital Addis Ababa.
It happened in Woybela Mariam locality.
The victims died in Alert hospital in the same locality of Addis Ababa. Another man is seriously wounded and still in the same hospital. Ten others have reportedly sustained light injuries.
Apart from firing live bullets on followers of the church as the replica of the Ark of the Covenant was on its way back to Woybela Mariam Church from a designated baptism place, Oromia police fired tear gas on children’s choirs and stopped the procession. It means the Ark of the Covenant was stopped, and Ethiopian church followers were brutalized.
The victims are not yet laid to rest.
The solemn religious procession was interrupted to the point that Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Abune Melke Tsadek , had to make a decision to temporarily keep the Ark of Covenant from Woybela Mariam at the Keraneyo Medhanealem Church.
The incident is said to be triggered by forceful measures on the part of Oromia police when it stopped faithfuls who were wearing clothes featuring the Ethiopian flag. Those carrying Ethiopian flags were also snatched.
The killing, for many, is politically motivated. And it is directly carried out by order from the government body.
The Ethiopian Church mobilised followers from the entire Addis Ababa on Friday to finalise the interrupted procession, and millions have attended it.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been indicted for not being able to protect civilians from radical ethnic nationalist groups, primarily the armed wing of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). At times, the killings against Orthodox Christians in different parts of Oromia region are projected as the works of what the government calls OLF -Shane.
In reality, Abiy Ahmed’s government is full of radical ethnic Oromo nationalists whose target, among other things, is weakening the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church. Administrative and political powers are exploited to pursue this objective.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is very quick to share his remarks on different incidents in the country using his social media platforms, has not yet said a word about the killings of Orthodox followers in Addis Ababa. His government has not yet released an official statement on the incident, too.
In February 2020, there was a similar killing in Addis Ababa during Takele Uma’s tenure in the Bole area of the city which was condemned by the Patriarch, Abune Mathias.
There was another incident across the Oromia region right after what is said to be an orchestrated killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a singer, in July 2020. Dozens of Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers were massacred in a horrifying manner in an orchestrated attack by state and non-state actors.
The Church has been under immense pressure from the different levels of government, mostly in the Oromia and South Ethiopia regions.
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