December 5, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) –Three university students were confirmed dead and many others injured following days of protests by students at Haramaya University and other towns in Ethiopia’s Oromia state.
The students were killed by federal police after protesters clashed with security personnel trying to disperse demonstrating students in and around campus.
Students staged the protests over the central government’s controversial plan known as the ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, which intends to expand the capital, Addis Ababa into parts of Oromia, the country’s largest regional state.
The Oromo protesters argue that the Addis Ababa master plan will lead to large scale evictions to Oromo population and mostly the farmers from its ancestral lands.
Some Oromos in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that the plan was equivalent to land grabbing, which intended to grant local and foreign investors land to be leased or sold.
The government, however, has dismissed those allegations and instead says the expansion plan aims to provide a number of services to remote areas at the region.
According to right groups, the plan to expand the capital into territories of Oromia state breaches the constitutionally guaranteed protection of regions special interests.
Following the protests which began on Tuesday dozens of protesters are also reported to have been arrested. Police said it has taken control of the protests which also spread to a number of towns in western and central part of the region.
Protesters alleged that the security forces have responded with excessive force although the students were on peaceful protest.
An official of the main Oromo opposition party, the Oromo Federalist Congress, who preferred anonymity, called on the Ethiopian government to urgently probe the incident.
The official urged for suspected members of the security force behind the killings to be brought in to justice.
The opposition officials further called for an immediate release of all protesters who are being held in custody.
Last year similar protests that took place in the Oromia region over the unpopular master plan led to deaths of dozens of university students and other protesters.
The Oromos are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia which make up over 40% of Ethiopia’s 95 million population. The Oromos have long felt being discriminated and marginalized by successive governments.
Meanwhile, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) party warned that Ethiopia is at a state of risk of disintegration due to the violent polices of the central government.