Africa: Statue of former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie destroyed in London park


Police in London are investigating an incident, which took place in Cannizaro Park where a statue of former Ethiopian leader, Emperor Haile Selassie was been destroyed on Tuesday evening in Wimbledon, south-west London.

The damage to the bust was carried out by a group of around 100 people, according to an eyewitness.

It appears to be linked to unrest in Ethiopia sparked after a popular singer, Hachalu Hundessa, was shot dead earlier this week.

Demonstrations following his death saw a statue of royal prince Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael, the father of Selassie, Ethiopia’s last emperor, torn down in the city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia.

Many ethnic Oromos say they were oppressed under Haile Selassie’s reign and their language and traditional religion were banned.

Hachalu’s songs focused on the rights of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group and he had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018.

Local resident Andrew Morris told the Press Association he had seen a mostly male group in the park, carrying fliers with Oromo slogans, while out walking his dog.

“I heard the statue being smashed up, but didn’t actually see it happen,” he added.

The Metropolitan Police said inquiries were ongoing and no arrests had yet been made after they were called to a report of criminal damage at 17:10 BST on Tuesday.

Selassie lived in Wimbledon in 1936 during his exile following the Italian invasion of his country.

The statue was sculpted by Hilda Seligman, while he stayed with her family, and later erected in Cannizaro Park.

Meanwhile, the funeral has been held for Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa as unrest over his death has spread from the Oromia region where he was seen as a hero.

Armed gangs are reported to be roaming the capital, Addis Ababa, targeting rival ethnic groups.

At least 81 people have been killed in protests in Oromia since Hachalu was shot dead on Monday night.
The motive for his killing remains unclear, but the 34-year-old had said he had received death threats.

In Addis Ababa, eight people were killed in violence that included multiple bomb blasts, says BBC Ethiopia reporter Kalkidan Yibeltal.

On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Mr Abiy warned that those behind Hachalu’s death wanted to derail his reform programme.”

This week, a very heinous crime was committed on artist Hachalu Hundessa. Those who planned the crime are those who are not happy with the current change in the country.

“We have two choices as a people. To fall into the trap being set up by detractors or to deviate from their trap and stay on the course of reforms. Choosing the first is to willingly aid them in our demise,” the prime minister said.


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