Ethiopia: Army, police force to be deployed at Irreecha festival

ESAT News (September 29, 2017)

The Federal Police Commission said the army and police force would be deployed at the Irreecha festival this coming Sunday despite earlier statements by the Aba Geda and authorities that said there would be no armed security at the site of the festival in Bishoftu.

Police Commissioner, General Asefa Abiyou, told TPLF owned Fana Broadcasting Corporation that the intelligence, defence and police forces would be deployed at the festival.

The Commissioner’s statement came a day after the Council of Aba Gedas, the cultural and religious leaders of the Oromos, said about 300 youth, not the army, will facilitate the smooth function of the festival. The Aba Geda Council also said it had banned government officials from delivering speeches at the Irreecha festival.

The Commissioner also said arrests were made on some individuals who were allegedly plotting to create disturbances at the ceremony and carrying out attacks on transportations.

The Commissioner’s statement also came in contrast with a statement by authorities last week that said there would be no deployment of security forces.

Hundreds were killed and injured at last year’s Irreecha, a festival to welcome the harvest season as security forces shot at festival goers and in the ensuing stampede. Most had lost their lives trapped in a ravine as they run for their lives.

The Human Rights Watch said it found evidence that security forces of the regime “not only triggered the stampede that caused many deaths but subsequently shot and killed some members of the crowd.”

Meanwhile, Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians has donated 25,000 dollars to Oromos displaced by the ongoing ethnic violence in Eastern Ethiopia. President of the Alliance, Tamagne Beyene, told ESAT that the money has already been delivered to the Aba Geda. He said the organization will soon launch a fundraising campaign to help Somalis displaced in the violence.