For two of the last three years DOWNTOWN CHURCH sent a team to Oromia Province in western Ethiopia. The experience was intended to be immersive, as much as Americans can live in a new, strange, mildly exotic culture without signaling the arrival of outsiders with big cameras. We partnered with a school that expected us to be back this fall. But this year, we can not go.
The first parliamentary elections since the death of the Prime Minister in 2011 are scheduled for May 24. Ahead of the planned elections, tension between the small ethnic group that controls the parliament, and everyone else, especially the large Oromo tribe, has escalated. Peaceful student protests in multiple cities were interrupted by the bullets of federal police officers. Opposition leaders, and those suspected of being leaders, are being jailed for indefinite periods. Prominent bloggers critical of the government are often arrested.
[Human Rights Watch] has documented the abuses of authority and the violations of human rights in Ethiopia. Take time to click the link above and see what's up.
It is unclear what will happen after the elections. We can't commit people to go under these circumstances.
We will plan for a trip in October of 2016. Until then, keep the country in your prayers.