Killing of members of the church who dared to protect the church from being occupied by the illegal groups as public anger on the position of the Prime Minister is growing
At least two people are killed and several others injured in Shashemene – about 261 kilometers South of Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. One died at the spot and the other one reportedly died hours later from his injuries.
Four others have sustained injuries that could be a life threatening one, according to local sources close to the Ethiopian Church.
The incident happened in St. Michael Church in the city. What sources say is that the arrival of the illegally appointed Bishop for the Dioceses was announced and church bell ringing was heard.
Residents of Shashemene rushed to St. Michael Church to protect the church. Gates to the church premises were reportedly locked by security forces not to allow the laity to enter the church premise.
When they gathered outside the church, police, reportedly, fired gunshot to disperse the crowd. But police action did not disperse the crowd apparently – and police started to shoot live bullets to disperse it.
Oromo regional state special forces are said to be behind the killing and they are said to have used a sniper.
Tewahedo Media Center cited Melake Tsehay Kesis Yohannes Zelalem, head of Arsi Diocese Parish, as saying “The Pressure on the part of the government is strong and bitter. We all have prepared to die.”
One of the victims is identified as Ayele Mandefro who is said to be serving in the choir service of St. Mary church in the city. The other victim is Gemechu Gudina – according to social media sources. Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are celebrating them as martyrs while condemning government illegal action in support of the illegal group.
The update from the Holy Synod about the situation confirmed the killing in Shashemene by government forces.
It said, “The church absolutely condemns the illegal human rights violation and the brutal death of the believers who came out to protect the church On January 27, 2015 E.c at the parish church of Saint Michael in Shashemene city, West Arsi diocese; The Holy Synod decided that justice should be done in all localities by making appropriate synodal and religious prayers”
His Eminence Abune Henok is cited as saying “It is shameful that the government cooperates with an invading group that is gathered to demolish the church.”
The killing is seen, as many activists sharing opinion on social media sees it, another clear manifestation of government support for the illegal group.
The Ethiopian Church has planned a countrywide peaceful demonstration on February 12 which is going to take place after the mass service in the morning. But whether it will happen or not depends on the government response to the Holy Synod. The church is expecting practical action from the government to stop the illegal actions of the illegal group and abuse of church fathers.
Yesterday, Abune Yared, Archbishop of Arsi Diocese, was detained by security authorities in the region and later sent to Addis Ababa. Abune Estifanos of Jimma Diocese experienced similar abuse a few days ago.
Rumors of efforts for mediation
There have been mediation efforts to reunite the illegal group with the Holy Synod. The latest attempt was from Ethiopia’s long distance legend, Derartu Tulu.
But Ethiopians who are following up the matter closely, as shared on social media, do not seem to be happy with the efforts of Derartu.
The sentiment is that the Holy Synod has passed on a decision based on spiritual laws of the church – which was offered an opportunity for the three illegal Bishops who are chasing dreams of establishing ethnic Oromo patriarchate in the region.
The church position,at least as things stand now, is that “negotiation” is not relevant to resolve the matter. But Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been attempting to impose the acceptance of the illegal group by the Holy Synod in the name of “negotiation.”
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