Tight security, many arrests for Ethiopian Irreecha festival

Ethiopians celebrate the festival of Irreecha by throwing grass and flowers into a pool of water to thank God for the blessings of the past year and to wish prosperity for the coming year, amid tight security in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Saturday celebrated the annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha amid tight security and a significantly smaller crowd due to political tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ethiopians celebrate the festival of Irreecha by throwing grass and flowers into a pool of water to thank God for the blessings of the past year and to wish prosperity for the coming year, amid tight security in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Saturday celebrated the annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha amid tight security and a significantly smaller crowd due to political tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic. (Associated Press)

Hundreds of people were arrested ahead of the festival, some accused by authorities of plotting terror attacks and a new wave of unrest.

Wearing face masks and white clothes stitched with the colors of the Oromia region’s flag, people in downtown Addis Ababa were subjected to at least six security checks complete with body searches and, in some areas, sniffer dogs.

“I don’t know the kind of information they have but these security checks are too much,” said Hassen, a participant who gave only his first name, fearing for his safety. “Added with the COVID-19, it really has ruined the festive mood.”AD

The festival usually attracts hundreds of thousands of people, but only a few thousand were allowed to attend this year.

More than 500 people were arrested on suspicion of plotting to disrupt the festival, the Oromia police commission said Thursday. On the same day, the National Intelligence and Security Service said it had arrested people suspected of planning to carry out terror attacks and cause unrest at the celebrations in Addis Ababa and nearby Bishoftu, adding that 10 Kalashnikovs were seized.

People travelling to the capital from other regions were banned from entering the city, multiple sources told The Associated Press. Officials said they were carrying out strict security checks but did not confirm the ban.AD

Notably, people carrying the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Federalist Congress party flags were absent in this year’s festival. Some of the parties’ leaders are behind bars for alleged involvement in the deadly unrest that followed the killing of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa in June. On Friday, an Ethiopian court charged four people suspected in the killing, which led to turmoil that saw more than 180 people and thousands arrested.

The Oromo, while the country’s largest ethnic group, traditionally have expressed frustration over perceived marginalization. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the country’s first Oromo leader, but he faces growing criticism by some Oromo that he hasn’t done enough for them.

The Irreecha festival marks the end of the rainy season and the start of the harvest. It has seen violence in the past.AD

During the 2016 celebration in Bishoftu, a town 40 kilometers from the capital, several dozen people were crushed to death in a stampede after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-government protesters.

“Amid a pandemic, reasonable restrictions on public gatherings may be justified. But with tensions already high, expressions of dissent and resistance to government directives may be expected. The government should show it has learned lessons from its recent responses to demonstrations and the events of 2016 by ensuring security forces exercise restraint and allowing gatherers to celebrate safely,” tweeted Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. T

People in traditional clothing march during the celebration of the Oromo people’s annual thanksgiving holiday, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group holds scaled-back thanksgiving festival
October 3, 2020 by Robbie COREY-BOULET

Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group gathered Saturday under heavy security in Addis Ababa for a scaled-back version of their annual thanksgiving festival against a backdrop of unrest and political division.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government said it was restricting attendance for the Oromo group’s Irreecha festival to around 5,000 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, just as it did for an Orthodox Christian holiday last week. 
But some Irreecha attendees said the regulations were designed to prevent anti-government protests at a time when Oromo opposition politicians are behind bars and security forces stand accused of using heavy-handed tactics against civilians in the Oromo region surrounding the capital. 
“When people get together they may reflect on what is going wrong in the country. For fear of that they have restricted us,” said Jatani Bonaya, a 26-year-old student. 
“What the government is doing is not right,” he added.
It is traditionally held in the city of Bishoftu, located in Oromia some 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa. 
In 2016 the use of tear gas and firearms by security forces sparked a stampede in Bishoftu that killed dozens, some of whom drowned in a nearby lake. 
The government put the death toll at 55, though Human Rights Watch later said it could have been in the hundreds. 
The following year Irreecha turned into an anti-government protest, part of a broader movement that brought Abiy, Ethiopia’s first Oromo ruler, to power in 2018. 
Last year Abiy allowed a separate Irreecha celebration to take place for the first time in Addis Ababa and hundreds of thousands turned out. 
On Saturday a much smaller crowd led by chanting Oromo traditional leaders gathered at pools of water in central Addis Ababa, where they dipped flowers and sprayed themselves in a gesture symbolising gratitude and renewal.
-Pop star’s killing-
Tensions between Abiy and Oromo nationalists have been on the rise in recent months following the June killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a pop star who gave voice to Oromo feelings of marginalisation. 
More than 160 people were killed in ensuing violence, and more than 9,000 people were caught up in subsequent mass arrests including journalists and prominent Oromo opposition politicians. 
Chaltu Lemma, a 22-year-old cousin of Hachalu’s, attended Saturday’s ceremony and said she hoped it would not be tainted with politics. 
“This is our culture, and our culture is independent of religion and politics,” she said. 
“We are sad as a family and as a nation that Hachalu was killed. He shouldn’t have died. But human beings are born and die… This government will also pass, but Irreecha will outlive all of us.” 
Abiy’s government was clearly worried about security this year. 
On Wednesday police staged a military-style parade at which Abiy, winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, declared Ethiopia “will not kneel to any enemy in its quest for prosperity”. 
And on Thursday police announced the arrest of 503 people “intending to cause harm to Irreecha festival-goers”, saying they had confiscated more than 100 weapons including grenades and Kalashnikov rifles. 
Saturday’s ceremony appeared to unfold peacefully. 
A larger Irreecha ceremony is expected Sunday in Bishoftu.
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Koroonaa Vaayrasiin Kun dhibee Salphaa miti Salphisnee laaluun gaarii miti.

Waa’ee dhibee koronaa vaayira
@gadaamelba sii

Ummatni keenya Dhibee Koronaa kana salphisnee laaluun gaarii miti. Mallattooleen dhibee Koroonaa tokko tokko jalqaba irrati dhibee akka qufaa, alarjii fi kkf waliin yoo walfakkatelleaddeemsa keessatiti fi safisaan miidhaan inni lubbuu namaa gaaga’uu fi tamsa’u dhibee kana hamaa fi adda kan godhuudha. Dhibeen kun addunyaa irra wal gahuun biyyoota diinaagdee fi teeknooloojii dhaan guddataniis tahee […]

Koroonaa Vaayrasiin Kun dhibee Salphaa miti Salphisnee laaluun gaarii miti.

የ2020በጎ ሰዉ

የዘንድሮ (2012ዓ.ም.) የበጎ ሰው ልዩ ሽልማት አሸናፊዎች ስምንት ሲሆኑ
አራቱን እነሆ
1) አቶ ካሊድ ናስር
ባለፉት አምስት ወራት በኮቪድ 19 ኮሮና ቫይረስ ምክንያት የገዛ መኖሪያ
ግቢያቸውን ሳይቀር በመስጠት፣ መጠለያ የሌላቸውን በመደገፍ የበጎ አድራጎት
ሥራ የሠሩ፤
2) አቶ ኪሮስ አስፋው ፡
ላለፉት ዘጠኝ ዓመታት ያለማቋረጥ መቶ ጊዜ የሕዳሴ ግድብ ቦንድ የገዙ፤
3) ቢኒያም ከበደ ፡
የንባብ ለሕይወት መሥራች አዘጋጆች አንዱ እንዲሁም የኢትዮጵያ ልጆች
ቴሌቭዥን መሥራች፤
4) መሀመድ አል አሩሲ
የህዳሴው ግድብ ተሟጋች ፡ በተለይም በአረብኛ ቋንቋ ከግብፆች ጋር በሚዲያ
እየተናነቀ የሚገኝ ወጣት

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