Ethiopian man burns himself to death in protest

November 16th, 2011 | by addis portal |

By Angus Stickler | November 16, 2011

Yenesaw Gebre
Activist Yenesaw Gebre

Events in Ethiopia have taken a disturbing turn following reports that a teacher in his late 20s burnt himself alive last week in protest against the ongoing brutal clampdown on dissent in the country. According to reports Yenesew Gebre made an impassioned plea at a protest gathering before dowsing himself in petrol and setting himself on fire. Addressing fellow protestors he is reported to have said: ’I want to show to all that death is preferable than a life without justice and liberty and I call upon my fellow compatriots to fear nothing and rise up to wrench their freedom and rights from the hands of the local and national tyrants.’

It is understood that Gebre died from his injuries three days later at the Tercha city local hospital.

Renewed crackdown

According to sources who spoke to the satellite TV station, ESAT, Yenesew had been campaigning against injustice at the hands of ruling party officials. It also appears that he had been fired from his teaching position because of his political views.

The event happened at a public meetng on November 11, aimed at resolving a series of local protests.

It was during the meeting that Yenesew Gebre reportedly spoke out against President Meles Zenawi’s regime. When security agents tried to stop him, Yeneneh walked out of the meeting hall and set himself alight infront of the other protesters gathered in the compound.

‘While fire was engulfing his whole body, he was calling for justice, freedom and democracy and urged people to rise up against the oppressors. He wanted martyrdom … he chose to sacrifice his life for the sake of liberty and justice,’ a local source who witnessed the shocking incident told ESAT.

According to close friends, Yenesew Gebre was widely respected and well known for raising serious issues and challenging authorities.

Read the full story on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

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