The Young Man who chanted ”Down Down Wayane escapes persecution

Gammada Wario, the young man who chanted, ”Down Down Wayane’ after getting on the stage at the 2016 Irrecha festival in Bishoftu has escaped persecution by the Ethiopian government and safely arrived in Egypt.

Gammada is notably remembered for his courageous action at Irrecha Festival (Oromo Thanks Giving Festival in October 2016.  On October 2, 2016 at Hora Arsedi (a lake in Bishoftu Town where Irrecha is celeberated annually) more than three millions Oromos gathered to celeberate Irrecha (Oromo Thanksgiving Day), but it turned out to be very disastrous. Oromos who gathered at the festival protested against the Ethiopian government; showed protests signs (X) and booed the government officials and traditional leaders who are the surrogates of the government when they went on stage to deliver speech. Suddenly, a young man jumped on to the stage, snatched the microphone from a man who was trying to calm down the angry protesters, and chanted a catchy phrase, ‘Down Down Wayane’ calling the  government to step down. Millions of people chanted with him until he was forced to stop by the people on the stage.

Gammada Wario(left) with Fikadu Shumeta (right) (who also escaped persecution in Novemeber last year ) in Cairo, Egypt

After that the government security forces fired live bullets and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. The people panicked and ran, but ended up in a ditch and  many people died as a result.At this event more than 700 people were reported to be dead though the Ethiopian government denies this figure. According to the government only 55 people died.The day was the darkest day in the history of Irrecha celeberation by the Oromo people.Such tragedy has never happened before.

The incident happened after the celebrants protested and called the minority led government in Ethiopia to step down. The Oromos came to Irrecha celebration after a year long protest that rocked the Oromia region. First the protests began opposing the Addis Abeba Master Plan (the Federal Government’s plan to expand the capital city, Addis Ababa into the Oromo land that would result in the eviction of more than two million Oromo farmers from their land). The government scrapped the Master Plan after the protests were intensified across the Oromo region resulting in the death of hundreds of protesters. However, the protests continued even after the Master Plan was removed demanding for more political and economic rights for the Oromo people who are  marginalized economically, politically and culturally by the minority led Ethiopian government.

Many people wondered about what happened to this brave young man. Some said he was safe and had manged to escape and others said he was was arrested and persecuted by the security. Six weeks after the Irrecha Massacre, the news that Gammada safely arrived in Cairo, Egypt came. It was reported that he is safe and in a good condition.

This video shows the incident at Irrecha Festival on October 2, 2016; Gammada chanting ”Down Down Wayane” and millions of people following suit.

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