170 University Students Suspended for Alleged Involvement in Ethnic Attacks

By Staff Reporter

Higher-Education-EthiopiaJanuary 6, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The Ethiopian Science and Higher Learning Institutions have suspended 170 university students from classes for alleged involvement in protracted ethnic-based attacks across 22 campuses of the country.

“The ministry has taken the administrative measure against 170 university students, who were proved to have been involved in the attacks," said State Minister Dr. Samuel Kifle on Sunday in a joint press conference he gave with Federal Police Deputy Commissioner.

The administrative measures also were taken against high-level officials in different universities and ten instructors who were accused of aggravating the ethnic clashes on university grounds, Kifle said.

Kifle also said another 280 university students were given a final warning following evaluations the ministry has conducted with the Federal Police Commission.

Those students who were involved in the killing and wounding of students will face justice as administrative measures against suspects of violence will continue in a strengthened manner, kifle added.

This follows an announcement from Gondar University in northern Ethiopia firing 11 students, three instructors, and eight administrative employees as well as one health professional for alleged involvement in ethnic-based conflicts on university ground.

Currently, tens of thousands of students in state-run universities are not attending schools even though classes began in October last year due to the surge in ethnic-violence reflecting the critical political situation and ethnic tensions Ethiopia is facing today.

Members of Opposition political parties blame the ethnic federal system adopted by the recently disbanded Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) for the growing conflicts along ethnic lines in the country, including on university grounds.

The ministry has fired ten instructors and fined hundreds others as well as administrative employees for alleged collaboration with perpetrators of the protracted violence.

According to the minister, the time table for university courses will be revised at violence-hit universities where teaching has been interrupted.  

The minister said the majority of the universities that were hit by the violence are returning to normalcy. However, Ezega.com has learned that thousands of ethnic Amhara students who went back to their region, fleeing attacks in Oromia state are still out of school.

Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Police, Melaku Fenta, who blamed a third party for the extended violence on university grounds, said 50 students have been arrested on suspicion of inciting the violence.

He said based on the investigation conducted by the federal police, the conflicts taking place on university grounds were planned and well-financed.

Despite the repeated assertions by the federal government as well as some regional governments, no one has provided evidence to indicate these attacks happened because of highly organized groups. Such assertions only inflame and aggravate the ongoing ethnic tensions. The bulk of the evidence is so far pointing to poor security and poor governance issues. Many people, including civic and religious institutions, believe the government did not take swift and proper measures against criminals who did all kinds of atrocities in the name of Qeerroo, Fano, etc. -- just they did nothing when millions of people were displaced from their homes last year.

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