In a tragic turn of events today, at least eight people have been killed as police opened fire on civilians during Friday prayer (Jumaa) at the Great Anwar Mosque. The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the community and raised serious concerns about law enforcement authorities' use of excessive force.
Eyewitnesses at the scene have reported a scene of chaos and terror as the police indiscriminately fired upon unarmed believers who had gathered at the mosque for their weekly prayer. The sound of gunshots echoed through the air, shattering the peace and serenity that should have prevailed during such a sacred occasion. Panic and confusion gripped the worshipers as they desperately sought safety, only to find themselves in the line of fire. Tragically, lives were lost, leaving families shattered and a community in mourning.
The exact circumstances surrounding the incident and the cause of death are still under investigation. However, preliminary reports suggest that the police resorted to lethal force without provocation or justification. Such a disproportionate response to a peaceful assembly is not only a violation of fundamental human rights but also a betrayal of citizens' trust in their protectors.
Amidst the chaos, the pleas for help and urgent medical assistance reverberated throughout the mosque. Eyewitnesses recount the desperate cries for ambulances and vehicles to transport the wounded to nearby hospitals. Unfortunately, the delay in providing adequate medical aid compounded the tragedy, leading to further loss of life and worsening the already devastating situation.
The demolitions that have been occurring in the Oromia region, targeting mosques, churches, and houses, have been a point of contention for the community. These demolitions are part of the government's plan to create a new city surrounding Addis Ababa, the nation's capital. While the government asserts that these actions are necessary for urban development, concerns have been raised by civil society organizations, alleging that the demolitions disproportionately affect non-Oromo owners, mainly ethnic Amharas. This has fueled tensions and deepened the sense of injustice among affected communities.
Renowned Islamic scholar Ustaz Abubeker Ahmed has emerged as a vocal critic of the police's actions, condemning the use of excessive force and describing it as a flagrant violation of human rights. He has called upon the government to immediately cease such violent tactics and instead engage in constructive dialogue with peaceful believers expressing their grievances. Furthermore, Ustaz Ahmed emphasizes that the sanctity of religious spaces should be respected, and the safety and well-being of all citizens must be a paramount concern.
The incident at the Great Anwar Mosque is not an isolated event but a culmination of weeks of escalating tensions between the authorities and the Muslim community. Clashes and confrontations have become distressingly commonplace, occurring after Friday prayers in various locations. The past week alone witnessed injuries and deaths resulting from such conflicts, including reports of two deaths in Jimma during protests against mosque demolitions.
In an attempt to prevent a recurrence of such violence, the Addis Ababa City Police issued a statement the night before, acknowledging the previous week's incidents and expressing a commitment to preventing a similar tragedy. However, emerging reports suggest that the security forces took preemptive action without encountering any resistance, raising questions about the proportionality and necessity of their response.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been closely monitoring the situation and expressed deep concern over government security forces' escalating use of force. The commission has consistently urged the relevant authorities to address human rights violations and ensure accountability for those responsible. Investigations into this tragic incident must be conducted transparently and independently to ascertain the facts and hold those accountable for their actions.