Ethiopia Protesters Attack Foreign Firms

Ethiopia Protesters Attack Foreign Firms Ethiopia Protesters Attack Foreign Firms

Horn of Africa nation has seen months of protests during which rights groups say security forces have killed hundreds.

Protesters in Ethiopia have attacked foreign businesses, according to the owners of a flower firm, as demonstrations in which rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed continued.

The Dutch company said crowds of people in the Oromia and Amhara regions torched flower farms as they targeted businesses with perceived links to the government. Flowers are one of the country's top exports.

The Esmeralda Farms statement came after weeks of escalating protests that started among the Oromo, Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group, and later spread to the Amhara, the second most populous group. 

Both groups of protestors are demanding more political and economic rights, and say that a ruling coalition is dominated by the Tigrayan ethnic group, which makes up around 6 percent of the population.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch group, security forces have killed at least 500 people since the unrest began in November and thousands of people have been arrested and detained.

The government has denied that violence from the security forces is "systemic" and pledged to launch an independent investigation, blaming opposition groups inside and outside of the country and what it called "anti-peace" elements for the chaos.  

Esmeralda Farms said its 10 million euro ($11.1m) investment went up in smoke this week in Bahir Dar city and that several other horticulture companies were also affected.

"The government sent security forces to protect the farm. Eventually the group of protesters grew so large that the soldiers were forced to flee and the property was torched," Bergkamp said. 

"One of our Ethiopian staff members was wounded in the attack."

Protests in Oromia started in November last year when the government announced a plan to expand the capital - a city state - into the surrounding Oromia region.

Tagged as:

Politics, Human Rights Watch, Ethiopian Protests

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