By Abinet Hunegnaw
To all readers, particularly for foreigners, please be advised that even as we speak, the present TPLF dominated regime in Ethiopia using its restrictive laws, the ATP or Anti terrorism proclamations of 2009 and the State of emergency of 2016, is committing untold persecution in the form of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions in the Amhara state. The Amhara have officially begun a protracted armed struggle against the regime. Due to frequent restrictions in internet and mobile phone usage and limitations, clear cut information is not allowed to come out of Ethiopia. The international community is purposely kept in the dark and only gets the wrong propaganda sprayed by the regime’s and its satellites’ media. Some forces within the opposition on their part have begun a very negative propaganda war against Amharans who began an open defiance and resistance against oppression. The negative rhetoric of these forces and individuals indicate a clear cut sinister objective of seizing power at the expense of the innocent blood shed in Amhara. The continuing denial of Amhara resistance by them has reached an irresponsible stage. For these so called oppositions, the genocide of Amhara is nothing more than a collateral damage. This approach on the part of these power hungry diaspora based anti regime individuals and groups is an open declaration of war on the Amhara people. This is an
Whether these groups and anti Amhara forces like it or not: The resistance and the quest for a viable Amhara organization won’t be averted. The Amhara silent civil uprising and protracted war against the regime is going on with intensity in Welkait, Tsegede, Humera, Armachiho & the Wegera district’s Janora & Anqashe localities. Now, Amhara resistance is wide spreading like wild fire all over Northern Gondar zone without any recognition, attention and coverage by international media. However, due to intense Amhara activism in Britain, ‘The Guardian’ on 12/22/2016 became the first world media to break the cycle of silence by writing an article entitled “Ethnic tensions in Gondar reflect the toxic nature of Ethiopian politics”. To Amhara resistance this is very encouraging. On page 24 of this article it reads:
“Shops and schools have reopened in Gondar, after the authorities reasserted control in urban areas by declaring a state of emergency on 8 October. But sporadic clashes with the military continue in the countryside.”
The total dismemberment of Amhara began with a bang when the TPLF took significant proportion of lands from Gondar and Wollo. Apart from territories that the Tigryan junta transferred as a handout to other regional states and Sudan, it created special zones like Awi, Wag, Argoba, Oromo, Kemant/Qimant, and in due course Lasta, Morret, etc. will follow suit with the right to secede, completing the process. Will Amhara survive such onslaught or not, therefore, depends on the success of an organized resistance and a positive response by all Amharas to a united front.
The writer informs readers that the article ”አስቸኩዋይ ጥሪ ለመላው አማራ ተወላጆች በሙሉ or “Emergency call to all Amharas” and Telahun Ashenafee’s ”አማራ ማነው or “Who is Amhara” are the basis for this paper.
There are a number of conflicting analysis and approaches in history and related literature about the definite background and identity of the Amhara. Most say Amharas are Semitic and give them a Semitic ethnic code. Some others describe them to have a Cushitic stock. In Ethiopia, the longstanding conventional wisdom and the available reading material without deeply researching & analysing historical evidence simply hooked itself with a controversial conclusion. Such mentality that explains the Amhara in terms of a Semitic base and a fake identity based on Yemeni immigrants who came and settled in the northern part of the country during the Sabean era is absolutely unacceptable.
However, serious archeological, anthropological, genealogical and related researches and studies no longer support the unscientific & myths like approach mentioned above and strongly advocate that the Amhara people are Cushitic and did not come from across the Gulf of Aden. The studies place ancient Amhara in the Tana Lake & Blue Nile river valley that includes Gojam and todays Wollega, the Merb and Tekezie rivers drainage zone that includes Setit Humera, Kasalla which is now in Sudan, Welkait, Tsegede, and Tselemt, around the Beshilo and Mile rivers basin and since time immemorial known as Amhara Saint, Angot, Bete Amhara, Lakomelza, Bete mariam etc. and as far as the Awash river basin that includes the whole of Shewa including Metehara, Awash National Park, the Kesem Bereha, etc. Therefore, all must understand that አማራ መጤ አይደለም! (Amhara by all means is not an immigrant!)
