What’s Behind the Massive Protest in Gondar?

Sunday’s protest in Ethiopia involving tens of thousands of people in the northern Amhara region of Gondar is a rare example of an anti-government demonstration in the country. What’s behind the protests and how serious is that for the government?

By BBC News,

Sunday’s protest in Ethiopia involving thousands of people in Gondar, a city in Amhara region, is a rare example of an anti-government demonstration in the country.

It was organised on social media but no group has taken responsibility for it. The demonstration comes two weeks after another protests in the city in which 15 people died, including members of the security forces and civilians.

What’s behind the protests?

At the root of the recent demonstrations is a request by representatives from the Welkait community – known as the Welkait Amhara Identity Committee – that their land, which is currently administered by the Tigray regional state, be moved into neighbouring Amhara region.

The Welkait committee says community members identify themselves as ethnic Amharas and say they no longer want to be ruled by Tigrayans.

Demonstrations began a fortnight ago but leaders of the Welkait community have been asking for the move for a year.

Amharas used to form the country’s elite and the language remains the most widely spoken in the country.

Is that the only issue?

Observers say that Ethiopia’s governing coalition is dominated by the party from the small Tigray region (TPLF), and some see the protests as a way of criticising the country’s government.

ethiopia-ethnic1When Sunday’s demonstration was organised on social media, no mention was made of other issues, but during the protest banners could be seen expressing solidarity with people from the Oromia region.

Since November last year, the government has been dealing with a wave of protests in Oromia as people complain about alleged marginalisation. Those demonstrations began over a plan to expand the federal capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia. That plan has been dropped, but the issue highlighted grievances with the government which have not gone away.

The Oromos are Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group.

People on Sunday were also calling for the release of a group of 18 Muslims who were imprisoned last year under controversial anti-terror legislation.

Why are regional boundaries so important?

When the current government came to power in 1991 after overthrowing the military dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam it introduced a federal constitution aimed at decentralising power.

The regional states that were created were based on ethnicity and language.

That has meant that ethnic identity has come to the fore in disputes over where regional boundaries should lie. These tensions have been witnessed in other parts of the country, not only in Amhara and Oromia.

Is there a connection with other protests in the country?

There is no formal connection between the protesters in Amhara and those in Oromia, but it does appear to represent a growing boldness amongst some people to challenge the government.

Ethiopia’s government has been criticised by rights groups for cracking down on protests and dissident voices and using anti-terror laws to silence people.

In Amhara, the demonstration two weeks ago was sparked by the imprisonment of members of the Welkait Amhara Identity Committee.

In the face of this apparent repression any anti-government demonstration can be seen as significant.

How serious is this for the government?

Two weeks ago, Ethiopia’s federal government accused neighbouring Eritrea of being behind the unrest and strongly warned the country to refrain from its “evil actions”.

Human Rights Watch estimated that more than 400 people died in the protests in Oromia

But so far there has been no word from the authorities in Addis Ababa about Sunday’s protest.

They may prefer for this to be handled at a regional level, and the Amhara government has commented.

It said that the problems the protesters raised on Sunday were to do with good governance and it will try to address these.

This echoed the response of the Oromia regional government earlier this year when it said it would address the grievances of the people there.

For some observers, the Amhara protests appear to be part of a growing anti-government feeling, which the authorities are trying to contain.

But with no opposition parties represented in parliament, this feeling is manifested in sporadic bursts of activity rather than a concerted campaign.

36 thoughts on “What’s Behind the Massive Protest in Gondar?

  1. Tigrai Online thought of the day

    ‘በኣስር ሺዎች በጎንደር ኣመፅ ደግፈው ከወጡ፣ ኢህኣደግን፣ ህገ መንግስቱን፣ ሰላምን፣ ልማትን፣ መከባበርን፣ ፍቅርን፣ ኣንድነትን፣ ሉኣላዊነታችንንና፣ ኢትዮጵያን ደግፈው በምልዮኖች ይወጣሉ። ትግስት ፍርሃት እንዳይመስላቹሁ። ‘


  2. The Case of Rwanda: Lessons for Ethiopia

    This is for Ethiopians to remind them to learn lessons from the Rwandan genocide. Some might think that such kind of scenario will never happen in Ethiopia. But just think about it: who thought that a country called Somalia with one language, one ethnic group and one religion would so rapidly fall apart and be a failed state for two decades?

    Who would have thought that the former Yugoslavia would disintegrate and result in the kind of genocide and ethnic cleaning?

