Around a hundred protesters turned out to call on the UK Government to act on and stop supporting the killing of Oromo people in Ethiopia, in Albert Square yesterday.
The protest comes after Human Rights Watch reported at least 140 people had been killed and tens of thousands arrested by government forces in anti-government protests since November.
This took place in the Oromia region, where the Government had planned to expand the control of the country’s capital in what was known as the Master Plan of Addis Ababa.
The land-grabbing led to anger from the Oromo people, who claim the plans – which have since been scrapped – are part of systematic repression of their ethnic group, and is being supported by the UK Government, which provides Ethiopia with around £300million a year in aid.
Mohammed Tusa, Chairman of the Oromian Community which organised the protest in Manchester, told MM: “We ask the UK Government to stand with Oromo people, to stand against the Ethiopian Government and to speak out.
“So far many protests have taken place in the UK – in London and in Manchester several times –but nobody is listening to us. The BBC is not listening to us, and the Government is keeping quiet.
“We respect and we love British society, but the UK Government is not acting the way we expect them to.”
He described how he and his fellow protestors had been forced to flee to the UK because of the suppression and violence people of his ethnic group faced in Ethiopia.
“Everybody here who came to Britain was forced to flee their own country,” he said.
“We love our country and would love to live there but were forced to run away from there by violations of murder, torture and rape by the Government.”
One protester claimed that he believes around 40,000 Oromo people are currently in jail, and that most opposition leaders and intellectuals have been killed by military action.
“The opposition leaders are being arrested, so freedom of expression is not there,” said one.
“The British Government has been financing the Ethiopian Government to support the poor people, but they have misused that money.
“The British Government should stand up, should listen to our voice, listen to the people and they should act. They are a superpower of the world, so they have to tell them to stop killing innocent students, mothers and farmers.”
Ethiopia has been run by the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1995, with the party winning all 547 seats at the last election.
A statement from the European parliament earlier this week read: “The EU, as the single largest donor, should ensure that EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia.
“It also calls on the Ethiopian authorities to stop suppressing the free flow of information, to guarantee the rights of local civil society and media and to facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors.“