According to the Associated Press, today more than 100,000 Ethiopians protested the killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya and their own government’s failure to raise living standards of the poor, with poverty fueling the flow of migrants through dangerous areas.
The government-supported march at Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square turned violent as stone-throwing protesters clashed with the police, who arrested at least 100 people.
The protesters said “We want revenge for our sons blood,” referring to Ethiopians seen being beheaded or shot in a video released on Sunday by the terrorist group Islamic State. The Ethiopian victims are widely believed to have been captured in Libya while trying to reach Europe.
Ahaza Kassaye, the mother of one of the victims identified as Eyasu Yikunoamlak, told The Associated Press during the protest Wednesday that she was overwhelmed by the massive turnout.
“I’m happy now. I’m very happy. I was just mourning the death of my son with family members and my neighbors. I never expected this to happen,” she said.
Eyasu Yikunoamlak and Balcha Belete left Ethiopia two months ago with the aim of reaching Europe. They are believed to have left Ethiopia through Sudan and later traveled to Libya where they had planned to take a boat to Europe but they were seized by Islamic State militants, relatives told The Associated Press on Monday.
Relatives and friends of the two victims in Cherkos Village, a poor neighborhood of the Ethiopian capital, said Eyasu and Balcha grew up together and used to live in the same house.
Ahaza, who had to seek shelter in a cafe when the protest turned violent, said she hoped the government would react to the killings by closing all illegal border crossings and arresting suspected human traffickers.
Ethiopian lawmakers on Tuesday debated a possible response to the Islamic State killings, but it remains unclear if military action is an option, according to the Associated Press. The government has announced three days of nation-wide mourning over the killing of the 30 Christians in Libya.
Libya is ranked No. 13 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.