Friday, January 13, 2012

Student Protest in Hossana

VOA reported students protested in Ethiopia over the last week. Muslim high school students in Addis Ababa protested the removal of their Imam and other perceived government interferences in their education. College students in Nekemte protested over poor cafeteria food conditions. Meanwhile, post-college students in Hossana also protested. But why?

It was reported that 429 recent college graduates in Hadiya zone got together in Hossana, the regional capital, to petition the regional administration for jobs. The students elected their representatives and went to the government office to discuss their petition. When the student representatives remained in the office for a long time, the students outside suspected foul play and started asking for their representative to come out. The police, however, responded by beating the students and shooting at them. That is when the petition turned into a protest.

These job-seeking college graduates should be given credit for being proactive in their job search, but I am baffled as to why they thought it was worth their time to petition the Hadiya zonal government for jobs. Don't they know that regional governments at the zonal level in Ethiopia have no authority to tax and, therefore, no real power to create jobs? Regardless, the fact that they had the temerity to organize themselves to petition at a time when such activities are not tolerated, as was clearly evidenced by the way they were treated, is in itself a pleasant surprise!

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