13 May 2014
AI Index: AFR 25/002/2014
ETHIOPIA: AUTHORITIES MUST PROVIDE JUSTICE FOR SCORES OF
PROTESTERS KILLED, INJURED AND ARRESTED IN OROMIA
Amnesty International condemns the use of excessive force by security forces against peaceful
protesters in a number of locations across the Oromia region during the last two weeks, which
has resulted in the deaths and injuries of dozens of people including students and children. Many
hundreds of protesters are reported to have been arbitrarily arrested, and are being detained
incommunicado and without charge. Detainees are at risk of torture.
The Ethiopian government must immediately instruct the security forces to cease using deadly
force against peaceful protesters, and to release any person who has been arrested solely
because of their involvement in peaceful protests. These incidents must be urgently and
properly investigated, and suspected perpetrators should be prosecuted in effective trial
Since late April, protests have taken place in many universities and towns across the Oromia
region over the ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan’ – a plan from the central
government to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into parts of Oromia – the region which
surrounds the city. The government says the master plan for expansion would bring city services
to remote areas. However, the protesters, and many other Oromos, the ethnic group that makes
up the significant majority of the population of Oromia regional state, fear that the move will be
detrimental to the interests of Oromo farmers, and will lead to large scale evictions to make way
for land leasing or sale. Many Oromos also consider the move to be in violation of the
Constitutionally-guaranteed protection of the ‘special interests’ of the Oromia state.
Numerous reports from witnesses, local residents and other sources indicate that the security
forces have responded with excessive force against peaceful protesters. Forces comprised of the
federal police and military special forces known as ‘Agazi’, have fired live ammunition at
unarmed protesters in a number of locations including in Wallega and Madawalabu universities
and Ambo and Guder towns, resulting in deaths in each location.
One witness told Amnesty International that on the third day of protest in Guder town, near
Ambo, the security forces were waiting for the protesters and opened fire when they arrived. She
said five people were killed in front of her. A source in Robe town, the location of Madawalabu
University, told Amnesty International that 11 bodies had been seen in a hospital in the town.
Another witness said they had seen five bodies in Ambo hospital.
There are major restrictions on independent journalism and human rights monitoring
organizations in Ethiopia as well as on exchange of information. Because of these restrictions, in
conjunction with the number of incidents that occurred in the last two weeks, it is not possible to
establish the exact number of those who have been killed. The government acknowledged that