Ethiopia — Jawar Mohammed Appears in Court

  • According to the Attorney General’s office, Jawar’s Oromia Media Network and two other media houses had been searched on suspicion of incitement.
  • It is alleged that Jawar had intercepted the body of the musician, which was being ferried to his homeland.
  • Addis Ababa police said 10 more people had been killed in the city, raising the death toll from the protests to 97.

A prominent politician in Ethiopia, Jawar Mohammed, appeared in court on Thursday as Halachu Hundessa was laid to rest amid tight security. Jawar and another prominent Oromo politician, Bekele Gerba, are facing charges of “participating in the death of a person.”

Jawar Mohammed is an Ethiopian-born American political analyst and activist. On June 30 2020, Jawar was arrested by Ethiopian Federal police after an incident between Jawar’s guards and police that resulted in the death of a police officer.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Jawar’s Oromia Media Network and two other media houses had been searched on suspicion of incitement.

It is alleged that Jawar had intercepted the body of the musician, which was being ferried to his homeland. Jawar is a top Oromo leader, and has been on the forefront in calling for the rights of Oromo, the largest ethnic group in the country. He had supported the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is an Oromo like himself, but has turned to a major critic of his.

Earlier, the authorities have said that “thirty five people including Jawar Mohammed have been put under arrest. The security forces have taken eight Kalashnikovs, five pistols and nine radio transmitters from Jawar Mohammed’s car,” said Endeshaw Tassew, the Federal Police Commissioner. One member of Oromia special force was killed, the Commissioner added.

Halachu was shot and killed on Monday as he was driving in the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa. His death sparked protests across the country. The military was deployed in Ethiopia’s capital as protests continued following the death of the local musician. Gangs armed with machetes and sticks roamed the streets as gunshots could be heard in the city. 

Addis Ababa police said 10 more people had been killed in the city, raising the death toll from the protests to 97. The police also revealed that two more people had arrested in connection to the death of the musician.

The protests erupted when thousands of fans went to the hospital, where his body was taken. This forced the police to use tear gas to disperse the crowd that had set tires on fire. They had tried to prevent the body from being taken to his hometown of Ambo, about 100 kilometers west of the capital, insisting that he should be buried in the city.

As protests continued in the country, a statue of Haile Selassie, a former Ethiopian emperor, was destroyed in a park in Wimbledon, South-West London. Witnesses say the destruction was caused by a group of 100 people.

The Oromo people are a Cushitic ethnic group and nation native to Ethiopia who speak the Oromo language. They are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and represent 34.5% of Ethiopia’s population.

The police are investigating the incident, which appears to be linked with the unrest in Ethiopia. Many Oromo people claim that they were oppressed during Haile Selassie’s rule, whereby their traditional religion and language were banned.

Human Rights Watch has questioned the government’s handling of the protests brought about by the killing of the singer. “The government’s responses to the protesters risks enflaming long-simmering tensions,” it said in a statement. HRW added that the shutting down of internet services in the country was a clear indication that people are being silenced.

Halachu was popularly known for his political songs that focused on the rights of country’s Oromo ethnic group. Many considered him a voice of the Oromo people, since his songs highlighted the political and economic marginalization that the ethnic group had suffered in the hands of leaders.

His songs became a national anthem in 2018, after the downfall of the prime minister. When Halachu was 17 years old, he was imprisoned for taking part in protests, and although many like him fled the country and went into exile, he remained and rallied for change.

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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