At least 104 people died and hundreds were injured after security forces in Ethiopia used live ammunition to disperse anti-government demonstrations in various parts of the country over the weekend.
At least 67 died and hundreds were arrested during the protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, while in Amhara, at least 30 died in the city of Bahir Dar and seven died in Gondar.
“The security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” an official said.
Nearly thousands of people demonstrated in numerous cities of Oromia during the weekend to show their discontent at the ongoing arrests and abuses against opponents, activists and politicians who support the Oromo independence cause.
Protests were called for spontaneously through social networks, but the police use of teargas and live ammunition sparked a new wave of protests.
Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara, the second largest ethnic group in the country after the Oromo, took to the streets demanding political reform and the judiciary after years of marginalization and persecution by the government of Addis Ababa.
Amid increasing tension, the Ethiopian government decided to disrupt communications and cut off access to major social networks and messaging services.
The Oromo have spent months protesting what they see as unwarranted persecution by the Ethiopian authorities and so far there have been more than 400 deaths since the start of the demonstrations, according to estimates by Human Rights Watch.