Mob violence in Ethiopia as singer buried

Mob violence in Ethiopia as singer buried
Priests around the coffin of Hachalu HundessaImage copyright Ethiopian TV
Image caption State-owned Ethiopian Television is broadcasting some scenes from the funeral service

The funeral is being held for Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa as unrest over his death has spread from the Oromia region where he was seen as a hero.

Armed gangs are reported to be roaming the capital, Addis Ababa, targeting rival ethnic groups.

At least 81 people have been killed in protests in Oromia since Hachalu was shot dead on Monday night.

The motive for his killing remains unclear, but the 34-year-old had said he had received death threats.

His songs focused on the rights of the country's Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister in 2018.

"Hachalu is not dead. He will remain in my heart and the hearts of millions of Oromo people forever," the Reuters news agency quotes his widow Santu Demisew Diro as saying at the funeral.

The ceremony is taking place at a stadium in Hachalu's home town of Ambo, west of the capital, and is being broadcast live on Oromo Broadcasting Network television.

"I request a monument erected in his memory in Addis where his blood was spilt," Ms Santu said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The funeral ceremony is being broadcast live on TV

There are reports that mourners had tried to delay the funeral until the release of influential Oromo politician Jawar Mohammed.

He was detained after protesters tried to block Hachalu's body from leaving the capital on Tuesday.

Mr Jawar, a media mogul, has led calls for more rights for the Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, who have been politically marginalised by previous governments.

He supported reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, himself an Oromo, when he came to power in April 2018 but has since become an ardent critic.

More arrests have been made in the capital, including that of journalist and activist Eskinder Nega.

'More than an entertainer'

By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

In one of his most famous songs, he sang: "Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn't come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace."

The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

Why have Oromos been protesting?

The Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, have long complained of being sidelined.

Demonstrations erupted in 2016 and pressure built on the government.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In 2016 and 2017 there was a wave of demonstrations in defiance of the government

The ruling coalition eventually replaced then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn with Mr Abiy.

He has brought in a series of reforms, which have transformed what was considered a very oppressive state.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 primarily for making peace with long-time foe Eritrea, but his efforts in transforming Ethiopia were also recognised.

Source :
www.bbc.co.uk