Friday July 3, 2020
By Heidi Wigdahl
The Oromo Community of Minnesota is demanding justice after prominent singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa was shot and killed in Ethiopia this week.
ST PAUL, Minnesota — More than 80 people have been killed in unrest in Ethiopia after a popular singer and activist was shot dead this week. Those numbers were released by the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation today, according to the Associated Press.
Hachalu Hundessa was buried Thursday in his hometown of Ambo. The 34-year-old was shot and killed Monday with the AP reporting that three people have been arrested in his death.
The motive remains unknown but the Oromo Community of Minnesota believes he was targeted because of his identity and for sharing his beliefs unapologetically. Many have described Hundessa as a "hero" and "icon" who was a voice for the Oromo people—the country's largest ethnic group.
The Oromo Community of Minnesota said, "What makes his death tragic and more painful to our community is that Haacaaluu's death came after Oromo people fought and toppled an authoritarian regime only to be replaced with another."
Thursday afternoon, protesters marched from U.S. Bank Stadium to Cedar-Riverside in Minneapolis. The demonstration comes after protesters marched onto I-94 in St. Paul on Wednesday night.
"When would our killings stop? When will Ethiopia and its government recognize and value Oromo's existence? said Najat Hamza during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. Hamza and her family fled Ethiopia in 1998.
"Hachalu's legacy is that of unity and togetherness. We must stand together and forge a path forward," she said.
Members of the Oromo Community of Minnesota were joined outside the state Capitol by supporters.
"As the Somali community, we are with you. We are with all our brothers and sisters," said Asad Aliweyd.
"We are asking Congress and we're asking the world to please step in and stop the human rights violation," said Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis.
Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, added, "We have constantly been friends and family to our Oromo brothers and sisters right here in Minnesota and we will not vacate you at all this time."
Biftu Bussa, a community representative for Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, said, "The Oromo community has been fighting for their dignity and human rights for a very long time."
Bussa went on to say, "Shutting off the internet and removing access to information and resources during this time is an unacceptable violation of human rights. We call on the Ethiopian government to immediately lift these restrictions."
During the unrest in Ethiopia, many people have been arrested including Jawar Mohamed. Mohamed is a former resident of Minnesota and a leader of the Oromo protest movement that toppled the government.
The Oromo Community of Minnesota is demanding the following:
1. The killings of Oromos must stop.
2. We need independent international body to investigate the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa and we demand the killers swiftly be brought to justice.
3. Immediately and unconditionally release all Oromo political prisoners including prominent leaders Jawar Mohamed and Bekele Garba.
4. The government must stop the censorship of media and journalists.
5. End the internet blackout across Oromia region and the entire country.
6. We demand an independent investigation against the extrajudicial brutality and the culprit those who gave them order.
7. Dismantle the defecto state of emergency in Oromia by returning the army to their barracks.
The Oromo Community of Minnesota said if those demands are not met, they are urging the U.S. government and the international community to stop providing support and funding to the Ethiopian government.
Those interested in learning more and getting involved may contact the Oromo Community of Minnesota by email: [email protected].