World, Africa

Thousands pay respects to slain Ethiopian activist

Funeral held under heavy police, military presence after days of deadly violence

Addis Getachew   | 02.07.2020
Thousands pay respects to slain Ethiopian activist File photo - Slain artist, activist Hachalu Hundessa

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Thousands of people gathered to pay their respects at the funeral of slain Ethiopian activist and artist Hachalu Hundessa on Thursday.

The Oromo-language singer and songwriter was laid to rest in his hometown of Ambo, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa, under heavy police and military presence.

Hundessa, 36, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Addis Ababa on Monday, and is survived by two children and his wife.

His killing triggered violent protests across the country that have claimed at least 81 lives so far, according to the police.

Among the deceased are three police officers and 78 civilians, Commissioner Bedassa Merdassa told local media.

Authorities have arrested scores of people for the rioting and the deaths in the protests.

In a televised message on Wednesday night, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned he will not tolerate any further destruction of public property and infrastructure.

Demonstrators tore down the statue of Ras Makonnen, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie, who ruled the region in the 19th century.

Internet service also remains suspended in areas across Ethiopia since Tuesday.

Hundessa was a prominent figure in the successful anti-government demonstrations that lasted for three years before Prime Minister Abiy, who hails from the Oromo ethnic group, came to power.

During protests that led to the downfall of the previous government in 2018, he became the voice of the Oromo people.

Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in the East African country, but have long complained of discrimination and violation of their rights.

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