You are here
AT LEAST 52 KILLED IN ETHIOPIA AFTER PROTEST TURNS TO STAMPEDE Featured News 

AT LEAST 52 KILLED IN ETHIOPIA AFTER PROTEST TURNS TO STAMPEDE

At least 52 people were killed in a stampede Sunday during a protest at a religious festival in Ethiopia.

Officials in the region of Oromiya confirmed the deaths, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.

716820_1 sub-buzz-25177-1475438645-1-1

Police had fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the air to disperse crowds during an anti-government protest at a religious festival.

A crowd of thousands of people had gathered in the town of Bishoftu for an annual festival of thanksgiving, Irrechaa. Some chanted anti-government slogans and marched toward a stage where leaders were speaking, holding their arms crossed over their heads. Protests by the Oromo people often symbolized by crossed arms have been ongoing since last year, and in several instances, they have turned deadly.

Security forces attempted to break up Sunday’s protest by firing tear gas and rubber bullets toward the crowd. The result was chaos and a stampede in which dozens were killed.

000cf204-800

Demonstrators show the Oromo protest gesture sign during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Demonstrators show the Oromo protest gesture sign during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

1024x576_340671

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Video from Ethiopian broadcaster Mereja TV shows security forces first physically pushing back people in the tightly packed crowd, then firing tear gas as people flee.

One man, muddy and shoeless, described to the Associated Press how he was pulled out of a deep ditch that a number of people fell into as they ran. The first to fall in had suffocated as others fell on top of them, he said.

“I almost died in that place today,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Ethiopia government blamed Sunday’s events on “people that prepared to cause trouble,” the AP reported.

Oromo people have said they face persecution and discrimination from the Tigrayan ethnic group. Though Tigrayan people are a minority in the country, they hold many positions of power in the military, intelligence services, and politics.

An Oromo marathon runner, Feyisa Lilesa, protested on behalf of his people as he earned a silver medal at the Olympics over the summer. For his political act, he said he feared arrest or death if he returned to Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government announced a three-day period of mourning for Sunday’s deaths.

The loss of life resonated among Ethiopians around the world. In the United States, a sizable Oromo community had gathered along Lake Artemesia in College Park, Maryland, to observe Irrechaa.

Attendees told BuzzFeed News that the celebrations were almost canceled due to the events back home, and several people said they simply didn’t feel like celebrating amid the tragic news.

ct-ethiopia-stampede-20161002-001

TOPSHOT - People look at a severely injured man carried for treatment after a deadly stampede in Bishoftu, on October 2, 2016.  Several people were killed in a stampede near the Ethiopian capital on October 2 after police fired tear gas at protesters during a religious festival, according to an AFP photographer at the scene. Several thousand people had gathered at a sacred lake to take part in the Irreecha ceremony, in which the Oromo community marks the end of the rainy season, where participants crossed their wrists above their heads, a gesture that has become a symbol of Oromo anti-government protests. The event quickly degenerated, with protesters throwing stones and bottles and security forces responding with baton charges and then tear gas grenades. / AFP PHOTO / Zacharias ABUBEKER
TOPSHOT – People look at a severely injured man carried for treatment after a deadly stampede in Bishoftu, on October 2, 2016.
Several people were killed in a stampede near the Ethiopian capital on October 2 after police fired tear gas at protesters during a religious festival, according to an AFP photographer at the scene. Several thousand people had gathered at a sacred lake to take part in the Irreecha ceremony, in which the Oromo community marks the end of the rainy season, where participants crossed their wrists above their heads, a gesture that has become a symbol of Oromo anti-government protests. The event quickly degenerated, with protesters throwing stones and bottles and security forces responding with baton charges and then tear gas grenades. / AFP PHOTO / Zacharias ABUBEKER

trtworld-nid-198453-fid-232577 sub-buzz-25177-1475438645-1-1 etiopia sub-buzz-13792-1475438827-1 sub-buzz-2126-1475441023-1

BuzzFeed News

Share This:

Related posts

Leave a Comment