The Ethiopian government has prohibited anti-war demonstrations in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital.
Amid escalating civilian casualties in Ethiopia’s Amhara region due to government troops’ extensive drone attacks and shelling of civilian areas, and ongoing conflicts in parts of the Oromo region, individuals and prominent opposition leaders had planned a peaceful anti-war demonstration scheduled for December 10, 2023, in Addis Ababa.
However, authorities have intervened to prevent the protest from taking place. According to reports from Anchor Media on Monday, organizers intended to issue a press release, which has now been postponed to Wednesday, as per Ethiopian Media Services.
The Addis Ababa City Administration is reported to have imposed the ban. Six protest organizers met with relevant officials from the city administration to notify them about the planned demonstration, asserting it as an exercise of their constitutional rights. These organizers met with three officials: Woizero Lidia, head of the city’s security division, Getu Bekele, Addis Ababa City Police Commissioner, and Melaku, Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Police Commission.
During the meeting, organizers faced threats and stern warnings that the peaceful demonstration could not proceed in Addis Ababa. Authorities cited “current situation and security concerns in Addis Ababa” as reasons for the prohibition.
Megabi Beluy Abraham, one of the organizers, informed Anchor Media that authorities attempted to intimidate them, including implying death threats and arrests.
The organizers maintain that the demonstration will proceed as planned, citing constitutional rights. Ethiopian law permits peaceful demonstrations with a 48-hour notice to law enforcement.
Aims of the Peaceful Protest
The motto of the planned demonstration is “Let the war end and peace prevail,” as revealed by the organizers.
The organizers seek an end to the conflict in the Amhara and Oromia regions, urging the withdrawal of Defense Forces from cities and towns in these areas back to designated military camps.
Additionally, the protest advocates for an all-inclusive negotiation between the government and armed groups involved in resistance.
While the Ethiopian government has accused armed groups of not seeking peaceful means to address their demands, it has also faced criticism for crackdowns on press freedom and opposition political figures. Numerous journalists, activists, and opposition members have been detained under Abiy Ahmed’s administration. Moreover, the situation in the Amhara region is dire, with ongoing military operations resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties, including children, women, and elders. Many observers describe these operations as ruthless, suggesting an intention to commit genocide against the ethnic Amhara population.
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