By Staff Reporter
September 16, 2019 (Ezega.com) – In a sign of potentially explosive situation, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in several towns of Ethiopia this weekend to denounce what they say government’s failure to protect Ethiopian Orthodox Churches. Demonstrations took place in Gondar, Deberetabor, Dessie, Woreta, Estie, Mekaneeyesus and Nifas Mewicha towns in northern Ethiopia denouncing the Ethiopian government for doing nothing when churches are being attacked in various places.
The demonstrators called on the government to protect the constitutional rights of the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches and defend followers from attacks by armed groups in different parts of the country.
Sunday’s demonstrations were held without the knowledge and permission of the government and contrary to the announcement made by the organizing committee of the Ethiopian Orthodox church to postpone the demonstration.
“The government has turned a blind eyes and deaf ears to repeated attacks on our churches, some of which were burnt down and their properties looted and priests slaughtered by armed groups,” the demonstrators said
The demonstrators have called on the government to establish a legal framework to safeguard the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches from future attacks.
Addressing the demonstrators in Dessie town, administrator of the South Wello churches Abune Atnatios said “the government will be one of the primary beneficiaries if it is willing to listen to our voices.” He called for stronger unity among followers of the church to defend the church from perpetrators who are working to dismantle the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches.
More than 30 churches have been burned down in different parts of the country since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018. The majority of the churches were set on fire in Jigjiga, the capital of the Somali regional state.
Similar demonstrations will be held if the government fails to respond to our demands, the administrator warned.
The demonstrators said followers of the church have also been subjected to forced displacement and mounting pressure.
The administrator of South Gondar Churches Mihertu Molla said mass prayers will be held as of Monday, September 16, 2019.
Similar demonstrations are expected to be staged next week in other parts of the country, but the committee in charge of organizing the demonstrations said it is discussing with concerned government authorities on ways to prevent possible attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Hundreds of followers of the church also held similar demonstrations at Lideta and saint Michael churches in the capital Addis Ababa.
The demonstrations are being held amid alarms by members of the synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches over the establishment of an ethnic Oromo church administration independent of the main synod. The dispute arose when a faction led by Kesis Belay Mekonnen, who is also said to be a politician and a member of the Oromo Democratic Party, and his colleagues insisted that they will continue with their plans to form an ethnic Oromo Ethiopian Orthodox Church structure on their own. The Holy Synod has since outlawed the renegade group.
You can watch one of the demonstrations held by member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Ezega Videos.
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