For one of the largest non-ethnic-based opposition political parties in Ethiopia, EZEMA, the move to impose Oromia flag and anthem on residents of Addis Ababa is something that does violate the constitution that was crafted to impose the interests of a particular group
“The move to repress the interests and rights of the people of Addis Ababa should stop immediately!” Ethiopian Citizens For Social Justice Party (EZEMA) said in a statement it released on Thursday.
It came days after video footage of police brutality on a high school student who happened to be from a school that refused to sing an anthem believed to be invented to nurture ethnic Oromo nationalism across schools in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
It has been about a year now since Oromia regional state, with apparent tacit support from the Federal government and Addis Ababa city administration, has been attempting to impose a regional flag and anthem on elementary, junior and secondary schools in many parts of Addis Ababa.
The statement from EZEMA said that there are signs that unnecessary tension and conflict across many elementary and secondary schools in Addis Ababa which started in December 2021 and continued until yesterday, is worsening. Classes have been disrupted and violence has been caused.
Having elaborated on the meaning of the flag and national anthem their demonstrated significance in the struggle to maintain Ethiopia’s independence and how Ethiopian long-distance athletes used it in Olympic events, EZEMA said the attempt to impose a single region’s flag and anthem ( on parity with Ethiopian flag and national anthem) in schools across Addis Ababa a practice that demonstrates that about plans to entrench violence and conflict.
The party said it has gathered information from different sources about what it called illegal action has been observed in different schools in Addis Ababa.
There has been violence in connection with attempts to hoist Oromia region flag and impose the regional anthems. Apart from that, students and teachers who opposed the move have been arrested.
The party is questioning if the ruling elites are purposely creating a chaotic situation so as to stay in power.
“What is confusing to EZEMA is that senior Addis Ababa City Administration and Federal Government official’s understanding of the issue is unsound and when we look into the problems they are creating on the ground seems like they think they can not stay in power unless a problem is created,” it said.
The party argues schools in Addis Ababa are under Addis Ababa City Administration or the Federal government. It is the Addis Ababa City electorate that voted for the city administration, not people in the Oromia region. And the Federal government is elected by all Ethiopians.
EZEMA said the imposition does not have any legal ground and asked Addis Ababa administration education bureau to make clear to the residents of Addis Ababa if there are any administrative instructions given to schools in Addis Ababa.
The party also expressed “deep sadness” to parents whose children were attacked in connection with the violence.
The message for law enforcement bodies is that they have a duty to protect students and should not resort to forceful measures. “We like to remind them that they are protectors of the people, not the system.”
EZEMA called for the government to release all students and teachers who are arrested as a result of the violence that the government triggered.
Addis Ababa Police has announced that it has arrested 97 individuals in connection with what it calls violence. It is apparent that what it was was rather an attack on students for resisting what was imposed on them.
Adanech Abibie, Addis Ababa City Mayor, this week made claims that the security situation is created by foreign powers and radical groups.
She did not deny or confirm if security forces were attacking students. The issue has become a talking point among Ethiopians in social media. Many are criticizing government authorities exploitation of city and federal government structures to Oromoize Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
A year or so after Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister, the Oromo Democratic Party that was crafted from Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) took exclusive ownership over Addis Ababa.
There were also leaked videos from party meetings whereby leaders of the party gave assurances to the party assembly saying that they are winning the gambles and will continue to work for more.
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