Killing of Oromo Singer Sparks Ethiopia Unrest

Politics News
Killing of a popular Oromo singer Haacaaluu Hundeessaa sparks unrest
The assassination of a prominent Oromo musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, sparks anger and unrest in Oromia region and other parts of Ethiopia.


Youths enraged by the killing of a popular Oromo musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa burned tyres in Ethiopia’s capital as unrest start to spread in other cities.

In Adama, 90km south-east of Addis Ababa, five people died after being shot during demonstrations and 75 others were injured, hospital chief executive Dr. Mekonnin Feyisa told BBC Afaan Aromo.

Nineteen others were injured in nearby Dera town, he added.

Meanwhile, in the eastern town of Chiro, two people were shot dead during protests, a medic at the local hospital told the BBC.

In the eastern city of Harar, protesters have pulled down a statue of a royal prince – Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael – who was the father of Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s last emperor.

The statue shows Ras Makonnen, an important military figure and former governor of Harar province in the 19th Century under then-Emperor Menelik II, sitting on a horse.

PM Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and promised an investigation.

Hachalu’s body was being taken to his hometown, Ambo, about 100km west of the capital, but protesters tried to stop it and insisted that he should be buried in Addis Ababa.

The internet has also been shut down in parts of the country as the protests spread in Oromia regional state.

A TV station owned by another prominent Oromo activist and opponent of PM Abiy, Jawar Mohammed, said police had arrested Jawar after his bodyguards refused to disarm.

Bekele Gerba, a leader of an opposition Oromo political party, was also arrested, the station said.

The station was forced to broadcast by satellite from the U.S. state of Minnesota after police raided its headquarters and detained its staff, it said.

“They did not just kill Hachalu (Haacaaluu). They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar, whose supporters have been involved in violent clashes with the police in the past, posted on his Facebook page before his arrest.

Haacaaluu’s songs often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous government in 2018.

In a recent interview with local TV station Oromia Media Network, Hachalu had said that people should remember that all the horses seen mounted by old rulers leaders belonged to the [Oromo] people.

The musician’s death and the protests come as political tensions are rising following the indefinite postponement of elections, on account of the coronavirus pandemic, that were due in August.

They would have been the first electoral test for PM Abiy after he came to power in April 2018.

* Reuters and BBC News contributed to this story.