The ancient Greek maps of what is today’s Ethiopia clearly placed the Amhara just as described in this paragraph. (Refer to Tilahun’s “Who is Amhara” for the ancient Greek map). Most scholars who did deep study and research, refer to tangible evidence rather than fiction and agree that settlements around the Nile river banks began over 50000 years ago. According to T.A Neter Foundation publication based on the’ Hebrew Torah’ puts Ethiopia in a geographic context as follows:
“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads … and the name of the second river is Ghion: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.”
The publication deals with Ethiopia and Kush from 13000 BC up to 700 AD. Since time immemorial, Amhara people have been living in the Blue Nile river valley. Therefore, it is sufficient to conclude that the Amhara people need to be listed in the category of other local or indigenous groups identified as Cushitic.
*The writer knows very well this approach is highly controversial and will cause a barrage of negative comments. But let us expand what I outlined further in a scientific or empirical way rather than based upon repeatedly expressed and unconvincing conclusions of conventional wisdom and mythology forced upon us for several generations.*
Amhara peoples’ Cushitic lineage and as one of the ancient inhabitants of Ethiopia is also strengthened further by the living chronicles of the famous Ethiopian priest and Saint Abune
Teklehaymanot who lived between 1205 & 1304 AD. (Some historians put the time 1215 to 1313 AD) He traveled extensively from his base in Bulga Shewa to southern and northern Ethiopia spreading christianity and converted many followers. His works clearly indicates that:
”when Christians from Ancient Axum traveled south to the highlands, they found this non Christian people with a different tongue and religious beliefs from their own. This people in Amhara country (land), speak with a different tongue and prey before a Python to whom they offer a sacrifice at all times …”
Basil Davidson, the renown Historian in his ‘Africa Episode 1’ entitled ‘Different but Equal’ in 1984 provided a detailed analysis of ‘Nubia’s Cush civilisation’ showed an ancient stone statue of a python, and concluded by saying:
”…At Naga, the Python on the other hand was an inner African religious symbol regarded in many lands down to this day as a figure of spiritual power… ”
This detailed evidence strongly links ancient Amhara beliefs found in Gorgora and Hayek with the beliefs held by the Nubian Cush of that particular moment in history. One must ask why the ‘Python’ was a religious symbol at that time in Nubia and Amhara? Remember both Nubia and Amhara are mostly identified with the Nile river valley. The best possible answer therefore, should be that
Amharas humble past has a Cushitic beginning. The saintly testimony of Teklehaymanot shows that the Amhara existed with distinct culture and way of belief from the northerners. This also openly & strongly confirms that Amharas are not immigrants (አማራ መጤ አይደለም). Although, the Axumites are believed to be widely mixed with those Arabian settlers, there is a strong evidence that suggests the base of their ethnic stock was also Cushitic.
Without any doubt the Arabian migrants settled in areas north of all the known or historically accepted geographic areas of the Amhara peoples’ settlements recorded since time immemorial. These realities disqualify the assumption and the conventional wisdom that the Amharas descended from across the Red sea as migrants and they are Semitic. According to a “History World” publication titled “History of Ethiopia” by Gascoign, Bamber at www.historyworld.net pp.1-2
“The north is the area where the first rulers establish themselves, arriving from across the red sea. Comprising at times both Eritrea and Tigre, this province contains Aksum …’’
It is said that the Axumites introduced Christianity to the Amhara, but mind you their contact with the Amhara took place hundreds of years after their northern territory was settled by the Arabian migrants who then mixed with the indigenous population. Therefore, the Amharas in the south, unlike Axumites did not come directly into contact with those migrants from Arabia. This evidence strengthens the Cushitic beginnings of the Amhara. There are groups both in religious as well as intellectual circles who claim that the Amhara people and Amharic were playing a dominant role in Axum. But they need to support the claim, analysis and conclusion with science and tangible evidence. Because, the time when Christianity was introduced and declared as the official religion in Axum and then spread southwards to Amhara are believed have taken place at different moments. According to Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History of October 2002 by Emma George Ross:
“The adoption of Christianity in Ethiopia dates to the fourth century reign of the Axumite emperor Ezana …”
Some historians hold the view that Christianity was introduced in the ancient city, when
emperor Bazin (Bazen) ruled Axum in the first century AD. Brendan Pringle’s article of December 19, 2015,“Ethiopia: The First Christian Nation?” mentioned:
“Before the Ethiopian king Ezana (whose kingdom was then called Aksum) embraced Christianity for himself and decreed it for his kingdom (c.330AD), his nation had already constituted a large number of Christians…”
For centuries, before Axumite marched south to Amhara and long before Christianity was spread & introduced, researchers found relics of similarly made stone artifacts upon which sacrifices were used to be made and offered to Pythons in a Gondar cave near Gorgora by lake Tana, and on the shore of lake Hayk in Wollo, that is, one in the east and the other in the west of proper Amhara. The clear structural striking resemblance of these archeological findings by researchers is a proof that the Amhara had developed their own way of organized communal living and characteristics before Christianity. As to when Christianity and the Amhara were introduced, since the idea of this paper is all about the Amhara Resistance, this article’s writer prefers for the moment, to abide by the information that is provided by the chronicles of Abune TekleHaymanot.
