In the middle of the Oromo Protest, a seemingly confused spokesperson of Ethiopian government, Getachew Reda, sat with ETV’s Tefera Gedamu to discuss the ongoing protest and the response of the government. In an effort to describe what unfolded and identify parties responsible, he said “Students have a genuine reason to protest and by doing so they are exercising their constitutional right but some political parties here and abroad….came together and try to exploit the situation , exploited the confusion. The violence they introduced to the picture simply meant that, apart from student protesting in this localities, was absolutely uncontrollable largely armed gangs terrorizing the public”
Now look at the photo below and here is why it matters. It matters because it exposes the true actions of the government when it comes to the Oromo Protest. Here are three reason why?
Reason one: Constitutional right to protest
The constitutional right to protest mostly not allowed in Ethiopia especially if it is not pro-government. Even in some of the pro-government rallies, voices of dissent was not tolerated. If the protesting students are being model citizens as the spokesperson tells us, why are they being kicked and terrorized by the security forces. Carefully look at the photo. This photo was taken in Dadar, East Hararge. The three kids sitting are student with their school uniforms and books at hand being kicked by government special forces. This is the situation in Oromia, Ethiopia today and the international community is mostly silent.
Reason two: Violence related to the protests
The most violence we witnessed in the protests came from the government security forces and to this day, the government, which controls the entire media outlet in Ethiopia failed to proof its case. Yet armed with cell phones and social media, we now know and witnessed the incredible cruelty of government special forces towards the student protesters. Dead children, lifeless bodies, tortured prisoners, terrorized campus buildings and illegal arrested political leaders and the list goes on…
Reason three: Armed gangs terrorizing the public
Unless the spokesperson was talking about the government’s special forces, which are armed and terrorizing the students in the picture, the protesters are simply students, farmers and civil servants. It is a common practice for the Ethiopian government officials to create a point of fear to the their western friend by dropping words like “terrorist” “armed gangs” “foreign elements’ to cast a shadow of doubt on what is clearly a movement by ordinary folks to peacefully protest what they considered a flawed system. The Addis Ababa Master Plan.
Sometimes, a picture worth a thousand words!