Press release

Ethiopia: More than 150 Dead after Security Forces Fire into Crowd

Ethiopian security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition into crowd of more than a million people gathered at a religious celebration, resulting in more than 150 deaths. 


In response to actions by Ethiopian security forces leading to the death of more than 150 people attending the Irreecha religious and cultural celebration in the Bishoftu town in Ethiopia's Oromia region on October 2, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The deaths in Bishoftu occurred because security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at a crowd of over a million people celebrating a religious occasion,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa programs. “The government of Ethiopia should allow a truly independent body to investigate the tragedy at Bishoftu as well as security forces’ well-documented record of using excessive force against peaceful gatherings.”


Irreecha is an annual holiday for giving thanks, celebrated by the Oromo, Ethiopia’s  largest ethnic group. While firm numbers remain unavailable, eyewitnesses say that the total number of deaths on October 2 may exceed 300.

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.