Ethiopian immigrants in Australia rally for oppressed groups in African nation

ethiopian in australiaSTEPHANIE NEWINGTON, Mercury
August 31, 2016 11:03pm

ETHIOPIAN immigrants have raised concerns for marginalised groups in the African nation at a rally outside Parliament House in Hobart.

Tasmanian Ethiopian Association chairman Dessie Assefa said oppression of ethnic groups by the country’s ruling political coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), created animosity between tribes.

“They are oppressed politically, financially, culturally,” Mr Assefa said.

About 50 people attended the rally today, holding Ethiopian and Australian flags and photographs of the violence in Ethiopia.

About 50 people attended the rally in front of Parliament House. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN
Tasmanian Ethiopian Association secretary Tadiyos Mandefro said the Oromo and Amhara people were the most oppressed groups in Ethiopia.

“People are attacked because of their ethnicity. Our people are in crisis,” he said.

Mr Mandefro said the Oromo and Amhara people are targeted the most.

“We are here to lobby the Tasmanian Government to address the Federal Government to raise these issues with Ethiopia,” he said.

“It is the only way we will be heard.”

Ethiopian immigrant Ayani Wondimagegnew said human rights in his homeland “do not work”.

“[If] people question the government, they are answered with a bullet,” Mr Wondimagegnew said.

Mr Mandefro said the rally was also to help the public understand what was happening in Ethiopia.

“We are members of this community and that allows us to do this [rally] peacefully,” Mr Mandefro said.

In a statement released by Amnesty International, DefendDefenders executive director Hassan Shire said violence against peaceful protesters in the Oromo and Amhara regions was on the rise in Ethiopia.

“Instead of investigating and holding accountable those responsible for rights violations, the government is jailing the few independent human rights defenders left working in the country,” he said.

Stephanie Newington is a journalism student at the University of Tasmania.

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