March 7, 2009
In Oromiya regional administration, west Shawa Zone, government forces killed Wondimu Damana, a 12th grade Gedo High School student. The soldiers also injured Belay Motuma and another female student.
“During the shooting incident, one student was killed, two were injured; and over 30 students, 1 teacher and 1 development assistant of Oromo national origin were taken into custody,” MP and leader of the Oromo People’s Congress Dr. Marara Gudina told the VOA.
Asked about the cause of the attacks, Gudina said that students discovered a derogatory letter written in Amharic in the school.
Students said the letter was intended to incite conflict between students of Amhara and Oromo nationalities.
Upon the realization of the denigrating nature of the letter to the Oromo people, students from both groups requested the school director to investigate the source of the letter.
On 3 March 2009, the students gathered in the school to hear the outcome of the investigation from the school director, when the elite force suddenly surrounded the school and opened fire.
Chaliya district’s local administrator, Mr. Galata Nagasa commented that government forces took the action to “protect the constitutional order”, which is always cited by government officials to justify violence.
“Fatino Darash” is the name for locally stationed government elite/special forces, established to squash dissent and disband rallies. They are notorious for taking similar actions against students and peaceful dissidents in west Shewa zone in particular and Oromiya in general.
Ethiopian soldiers enjoy impunity after carrying out brutal and segregationist attacks. In fact, they are known to have been rewarded for discriminating and killing Oromo students and opponents of the Ethiopian government over the last 18 years.
The rewards take forms of promotion to higher military ranks, salaries and reassignments to other areas.
The 2009 US State Department report on human rights in Ethiopia, documents widespread extra-judicial killings, arrests, and imprisonment of Oromo students and dissidents in Oromiya regional state in Ethiopia.
See the 2008 State Department country report on Ethiopia
Source: VOA Afaan Oromoo Program on March 5, 2009.