Today: June 13, 2024

Amhara Intellectuals Failed Their People Again at the Most Critical Time

September 18, 2023
Yonas Biru, PhD

The Fanno movement is a spontaneous uprising that took the Amhara tribal land by storm. By its very nature the Fanno movement is nonhierarchical; it is not centralized. It is a protest movement. Its demands are to stop the mass killing, stop the mass forced displacement, stop the mass arrest, and stop targeting Amhara. Let us call this Project A. The Fanno movement is doing excellent in this regard.

The more difficult issue is how to bring about a system that will ensure equality, peace, security, and democracy. Let us call this Project B. This is why the dynamic Fanno movement requires an equally dynamic political architecture with a robust agenda, dynamic strategy, adoptive roadmap, and a clear and viable endgame. The two projects need to go concurrently. This is where the Amhara intellectual class was supposed to rise.

There are 18 major Fanno brigades scattered in Gojam, Gonder, Wello and Shewa. There are many smaller ones across the tribal land. As Fanno grows in number and strength, the need for a dynamic political organ becomes even more critical. In the absence of a broad, robust, unified political organ and politically managed war two detrimental possibilities loom: Civil war with Oromo and warlordism in Amhara. When I say unified, I mean at least on some minimum common agenda.

Today, there are five independent diaspora groups speaking for different sections of Fanno. They are already squabbling. The number and the conflict will grow. There are also conflicts between some Fanno leaders on the ground as to who can or cannot represent them. APF tried to hijack the movement by claiming itself Fanno’s representative.

The Amhara intellectual has failed to establish a forum to bring the Fanno under a broad political umbrella. Rather than being opinion leaders, intellectuals at home and abroad have reduced themselves to be groupies of one group or another. The Global Ethiopian Discussion Forum whose track record on #NoMore, ግፋ በለው position during the TPLF war, on Balderas as a savior of Ethiopia, NAMA, “Ethiopia’s self-sufficient economy” is proving once again it is unable and quite frankly out of its league to build a forum for an intellectual discourse. That is sad.

Dr. Yonas Biru


  1. Dr. Yonas, I think this one is premature. I am pretty sure there are able individuals among the Fano’s at home who can run the political wing. I see you have a beef with Eskinder. I think you have wrong assessment of Eskinder either in his potential or inclusivity. In my opinion, unlike he is deeply religious person both you and him are on the same page regarding the importance of Western powers friendship to Ethiopia. You may be liberal and Eskinder Conservative. That is a good mix so please leave him alone.

  2. Dr. Yonas:
    Do you remember saying fano is “Amhara shene”, Eskinder and Meskerem are “extremists, tribalists” etc.? So, I do not think you have the moral high ground to talk about the subject. Just leave us alone; it is not your business. The truth is we have leaders

  3. Yonas B. is big in doomsday prediction. It appears, that’s his expertise and he articulates it very well in fancy NGO English. Closely scrutinized, however, it shows how shallow his thinking is.

    A while ago, Yonas popusly predicted Fanno is bound to fail because it has no project to achieve. Now, changing his mind, he’s telling us there is a project – A which is ” demand … to stop the mass killing, stop the mass forced displacement, stop the mass arrest, and stop targeting of Amhara.” And he congradulates Fanno for doing “excellent” in that respect. Excellent because it showed a higher military skill and determination to force the government withdraw from the region despite superior human and material resorces. Such success implies there is competent Fanno leadership on the field.

    Yonas argues military success “Yes” but the political is missing. WRONG. Military skill is political skill as well and that skill has been clearly demonstrated by Fanno leaders who speak from the war front. Their focus for now is to force Oroommumma army completely withdraw from the region and then lay out the political once the military is achieved. I see why they put such a sequence to the movement. They do not want to encumber it with big political projects such as democracy at this stage. That’s what Yonas wants so that the movement stumbles and fails.

    Bravo! Fanno. To hell with Yonas and his doomsday predictions.

  4. Dr Yonas, I have been a devoted admirer of yours for quite sometime, but I have noticed that some of your recent articles have been sparkling controversies.
    1. Instead of encouraging the struggle, you undermine both Fano and its leadership through belittlement.
    2. You claimed that Amhara society is in conflict with Oromo society, but that statement is inaccurate and divisive
    3. You also said that Being of Oromo ethnicity justify Abiy being a dictator and that doesn’t make sense.

