“We have noted reports that protestors and security officials have been injured or killed, although confirmed numbers are not available. The U.S. Embassy expresses its deep condolences to those who suffered as a result of the violence and regrets the damage to livelihoods, economic development, and the social fabric that such violence brings,” the embassy said.
“We recognize that many of the demonstrations took place without authorization, and urge all parties to support those who are seeking constructive dialog and peaceful solutions. We reaffirm our call to respect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all citizens, including those with opposition views, to gather peacefully, and to express their opinions,” it said.
A demonstration on Sunday in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region Capital, Bahir Dar, resulted in the death of seven civilians and five police wounded, according to a state broadcasting.
The demonstration was organized following similar demonstration took place a few weeks ago in the neighboring Amhara city, Gondar, which 120 kilometers away from Bahir Dar.
Similarly demonstrations in different parts of the country over the past few days have also resulted in death of dozens of people, according various media reports.
According to Amnesty International, at least 67 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia region over the weekend.
Thousands of protesters turned out in Oromia and Amhara calling for political reform, justice and the rule of law. The worst bloodshed – which may amount to extrajudicial killings – took place in the northern city of Bahir Dar where at least 30 people were killed in one day,Amnesty said.
“The security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“These crimes must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and all those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to death penalty.”
Information obtained by Amnesty International shows that police fired live bullets at protesters in Bahir Dar on 7 August, killing at least 30. Live fire was also used in Gondar on 6 August, claiming at least seven lives.
No deaths were reported from the Addis Ababa protests, but photos and videos seen by Amnesty International show police beating protesters with batons at Meskel Square, the capital’s main public space.
In Oromia and Amhara, hundreds were arrested and are being held at unofficial detention centres, including police and military training bases.
“We are extremely concerned that the use of unofficial detention facilities may expose victims to further human rights violations including torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” said Michelle Kagari.
“All those arrested during the protests must be immediately and unconditionally released as they are unjustly being held for exercising their right to freedom of opinion.”