Ethiopia: Popular musician’s killing must be fully investigated

The Ethiopian authorities must conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective investigations into the killing of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundesa on 29 June, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible, Amnesty International said today as protests broke out over his killing in several parts of the country.

There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa.
Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

“There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa. The musician’s songs rallied the country’s youth in sustained protests from 2015 leading to the political reforms witnessed in the country since 2018,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“The authorities have opened an investigation into his killing and must now ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective and bring to justice in fair trials those suspected to be responsible,” said Sarah Jackson.

The authorities have opened an investigation into his killing and must now ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective.
Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

A blanket internet shutdown imposed by the authorities since early morning has made it difficult to verify reports of people killed in ongoing protests.

“The authorities should immediately lift the countrywide blanket internet shutdown and allow people to access information and to freely mourn the musician,” said Sarah Jackson.

Amnesty International is also calling for the security forces to exercise restraint when managing the ongoing protests and refrain from the use of excessive force.

Background

Hachalu Hundesa, renowned for his politically inspired songs, was shot around 9:30 pm on 29 June in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

On 22 June, Hachalu Hundesa was interviewed on the Oromo Media Network (OMN) where he spoke on many controversial issues eliciting public outrage on social media platforms.

According to Addis Standard, a national newspaper, the Addis Ababa Police Commission Commissioner, Getu Argaw, stated that the police had launched an investigation and had “some suspects” in police custody.

There has been an increase in killings of people critical of the government and political personalities in the country since 2019. These include the killing of the Amhara Regional President, Ambachew Mekonnen, and two other top regional officials on 23 June 2019. On the same day, General Seare Mekonnen, the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian army was killed at his home in Addis together with a retired military Major General Gezai Abera. On 3 June 2020 Bekele Bidra, the head of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) office in Bole Sub-City of Addis Ababa was killed in his car.

Amnesty International’s recent report, ‘Beyond law enforcement: human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara and Oromia,’ highlights impunity in Ethiopia and calls for accountability and justice.