The On Going City Wide Gondar Protest.


Ethiopia is facing a violent protest in the Amhara regional capital Gonder over the question of identity of the Welkait and Tegede people. As Addis Standard reported, Several members of the Wolkayit community in north western Ethiopia say was a forced decision by the federal government, the Wolkayit people were made to join the Humera administrative zone in Tigray regional state following the ethnic based federal arrangements of the early 1990s. However community members continue protesting saying the decision was not only an administrative decision but also one that affects their question of identity.

In the last two decades therefore members of the Wolkayit community were demanding both the federal and the regional governments to join the Amhara regional state; they also say they identify themselves as Amharas and not Tigrayans. Both the federal and regional governments insist the Wolkayit question has been answered once and for all. In February 2016, the people of Wolkayit were paraded in front of the national TV carrying placards that declared all their questions, including their questions of identity, as have been answered once and for all.

Last year a group of people who call themselves as “Wolkayit committee” travelled to Addis Abeba to file the community’s demand to Ethiopia’s House of Federation (HoF). However, several of them were arrested. The identity question of the Wolkayit people continued to intensify as Ethiopia is facing similar questions from various parts of the country.

Aside from that Al Jazeera informed, at least 10 people, including police officers and civilians, have been killed in northern Ethiopia after days of protests, according to local sources.

Demonstrations on Thursday and similar protests in recent days in the city of Gondar were against what protesters see as the erosion of their ethnic identity.

The government said three police officers and one civilian were killed.

The violence is believed to have started after the attempted arrests by government troops of leaders of the Amhara ethnic group.

“The government is saying they were trying to arrest people linked to a terrorist organisation. We’ve spoken to some people who say tourists have been moved out of the city to safe areas. The city is under lockdown,” Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the capital Addis Ababa, said.

“This isn’t the first time protests happened in Gondar. There were protests earlier this year … protests by the largest ethnic group, the Oromo. Protests during which human rights organisations say 300 people were killed.”

Images posted online showed burned-out vehicles and armed men firing guns in the air as hundreds of other people cheered them on.

The Amhara are the second largest ethnic group in the country.

“They say that they are being ignored by the government – the government that they alleged is dominated by other ethnic groups from the north,” Stratford said.

The violence prompted the US embassy in Ethiopia to issue a temporary advisory warning against travel to the city centre of Gondar and areas where “violent demonstrations” have been reported.

“The Embassy recommends all US citizens traveling to or resident in the Gondar area evaluate their personal level of safety and to avoid demonstrations or large gatherings,” the advisory issued on Wednesday said.