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Slain Ethiopian Christians Remembered in Massive Addis Ababa Rally

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Many call on government to find solutions to keep migrants at home

“I want the international community not to sit down until these devils are destroyed,” said the mother of one of the 30 Christians from Ethiopia who were killed by militants of the Islamic State group last weekend.

The woman made her remarks in an interview Wednesday during a protest rally in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where more than 100,000 people gathered in solidarity with the slain Christians.

She added her hope that “these human traffickers are collected one by one.”

The 30 Ethiopian Christians slain in Libya, a gruesome act shown in an Islamic State video, apparently were trying to reach Europe. Many people from Africa and the Middle East have taken a similar route, many engaging the services of smugglers, and many have lost their lives along the way, either by drowning in the Mediterranean or becoming victims of violence.

The rally on Wednesday took aim at the Ethiopian government’s failure to raise living standards of the poor, with poverty fueling the flow of migrants through dangerous areas, AP reported. In fact, the march was government-supported.

"We want revenge for our sons’ blood," said protesters in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square, referring to Ethiopians seen being beheaded or shot in a video released on Sunday by the extremist group.

Ahaza Kassaye, the mother of one of the victims identified as Eyasu Yikunoamlak, told AP that she was heartened by the massive turnout.

"I’m happy now. I’m very happy. I was just mourning the death of my son with family members and my neighbors. I never expected this to happen," she said.

During the rally, stone-throwing protesters clashed with the police, who arrested at least 100 people. Ahaza, who had to seek shelter in a cafe, said she hoped the government would react to the killings by closing all illegal border crossings and arresting suspected human traffickers.

Ethiopia’s Catholic bishops condemned "in unambiguous terms" the execution of 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants in Libya.

"These Ethiopian martyrs who were butchered on the coast and desert of Libya were not politicians, nor military soldiers, or they were not armed people, considered to be dangerous people for security, rather they were young innocent migrants hopeful for a better future on the other end of their destination; capable of transforming their lives, the lives of their family and even contribute for the betterment of the country of their destination," the bishops said in a statement issued during their April 18-23 general meeting.

According to the AP report, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that, while poverty was the root cause of the migrations, smugglers were to blame for encouraging poor people to pursue what he called "the death journey." Lawmakers on Tuesday were debating a possible response to the Islamic State killings, but it remains unclear if military action is an option. The government has announced three days of nationwide mourning over the killings.
 

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