The violent protest that started yesterday in the city of Arerti, Northern Shoa, Shenkora and Minjar zone, is causing the destruction of an industrial park and a factory, reports ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite and Television), after conducting interviews with participants in the protest.
The protest in Arerti in its second day is joined by the youth (Kerro) from the neighboring city of Cheffe Donsa in Oromia region, who violently marched across the city -torched and destroyed government properties to the ground. The protestors in Cheffe Donsa, destroyed the local office of OPDO (Oromo People’ Democratic Organization, one of the four parties that make up the governing party), the local court, the local city hall, the agricultural office and a local university.
According to the VOA, the recent protest in Arerti started due to the power interruption that lasted 15 days. However, those who are close to the protestors believe it has everything to do with the Chinese owned factory, Chipwud, that became the target of the protestors.
Two years ago over 100 farmers were each offered 130,000 Birr (Ethiopian currency) at below market price and forcefully removed from their lands to make way for the construction of Chipwud factory, where the farmers were promised jobs after the completion of the factory. However, the promised jobs never materialized. Chipwud has so far only hired six security guards and two other employees. However, the local people were upset to find out over twenty Chinese nationals being employed without having any legal work permit. This the farmers say caused them to protest and destroy the factory.
As the protestors marched through the city, they were shouting slogans such as “we need oil and sugar”, “we need fair compensation for our land”, “stop unfair taxation”, “the blood of our Oromo compatriots is our blood” and “we are tired of you”. The protestors continued marching through the nearby industrial park and destroyed it. According to eyewitnesses, two protestors were wounded from a gunshot that went off in the area.
The Kerro of the neighboring Oromia region who learned of the protest in Arreti, marched through the city of Cheffe Donsa destroyed government property, while shouting slogans such as “the enemy of Amhara and Oromo is Weyane (another name for TPLF, Tigrean People Liberation Front), and “down down Weyane”. The regional leader Mr. Derje, who attempted to intervene to stop the protest, was chased by the protestors and destroyed his vehicle.
A VOA journalist attempted to contact the local office but was unsuccessful. Mr. Nigussu Tilahun, the local public relations personnel has posted on his private Facebook page that a protest has broken in the city and the city’s industrial park was partially burned, contradicting the protestors report that the park was destroyed.
Some observers are saying, the protest that is sparked in the cities of Arerti and Cheffe Donsa, in Northern Shoa region might spill over to the neighboring town of Sendaffa, where Oromo and Amhara youth are working in tandem to galvanize the protest movement.