Ethiopia on Monday debunked a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that student protests against a government plan to extend the capital Addis Ababa into Oromia, the largest region in the country, has continued.
Communications Minister Getachew Reda dismissed claims that the government is violently suppressing the protests which began in November 2015.
According to a HRW report published on Sunday, Ethiopian security forces have continued to violently crack-down on protesters. The report dismissed claims that the protests against the “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan “stopped after the controversial plan was cancelled.
The international rights group said although the Master Plan was cancelled in January, thousands have been killed and arrested arbitrarily without charge.
“Flooding Oromia with federal security forces shows the authorities’ broad disregard for peaceful protest by students, farmers and other dissenters,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
However, during a BBC interview, Getachew described HRW reports as “an absolute lie.” He questioned the authenticity of the reports since HWR is not present in Ethiopia. However, HRW have an outpost in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Getachew said that “from half way across the world” HWR have been “churning out report after report “on Ethiopia.
Although he described HRW’s report as a “stroke of magic,” Getachew acknowledged that the region was still unsettled. But said rather than a continued student protest, the government is faced with attacks targeting public buildings.
Getachew said armed groups “trying to stir up the emotions in the public” were responsible for the attacks. Despite the revelation, the minister did not identify the name of the armed group.