    Who would have thought South Sudan, which had its independence in 2011, after decades of war, would descend to a civil war that is causing the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese?

    Who would have thought that Muammar Gadhafi would be overthrown in such a swift and brutal way and the country plunging into civil war and becoming the breeding ground of terrorists like ISIS, an evil that slaughtered many innocent young Ethiopian migrants? And the list can go on.

    READ : https://www.geeskaafrika.com/21479/the-case-of-rwanda-lessons-for-ethiopia/

  3. a call for protest in Oromia for Saturday August 6, 2016

    መጪው ቅዳሜ ለት በመላው ኦሮሚያ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ይካሄዳ

    በትናንትናው እለት በአማራ ክልል ጎንደር ከተማ በአስርታት ሺዎች የሚቆጠር ህዝብ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ወጥቶ ወያኔን ተቃውሞ በሰላም ወደ ቤቱ ተመለሰ። በጣም ጥሩና ታሪካዊ ሰልፍ ነበር።

    በእለቱ ከጥቂት ሰዓታት በኋል ግን በኦሮሚያ ክልል ምስራቅ ሀረርጌ አወዳይ ከተማ ወጣቶች ሰልፍ ወጥተው በአጋዚ አልሞ ተኳሾች 26ቱ ቆስለው እስከ አሁን 6 ሞተዋል። ይሄንን እንደምሳሌ ጠቀስኩ እንጂ ኦሮሚያ ውስጥ ወያኔ ሰላማዊ ሰልፈኞችን በጥይት እሩምታ ሲፈጅ አዲስ አይደላም። ባለፉት 9 ወራት ካ600 በላይ ዜጎች ተገድለዋል፣ 5000 የሚሆኑ የመቁሰል ጉዳት ደርሶባቸውል። ይሄንን ቁጥር ወስደን ብናሰላው፣ ባለፉት ዘጠኝ ወራት ብቻ በየእለቱ ባማካይ ከሁለት እስከ ሶስት ሰዎች ኦሮሚያ ውስጥ በመንግስት ታጣቂ ሃይሎች ሲገደሉ እንደነበረ ማየት ይቻላል። ይህ ሁሉ ግፍ ሲፈጸም የአምባገኖች ጸባይ ነው ተብሎ ሲታለፍ ነበር። ነገር ግን ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ሲወጣ የሚገደልው የኦሮሚያ ህዝብ ብቻ መሆኑ ግልጽ እየሆነ ሲመጣ ነገሮችን መለሰን እንድናጤን አድርጎናል።

    ለመሆኑ በተለያዩ ክልሎች ለወጡ ሰላማዊ ሰልፈኞች የተለያየ ምላሽ ምክንያቱ ምንድ ነው?

    1. I think this is Woyane’s divide and rule system.

      First, since Oromia is the largest Federal State in Ethiopia which provides Woyane with economic resources and man-power for its fighters, and also Woyane cannot answer the Oromos demand of Woyanes leaving Oromia, Woyane has no other choice than depending on using force to silence the 50, 000 000 Oromos to remain on power forever. Alas ! Rotten tactics cannot save the down rolling Woyane from death.

      Second, if Woyane drags itself into conflict with neighboring Amharas, then what remains for Woyane to remain on the plundering power-sadle ? From the north, Woyane is already in bitter-conflict with neighboring Ertrea, in the south of the country, with Oromos, Somalis, Gambellas, Sidamas, Konsos, Benishangulis and Omo Valley peoples. Woyane knows that it has been cornered and surrounded from all sides. Therefore, may be it will try to cox and keep calm the Amharas not to inflame fire infront of their door. Now the fire is burning infront of Woyane’s door and Woyane believes this fire can be die out by keeping the Amharas calm and not instigating by firing at the demostrators. But, Woyane does not know that peoples agonies have reached the unrepairable climax. It cannot stop the out forcing volcano lava which is very near to explode and slig Woyane into the abys.