Over time, the changes in religion, exposure to the northerners, the various wars fought for survival as well as trade, Amharas got mixed with different ethnic groups of the country, and today the Amhara show evidence of traces of Hamitic and Semitic genes alongside their Cushitic base like most ethnic groups. Except very few Omotic and Nilo-Saharan groups neither the Tigryans, Oromos,
Gurages, Agews, Sidama, Yem, nor Hadiya, Kembatta etc. can boast of purity as only Cushitic or Semitic. When it comes to the real science of genealogy, all of them are mixed stocks. For example: It is said most of the Oromos in Shewa have a strong Amhara blood in their genes and vice versa, despite OLF’s denial of historical facts. (There are credible evidences that the people of West, East and North
Shewa in today’s Oromia are in fact Amharas assimilated by the Oromo)
As to the Axumites, the present regime of TPLF officially claim it was a civilization of only the Tigrians and not the rest of Ethiopia, since the history of Ethiopia began with Emperor Menilik a little over 100 years ago. Numerous interviews given by senior leaders of this party, at different times till today defend their position openly without hesitation. EBC (Ethiopian TV) documentaries, articles on regime controlled newspapers like ‘The Ethiopian Herald’, the Amharic daily ‘Addis Zemen’, ‘The Reporter’, Fana Broadcast, Walta Information etc. and their archives are available for reference.
According to Durame’s ‘Top 10 infamous Meles Zenawi Quotes’, (www.durame.com/2012/06), in a 1993 interview with the reporter, and in 1997 in a discussion with Donald Levine the former TPLF leader and Prime Minister said:
- ”Ethiopia is only 100 years old. Those who claims otherwise are indulging themselves in fairy tales.” 2. ”The Tigreans had Axum, but what could that mean to the Gurague? The Agew had Lalibella, but what could that mean to the Oromo? The Gonderes had castles, but what could that mean to the wolaita?”
However, up to now not even single historic evidence is found linking the Axumite civilization only with the Tigryans as Meles claimed. No script in Tigrygna, the language of the Tigryans, was found in Axum’s obelisks and related relics. The Axumites at first used Sabean as a means of communication and most of what anyone can see from the structural remains are Sabean symbols and inscriptions. After they converted to Christianity, Geeze as an official language replaced Sabean. The Axumites, furthemore, with the advance of their fame and power, widely mixed with various ethnic groups of northern Ethiopia, like the Beja, the Beniamer, the Saho, Afar, other Agews, Tigre, Tigryan, Amhara, and even Nubians of Meroe, etc. and became a fused Ethiopian stock. As a result’ their history was and is Ethiopian as opposed to the unscientific propaganda of the TPLF.
An article on Ancient Origins, on 27 September, 2016, entitled ‘ Axum: Legendary Kingdom of Ancient Ethiopia ‘ stated clearly that:
”At its height, Axum controlled modern-day ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Western Yemen, Southern SaudiArabia, and parts of Somalia. Although largely forgotten today, references to Ethiopians can be seen in such seminal works as the Bible, the Qur’an, the Iliad, and the Devine Comedy.
Such wide acclaim reflects the power and influence once held by the powerful Axumite Empire.”
The Amharic language, in accordance with the publication of “The National African Language Resource Center” of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, is much older than anyone thought, i.e.,
“The origins of the Amharic language are traced back to the 1st millennium BC.”
