Detentions, torture, deaths and silencing civil society, politicians and the media – Addis Ababa’s government (EPRDF) biggest threat is itself.

By Peter Fabricius (Mail & Guardian Africa) |

On August 6 and 7, Ethiopian security forces were reported to have shot dead about 90 demonstrators in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital Addis Ababa, and in the Amhara region to the northwest.

In July, the demonstrations had spread to Amhara from Oromia, to which they had largely been confined.

They began there as a protest against the government’s integrated master plan to develop the infrastructure of Addis Ababa and adjacent cities in Oromia.

The government backed off that plan, but the demonstrations then became a wider protest, expressing grievances against the government and its response to the protests.

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The Amhara demonstrations were apparently sparked by an attempt by authorities to arrest some individuals thought to have links to the Eritrean government and other dissident elements it supports. But this quickly turned into another protest by people agitating for the return of Amhara land that was transferred to the northern Tigray province in 1991.

Human rights advocates and observers estimate that at least 500 people have been killed since November last year, mostly by live ammunition fired by security forces, and that tens of thousands have been detained — and some tortured. The government contests this figure and says that the protests were not peaceful; police officers were also killed and government and private properties were attacked.

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