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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June 2005, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Eyewitness: Ethiopian protests
Yeneayhu, 29, an Ethiopian lecturer at Addis Ababa University, tells the BBC News website what he saw in the capital on Wednesday when police clashed with protesters accusing the ruling party of fraud in last month's elections.

Student being hit by policeman
Yeneayhu saw some of his students attacked with gun butts
I am running here and there to see what has been going on.

I can see people running away from very well armed police in the distance.

You just have to run, just run.

You have to be really alert as you don't know what will happen.

Simple ordinary victims

It is the most terrible thing because the military forces do not speak the same language as us.

They speak the Tigrigna language as they are from Mekle - the ruling party's area in the north.

As you can't communicate with them, simply ordinary people like me are also victims.

If I tried to explain that I had nothing to do with all of this they wouldn't be able to understand.

No-one around here can tell them anything.

And so that is why all the people run away as soon as they see them coming.

Big clash

This morning I saw three people that had been shot dead.

They were picked up by a Red Cross car.

Yeneayhu said people were really fighting the police

I had been going to the Commercial College, which is near the Mercato market in the city.

A lot of people were at the market.

There are no taxis today because of the strike and so no-one was at work.

People had thought that the government would make an announcement in response to the disputed election results, following the past two days of protests.

But instead the Mekle had a big clash with the people.

There were no cars as all the ways had been closed with rocks.

People were throwing stones and then the police started really shooting.

Gun shots

People were really fighting them.

Anyone who had been on the street was involved.

When the crowd dispersed in fear, they started shooting at them. There was blood everywhere
Yosef, Addis Ababa

I was running, just like the others.

But I saw the military people.

They were directly shooting at everyone.

They were aiming right at the people.

It was the worst thing about today's experience in the city.

This is really the most disastrous thing in my whole life.


And tomorrow, from what I have heard, the same thing will happen again.

It will keep happening until the government takes action over the election results.

People want some kind of immediate action.

As of yet though, I have not heard any government body reporting about the situation.


If you would like to comment on Yeneayhu's experience please use the form below.

Your comments:

A ruling party with no intention of giving power, an opposition with no means of support, and international community with no care...
Sef Beni Amer, Addis Ababa

For the record I support neither the ruling party nor the opposition. If you allow me, let me give you a somewhat objective view of the circumstances that led to this uncertainty. In the next few months Ethiopia could either be a truly democratic country or a truly chaotic country. It all depends on how the world reacts. The last few months, Ethiopians have experienced a political freedom never seen before. However, this freedom has evaporated since the election.

The ruling party truly thought that they would win the election fair and square. They did not even consider the possibility of losing the election. On election day, people voted against the ruling party. The ruling party realized that they lost all the seats in the capital city, they started making sure that one way or the other the votes from rural area favour them.

Even though the international observers know for a fact that the election is being manipulated, they are afraid to say the truth because the truth will most likely make Ethiopia a chaotic country rather than democratic. The truth will set you free. Millions around the country are saying, enough is enough and more than a few are giving their life. A ruling party with no intention of giving power, an opposition with no means of support, and international community with no care... something tells me that the fortune of Ethiopia is going south.

Never mind the world, even God has forgotten Ethiopia. The people of Ethiopia have spoken. It's better to listen now rather than to witness another Rwanda. Let us witness another Georgia. Another Ukraine. And another Ethiopia?
Sef Beni Amer, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Amongst my friends I was one of few who always insisted in giving the benefit of the doubt to the incumbent prime minister assuming that he will eventually democratize the country. But after seeing Meles's Agazi force on the rampage on unarmed civilian today I believe that Meles and his people should be held accountable.

I just want to thank Yeneayhu for letting the rest of the world know what is going on in Ethiopia.

All of your comments reflect that you are tired of Meles's smartness
Agazi, Addis Ababa

I have already read Yeneayhu's comment. Don't take it to the wrong way because I am a Tigrian (as my name indicates) but to be honest his comment is so disappointing. It is an ethnic based comment. All of the militaries are not from the Tigray region. They have also completed at least eighth grade so that means that they can speak the national language Amharic.

All of your comments reflect that you are tired of Meles's smartness. Let's not hide the truth. The opposition party (CUD) has announced through pamphlets to gather for a mob which was definitely restricted for a while. The thing I am telling you is that the mob is not a sudden action that occurred on Monday.

My reason/evidence is that my friend's sister was going to take her exam on Monday. But at the CUD meeting on Saturday a student told her that she didn't have to worry because there wouldn't be an exam. This indicates that the mob was deliberately planned. Please avoid your ethnic reflections. Please just tell the truth.
Agazi, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

He was then moved to the detention centre in Dover where very concerned prison officers contacted the visitor group
Marion Walter, Canterbury

I know one asylum seeker from Ethiopia very well. He lived in our house for eight months after eventually been released from detention in this country. He was arrested and tortured many times from the age of 17 in Ethiopia. Finally the police got real evidence of his political activity. He was away from home when they came to arrest him November 2003 and his wife warned him.

