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Ethiopian Muslims clash with police on Idd el-Fitr day

CLASHETHIOPIA_EID

Muslim protestors in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa clashed with police, resulting in several injuries during Idd el-Fitr prayers on Thursday.

Members of the Muslim community have been demanding that the authorities respect their right of electing their own religious leaders; they have also demanded the release those arrested over the same.

There have been tensions in the past several months, especially during Friday prayers as the worshippers engage the police in running battles during demonstrations. Last week government media reported a clash between the police and “messengers of terrorists” in Arsi Kofele town of Oromia region.

Following today’s clashes, Amnesty International released a statement calling on the Ethiopian government to end “its use of repressive tactics" against demonstrators.

“We are extremely concerned at reports coming out of Ethiopia this morning of further widespread arrests of Muslim protesters. The Ethiopian government’s ongoing repressive crackdown on freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest has to end now,” Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher Claire Beston said

Deaths

The trial continues of 29 Muslims arrested during a past protest to press the government to listen to their grievances. A journalist, Yusuf Getachew, of Ye’Muslimoch Guday publication was also arrested.

According to Amnesty, the trial has been marred by a number of 'fair trial' concerns, including the airing on state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV) of a programme called Jihadawi Harakat.

“It painted the Muslim protest movement and some of the individuals on trial as having connections with Islamic extremist groups, seriously jeopardising the right of the defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

The closed-door trial increased fears that the defendants will not receive a fair trial. Amnesty International believes that the individuals on trial are being prosecuted because of their participation in a peaceful protest movement.

Solomon Kebede, another journalist working for Ye’Muslimoch Guday was recently charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation law along with 27 other people, according to information received by Amnesty International.

Last year, there were incidents in which the security forces were alleged to have used excessive force during the dispersal and arrest of protestors. Two of the incidents resulted in the death of several protestors.

Amnesty International has called for independent investigations on the matter.

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