Hachalu Hundesa, a prominent rights activist and singer, succumbed after anonymous men shot him while driving. His death sparked protests among his enthusiasts who marched in the streets of Addis Ababa in mourning. The police have arrested two men whom they suspect to have assassinated him. His funeral was broadcasted live through an Oromia broadcasting network in Ambo.
At the Funeral
On Sunday, as mourners tried to force their way through to attend his funeral, the police had blocked the roads leading to Ambo, his native home. However, the mourners demanded to attend the funeral. Meanwhile, only a few people, about 100 attended the service which was brief but emotional. The family of the deceased transported him in a black car accompanied by a brass band and men on Uma, one of the Oromo opposition leaders stated that police officers prevented mourners from attending the funeral.
The police were blocking the mourners because of the COVID-19 situation that has become a pandemic across the globe. As the crowds tried to cross the blockades, violence arose as forces fired at the demonstrators. This resulted in the police shooting nine people out of which two succumbed in the hospital.
“There has been an operation today related to the funeral. Nine people have been shot, and two of them have died in our hospital,” said an anonymous official at the Ambo referral hospital.
Was Hundesa a freedom fighter?
Hundesa belonged to the Oroma ethnic group, one of the largest ethnic communities in Ethiopia. His music served as a tool in liberating the country. During demonstrations, enthusiasts could enchant the lyrics from his songs that endorsed their rights. Ethiopia has been struggling with democracy. However, through influential singers like Hundesa, they have received liberation. Before his death, Hundesa reported he had received threats to stop inciting the people of Oromia. However, for 17 years, he has been a human activist with his music as his weapon.
He supported the former Prime Minister Abiy to the top. As an influential Oromia Singer, Abiy gathered many votes. Although Abiy is the country’s first Oromo leader, the people of Oromo felt he didn’t represent their interests fully. They have now entrusted their hope in Jawar, a prominent Oromo opposition leader. However, police arrested Jawar on Thursday when he tried to sabotage Hundesa’s funeral. They have charged him of participating in the death of a person.
During his funeral in Orthodox church, Belay Aqenaw, the organizer, stated the deceased was a freedom fighter who raised their spirits through his songs.
Many were willing to seek justice on his behalf. On the day of his burial, about 87 people died because of the violence. Nevertheless, 76 people sustained injuries. Hundesa was a man of the people and, it’s evident many as many risked their lives for his.
UN urges people to call off demonstrations
The chief of UN Antonio Guterres called upon the people of Ethiopia to stay calm and refrain from violent activities. The US Embassy in the country reported that the situation in the country was worse. Protestors were looting shops, robbing banks, and even burned a fuel station.
” Looting of shops and residential areas has worsened,” the US Embassy in Addis Ababa said in the security advisory.
It also reported that the protestors robbed three banks and burnt four fuel service stations.