April 19, 2001
ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) - Hospital authorities on Thursday
said 24 people were killed during two days of violent
street demonstrations in the Ethiopian capital apparently
sparked by a weeklong protest by university students
demanding greater academic freedom.
doctor in Menelik Hospital, who asked not to be further
identified, said 22 bodies had been collected off the
streets and brought to the hospital's morgue since Tuesday.
He said one of the 52 injured died after admission to
the hospital, and a female university student had died
Wednesday in Black Lion Hospital from serious injuries.
said until autopsies had been performed, it would not
be possible to say whether the deaths had been caused
by beatings or gunshots.
wielding clubs and firing live ammunition clashed with
stone-throwing youths on Tuesday and Wednesday in several
parts of the capital in the worst violence in since
1993. It was not clear how many of the demonstrators
government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has not given
any casualty figures, but in a statement broadcast over
state radio and television, it referred to the demonstrators
as "hoodlums and lumpen."
negotiations between students at Addis Ababa University
and the Minister of Education broke down, the government
issued an ultimatum telling students to abandon their
protest by Wednesday noon or face explusion with no
possibility of reinstatement.
streamed out of the two campuses on Wednesday, and the
university was later closed indefinitely. High schools
and primary schools were closed until Monday.
city was calm on Thursday, but all the shops and stores
in the central Piazza area remained closed.
government statement blamed unidentified opposition
parties and "so-called human rights groups"
for fomenting the student unrest that led to the rioting
in an attempt to exploit perceived weaknesses within
the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Revolutionary
Front "to create confusion and anarchy."
Tigray People's Liberation Front, the core of the governing
coalition, recently suffered a leadership split, and
12 so-called "hardliners" were expelled, apparently
because of their opposition of Meles' conduct of Ethiopia's
2 1/2-year border war with Eritrea that ended in December.
government statement warned students at other Ethiopian
universities not to resort to "illegal procedures"
to air their grievances. It also said federal and municipal
police had instructions to take all necessary measures
to ensure peace and security in the capital, which is
the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity
and the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.
the EPRDF's arrival in power in May 1991, street demonstrations
or protests of any kind have been very rare. The last
comparable violence broke out in 1993 when one death
unrest in the mid-1960s and 1970s preceded violent upheavals
in Ethiopia that forced the country's last emperor,
Haile Selassie, to institute reforms and ultimately
led to his ouster in 1974. Students were also influential
in organizing resistance to the military regime that
ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to May 1991.