Deaths and de­ten­tions in Ethiopia as protests flare

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

AT least six peo­ple have been re­ported killed over two days of protests in Ethiopia while dozens were ar­rested in the cap­i­tal, Addis Ababa.

A source told Al Jazeera that four peo­ple were killed on Satur­day in the north­ern Gon­dar re­gion, in ad­di­tion to two peo­ple killed in the area on Fri­day. Lo­cated 700km north of Addis Ababa, Gon­dar is a re­gion dom­i­nated by the eth­nic Amha­ras. Ethiopian au­thor­i­ties would not con­firm the death toll.

The re­ported deaths come as dozens of eth­nic Oromo protesters were ar­rested in Addis Ababa on Satur­day.

At least 500 Oromo peo­ple — protest­ing against al­leged eco­nomic in­equal­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion — gath­ered amid a heavy po­lice pres­ence on the cap­i­tal’s main Meskel Square.

The protesters, who shouted slo­gans such as “we want our freedom” and “free our po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers”, were dis­persed by po­lice us­ing ba­tons. Dozens were ar­rested.

A Reuters news agency video of the con­fronta­tion showed un­armed protesters be­ing beaten and kicked by po­lice of­fi­cers, as protesters ran to evade ar­rest. —

Prime Min­is­ter Haile Mariam Des­salegn on Fri­day an­nounced a ban on demon­stra­tions, which “threaten na­tional unity” and called on po­lice to use all means at their dis­posal to pre­vent them.

The rally was or­gan­ised by op­po­si­tion groups from the Oromo, Ethiopia’s big­gest eth­nic group, who have held protests for months against what they say is gov­ern­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion. They have been joined re­cently by eth­nic Amha­ras, and protests have been re­ported in other parts of the coun­try.

The Oromo and Amhara to­gether make up the ma­jor­ity of Ethiopia’s pop­u­la­tion and claim they suf­fer dis­crim­i­na­tion in favour of eth­nic Tigrayans, who they say oc­cupy the key jobs in the gov­ern­ment and se­cu­rity forces.

Ethiopian au­thor­i­ties told the AFP news agency that at least a dozen peo­ple have been killed in clashes with po­lice over ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes in re­cent weeks.

Lo­cal peo­ple told AFP there had been ral­lies and clashes with po­lice in the city of Ambo and Ne­mekte, in the Oromo re­gion, as well as a calls for protests in Ba­her Dar in the Amhara re­gion. — Al Jazeera GUANGZHOU (China) — More than half a mil­lion peo­ple have signed an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for the clo­sure of a theme park in the Chi­nese city of Guangzhou, where a po­lar bear is on show.

The Arc­tic animal, who goes by the name of Pizza, is the main at­trac­tion for peo­ple vis­it­ing the Grand­view shop­ping cen­tre.

But animal-rights groups say con­di­tions in the theme park are in­cred­i­bly poor and have called for the po­lar bear to be moved.

“This ob­vi­ously af­fects him psy­cho­log­i­cally and be­haviourally, which then af­fects his level of hap­pi­ness,” Ka­rina O’Car­roll, of An­i­mals Asia, said.

The man­ager of the theme park has dis­missed al­le­ga­tions that the po­lar bear was be­ing mis­treated, and ac­cused the animal-rights groups as also the in­ter­na­tional me­dia of con­duct­ing a witch­hunt against him and his col­leagues.

Nev­er­the­less, many of the spec­ta­tors are also ex­press­ing their con­cern for the bear.

“This place is very small,” one woman said. “The bear is play­ing by him­self. He’s lonely, and he needs in­ter­ac­tions.” — Al Jazeera

Satur­day’s rally was the first rally to be held in Addis Ababa after a se­ries of Oromo and Amhara protests else­where. Reuters

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