Ethiopians In South Africa Protest Rights Abuses At Home
Hundreds of Ethiopians living in South Africa protested Monday outside the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg, demanding that African legislators help them intervene in stopping alleged human rights violations in Ethiopia.
“We call on the PAP [the African Union’s legislative body] to help us persuade the Ethiopian government to stop killing Oromo protesters,” protest organizer, Yahya Tawfiq told Anadolu Agency.
A wave of protests began in Ethiopia late last year after the government proposed to expand the boundaries of the capital city of Addis Ababa into the Oromia regional state.
Many Oromo farmers expressed fear that they would lose farmland, once the government’s proposed expansion plan known as the “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master plan” was implemented.
“When our people took to the streets to protest the plan they were shot and killed. That’s why we are gathered here today to condemn the killings of innocent people,” Tawfiq said.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released in December claimed that at least 140 Oromo protesters were killed by Ethiopian security forces since November 2015.
“The Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromia protests has resulted in scores dead and a rapidly rising risk of greater bloodshed,” Leslie Lefkow deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch said.
“There is no freedom of expression in our country. Many critical journalists and bloggers are currently in jail. We demand their immediate release,” another protester, Abdi Hakim Hussien told Anadolu Agency.
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians live in South Africa eking out a living in the small business sector.
Protesters observed a moment of silence Monday for those who were killed during the protests in Ethiopia.
Some carried signs which read, “We need freedom and Justice”, “We oppose eviction of Oromo farmers in Ethiopia”, “Oromia is not for sale”, among others.
The protesters chanted slogans outside the Pan African Parliament for several hours attracting the attention of officials who later came out to listen to their demands.
They handed over a list of demands to a senior representative of the Pan African parliament who pledged to look into the matter.