Tigray Police Clash with Student Protestors

A protest led by students of Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia, turned violent after police forcibly dispersed crowds of students, detaining several people, including a journalist who was covering the protests. Mekelle is the capital city of Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia.

What Happened

A group of approximately 250 students from Mekelle University gathered in order to protest against what they said were changes to the university’s rules regarding their graduation.

Due to the 2020-2022 Tigray war, the education of Tigray’s students was heavily disrupted. While the war ended in 2022, recovery has been slow, and disruptions continued well after the war’s end.

Mekelle University’s students had requested an extra semester in order to make up for the disruptions, a request which was initially granted. The students claimed they had been told that they would be able to graduate within this year. However, it appears the University has since rescinded this promise, revoking the extra semester, and has now told students they will be unable to graduate until the next year.

They took to the streets in order to express their grievances, until the police halted the protest. The police forcibly dispersed the protest, claiming it was illegal and not authorized by the city administration.

Legally within Ethiopia, in order to hold a demonstration a group does not need to acquire permission, but merely notify authorities of the demonstration, which the protestors said they had done.

Police beat a number of different protestors, and detained approximately 20 people, of which seven remain in custody. One person that was detained was a man named Adhanom Sertse, a local journalist from Tigray Public Media (TPM), who was covering the protest.

The TPM released a statement condemning Sertse’s detention, which they said was a “blatant violation of press freedom,” and called immediately for his release. Their full statement may be read below.


Tigray Public Media Condemns Unjust Arrest of Journalist Adhanom Sertse

Mekelle, Tigray – April 5, 2024 – The Tigray Public Media Board of Directors vehemently condemns the unjust arrest of our esteemed journalist, Adhanom Sertse. Adhanom was diligently fulfilling his duty to report on the protest of Mekelle University students when he was apprehended. The arrest of Adhanom Sertse is a blatant violation of press freedom and undermines the principles of democracy. Journalists play a crucial role in society by ensuring transparency and accountability, and their safety must be upheld at all times. We demand the immediate release of Adhanom Sertse and call on authorities to respect the rights of journalists to carry out their work without fear of persecution or intimidation. The Tigray Public Media Board of Directors and entire team stands in solidarity with Adhanom Sertse and all journalists facing oppression in the pursuit of truth.

Tigray Public Media Board of Directors and Management


 

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.

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