Reports say that two school students are among those who have been killed protesting against the government of Ethiopia in the country's most populous state, Oromia. The students, together with many university and even primary school students have been leading protests against the government's plans to increase the size of the capital Addis Ababa further in to the Oromia area, where people fear they will be displaced. As well as protesting on the streets for weeks, some schools and universities have been occupied by the students.

The protests have been met with violence by security forces, including the shooting dead of possibly as many 45 protesters and the arrests of many others. The government is casting the protesters as 'terrorists' a common ploy by regimes wanting to repress dissent. The Prime Minister told the media: '(we) will take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilising the area.'  A spokesperson for human rights group Amnesty International responded: 'The suggestion that these Oromo - protesting against a real threat to their livelihoods - are aligned to terrorists will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression for rights activists.' 

The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia already suffer from discrimination, not getting the proper access to services like education and health, including in Addis Ababa. As a result there have been years of protests, particularly by students which have been brutally put down. Moreover the teachers' union was destroyed and its leaders imprisoned as we have reported on this website.

For the World Bank, however, Ethiopia is a success story, powering towards becoming a middle income country, even as it suppresses its own people. And the US President Obama, was also full of positive words when he visited recently: 'We are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.' Human rights activists called this a 'shocking' statement and pointed out that the government had won 100% of the seats in the recent election, with widescale intimidation of voters and any efforts at opposition.