Ethiopian Security Forces Praised over Ireecha Festival Stampede
In a report tabled in parliament on April 18, EHRC said that 669 people were killed in the protests, of which 63 were Ethiopian security forces (that is, police officers and soldiers).
The state-linked Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has praised the Ethiopian security forces, saying they showed restraint during last year’s Ireecha religious festival when dozens of people died in a stampede.
However, it called for the prosecution of some police officers for their actions the next day, when many others are believed to have been shot dead.
At the time, the government said that 52 people were killed during the festival in October in the restive Oromia region.
But an Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, put the number of dead at nearly 300. He said troops and a helicopter gunship had opened fire, driving people off a cliff and into a lake.
The government declared a state of emergency about a week later to quell the latest wave of unrest, which broke out in November 2015.
The protests were staged mostly by members of the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, who complain about political and economic marginalization in a country ruled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition since 1991.
In a report tabled in parliament on Tuesday (April 18), the commission said that 669 people were killed in the protests, of which 63 were police officers and soldiers.