By Abraha Belai,
The number of individuals killed during the month-long protests has risen to over 85, while over 3500 have been detained, a leading figure of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) told Voice of America (VOA) Amharic Service on Monday.
Bekele Nega, secretary general of OFC, said nearly all of OFC’s members and candidates in previous elections have been detained in the crackdown that has primarily targeted OFC members.
Killings that include pregnant women and children have been committed by the government, and this is a serious concern for all of us, Bekele said.
“A mother and child were killed in Chanqa, Western Wellega, their bodies left in the open for three days. In Horo Gudru, Gudru district, 7-month pregnant Shashitu Mekonen and 17-year-old young woman Qeneni Feqadu were killed on their way to market. Their bodies were found in the woods. The indiscriminate killings of pregnant women, children, mothers is cause for a serious concern,” the OFC official said.
Meanwhile through its media, the government, which still put the number of the dead at 5, says public gatherings being held in Oromia region emphasized the importance of peace in the country.
Bekele Nega said the state-owned media puts the story upside down. People complain about the administrative injustices, widespread corruption, land grab etc. but instead of reporting the frustrations of the people, the state media writes a completely different story, saying the people have asked the government to crack down on anti peace elements, the opposition official said.
The government has been taking measures to secure news blackout of what was going on in the country. As a result, satellite dishes were being destroyed from each home, a fact Bekele also shared with the radio.
On December 18, Bekele was forced by unidentified men into a car and given what he called the “last warning.”