Haramaya University students clashed with police as a series of protests takes place across Ethiopia’s Oromia region.
The first of the protests was reported in Ginchi town (Western Shewa zone) on November 19 and 20, which appears to have been mainly triggered by local officials transferring part of the school land for another use.
Major regional and national demands gained prominence last week as the protests spread to several small towns including Mendi, Ambo, Jarso, Guliso, Kiltu, Kara, Nejo, Jeldu – located in central and western Ethiopia.
The controversial draft plan for integrated development of the capital Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia towns featured in the protests.
The demand to make Afaan Oromo a federal language, maladministration, taxation, and others were raised by protestors, which comprised elementary, high school students, and local residents at varying proportions.
Haramaya University students who staged protests on Monday also demanded the release of people detained from other towns last week.
An instructor of the university told HornAffairs, a group of students started protesting on Monday at dawn, while others rushed to leave the compound. University officials met with the students, promised to the deliver their demands to the government, and asked the students to disperse.
The students wished to continue their demonstration, but local police blocked the road to the gate, the instructor narrated demanding his name be withheld. At 8:30 am, federal police entered the campus and dispersed the students chasing them all the way to dormitories. Students resting in their dorm rooms were beaten, while one student running away for the police jumped from the third floor of the building. Three students are said to be in critical condition receiving treatment in nearby hospital.
The instructor claimed to have seen several injured students in the campus clinic and later transported to hospital by ambulance. He also witnessed an office building which had most of its glass window smashed apparently by rocks thrown by students.
An official from OPDO/EPRDF, the ruling party’s regional wing, vehemently opposed this narrative in a phone remark to HornAffairs. According to the official, who did not wish to be named, the students were not as calm as portrayed and provoked the clash as the police urged them to disperse.
He added, “we are not supposed to wait until the situation escalates rather control it at the earliest possible moment. There is only one direction the situation could have gone – we know from past experience, and we have obligations to other students as well.”
The official claimed, the federal police was invited by and acted in coordination with them. Only one student had his hand broken as he jumped from building and about fifteen students were detained, while several police officers were injured. He argued, the situation was handled responsibly given the circumstances.
There were also reports of protests in Meda Welabu town, in the south, on Tuesday.