On Tuesday 29 June 2020 night, a popular Ethiopian-Oromo artist/singer Hachalu Hundesa was shot and pronounced dead at a hospital in Addis Ababa. Immediately, after the death of Hachalu Hundesa, many extremist Oromos politicized his death and called young Oromos to protest. Reporters from Oromia Media Network (OMN) called for protests throughout Oromia Region and in Addis Ababa and asked young Oromos to destroy the statues of former leaders of Ethiopia including the status of Emperor Menelik in Addis Ababa. They also called for attacks against “neftegnas” (a label they use for Amharas).
Protests and violence broke out in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Harar, and Oromia Region. In Nazareth (Adama), at least five protesters were killed and many more injured when they attempted to overtake a government building. Similar occurrences have been reported in other parts of Oromia. Additionally, there have been reports of deaths and injuries against other minorities, especially Amharas in the Oromia Region. Homes and businesses of non-Oromos have been set ablaze.
It is unfortunate Oromo activists are using the death of Hachalu Hundesa to call for attacks against Amharas and other minorities. Because the Internet has been shut down and phone connections are irregular, we are not able to ascertain the situation in Oromia Region and the extent of harm to the innocent and damage. However, we have received reports that indicated that many Amharas are killed and several properties of Amharas have been destroyed. By the government’s account over 165 are killed and 76 are wounded in just two days. These figures are rapidly increasing.
The statue of Ras Mekonnen, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie was destroyed in Harar by protesters. Also, there have been incidents of Oromo-Oromo violence (the Pro Abiy and Pro Jawar camp). Oromo protesters in London, U.K. removed the Ethiopian flag from Ethiopian Embassy in London and attacked an embassy employee. In addition, protesters destroyed a statue of Emperor Haile Selassie in London.
The OMN studio in Ethiopia has been shut down and its journalists were arrested for inciting violence in the country. Some of these journalists have now been freed. OMN’s former director and Oromo Federalist Congress member Jawar Mohammed has been arrested, charged with individuals from his security detail killing a member of Oromia regional state special forces. Bekele Gerba is also under custody. Federal police are being deployed across Oromia Region to stabilize the region. But OMN’s studio in Minnesota has continued transmission and activists and individuals in the U.S. and Europe have continued to agitate young Oromos in Ethiopia through OMN.
The Oromo activists are blaming Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for the death of Hachalu Hundesa. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressed the nation and on his part, put the blame, without directly naming, on Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and extremists Oromos such as Oromo Liberation Front's armed wing (OLF- Shane) and their sympathizers for the death of Hachalu and destabilizing the country. The police have arrested two suspects and are on the hunt for more in the death of Hachalu Hundesa.