    You should take the lead in spearheading initiatives to unite the cause instead of focusing on trivial matters. You’re well aware that the Amhara people are experiencing daily killings and forced displacements. You have the potential to inspire people, unlike the infamous politicians like Professor Al Mariam and Dr Dagnachew, who are obviously absent from the political scene, raising questions about their whereabouts.
    In Ethiopia, a concerning trend has emerged where politicians are increasingly engaging in heated arguments rather than fostering a spirit of collaboration, understanding, and unity. This divisive behavior has hindered progress and threatens the stability of the nation.
    TPLF and OLF have been engaged in a bitter conflict, marked by false claims and divisive rhetoric regarding the Amhara ethnic group in Ethiopia. This conflict has escalated to the point where even the name “Ethiopia” and its national flag are viewed as criminal symbols. Both groups appear to prioritize their false ethnic stories over acknowledging Ethiopia as a unified nation, contributing to increased divisions and instability within the country.
    It is crucial for Ethiopian politicians to shift their focus from antagonistic debates towards a more inclusive and collaborative approach. The challenges facing Ethiopia, including economic development, social cohesion, and political stability, require smart leaders like you to listen to each other and learn from different perspectives.
    The time has come for Ethiopian politicians to prioritize the well-being of their nation over individual or group interests.
    Unity is essential for addressing the country’s pressing issues and achieving sustainable development. By fostering a culture of dialogue, understanding, and cooperation, Ethiopia can move forward towards a brighter and more harmonious future. The ongoing situation in Ethiopia is extremely concerning, as Abiy’s actions are deteriorating the conflict and contributing to the worsening genocide in Ethiopia.
    The deceiver Abiy’s manipulative tactics are fueling tensions among the Amhara, Tigray, and Oromo communities.
    You possess a keen intellect and prioritize the task of fostering unity among Ethiopian politicians to promote unity and resilience among Ethiopians to fight against Abiy/TPLF OLF instead of dividing the society.

  5. Dr. Yonas is old school politician. What he knows is the political project first ( in a form of written political program or manifesto) and then the military project or at least the two going hand in hand with separate leadership. That’s elitist type of organizing movements where few elites analyse situations and chart out a document. Almost all movements in our country (EPLF, TPLF, OLF) started with this kind of process and they have succeeded to achieve their objectives. EPLF became government in Eritrea, TPLF became government in Ethiopia and now OLF has replaced TPLF as government. Movements with political objectives but without military objectives ( as opposition parties) do exist in the country. However, the last several years have shown that these movements have not achieved anything.

    Given this historical realty in the country, no wonder that Dr. Yonas is desperate to bring Fanno under some sort of political agenda. His view of Fanno is informed by the EPLF, TPLF and OLF elitist experience. It’s true that Fanno has not released written political program or manifesto as EPLF, TPLF and OLF did simply because it’s a different movement from them. Despite the absence of democrcy and lack of respect of human rights and the prevalence of generalized opression by the monarchy and military rule, Eritrea, Tigray and Oromia were not under governments that carried out genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Not at least when EPLF, TPLF and OLF issued their political programs. Once they started military actions, it was reciprocated by similar actions – at times severe – but not to a degree that can be called genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

    Taking the last five years alone, what the Amhara faced is genocide and ethnic cleansing first and then genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity after the region is invaded by Oroommuummaa army. Amharas rose in arms to protect themselves from an all out attack by heavily armed force (drones, tanks, heavy artilleries, etc) which makes the resistance a grassroots resistance movement. Ordinary Amharas with little or no military training repulsed full-blown attack and revesed the tide forcing the invader to retreat. In all this, what was and still is that Amharas needed? The genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to stop once and for all. For the political, Fanno will, as the saying goes, “cross the bridge when it gets there”. There was no need for elits to come up with a program for this.

    I can tell you what to expect when Fanno “gets at the bridge” – dismiss all high level regional administrators with possible criminal prosecution and civil liability actions reserved for the future; establish caretaker government tobe led by someone with high degree of common sense, integiry and trustworthiness; allow the regional council to temporarily continue to sit to pass progressive laws to rehabilitate the region; ban all activites of PP down to the smallest unit – dismiss its employees and lock its offices for future investigation; disarm and demobilze security and police that worked with PP officials particularly after the invesion bega, keep in custody those who committed crimes for future trial, allow mid and low- level civil servants to continue services; restor health, education, bankng, internet, etc. services.

    Do any of the above need political program as Dr. Yonas suggests? I don’t think so. First, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity stops. At the sametime, the Amhara region PP government falls and a new government is estaablished in the region until region-wide free and fair election is held.

    What about Fanno? Stays away from politics. Does not go out of the Amhara region to liberate the whole country. Others who do not want PP at the helm should do their part of the bidding. If that happens, Fanno will be ready to cooperate. Otherwise, Fanno simply looks out for those who stand on the way of the Amhara people. Might eventually form the regional army, police and militia.

    Dr. Yonas, the Amhara situation needs fresh thinking; you look out of touch.

  6. ” Amhara Intellectuals Failed Their People Again at the Most Critical Time, September 18, 2023″

    a). In all honesty, it is NOT a new phenomenon.
    b). The field is wide open for anyone to prove it WRONG
    c). In actual reality we are witnessing self-disintegration of Ethiopia into pieces.
    d). That is the greatest sadness in the history of the Admirable Country called ETHIOPIA.
    ———THE END ————

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