  4. Weapons depot looted in Southern Gondar

    በደቡብ ጎንደር የጦር መሳሪያ መጋዝን ተሰብሮ ተዘረፈ

    በ ምስራቅ በለሳ ወረዳ አምቦ በር ( እብናት) አካባቢ የጎንደር ከተማ ሰልፍ ከመካሄዱ ከሰአታት በፊት የፖሊስ ጣቢያ መጋዝን ተሰብሮ ከ12 በላይ ክላሽንኮቭ ጠመንጃዎች ፣ የፖሊስ ልብሶችና የተለያዩ ወታደራዊ ቁሳቁሶች ተዘርፈዋል።

    ይህን ተከትሎ የከተማው የፖሊስ አዛዥ ትናንት አሰሳ ሲያደርጉ የነበረ ሲሆን፣ የአካባቢው ነዋሪ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ሲወጣ ታግዷል። ጥቃቱን የፈጸሙት ሃይሎች እነማን እንደሆኑ የታወቀ ነገር የለም። ይሁን እንጅ በዚህ አካባቢ ከወር በፊት ማንነታቸው ያልታወቁ ሃይሎች በፈጸሙት ጥቃት 6 ፖሊሶች መገደላቸው ይታወቃል። የአሁኑ ድርጊት ከዚሁ ጋር ይያያዝ አይያያዝ የታወቀ ነገር የለም። ይህ በእንዲህ እንዳለ፣ በቅርቡ በሰሜን ምእራብ እዝ ውስጥ የተካሄደውን ግምገማ ተከትሎ በርካታ ወታደሮች መጥፋታቸው ታውቋል።

    ይህን ተከትሎ አስቸኳይ ግምገማ የተካሄደ ሲሆን፣ ወታደሮቹ የጠፉት ደሞዝ ስላለነሳቸው በማለት በግምገማው ላይ የተገኙ ወታደሮች አስተያየታቸውን ሰጥተዋል። ይሁን እንጅ ግምገማውን የመሩት ኮሎኔሉ፣ ይህ የማይታመን ነው። የደሞዝ ጥያቄ ቀድሞ የነበረ ነው፣ ወታደሮቹ የጠፉት ግን አሁን ነው፤ እስከዛሬ ሳይጠፉ አሁን መጥፋታቸው ሌላ ነገር አለና አውጡ ብለው ወታደሮችን ቢያፋጥጡም፣ የተለየ መልስ ሊያገኙ አልቻሉም።

    ጉዳዩ እያወዛገበ መሄዱን ተከትሎ ችግሩን አጥንቶ ለበላይ አዛዥ የሚያቀርቡ የኮሚቴ አባላት ተመርጠው ስብሰባው ተጠናቋል።
    በባህርዳር መኮድ የሚገኙት የመከላከያ ሰራዊት አባላት በህዝብ ላይ አንተኩስም፣ ለፖለቲካ ጥያቄዎች ፖለቲካዊ መፍትሄ ይሰጥ የሚሉ አቋሞችን ይዘዋል። “አገዛዙ መምራት ሲያቅተው እኛን ከህዝብ ጋር ለማጋጨት እየሰራ ነው” በማለት የቻሉት እየጠፉ ነው። ይህን ተከትሎ አጠቃላይ የሰራዊት ብወዛ ይካሄዳል ተብሎ ይጠበቃል።


  5. The idea behind “social media organised” events were to make Ethiopian gov look like an animal but instead the world and Human rights groups learned Ethiopia can make history as well as democracy and consistution is in fact in full effect. Yesterday made a lot of supporters of EPRDF worried but it turned out Axum Tsion Mariam was looking after Ethiopia once again. The world has wittnessed when Ethiopians in Gondar using Article 14(security of person) and Article 29(the right to hold opinion) to the full effect, Agazi having conversations with the locals(pictures are coming) It was absolute delight to see it happen. On the other hand, shabo paid agents arent happy Ethiopians didnt kill each other so they are calling on Oromia to do the same, without even applying for permit but ready to use our consistution once again. Great job.

    1. save that tribal constitution that allows the killings of a peaceful oromo student protesters but not to armed Amhara protesters. and here i repeat the same question asked above, ለመሆኑ በተለያዩ ክልሎች ለወጡ ሰላማዊ ሰልፈኞች የተለያየ ምላሽ ምክንያቱ ምንድ ነው? Answer is might is right. If you throw stone or shout your lungs out, you get killed. Oromo people should start showing force else TPLF won’t blink from pulling the trigger to silence them.

    2. What the F* are you talking? You don’t need to sanitize a killer regime here. How do you justify the regime’s killing spree in Oromia region at about the same time the gonder protest happens? Do you know Agazi forces opened fire on Saturday and killed six people and wounded 25 in Awodai town, Hararghe? Of course you know except that you don’t care about the rest of the Ethiopian people. That is why they don’t care about Tigray people either. Don’t come and complain here about how amharu broke the glass of a Tigray owned hotel in gonder.

      For now, you can rejoice over the death of these poor Oromo and other ethnic Ethiopian people but when the tide turn its face and start consuming your rare end, then you will know how it hurts. If the oromos are not that coward they would have put you in your place by now. I think the amharu take the credit for that. No messing around in gonder anymore. That should be the norm in oromia too.

