- The musician was hailed as a true freedom fighter that uplifted the souls of many people.
- Security had been heightened in Ambo, the home of Halachu Hundessa, ahead of his burial.
- It is alleged that security forces blocked roads and fired at mourners who tried to attend the burial.
Ethiopia’s popular musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was buried amid tight security in his homeland. The 34 year-old was killed on Monday. His funeral service at a stadium in Ambo was attended by a few hundred, as most people chose to follow the service on television.
Many feared an eruption of violence. The funeral service was aired by Oromo regional state owned television, Oromo Broadcasting Network. The musician was hailed as a true freedom fighter that uplifted the souls of many people.
“Haacaaluu is not dead. He will remain in my heart and the hearts of millions of Oromo people forever,” Santu Demisew Diro, his wife, said. “I request a monument erected in his memory in Addis [Ababa] where his blood was spilt.”
“It is very sad that his body is accompanied by only a few people and security forces are keeping many others away,” one of Haacaaluu’s relatives, who had been allowed to attend the funeral, told Reuters.
Security had been heightened in Ambo, the home of Halachu Hundessa, ahead of his burial. The local musician, whose death has sparked protests in the country, was shot on Monday.
“Security forces have invaded our town, we can’t go out to mourn. No vehicles are moving around except security patrols with machine-guns,” 27-year-old student Chala Hunde told Reuters by phone from Ambo. “The security forces are putting a finger in our wound.” Critics have argued that the presence of heavy security in the town could lead to more violence.
However, it is alleged that security forces blocked roads and fired at mourners who tried to attend the burial. A medical officer revealed that two people were killed and several others injured after police officers fired at mourners.
“There has been an operation today related to the funeral. Nine people have been shot and two of them have died in our hospital,” said the official at the Ambo referral hospital on condition of anonymity.
Halachu was shot and killed as he was driving in the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa. It is alleged that Halachu had received death threats previously. The motive for the death remains unclear, but the police have said that two people have been arrested in connection to the killing. The police added that the killing appeared to be well planned. On Thursday, the police revealed that three more suspects had been arrested.
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.
The prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, condemned Halachu’s death, calling it an evil act. “This is an act committed and inspired by foreign and domestic enemies in order to destabilize our peace and stopping us from achieving what we started,” he said.
Protests have continued in the country following the musician’s death. Several people have been arrested in connection to the demonstrations that has claimed more than 90 lives.
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.
Authorities confirmed that dozens were injured and property destroyed during the protests on Tuesday. The internet was also shut down.