They saying goes that Truth is Stranger than fiction can definitely apply to the events surrounding the killing of popular Ethiopian singer Hachallu Hundessa.
A widely popular singer in Ethiopia, Hachallu Hundessa was credited as raising political consciousness with the lyrics to his songs, which often times put him on the wrong side of successive ruling governments.
Having been previously jailed for the loaded lyrics in his songs Hundessa’s popularity grew because of the outspoken nature of his music.
“I did not know how to write lyrics and melodies until I was put behind bars” Hundessa once quipped about his music. Shed light on why he was viewed as a lighting rod by the authorities and their supporters.
Killed in the Hundessa was shot on the evening of 29 June 2020 in Addis Abbaba, and his death sparked an outbreak of violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 160 people.
The Violence that gripped the country was so severe that the Ethiopian government shut down all Internet Services following ferocious upsurge of killing.
The reopening of internet services for Ethiopians is welcome, but suspicion has not abated about the motives as to why Government shut down the internet in the first place.
Daniel Berhane, the editor of Horn Affairs magazine, said on Twitter: “This is a dangerous precedent. There is no transparency about who took the decision and for how long.”
Last week, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution classifying the censorship of the internet as a human rights violation.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when asked about the drastic measures retorted – “The respect of fundamental rights and dignity of citizens also primarily include the right to live free from harm and in dignity regardless of religion, ethnicity and other protected categories”.
In response to critics, the spokeswoman rationale was further articulated – “If the internet is being used by certain forces to spread hate speech and vitriol, that is perpetuating and initiating ethnic, religious and communal violence, then ensuring human security supersedes.”
On the 11th July, Attorney General Adanech Abebe announced that two men had been arrested in the murder of Hachallu Hundessa. Reinforcing the cruel irony that not even music is immune to that Truth is indeed Stranger than Fiction.