The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Holy Synod announced that the peaceful demonstration it called for tomorrow, Feb 12, has been postponed to an indefinite time, given the government's assurance of responding to the questions the church demanded to be addressed.
The Holy Synod said throughout the previous 20 days, the church had witnessed illegal exercises and violations against the church's legal religious autonomy and the human rights of its leaders and the laity.
According to the statement issued by the church, during yesterday's meeting with representatives of the federal government, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, “the government fully accepted the stance of the church, that the Holy Synod decided to temporarily postpone the national and international public demonstration”.
It is emphasized that the demonstration was deferred “not because of a change in the church’s position, but because the church has already opened its doors for peace, and the government has agreed and decided to resolve the issue immediately in accordance with the call and the deadline the holy synod had set”.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church expressed its firm stand of holding local and international demonstrations to voice the grievances it holds regarding legal offenses, injustice, and human rights violations the church and its members suffered following the “illegal ordination of episcopates” by a collective of clergy it excommunicated.
The church stated to have an unwavering stand of holding the demonstration regardless of the government’s ban and warnings unless the illegal activities of humiliating the church and infringing its autonomy are stopped.
The Holy Synod refuted and demanded retractions on certain assertions made by PM Abiy Ahmed in his briefing on the church controversy televised on Feb 1.
The church slammed the premier’s words saying it “encourages lawlessness, shrieks the government's responsibility to defend legal institutions leading to recognizing the nefarious motives of illegal groups, and disregards the church's ancient history and national value”.
“The government acknowledged the church's position and promised to work in the future to uphold the church's unity and authority,” the church confirmed.
It is reported that it has been decided to put an end to the issues affecting beatitude bishops, diocese employees, serving priests, and the faithful who are currently being jailed, harassed, and mistreated, as well as freeing those who have been arrested so they can continue pursuing their spiritual services in peace and freedom.
Legal proceedings will follow in the cases the church has filed charges against dissident clergy and some law enforcement agencies.
At least eight people were killed by government forces and their allies in Shashamane town in a clash related to the dispute in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) disclosed in a report.