In early August, anti-government demonstrations rocked the Oromia and Amhara regional states of Ethiopia. Thousands of demonstrators went on to the streets calling on the government to stop killing protesters, release those arrested, implement political reform, and respect justice and the rule of law. However, the response from government security forces, which used live ammunition against protesters, led to the death of about 100 unarmed people.
Although the government security apparatus reported that the demonstrations had been contained, “the current political situation has become volatile. Things are fast changing and developments have become increasingly unpredictable,” according to analyst Tsegaye R. Ararssa. Activists are said to be busy devising alternative methods of protest that range from weakening government institutions through staying at home and not operating businesses to organizing a Diaspora-based “grand solidarity rally.”
Change of tactics
In the town of Gondar in the state of Amhara, where the first demonstration took place, residents resorted to a new mode of protest – staying at home. A resident of the town, talking on condition of anonymity, told Deutsche Welle that from last Sunday to Tuesday the streets were deserted. Workers stayed at home and stores remained closed.
Asked why the public had opted for this type of protest, the man said “it is clear that society has demanded an answer from the government, but the response was one of bullets in return, so the public decided to launch a stay-at-home strike.”
For Tsegaye, this peaceful method of protest demonstrates “a complete rejection of the regime by the people. It also blunts the regime’s false claims that the protests were violent. The stay-at-home protest is an indication of the increasing maturity of civil disobedience in Ethiopia.”
Protesters are now leaving the streets and staying at home
Residents in both the Oromia and Amhara regions
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