Ethiopia’s Oromia region at standstill as 3-day social shutdown kicks off

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Several towns across Ethiopia’s Oromia region religiously observed the start of a social shutdown. According to reports the boycott call was called by the youth (Qeerroo) in the region.

The streets of most towns are deserted as people have largely remained indoors. Shop owners have also kept their businesses closed across board. The youth are calling for the unconditional release of all political prisonsers held by the government.

The protest according to the state – owned EBC has crippled transport and business activities in the state which has since 2015 and through the better part of 2016 being the epicenter of anti-government protests.

In other parts of the region people continue anti-government protests against the latest case of military – civilian clash which led to the loss of lives at an Internally Displaced Peoples camp in town of Hamaressa.

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Protests took place in places like Nekemete, Ambo, Wolliso, Haramaya, Arsi Negelle and at the Dembi Dolo university where students were pictures with the Oromo protest sign – crossing both arms above the head. In other towns people have mounted road blockades amid the protests.

It is not the first time the region has been crippled by such an action. The main opposition Oromo Federalist Congress in August 2017 called for a similar protest which was fully observed.

Its purpose was to remember people who died in spreading anti-government protests. It came days after an October 2016 state of emergency was lifted.

The OFC leader Merera Gusina was at the time in detention facing multiple criminal charges. He has since been released (January 2018) in a move the government said was part of efforts to engender national cohesion.

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