Ethiopian Embassy Staff Fires on Human Right Activists

By Betre Yacob

safe_imageAn armed staff of Ethiopian embassy in Washington D.C. fired on human right activists protesting against the deteriorating human right situation of the country within the establishment of the embassy yesterday afternoon. Police reported that nobody had been injured, and it was investigating the case.

The fire was first heard at about 12:15 p.m and D.C. police reached at the scene 20 minutes later.

The man allegedly opened fire was detained and questioned by secret service agents and DC police within the compound of the embassy, but he was set free at the end.

A State Department official said the person was set free because he had diplomatic immunity.

Videos taken by the people, who was within the embassy compound, show the activists who suddenly stormed the embassy were peaceful, and were only asking for the release of political prisoners in Ethiopia, and expressing their outrage on the allegedly massacres in the Ogaden and Gambella regions.

The videos show the man brandishing and firing as the protesters were approaching him while asking him to call the Ambassador, Girma Biru. They were seen simply saying “we are not criminals! freedom now! and don’t kill us!.”

Many eyewitnesses say that the gun man was shooting targeting at the people not into the air. Thomas Tesfa, an Ethiopian diaspora in US, is one of such people. He said that the moment was very scary. “The guard attempted to shoot directly at someone towards the end but the gun was either out of bullets or misfires!”, he said.

“He could have killed someone that day especially the last shot he attempted was aimed at someone in front of him. He should be charged with attempted murder.”

Following the shooting, Embassy workers including the man firing locked up the main get of the office and stayed there for more than 20 minutes. In meantime, the activists reportedly took down the current flag of Ethiopia and rose the old one, which is still popular among Ethiopians.

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Since recent time, the protest against the regime in Ethiopia has widespread across the world and become much stronger more than ever been. The diasporas in US and Europe are staging continuous demonstration and calling upon the international community to take immediate action. And the Monday’s protest at DC Ethiopian embassy is a part of this global campaign.

The reason behind such protests is the wide spreading human right violations and the deteriorating political crisis in the country. According to human right organizations report, only in the past few months many have been arbitrary killed by the regime’s security bodies either for protesting against the policy and strategy of the regime or demanding government change. And more than 20 journalists and bloggers have reportedly been jailed and tortured just for exercising their rights; and many have been forced to fled the country. Having convicted under the anti terrorism law, countless political leaders are also serving long sentences.

 

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