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Another Bishop detained at Jimma airport in Oromia, turned back to Addis Ababa

His Grace Abune Hezkeal criticized Ethiopian Federal government over failure to enforce law in the Oromo region of Ethiopia 

His Grace Abune Hezekeal (Photo Credit : EOTC Media)

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Oromia region police harassment against spiritual fathers continued unabated. The Federal government is not acting on it. 

Last week, Abune Estifanos, Archbishop of Jima Dioceses, and Abune Yared, Archbishop of Arsi Diocese, were harassed by Oromia region police and sent back to Addis Ababa. The former was detained at Jima airport as he was trying to head to the seat of his Dioceses. 

Today, Abune Hezkeal, Archbishop of South West Ethiopia and Head of Sewasew Berhan St. Paul Theological College, was halted at Jima Airport as he attempted to head to his Diocese.  

In an interview with Mahibere Kidusan Television, he said he had a conversation with the officers and was able to convince them to be allowed to head to Bonga, the seat of his diocese, but that did not last.  He was turned back at a checkpoint in Jimma and was forced to turn back to Addis Ababa.   He was made to stay at Jimma airport before he was sent back to Addis Ababa. He also revealed that those who were with him including the driver were beaten by Oromia police. 

Police authorities reportedly told Grace Abune Hezkeal that it was an order from a higher authority in the region.

In the interview with MK TV, His Grace criticized the Ethiopian government for failing to maintain law and order. He insinuated that the lawlessness and anarchy in the Oromia region is a governance failure at the higher level. 

South West Ethiopia Regional State Authorities’ reaction 

The Communications Affairs Office of South West Ethiopia regional state expressed sadness that Grace Abune Hezkeal was harassed by security authorities and that people in the region are disenchanted about it. 

The statement from the office said that Oromia region Jima zone senior authorities were contacted regarding the incident. Oromia security authorities made the claim that the incident happened without their knowledge. 

The statement also cited authorities as saying that “it will be investigated and measure will be taken.” It is for the second time an incident like that to happen in less than a week. Abune Estifanos, Archbishop of Jimma zone, was detained at the airport by Oromia police and sent back to Addis Ababa. 

The South West Ethiopia Region called on His Grace to return to his Dioceses and that the region will provide security.  

The harassment against Bishops who are members of the Holy Synod, ministers and choirs serving in different churches in the Oromia region continued unabated. 

The motive of prevalent harassment and attack appears to be a move to intimidate the public in the region not to support the decision from the Holy Synod and to intimidate ministries.  Kesis ( could translate to ‘reverend’ in the Protestant religious tradition) Haregewoin Belay, an adored servant at Saint Michael Church in Shashement died in Hospital after he was clubbed by Oromia police and a politically motivated mob. He died in Hawassa Hospital. 

Haregewoin Belay _ Shashemene
Kesis Haregewoin Belay was clued by Oromia police and mob in Shashemene St. Michael Church where he served for years. He died in Hawassa hospital (Photo : MK media)

Federal government Sees the development differently  

The Federal government, first through a thirty-eight minute televised speech from the prime minister and then through an official statement via the Government Communications Services Ministry, announced its stand that the issue is something that could be resolved through negotiation between “the two groups.” 

The Ethiopian Church position is that there is no such thing as “two groups.” 

The Holy Synod excommunicated three bishops who broke away to form an ethnic-based patriarchate in the Oromia region and the 26 new “bishops” that are the illegal group, as it is called widely.  The Holy Synod left a repentance door ajar – as in the religious tradition of the church – but did not recognize it as a group or it is not seeing the incident as a schism within the Orthodox Church. 

On the other hand, the Church has ordered three days of fasting and prayer which is expected to end on Wednesday. In these days, the laity is asked to dress in black and churches are also covered in black as a form of mourning the state-backed attack on one of the oldest churches. 

The Church demanded the government stop interfering in the affairs of the church and protect the rights and properties of the church. If the government is not responding to it by February 12, the church is staging a nationwide and worldwide protest. 

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, who met with Pope Francis in the Vatican when he visited Italy this week, demonstrated adamancy to apologize to the church. His latest remark on the development in the church further eroded his political support base both in the Oromo region and other parts of Ethiopia. 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. The bishop is detained fwhile running for his own interest and advantage as he is inciting belivers to stand for him .”The Church must provide a list of slogans and protest banners for national and international rallies. Every speech that is delivered at rallies at home and abroad must be consistent and approved by the Church. ” this phrase looks good, but in reality we see orthodox believers asking the overthrow of Prosperity party and its leaders .

