ON SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 major opposition party of Ethiopia, UDJ (Unity for Democracy and Justice), in collaboration with the coalition of 33 political parties held a brief public demonstration in protest against the controversial Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009 and other human and democratic rights violations. The demonstration was called as a closure to the party’s three months long campaign titled “Millions of Voices for Freedom”.
The demonstration got its route blocked by police in the very beginning however thousands of demonstrators could chant their oppositions in the spot where it was started. Many applauded these demonstrators for they took risk to face the infamous brutality of police in Ethiopia and kept themselves peaceful until the dispersion of the gathering.
Police blocked the demonstration route to Mesqel square reasoning out that Mesqel square is under construction of the city railroad. This, however, didn’t satisfy the organizers of the demonstration because the square hosted a demonstration called by Union of Religious Institution and Ministry of Federal Affairs a month ago as well as another religious event called Mesqel where hundreds of thousands people attended just three days before this demonstration was called.
The government officials instead suggested the demonstration to be held in a compound known as ‘Janmeda’ which is a few kilometers away from the head office of UDJ. The organizers refused to accept that proposal mentioning the fact that the compound is 100 meters away from a military camp and that according to Demonstration Proclamation No. 003/1991 Article 7/2 – which enforces demonstrations to be held at least 500 meters away from any military camp.
On the other hand, the organizers of the demonstration suggested 9 other spots where they would rather hold the demonstration to which the Addis Ababa City Administration failed to respond in either agreement or rejection. Nevertheless, on the very day of the demonstration, police made a fence of the street to hinder protesters go to each of the suggested places of protest by the organizers. After hours of chanting on the exact spot where the demonstration was started, the organizers dismissed it making closing speeches and promising to further precede the peaceful struggle in every possible way.
Blue Party’s public demonstration was also cracked down by police a week ago, on the 9th of September 2013, for the same reason.
Watch a short video of the protest: