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Ethiopian students demand end to police crackdowns in rare protest

Dozens of university students protested in Ethiopia’s capital on Tuesday, demanding an end to police crackdowns that followed months of demonstrations over plans to requisition farmland in the country’s Oromiya region late last year.
The government wanted to develop farmland around the capital, Addis Ababa, and its plan triggered some of the worst civil unrest for a decade, with rights groups and U.S.-based dissidents saying as many as 200 people may have been killed.
Officials suggest the figure is far lower but have not given a specific number.
Ethiopia has long been one of the world’s poorest nations but has industrialized rapidly in the past decade and now boasts double-digit growth. However, reallocating land is a thorny issue for Ethiopians, many of whom are subsistence farmers.
Authorities scrapped the land scheme in January, but sporadic demonstrations persist and, on Tuesday, students from Addis Ababa University marched in two groups toward the embassy of the United States, a major donor, holding signs that read “We are not terrorists. Stop killing Oromo people.”
Such protests are rare in a country where police are feared as heavy-handed and the government is seen as repressive.
A government spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has promised to address grievances in the Oromiya region and says he blames rebel groups for stoking violence.
Opponents blame harsh police tactics.
“The aim was to highlight the abuses carried out in the region,” one student told Reuters, saying he did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.
“We waved white cloth to indicate that we were peaceful protesters. But police started beating us up,” he said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said last month that protesters it spoke to and who had been detained after the outbreak of demonstrations in November had been subjected to severe beatings and never appeared before a judge.
The group said women suffered sexual assaults and mistreatment. It said one 18-year-old student was “given electric shocks to his feet”.
Officials dismissed the report as not worthy of comment.
(Editing by Edith Honan and Louise Ireland)

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  1. U ignorant people you don’t want get out of poverty, do not growth give f….. about the farm land look China for example China was the poorest country 25 years ago .keep protesting you ass.

    • First off you are the ignorant one to compare us to China, the country that is assisting in the oppression of the Ethiopian people. when you have practically no right in your own country and you are being told that your land is going to be taken away with no compensation and that it is going to be handed over to Chinese or Indian companies to benefit those in power and not do anything for the people in the region. then I would stand up and protest too. It is easy for you sitting behind a computer and call those fighting for their lives and culture ignorant and asses makes you an misguided and ignorant individual. As citizens they have the right to protest against unfair treatment.

  2. in China the government in the one who have da money not da people. ..just like our country. ..

  3. Every year , moment& Every Regime oromo used violence protests against Government why? They have right to express their complain through word but they were always pushing by anti-Government /political agent this is not true to oromo, Ethiopia for all not for oromo

  4. Mohamer,Don’t be moron before you open your stinky mouth think twice no one hate development but land grabbing. By the way according to your name you are not Ethiopian so its not your business JURK !!!!!! Of course you can be one of those blood sucker Weyanes pretending that you not by changing you name from Arkebe to Mohamer.

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