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Outcry As Oromo Protests Turn Violent

Opposition groups say security forces have killed 20 people in three weeks of protests over a government re-zoning plan. Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group view the plan as a further infringement on their rights.

“Dubbiin lafaa dubbii lafeeti!” (“The matter of land is a matter of the bone.”) When describing the sensitivity of the so-called “Addis Ababa master plan,” Bekele Naga, the Secretary-General of the Oromo Federalist Congress party (OFC), does not mince his words. “The constitution of the country proclaims that the land belongs to the people,” Naga told DW. But he believes this is being violated: “The Ethiopian government has been engaged in land grabbing, leading to cultural genocide [of the Oromo people].”

Oromia is one of nine regional states organized by Ethiopia’s system of “ethnic-based federalism,” which is part of the country’s constitution. The national government is pushing forward with a plan to expand the area of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia state. Protests over the plan have been going on for weeks, but for the Oromo people, tensions have existed for much longer.

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