I have tried not to post too much regarding this issue for a couple of reasons. One is that I will not have my business visa for moving for another couple of months and I don’t want to post anything that may jeopardize my ability to gain residency in Ethiopia. The second is that I don’t want people to worry about my safety in moving to this country that I love.
But after the events of today, Sunday, it is hard to not say anything. Please note that everything I say here is taken from what I have found on the internet. I’m sure there are some details that aren’t exact, but I’m doing my best with the info I have at hand.
You see, a few years back, the government in Ethiopia wanted to expand Addis Ababa, the capital. They were going to be taking land from the Oromo people group in order to do this. While the plans did not go through, it did lead to a series of protests by the Oromo people, pointing out the significant marginalization in how they have been treated.
These protests have been generally quite peaceful. However, the Ethiopian government has chosen not to allow these protests and has repeatedly responded through open gunfire.
Today, at a festival in Bishoftu, a city about half an hour outside of Addis Ababa, such a protest occurred. While the government has reported that between 52-58 people died as a result of the stampede, video footage and estimates from the Oromo people have stated upwards of 300 deaths resulting from the stampede and gunfire. (According to reports today, we’ll see what tomorrow’s news says)
It frustrates me to know that I live in a country where we can bash any politician we want publicly on Facebook (and I’m not innocent of this, goodness knows I’ve expressed dislike for my leaders) and yet in the country that is my future home, people are literally dying for the chance to have a voice.
The thing about Ethiopia that I loved most was the hospitality. I loved how generous and welcoming everyone was, how they greeted us with so much love. I am sad that they are not treated the same by those in power.
It is impossible for me to know what life is like as a member of the Oromo people group. I have never lived in a position of fearing for my life at the hands of the government. I have never been subject to leadership that has Amnesty International raising voices about how it treats its own people. So while I cannot pretend to understand what they are going through, I can say that my heart breaks for these beautiful, wonderful people.
My prayer today is for peace, for wisdom in the leadership of Ethiopia. I pray that they will know our merciful God, that they will respond with open ears and a willingness to love the Ethiopian people regardless of Oromo or Amhara or Tigrayen, or any of the more than eighty ethnic groups that reside in this beautiful country. I pray, and will continue to pray for reconciliation between the government and the people, between tribes and people groups. And I pray for the safety of the friends I made during my brief stay this past summer.
Lastly, I pray for the people in Bishoftu this night who are going into a new day without people that they loved who were alive yesterday.
I am thankful that we have a God who hears our prayers and that even in the wake of these awful things, He will still be glorified. He hears the mourning of loss, He knows the pain and suffering of those who died and those who lost loved ones. He is closer than ever and He loves them deeply. He loves the victims and the perpetrators, He loves His people, no matter the tribe or nation.
*Please contact your local government officials about House Resolution 861, titled “Supporting Respect for Human Rights and Encouraging Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia”and make sure they are aware of this issue!
Abatachin hoy besemay yemitnor sime yiqedes
Mengisthi timta feqadih besemay inde honech indehu bemdr tihun
Yeilet injerachinin zare siten
Ina yebedelunin yiqir indeminil bedalachininim yiqir bilen
Wede fetenam atagiban kekifu adinen inji
Mengist yante nat ina hail misganam lezelalemu