He hid for three weeks while his father-in-law arranged for an agent to bring him to Heathrow for onward flight to USA. A stranger took him to Croydon the next day where he claimed asylum. His brother has been murdered and his father has been disappeared. A letter to me from his mother confirms that many of his friends have been killed. Subsequently after escaping he learned that his wife was arrested and tortured for three months and she lost their baby. This caused him enormous distress.

After he was refused asylum he attempted to go to the USA on a false passport and then spent time in Wormwood Scrubs. He was then moved to the detention centre in Dover where very concerned prison officers contacted the visitor group. He was released to our house last August. He is suffering from depression and nightmares. He has just been refused asylum.
Marion Walter, Canterbury

The international community need to stop being a bystander and they should hold the Meles's government accountable for loss of innocent life.
Jon, USA

Please be aware that EPRDF set up this election to gain legitimacy as a democratic government and to qualify for Mr Tony Blair's debt forgiveness plan. Hence, they allowed the opposition to win a minority of seats but never significant enough to bring about any change in the parliament.

The protests are conducted to bring out this fact and the massacre affirms that EPRDF at the core is not pro-democracy. With Mr Bush stating yesterday that "nobody wants to give money to a country that's corrupt, where leaders take money and put it in their pocket" these victims have given their lives to show the true colours of the ruling party to the rest of the world.
K Arnold, Washington DC

I am really disturbed by what happen to innocent life and it is really regrettable. My condolences to the family of those who lost their lives. I want to say something as it relates to the opposition party leaders, if they are committed to democratization of our country it was this time to come out and condemn the acts of their supporters or even if they are not their supporters because the only win win situation for them was to capitalize in what they gained in the political process and it would demonstrate their political maturity.

I think concerning the election results the board is working on the disputed results so calm and restraint should be advocated. The only people who support the violence are the enemy of our country. The government and the opposition party need to gracefully accept what comes through the political process. Once again my fellow citizens do not be victims of such violence; we have come through a lot and need to learn from past experiences. God bless all.
Tola Wakjira, Alexandria, USA

The protestors were to blame also for violating the protest ban and for provoking the police
Mestuwat, Ethiopia

I read about Yeneayhu's comments and I would also like to comment. I was around the Semen Hotel area and I saw that the people over there were shouting at the police and trying to provoke them and the police simply stood there and waited patiently until the people started throwing stones and after that the people were even trying to take the arms of the police. Although the loss of lives were a sad thing that happened, the protestors were to blame also for violating the protest ban and for provoking the police.
Mestuwat, Ethiopia

I live and work around Merkato. This morning I went to my work place to see things and to buy private news papers. After I did all that I started returning home. While I was returning, around Sabatenga, I saw a crowd fighting with the military police, Agazi. Everyone was throwing stones on the Tigrean soldiers. It seems that people were fighting with a colonizer. The Agazi, in reply, fired live ammunition directly to the crowd. I saw two people die. Right now, I' m getting a phone call from a friend and he is informing me that tanks are roving around Lidata and Abenet. What's next?
Yasteserial, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

No words are found sufficient to explain what has been happening in Addis today. I saw five people shot dead a few meters away from me. I am still shaking. I did not expect that I could escape the gun shot and put my eyewitness here. Yeneayhu has explained it a little but much more still remains uncovered. I know Saddam Hussein was the leader of Iraqi people. It will be a matter of time - the dictators who use weapons on civilians will collect their fruit. God does not only watch but acts as well.
Akalu Estfanose, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

They must jointly tell the public that both parties will peacefully wait for the investigation of the alleged fraud
Melkamu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
It is really a horrible scene. But I think the government alone can do little as long as some opposition parties and some individuals try to take advantage of this crisis. Some have called for public disobedience and encouraged the public in violent activities that could have lead to unnecessary lose of innocent life and destruction of property.

After witnessing a very peaceful and democratic pre-election campaign and election, it is really demoralizing to see what is happening now. The ruling party and the incoming administration to Addis Ababa must come forward immediately to calm down the anger of the people and stop further blood shed instead of blaming one another. They must jointly tell the public that both parties will peacefully wait for the investigation of the alleged fraud in vote counting and also will be abide by the outcome of the investigation. If both choose to continue the blame game, I am afraid we have not yet seen the worst.
Melkamu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Yeneayhu's account has not only touched me deeply, I cannot comprehend the terror that he must be feeling currently, but it angers me intensely. How can armed militia (some might comment a mob) attack an unarmed crowd of its own people? What must the members of that cowardly force be thinking as they brutally attack people running from them? It also raises questions as to what the western world will do about this drastic incident. Will the likes of Blair and Bush simply let this lie like the events that occurred in Uzbekistan recently, only to pick up the pieces in months to come claiming a 'victory' for the forces of democracy? I hope many people are deeply worried about the implications of these events, I for one am.
Mark Hurst, Ashtead, Surrey

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