Human Rights Watch says as many as 75 people have been killed by Ethiopian security forces in confrontations. The government acknowledges only five deaths.
What's at stake is the use of land in the Oromia region, home to the country's largest ethnic group. They are disturbed by expansion plans for Addis Ababa, the capital. But in the last few days the protests have grown in size, and in grievance — and the government's crackdown has become more violent.
We asked our East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner some questions: