by Alexander Quint
As part of her tour of Africa, German chancellor Angela Merkel recently (Tuesday, 11 October 2016) visited the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which is also home to the headquarters of the African Union. During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Merkel urged the Ethiopian government to open up politics and halt violent behaviour by police in response to peaceful demonstrations.
Since early August, over a hundred civilian protesters have reportedly been killed by security forces in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Oromiya regions as well as in Addis Ababa. These crackdowns on generally peaceful demonstrations follow the same pattern as the violently repressed protests that started in October 2015 and which lasted several months. Human Rights Watch estimates that overall, more than 500 people have been killed since then, in addition to tens of thousands of arrests. Last year, the protests took place almost exclusively in Oromiya. Now they have also spread to Amhara. The regions are inhabited mostly by ethnic groups of the same name. Both Amhara and Oromo are citing dissatisfaction with the government’s track record of economic, social and security policies, saying that they are discriminated against and left in a general state of disadvantage by Desalegn’s predominantly Tigrayan regime.