In response to actions by Ethiopian security forces leading to the death of more than 150 people attending the Irreecha religious and cultural celebration in the Bishoftu town in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on October 2, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The deaths in Bishoftu occurred because security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at a crowd of over a million people celebrating a religious occasion,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa programs. “The government of Ethiopia should allow a truly independent body to investigate the tragedy at Bishoftu as well as security forces’ well-documented record of using excessive force against peaceful gatherings.”
Irreecha is an annual holiday for giving thanks, celebrated by the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While firm numbers remain unavailable, eyewitnesses say that the total number of deaths on October 2 may exceed 300.