    Does EOTC synod support that ? It looks they support it. Don’t put vulnerable people at risk for the economic interest of Bishops and leaders of parish churches. family members of the departed souls will certainly not be happy and don’t accept the death of their beloved ones as martryrdom. Yewelede aytsedkim

    they will be saddened without limit and disappointed by the action of church leaders and their religion

    Therefore, stop this nonsense in the name of religion whose objective is to preserve econmic interest of bishops and mahibreseytan.

  2. A cat will not abandone its immoral act even if is been consecrated as monk and wear monastic robes. narrow minded and one language one synod slogan bearers are defaming and causuing iserious injuries (fithing agressively with police officers)on our people.

    The bishop, his garce, is detained while running for his own interest and advantage and inciting believers to stand and die for him .”The Church must provide a list of slogans and protest banners for national and international rallies. Every speech that is delivered at rallies at home and abroad must be consistent and approved by the Church. ” this phrase looks good, but in reality we see orthodox believers asking the overthrow of Prosperity party and its leaders .

    Does EOTC synod support that ? It looks they support it. Don’t put vulnerable people at risk for the economic interest of Bishops and leaders of parish churches. family members of the departed souls will certainly not be happy and don’t accept the death of their beloved ones as martryrdom. Yewelede aytsedkim

    they will be saddened without limit and disappointed by the action of church leaders and their religion

    Therefore, stop this nonsense in the name of religion whose objective is to preserve econmic interest of bishops and mahibreseytan(socalled mahibrekidusan).Dismantle mahibreseytan in Oromiya and all regions

  3. I used to protest when some people referred to the diehard oromo in derogatory terms. Now, looking at how much hatred these pagans have for Orthodox Christianity and Ethiopia, I can only regret mu previous stand. I prefer to go all the way to get rid of this heinous cancerous oromo group in this country which they invaded four hundred years ago – even if it takes dying.

  4. It is sickening how much hatered these people have towards the EOTC and non-oromo ethic groups. You can clearly tell the previous two comments is the same ignorant person posting twice. They know nothing but bigotry. If you hate the country and religion so much, here is an option- GET OUT.

  5. What is not mentioned in the current crisis has been the case of many of us who are Orthodox Christians who live in Oromia and don’t understand Geez. Most of the quotations we hear at church services are always in this archaic language we have no clue. Many of us don’t speak the Oromo language either. So it does not make any difference for us as long as we are not prohibited from praying at our churches, they preach God’s word and they don’t change the main creed of our religion. I assume there are millions like me who live in other regions this quarrel does not make any difference at all. I don’t really care. What worries me is I and others like me will be lumped together with those protesting because of my ethnicity and become a target of trigger happy police or hateful criminal gangs. That has happened to many others before. They were murdered at homes and while busy tilling their farms.

  6. Now is not the time to be emotional partisan. Now is the time to be coolheaded and think how best we can save ourselves and our country from the looming disaster. Religion is a personal matter, and it should be left to the believer’s themselves to worship in any way they like. It’s not a government’s job to side with one or the other side in such a situation. Evidently, the Ethiopian government has sided one group and is harassing the other. And if we are honest, the government is siding with splinter group and is undermining the legal entity which is the Ethiopian Orthodox Holy Synod. And this is illegal and most unfair.

    The splinter group may have legitimate questions and concerns. But, it cannot use government power to get what it wants. It’ll have to put in its request formally, declare this to the public and seek support for its demands. It can also use the country’s legal system to present its position and win it’s case.

    What we now see is a very charged situation which can very easily ignite a wildfire none of us can extinguish. Let’s think very seriously and check ourselves. Otherwise, we may not have a place to call home.

  7. Now is not the time to be emotional and/or partisan. Now is the time to be coolheaded and think how best we can save ourselves and our country from the looming disaster. Religion is a personal matter, and it should be left to the believers themselves to worship in any way they like. It’s not a government’s job to side with one or the other in such a situation. Evidently, the Ethiopian government has sided with one group and is harassing the other. And if we are honest, the government is siding with the splinter group and is undermining the legal entity which is the Ethiopian Orthodox Holy Synod. And this is illegal and most unfair.

    The splinter group may have legitimate questions and concerns. However, it cannot use government power to get what it wants. It’ll have to put in its request formally, declare this to the public, and seek support for its demands. It can also use the country’s legal system to present its position and win its case.

    What we now see is a very charged situation which can very easily ignite a wildfire none of us can extinguish. Let’s think very seriously and check ourselves. Otherwise, we may not have a place to call home.

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