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Multiple Demonstrations Hit Ethiopian Cities, Demanding Release of Abducted Students

By Staff Reporter

Amhara-demoJanuary 28, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- In a marked display of anger, hundred thousands of people took the streets of Bahir Dar, Debermarkos, Woldia, Debre Birhan Durbete, Shewa Robit, Dangla and other cities in Amhara state of Ethiopia, demanding the immediate release of ethnic Amhara university students who were taken hostages by gunmen in Oromia region of western Ethiopia.

The demonstrators demanded the government to provide clear information on the whereabouts of the students and maintain the supremacy of law by taking legal measures against the kidnappers.

Early this month, Nigussu Tilahun, PM Office Press Secretariat Head, told state-run EBC that 21 of the captives were released. The PM office’s information, however, proved to be false through time as none of the hostages appeared and joined their families.

“Back Our Girls” chanted the demonstrators who were joined by high school students in several towns and cities of the Amhara regional state.

Putting their hands crossed, health professionals in Debre Birhan Referral Hospital also joined the demonstrations and demanded the government for swift action.

The demonstrators expressed anger over the reluctance of the government to free the students from the kidnappers who are believed to be members of the rebel faction group of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), also called OLF Shene. OLF Shene is also believed to have been involved in the past in bank robberies, cross-border raids, killings, and abductions. It is unknown why the central government has so far tolerated such a group running armed rebellion inside the country.

The OLF group came to Ethiopia from Eritrea pledging to pursue armed struggle. However, the group allegedly split into two, with the political group led by Dawb Ibsa sitting in Addis Ababa, while the military group called OLF Shene has been spreading terror in many towns inside Oromia. The exact link between the two groups is unknown.

These two groups, along with other supporters, are also believed to be behind some of the ongoing instability of the Southern Ethiopia region and the various demands for autonomy.

The demonstrators condemned the acts of the kidnappers as “immoral” that contradict the values of the Ethiopian people. They also denounced the government for failing to expose the kidnappers.

In a ten-point resolution, the demonstrators demanded the immediate release of the students and called on the regional governing party of the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) to discharge its responsibilities of rescuing the students and safeguarding the well-being of the Amhara people.

According to the resolution, 34,000 ethnic Amhara university students were forced to quit university classes and 24 students were killed brutally in different campuses in Oromia region due to the failure of the Oromia regional government, federal police and Oromia police to discharge their responsibilities.

The demonstrators called for justice against officials who may be involved in the cover-up and/or negligence in Oromia regional state, Oromia police, the Ministry of Science and Higher Learning Institutions, the Amhara regional state, the office of the Prime Minister, the federal government, and Ministry of Defense forces.

Members of the defense forces on Monday, January 27, 2020, claimed that they had returned the students back to the Dembi Dolo University three weeks ago to the bewilderment of the university community and nearby residents, Ezega has learned. If the story is true, it will mark a major scandal brewing involving the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. It will also explain the statement released earlier this month by the Office of the Prime Minister. As incredible as it sounds, could it be true that our authorities had the abducted students in their hands at some point, perhaps only to lose them once again? Could there be other more shameful things that may have happened?

The confusion and lack of reliable information is truly astounding for a government that made truth and transparency one of the cornerstones of its governing philosophy just less than two years ago.

53 days have gone since the students were taken hostages and neither the government nor any party disclosed the whereabouts of the students until recently whose survival is still unknown.

Currently, there is a major movement developing internationally to publicize the plight of these Ethiopian student hostages. To read more, please click here.

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