- Title: Ethiopian protesters attack factories, vehicles in unrest
- Date: 8th October 2016
- Summary: SEBETA, ETHIOPIA (OCTOBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DAMAGED EXTERIOR OF ARBAMINCH TEXTILE BUILDING VARIOUS OF BURNT AND DAMAGED KNITTING DEPARTMENT VARIOUS OF BURNT CARS AND TRUCKS INSIDE ARBAMINCH TEXTILE COMPOUND EXTERIOR OF SAYGIN DIMA TEXTILE FACTORY SHELL OF BURNT OVERTURNED CAR BURNT CAR AND OTHER FACTORY EQUIPMENT VARIOUS OF BURNT EQUIPMENT INSIDE SAYGIN DIMA TEXTILE FACTORY COLLAPSED ROOF BIRD TAKING OFF INSIDE FACTORY BURNT MACHINES VARIOUS OF BURNT BUS VARIOUS OF BURNT TRUCK WITH BROKEN BOTTLES AROUND IT VARIOUS OF BURNT PUBLIC TRANSPORT BUSES ON SIDE OF STREET
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2016 18:26
- Keywords: unrest protests attack damage Ethiopia
- Location: SEBETA, ETHIOPIA
- City: SEBETA, ETHIOPIA
- Country: Ethiopia
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Civil Unrest
- Reuters ID: LVA0015359PVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Shells of buildings could be seen in Ethiopia's Sebeta on Saturday (October 8) after protesters in the country damaged almost a dozen mostly foreign-owned factories and flower farms and destroyed scores of vehicles this week.
The violence has cast a shadow over a nation where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa's fastest growing economies, but where the government has also faced rising international criticism and popular opposition to its authoritarian approach to development.
The flare-up followed the death of at least 55 people in a stampede on Sunday (October 2) when police fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse demonstrators in the Oromiya region near the capital.
It raises to more than 450 the number of people rights groups and opponents say have been killed in unrest since 2015. A U.S. researcher was killed on Tuesday (October 4) when her car was attacked by stone-throwers near Addis Ababa.
The government says the toll cited by critics is inflated.
Fana Broadcasting, which is seen as close to the state, reported on its website that 11 companies ranging from textile firms to a plastics maker to flower farms had been damaged or destroyed, while more than 60 vehicles had been torched.
Dutch firm FV SeleQt said its 300-hectare vegetable farm and warehouse had been plundered. Another Dutch firm, Africa Juice, said its factory had been partially destroyed.
Reuters images showed burned-out trucks on the road side, which the government blames on opposition groups and dissidents based abroad.
According to the government, the firms damaged had created 40,000 jobs in a country of 99 million people that has long been blighted by famine but which has been rapidly transforming its fortunes, delivering growth rates that hit 10 percent in fiscal 2015/16.
People from Oromiya, a region at the heart of the state's industrialisation efforts, accuse the state of seizing their land and offering tiny compensation, before selling it on to companies, often foreign investors, at inflated prices. They also say they struggle to find work, even when a new factory is sited on property they or their families once owned.
In Ethiopia, once ruled by Marxists whose draconian policies drove the nation into a devastating 1984 famine, all land still belongs to the state and owners are only deemed leaseholders, even if they have been living or farming there for generations.
For the state, it means a swift and legally uncomplicated route to ejecting leaseholders to make way for new factories and construction of highways and railways, including a 750-km electrified line opened this week that links the capital of landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti's busy sea port.
For the opposition and those turfed out of farm plots where they grow food for their families, it shows how the government that has ruled for quarter of a century tramples on their rights.
The government says police have clashed with what it calls "armed gangs" intent on destabilising the nation.
Foreign investors are feeling the heat from protesters, not because they are foreigners but because they are among the biggest purchasers of the new land leases from the state.
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