Addis Ababa Police Bans Planned Protests Over Abducted University Students

By Staff Reporter

Gondar-rally-abductedFebruary 2, 2020 ( -- Addis Ababa police have banned planned demonstrations set to denounce the inability of the central government to rescue abducted students from Dembi Dolo University in western Ethiopia. More than 19 university students were abducted at gunpoint in Oromia state in early December 2019. At least 14 of them are girls.

The government has tightened security at Maskel square where the demonstration was supposed to take place and other parts of the capital.

Police also denied access to hundreds of people who conduct physical exercises regularly at Meskel square.

The police who dressed in white uniforms around major streets of the city but concentrated at Meskel square. It is unknown why the government felt it was necessary to have non-uniformed armed people on the streets.

Several police vehicles carrying armed policemen patrol the city and some of the demonstrators who happened at the Meskel square were dispersed by the police.

It is now becoming routine for the federal government to ban demonstrations that it considers a threat. Last month, the Baladera Council faced hurdles to hold its meeting, which finally took place in open air. This is far different from the early days of this government when prisoners were released, exiles returned, and love and unity (Medemer) were preached.

“We would stage demonstrations without notifying the city government to avoid such kinds bans,” the demonstrators said.

The city government said it would issue permission in the following days for the planned demonstration in relation to the call for immediate release of the abducted students.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Gondar, Deber Tabor, Kombolcha, Metema Yohannes in the Amhara state of Ethiopia, demanding the government free the students of the Dembi Dolo university students and other people from the grip of kidnappers who are believed to be the rebel faction of the Oromo Liberation Front or OLF Shene. PM Abiy Ahmed and his government are under fire from many for turning a blind eye on such militant groups for so long due to ethnicity and political considerations.

Several demonstrations, all in Amhara regional state, have been held since last week called for the immediate release of the students and the arrest of the perpetrators.

Some of the slogans seen in the demonstrations include: Bring our girls back; Justice for families of the hostages; the issue of abducted ethnic Amhara students could disintegrate the nation; government officials don't care about the abducted students because their children are abroad.     

Two months have gone since at least 14 students of Dembi Dola university students and five other people have been held captives.  In a recent briefing, the government claimed it has been doing all it can, including conducting military action to free the students.

Last week, 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 and rescue the students and safeguard the well being of the Amhara people.

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

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.

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