By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 11, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – Continued Anti-government protests in Ethiopia’s Oromiya and Amhara regions are claiming more lives.
Sources reveled that at least 100 people including members of the security forces have been killed since the weekend after the protests turned violent leading to clashs.
Protesters in the two regions say the government has become increasingly repressive and their political and economic rights have been marginalization.
Protesters also demanded the release of opposition activists.
Opposition activists say the police and security forces have systematically used excessive force.
Eye witness told Sudan Tribune that security forces fired live bullets during the regional protests.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the deadly protests which continue to take place in a number of towns in the southern Oromyia and northern Amhara region where the country’s largest and second largest ethnic group respectively belong.
"The Secretary-General is concerned by media reports claiming that excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces resulted in dozens of deaths of protesters in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia last weekend” said Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General.
Ban underscores that security forces must at all times operate in line with international human rights norms and standards and urges the Ethiopian authorities to ensure full accountability in case of any human rights violations.
He stressed the importance of ensuring the protection of the right to peaceful assembly, the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to life and integrity of the person, taking the necessary lawful measures when dealing with demonstrations
The UN rights body has also urged the Ethiopian government to allow an independent investigation to probe the killings of the protesters.
“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromia and Amhara of course would be a very serious concern for us” Zeid Raad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told Reuters.
The commissioner also called on the Ethiopian government to give access to international observers in the affected areas to establish what really had happened on ground.
There were also similar weekend protests in the capital, Addis Ababa’s Maskal Square however the protests turned violent after security arrived to disperse them.
Scores of protesters were injured after beaten up by the police.
The Ethiopian prime Minister said the weekend protests in the capital were illegal and warned his government would take measures against those trying to incite violence.
Speaking on a dialogue forum of Aljazeera, the Stream, yesterday Ethiopia communication Minister Getachew Reda, said that protesters are trying to destabilizing the country under the cover of the right to peaceful demonstration.
He said that protesters were organized by some rejectionist elements from Diaspora and his government is only trying to hold them in check.
“There is nothing wrong with people expressing whatever concerns they have in a peaceful manner. What the government is concerned about is those who are aimed at dismantling the state structure and creating the kind of instability that will help them drive their own agendas and impose it on this country” he added.
The minister said government is having an extensive dialogue with the people of Oromia, Amhara and the people of the entire country who have issues need to be addressed.