The Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO) condemned the Addis Ababa City Administration over the riots that were claimed to be conducted in opposition to hoisting the flag and singing the anthem of the Oromia Regional State in schools in the capital.
Addis Ababa City Peace and Security Administration Bureau reported arresting 72 people it suspected of inciting violence around schools in the city. On December 9, Addis Ababa police reported 94 people were arrested with the allegation of inciting protests and violence and disseminating provocative disinformation through social media during recent riots in several schools.
“It is the city administration, not any other external body, which is responsible for the harm students sustained and the damage caused to public property due to the act of forcing students to hoist the flag and sing the anthem of the region in schools in Addis Ababa city,” EIO stated.
“The executive bodies of the city administration who are the cause of the problem should be held responsible.”
Speaking on the issue last week, 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”.
She added, “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”.
Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) said in its urgent statement that “The riots at Temenja yazh secondary school under Kirkos Sub City of Addis Ababa City Administration were reported for two days in the past week”.
According to the Council, as a result of this violence, several students were beaten, the school property was destroyed, a police officer was beaten up, and an unknown number of students and local residents have been reported to be arrested.
EHRCO said it has collected multiple pieces of evidence from different governmental schools in the capital city and identified the results including “the death of one student at Higher 12 Secondary School, in Yeka Sub-City on Dec 5”. The Council later revised its statement saying “it is waiting for additional evidence in relation to the reported death of a student during the riots at Higher 12 Secondary School”.
Addis Ababa Police denied the report about the death of a student on Dec 9.
Article 49 of the Ethiopian constitution declares that Addis Ababa is the capital city of the federal state, that residents have a full measure of self-government, and that particulars shall be determined by law.
The sub-article five of Article 49 states “The special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa, regarding the provision of social services or the utilization of natural resources and other similar matters, as well as joint administrative matters arising from the location of Addis Ababa within the State of Oromia, shall be respected. Particulars shall be determined by law”.
The Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman argued in its statement that “In a situation that the multiple benefits the Oromia region should get from Addis Ababa city and its implementation are not clearly stipulated by a law, individual authorities from government positions are forcing students to hoist the flag and sing the regional anthem of Oromia region”.
EIO called upon the Addis Ababa City Administration to give due attention to the issue saying that “Beyond the fact that the act violates the basic principle of the federal system, it would endanger the value of unity and equality which lasted in the society’s social fabric”.
Ethiopian Human Rights Council voiced its complaint that the formal request it issued to the Addis Ababa City Administration Education Bureau to obtain a response and explanation on the issue went unanswered until the time of its statement. Similarly, the opposition party Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EZEMA) also blamed the education bureau for not responding to the issue.
EZEMA said the Addis Ababa City Administration Education Bureau has "proved that it does not obey the law and acts with impunity". The party asked the education office in a letter to "stop the illegal activity and give an explanation" regarding the hoisting of the Oromia regional flag and singing anthem in schools in Addis Ababa, “but the office refused to accept the letter which was sent twice”.
EZEMA disclosed that it has issued a formal letter to the concerned bodies requesting to stop the illegal act and an explanation while the dispute and riot over hoisting the flag and singing the anthem of the Oromia region continued.
“However, the Addis Ababa City Administration Education Bureau has clearly shown that it is disobedient of the law and is operating with impunity by rejecting to receive the letters our party sent to the bureau.”