Oromo regional state security forces carried out massacred dozens of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church followers who support the Holy Synod decision. Reports of extensive arrest and harassment emerging
Death toll from the massacre of Orthodox Christians in Shashemene is now over 30. Dozens of others are reportedly injured and hospitalized in Hawassa.
The conditions of some of those who sustained wounds are said to be life-threatening.
His eminence Abune Petros, Secretary of the Holy Synod, confirmed during an interview with Anchor Media, that over thirty followers of Ethiopian Orthodox, Tewahedo Church are killed in Shashemene.
On Saturday, Oromia region security forces opened fire on churchgoers who were heading to St. Michael Church to protect the church as the group that the Ethiopian Church excommunicated attempted to break into the church illegally. Three were killed initially and dozens were wounded.
The regional police repression continued on Sunday and dozens more were reportedly killed.
Apart from the killings, heads of dioceses in many areas of the Oromo region of Ethiopia have been facing extensive harassment from the security of the regional states.
Multiple arrests had been reported. Two archbishops – from Jima and Arsi Dioceses have been arrested by Oromia authorities and sent back to Addis Ababa in less than 24 hours.
Church choirs in the towns surrounding Addis Ababa have been detained en masse, according to sources close to the church. Tension is rising in different parts of the region as the Oromo regional state is mounting a crackdown on the followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who are opposing those who illegally ordained 26 bishops in what appears to be a move to establish an ethnic Oromo patriarchate.
Federal Government response
Abiy Ahmed’s federal government, through the Ministry of Communication Services, released a statement but did not condemn the killing in Shashemene.
The federal government, instead, attempted to legitimize the excommunicated group that is getting support from the Oromo regional state when it implied that there is a division within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
In its latest statement, which was released on Monday, Holy Synod said that there is no division within the Holy Synod. It squarely put the issue rather as a disciplinary measure based on the canons of the church against three Bishops who violated the canons.
Rising tension in the country
Government crackdown on the followers of the Ethiopian Church against those who are clamoring for “one synod, one church, one patriarch,” as has been the case in the tradition of the church, is seen as government intervention in the internal affairs of the church.
Determination of the part of the laity and the Holy Synod is noticeable. One of the church fathers said “we are sad because we can only die once.”
The Holy Synod has called for three days of prayers and fasting in the country and abroad. The faithful are also requested to wear black in the course of the three days of fasting.
The Church has announced plans to stage a peaceful demonstration after February 12 if the government is not addressing the demands of the church including not intervening in the affairs of the church.
However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government is framing the Ethiopian Church movement to defend the faith and internal administration matter as a sort of attempt by forces with the objective to disintegrate the country. The government is threatening to “enforce laws.”
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