The country is under a six-month state of emergency declared to contain the unprecedented anti-government protests.
The Ethiopian government has stepped up crack down measures to counter the increasing anti-government protests by embarking on arrests. ECADF, Ethiopian News and View cited government sources as saying that 1,600 people have been detained under the state of emergency. The number comes to add to the arrest of 1,000 people near the capital, Addis Ababa on Monday, October 17, 2016.
The state of emergency was declared on October 9, 2016 a week after at least 55 people died in a stampede during an Oromo religious festival which turned into a protest. Reports say under the emergency measures, people can be detained without an arrest warrant for the duration of the state of emergency. The arrests reportedly took place in at least five places, including in Shashamene, 250km south of the capital, Addis Ababa, where 450 people were detained. Those arrested, are said to be “suspects in the recent violence” and a large number of looted weapons have also been handed over.
The upsurge of anti-government demonstrations started in November 2015 when the Oromia people began protesting against a plan to expand Addis Ababa into their region. Reports cited rights groups as saying that at least 500 people have died in the over 11-month anti-government protests as result of clashes with security forces. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that could be an accurate estimate, but blamed “anti-peace forces” for the trouble.