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Ethiopia: widespread arrests reported after Eid protests

(OPride) – Hundreds arrested, beaten, and tear gassed Thursday morning following nationwide Eid day protests, Muslim rights activists said.

Police began rounding up peaceful protesters returning home near the Ministry of Justice in Addis Ababa shortly after the Eid prayers concluded at the national stadium, according to eyewitness reports on Twitter. Those detained were ordered to sit on the ground inside the Ministry’s compound, the reports said.

The state-run Ethiopian Television, ETV, cut its live coverage of the Eid ceremony abruptly as the prayers ended at Addis Ababa Stadium in the capital. At the conclusion of the prayer, activists can be heard chanting “Allah Akbar” in the background – forcing ETV to switch its feeds back to headquarters for hourly news.

In similar protests, police in the northern city of Dessie fired machine guns and tear gas, indiscriminately beating the protesters, according to a Facebook post by activist group, Dimtsachin Yisema. During and after Eid prayers, the group posted live updates in Amharic, including photos, from various locations around the country.

Most of the updates touted the success of a nationwide anti-government demonstration focused on a call for the removal of Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council leaders, the Mejlis. “As of today, the illegally elected Mejlis leaders are dismissed by the public,” one banner posted by the group read.

Widespread crackdown and arrests were also reported in Awaday town, Eastern Oromia, and Illu Abba Boora zone, in western Oromia. Thursday’s arrests of Muslim community members in Ethiopia come less than a week after police gunned down some 16 civilians and arrested hundreds in Kofele district, south-central Oromia.

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