News: Activities resume in Wolkite after week long strike over security forces’ crackdown on water shortage protesters

Protesters against chronic lack of water in Wolkite city. Photo: Social media

Addis Abeba – The residents of Wolkite City, in restive Gurage zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) region have resumed regular activities after series of discussions with the city administration and reaching consensus that the SNNP special forces would withdraw the city.

Residents told Addis Standard that public and business activities were halted for a week in protest against security forces’ crackdown on civilians who were demonstrating peacefully demanding solutions for scarce potable water in the city last week.

Six people were killed, and more than 15 were seriously injured when security forces opened fire on protesters carrying empty jerry cans on 15 February.

Hayider Murad, who participated in the city administrations’ discussion held on Wednesday with elders, religious leaders and residents of the city said, the mayor  of the city has promised residents to discuss with pertinent bodies to carry out the issue of deployment of the SNNP special forces out of the city.

Residents inquired that they should be held accountable and even if any serious security problem happens, no special force should intervene but the national defense army, he added.

He said the residents have made it clear that the protests would continue unless the government takes responsibility for the deaths and injuries committed by security forces and disclose it to the public.

Andinet, another resident of the city told Addis Standard that some activities like  schools and government offices have opened on Thursday but they have not been fully operational yet.

On Friday, 17 February the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said security forces used “excessive force” on residents protesting against lack of water, and killed three people and injuring more than 30, demanding perpetrators of the crime to be held accountable and victims to be redressed. 

Due to several stay-at-home protests as part of the zone’s push for own statehood, the Gurage zone including its capital Wolkite city, is put under a command post since November last year. AS

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