22 July 2012 [ESAT]
The standoff between the government and Ethiopian Muslims rallying for a greater religious freedom and in opposition to what they call a flagrant interference in their religious affairs entered into another faith yesterday. The government forces have started violent crackdown on peacefully pretesting followers of the faith yesterday. The Ethiopian federal police forces have fired rounds of live bullets and tear gas into the protesters at the Grand Anwar Mosque and there are reports of lost lives.
Our reporter was able to witness mass attacks, mass incarcerations and a lot of injured people in the vicinity of Anwar Mosque. Christians from Mercato, Addis Ketema, Chew Berenda, Kuas Meda, and Mesalemia areas have reportedly joined the mass protest in what informed commentators suggest would be a sign that the protest is getting into another phase.
The confrontation was initiated by the federal police forces sometime after mid-day Ethiopian time and continued until it subsided due to a heavy rainfall at around. 4:00PM in the afternoon.
Our reporter has tried to drive around and see the scene at the Grand Anwar Mosque, and Beni Mosque where he couldn’t get any closer as the sites were cordoned off by the federal police. He was able to walk about the sites where he was able to witness a huge presence of fatigue draped, Tigrigna conversing federal police forces harassing passer-bys in Tigrigna and Amharic.
Large numbers of armed snipers were spotted on buildings adjoining Anwar Mosque. Roof tops of Yirga Haile Shopping Complex, Tesfa Alem Hotel, Commercial Bank building, and Fasika Hotel were some of the buildings our reporter could notice sniper armed federal police personnel.
Dejazmach Oumer Semeter School which is within a few hundreds of meters distance from Grand Anwar Mosque is said to be the temporary command centre and detention facility for the huge crackdown operation by the federal police. Our reporter has managed to count up to seven rounds of Russian made army trucks carrying detained Muslims from Grand Anwar Mosque. The whereabouts of those detained is not yet known.
So far Assistant Professor Adem Kamil, Sheik Mekete Muhe, Jemal Yassin, Sultan Aman, from the 17 member arbitration committee; and Yossef Getachew and Ustas Nuru Turki from the Muslim’s Affair magazine have been brought to Arada sub city first instance court and are charged with terrorism.
One political commentator our reporter has talked to say the measure government is taking seems fashioned in a manner it did the previous political crackdowns. The government has ramped up its usual propaganda campaign of forcing people to go out and condemn the peaceful protests and the 17 elected members of arbitration committee.
The commentator concluded his remark by stressing the fact that whoever comes after Meles Zenawi wouldn’t be any benign as the current response indicates. At this very moment when reports of a brewing power struggle have started within TPLF, it appears the hardliners are gaining an upper hand.