The Ethiopia Orthodox Tewhado Church affiliated media outlet, Tewhado Media Center (TMC), reported on Tuesday evening the death toll from a Sunday crackdown on Orthodox faithful in Shashemene city has reached 37.
TMC reported two more Orthodox faithful died of their injuries on Tuesday bringing the known death toll to 37.
“Brother Ayalew Terefe, who was savagely beaten by security forces in West-Arsi zone EOTC Chapter, Shashemene city, and was being treated in Hawassa, has died today as a martyr,” the statement said.
Another statement had also disclosed on Tuesday the death of an Orthodox priest, Kesis Haregewoyn from beatings he sustained on Sunday in the city.”
“More than 40 Orthodox faithful who have been seriously injured are currently being treated in emergency treatment wards in two hospitals in Hawassa city,” TMC further reported.
Over the weekend, the EOTC Holy Synod issued a statement calling for global protests scheduled for this coming Sunday in protest of what it called government-supported attacks on the Church.
In what seems to be an apparent effort at counter-protest, the splintered group that is said to be backed by Abiy Ahmed’s regime called for a parallel nationwide rally on Sunday.
The splintered group spokesman, Teacher Hailemichael Tadesse, claimed the planned rally is in support of the “repressed” Orthodox faithful.
The splintered group presser was covered by two media outlets believed to be owned by individuals close to the Oromia region faction of the ruling Prosperity Party (PP).
The two are, Prime Media, a TV channel believed to be owned by Birhanu Megersa Lenjiso, the ruling Prosperity Party parliamentarian and State Minister of Irrigation Development Projects, and Oromia Broadcasting Service (OBS), believed to be owned by Dinku Deyas, a politically connected businessman.
The Ethiopian government seems to have imposed an informal blanket censorship, especially on state media, regarding reports on the “ongoing attacks on EOTC.”
Ethiopia Government Communications Service on Monday warned “unspecified media outlets” from disseminating inciteful reports.
With the Ethiopian government seemingly trying to impose a tight but informal information blackout, it has been mainly left to diaspora-based media outlets and Social Media based bloggers to expose the ongoing “attacks on EOTC.”