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Ethiopia's Online Movement #BringBackOurStudents Takes to the Streets

Thousands of Ethiopians are protesting the government's failure to locate the whereabouts of at least 18 students from Dembi Dollo University who were abducted two months ago.

Mass demonstrations are underway in northern parts of Ethiopia including Bahir Dar.

Thousands of Ethiopians are protesting the government's failure to locate the whereabouts of at least 18 students from Dembi Dollo University who were abducted two months ago.


What began as an online movement under the banner of #BringBackOurStudents has evolved into a fully-fledged protest over the past few days in an effort to obtain answers from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government.

While there are conflicting reports as to the exact number of students who were abducted from Dembi Dollo University, it is believed that at least 18 students are missing.

According to the BBC, the students are from the Amhara community in the northern parts of Ethiopia and were fleeing from the university–located in the Oromia region–when inter-ethnic violence erupted. It is largely rumoured that the students, who are mostly female, were abducted by armed local men who are known to be active in the area. Fingers have been pointed at the Oromo Liberation Army although they have quickly denied the allegations and have instead cast the blame on the government.

Protesters have been chanting anti-government slogans and are accusing Prime Minister Ahmed and his government of not doing enough to ensure the safe release of the students. Despite the government's press secretary having reported that only 6 out of an alleged 21 missing students remained captive, many family members claim their loved ones have still not returned.

One parent, desperate to find out whether his missing daughter is alive, told the BBC that, "I'm afraid they have killed them. I wish they tell us the truth if that is the case. It's affecting our mental health. My wife is already sick because she is worried too much. I wish they tell us the truth, even if they are killed."

Prime Minister Ahmed's rule has been in the line of fire since he took office in 2017. While he brought about tremendous change such as a gender-equal cabinet and ended a two-decade long border conflict with Eritrea, an effort for which he was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, there have been numerous and wide-spread protests as long-standing inter-ethnic tensions continue to worsen.

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