    3. Ethiopians protest from home to “Mesquel Adebabay” then Home,because the rule of law is implemented, because the constitution give them right to do so. Eritreans protest from home to Ethiopia then western countries. because the rule if Isayas is implemented. because the rule of nakfa give them right to do so.

      1. What you are stating may work in Tigray for Tigryans ONLY. The rest of the Ethiopian people were gunned down while trying. Where were you when 500 Oromo student protesters killed? in a coma?

        1. or the 500 protestors of the fraud unconstitutional election that were gunned down in 2005. She/He sure is forgetful when its not his family being gunned down.

    4. As any schoolyard bully know, once you have run away from a fight you are finished. TPLF ran away and basically conceded to Gonderes yesterday. This is like a battle where the enemy runs away. It shows that they are heading for defeat.

      Now TPLF propagandists like sentek and keren (Buda) will claim this shows Ethiopia is a democracy where people are free to speak their mind. This pretend game can continue for few weeks or months but at some point can’t keep running away. And without confrontation, the logical conclusion is the end of TPLF rule. That is probably the best way to go for TPLF… pretending it was never dictatorship after all. Go out without a fight, that is best option at this point. Else …

    5. Ata Santeem, the people do not want conversation they want their land and well deserved justice for the innocent blood spilt and crimes perpetrated by TPLF. Why would they let a minority regime that acts like feudal lords continue controlling all the major industries, embezzeling all the national wealth for a specific ethnicity, and treating all other nationalities as disposable slaves. The people think if they don’t get rid of the feudal woyane now, there might not be another chance.

    6. sentiko,
      Will you tell us which Article of your constitution (aka Woyane’s divide and kill) allows to kill Oromo protesters?

  6. The Oromo and Amhara groups need to be able break the hatred chain that TPLF use to tie and keep then apart!!!

    Once they do that, they can dance waltz on the grave of TPLF and guarantee Equality, Justice and democracy for all fellow Ethiopians.

    #Bulto Astatke ‏@BultoAstatke

  7. Ane Gebrazamu yebhal · Edit

    BBC didn’t mention Eritrea on this while mr.Reda put the name of Eritrea in every problems occurred in that country including for his personal belly size expanding .

  8. Popular uprising will be held in Bahirdar on Sunday. Gondar fever start to loom through out Ethiopia. TPLF vows to disarm Gondar militia forces.
    ኢሳት ሬዲዮ
    – ባህርዳር ለእሁድ ሰልፍ እየተዘጋጀች ናት። የጎንደሩ የነጻነት ጥሪ በባህርዳር እሁድ ይስተጋባልተብሎ ይጠበቃል።
    – በኦሮሚያ የመንግስት ታጣቂዎች የሚፈጽሙት ግድያ ተባብሷል። በዓልሞ ተኳሾች (snipers) በሁለት ቀናት ውስጥ በትንሹ 10 ሰዎች ተገድለዋል።

    – የህወሀት ም/ሊቀመንበር ዶ/ር ደብረጺዮን ገ/ሚካዔል አማራላይ ያነጣጠረ ነው የተባለ የመሳሪያ መንጠቅ አሰራር
    ሊዘረጋ ነው አሉ። እቅዱን ተግባራዊ የሚደረግ ከሆነ በአማራ የታጠቁ አርሶ አደሮች መሳሪያቸውን ይነጠቃሉ።
    – ህወሀት አሰቸኳይ ስብሰባ በመቀሌ እያደረገ ነው።


  9. The peaceful demonstration in Gonder is an eye opening for all regions in Ethiopia,to do the same with out killing each other and destroying their livlihoods.The enemies of Ethiopia such as GIBTSI and the one man rule of ATo Isayas in Asmera are not happy about the out come.my pledge to great Ethiopian people is do not give your external enemies any loop-hole,consolidate your inner strength and accelerate the completion of GERD.ETHIOPIA WILL PREVAIL.

    1. Welkait and Tegede people are waiting for their questions. This is just a start. If you don’t return their land and identity, you will face the consequences. So you seem u are in complete denial or what psychologist call it suppression.

      1. Classic example of half-breed you cannot fit anywhere bro this poor and dirty country never been one and can’t be one when Amhara ,Oromo and Tegaru hate a each other the best solution is they need to kill each other.

  10. I feel so bad for these people man never trust them either they seem crowded hungry infected with AIDS whatever’s going on in your country stay away from us im with Shabia all day and Death to all ethiopian

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