Ethiopian army gunned down man because his phone rang during meeting, Amnesty says

An Ethiopian soldier gunned down a 32-year-old businessman during a security crackdown last year because his phone went off during a public meeting, Amnesty International revealed Friday.

The shocking killing was carried out as Ethiopia was trying to suppress an armed uprising by the Oromo Liberation Army, which formed in a region where members of an ethnic group had been complaining they were being marginalized from political and economic power, the BBC reports.

“During the meeting, one of the phones collected rang and the soldiers asked who the owner of the phone was,” Amnesty International wrote in a report about the August 2019 incident in the Oromia regional state, citing testimony from a witness. “Ariti Shununde responded saying that the phone belonged to him.”

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“The EDF soldier ordered him to come to the front and he obeyed. Then the soldier told Ariti to turn around,” it continued. “As soon as Ariti’s back turned towards the soldiers, the soldier shot him in his back with two bullets. They killed him in front of the crowd.”

Amnesty says Shununde’s family and friends then started wailing and soldiers broke up the gathering.

“They then ordered some people to pick up the body and bury it immediately,” the report said. “As ordered, they instantly buried him at the cemetery of the locality.”

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Local government officials later told Shununde’s family that he was killed by mistake.

Amnesty says the killing was never investigated and the soldier behind it, to this day, is still roaming free.

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