Addis Ababa Police announced arresting 97 people it allegedly suspected of inciting protests and violence and disseminating provocative disinformation through social media during recent riots in some schools in Addis Ababa in the past few days.
Demonstrations and riots were witnessed in some primary and secondary schools in Addis Ababa that resulted in clashes between demonstrators and security forces. The demonstrations were claimed to be conducted in opposition to hoisting the flag and singing the anthem of the Oromia Regional State in schools in Addis Ababa.
The police said in its statement that the arrested suspects were those behind the riots in some schools who were “rallying against citizens’ right to learn in their mother tongue and expressing their identity while calling up as if this right is imposed on others along with creating an opposite agenda targeted at inciting conflict that the Oromo people are vanishing and its culture and identity is disgraced”.
“The individuals were captured for the violations they further committed by displaying slogans that read, ‘Addis Ababa’s and Wolkait’s case is similar’, and for their daring act of taking down the country’s and Oromia region’s flags from their mast and dragging them on the ground.”
The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EZEMA), the prominent opposition party, called the practice “illegal” and denounced the situation as unconstitutional.
“The schools in Addis Ababa are under the city administration or the federal government. The Addis Ababa City Council is elected by the people of Addis Ababa, not the Oromia people. Thus, since the federal government is also elected by the people in all the regions including Addis Ababa, it is totally inappropriate to mistreat students learning in schools under Addis Ababa or the federal government by forcing them to hoist the flag and sing the anthem of the Oromia Regional State,” EZEMA said in a statement.
Speaking on the issue, Adanech Abebe, Mayor of Addis Ababa City Administration said “No pressure is made from the Oromo side, and the Oromo culture is not imposed on anyone. I want to emphasize that issues raised from both extremes should be handled carefully. Some individuals who want to take advantage of chaos and crisis are conspiring to advance their agenda”.
“This agenda is not the issue of the people of Addis Ababa. This agenda belongs to the OLA/Shane, Fano extremists, and western powers. They think that breeding their ill motives starting from Addis Ababa will succeed in their plans.”
The police accused some teachers and students at the schools of being agents of undercover ill agendas in mobilizing innocent students toward the violence and destruction that occurred in the riots.
(Credit: social media, situations at Addis Ketema Sub City Secondary School after the riot)
Addis ketema Sub City Secondary School is one of the schools where the issue of hoisting the flag and singing the anthem of the Oromia Regional State stirred riots and property damage. Some images showing students with minor injuries, broken windows, and property destruction at the school were being shared on social media platforms.
The dispute over hoisting the flag and singing the anthem of the Oromia region in addition to the regular national flag hoisting and anthem singing formality started about a year ago in some schools in Addis Ababa. The contested argument arose controversies and conflicts among parents, students, and school administrations.
EZEMA called upon concerned authorities to take the appropriate measures and requested the immediate release of the arrested students and teachers.
“The officials of Addis Ababa City Administration and the federal government, especially of Addis Ababa City Council, should be the voice of the people that elected them and work towards corrective measures. Otherwise, if the situation exacerbates into unwanted chaos and instability, they need to realize that they will be the first victims of the consequences,” EZEMA noted.