This shows that Amharic was a spoken language way before Geez was introduced to the highlands by the Christian monks & priests of the north in the sixth century AD. Just like the Amhara people, their language is described to have a Semitic beginning. Considering the Amhara to have a Cushitic base before mixing with various groups and over time became fused with Hamitic, Semitic and Cushitic stock, so is Amharic a manifestation of crisscrossing of different Semitic, and Cushitic languages that gives it a unique accent and expression with a touch of simplicity to communicate which got it to where it is today. Even the conventional wisdom that attaches Semitic identity to Amharic or its proponents so far failed to reach a common theory about the language’s origin. For example, according to Girma Awigchew Demeke’s ‘The Origin of Amharic’ that appeared on ‘Lincom Studies in AfroAsiatic Linguistics’, vol.28, 29, pp.356, 2009:
”There are basically two hypotheses on the origin of Amharic: it may be a descendent of a common Proto EthioSemitic language or it may have evolved as a Semitic-based pidgin, which became a creole and eventually developed into a full-fledged language.”
Step by step Amharic as the local means of communication began to adopt words and styles first from the various Agew dialects. This is so factual since the two population groups, i.e., the Amharas and Agews lived together in the same geographic locations for many thousands of years with intense inter marriage and cultural mix. For example when the Agew people ruled Ethiopia for about three centuries, i.e., 300 years, the Agew kings promoted and transformed Amharic into the language of their courts or administration. (Some Ethiopian elites claim Amharic was used as a means of communication by the kings military).
During the Zagwe era, Geez continued to be used widely especially by the Orthodox Church. The prominent role given to Amharic by the Zagwe leadership and by adopting countless words and style from Geeze, Amharic grew with an alphabet and numeric characters of its own that gave it an edge over others. After the Oromo expansion and migration to Amhara territories in the 2nd half of the 16th century, the Amharic language managed to blend with Oromo words enriching itself further. Apart from the above mentioned influences with some Hebrew touch, Amharic succeeded in becoming the most widely spoken language in Ethiopia. A CCTV article of 2014 explains Amharic as follows:
”Amharic which is the official language of Ethiopia has more than three thousand years of history. It is arguably the only African language which has its own letters and features. Although Ethiopia has more than 80 ethnic groups and hundreds of different languages,
Amharic is still the most accepted and used language in the country’s history.”
FALSE CHRISTIAN ONLY IDENTITY
Another long standing myth that is widely mentioned is the mistaken Christian only identity that other Ethiopians and all foreigners stress when talking about Amharas. In reality, there are millions of Muslim Amharas in the four provinces of Gondar, Gojam, Wollo and Shewa. The Amhara Muslim community is believed to be more than thirteen hundred years old and share the same social values with the Amhara Orthodox community. Both the Christian and Muslim Amhara communities have been and are equally exposed to both domestic and external threats, massacres and related atrocities throughout their history. Both groups, i.e, Amhara Christians and Muslims without a doubt have the same psychological makeup and identity.
The two groups do not negotiate with anyone about the unity of Ethiopia and their flag, Green, Yellow, and Red emblem, that the former Prime Minister shamefully called ”It is just a piece of cloth”. This statement is well documented by the Ethiopian TV (EBC) and in the minds of each and every
Ethiopian. Another separatist by the name Lencho Letta of OLF, commented disrespectfully against the National flag in a public meeting in Stockholm, organized by ‘Ethiopian national Movement’ in December 2016. He said:
”… as to the flag after the fall of the TPLF government, a new legal document or constitution reflecting the wish of all the people will decide. Why are you scared about the idea of changing the Bandira(flag)? Oh! Is it an Arabic word? Yes! But whether you like it or not the OLF flag will not be changed. It is and continues to be the symbol of the Oromo people, because they shed their blood for it.”
Ethiopians from all walks of life died for their flag and continue to do so. History recoded all the sacrifices they paid holding their Emblem (flag) high for freedom, independence, sovereignty, glory and unity. The victory of the battle of Adwa in 1896 against Italian colonialism, which is highly regarded all over Africa and beyond, is the best example that no one can deny. During this monumental battle all ethnic groups were represented Oromos included under the leadership of Emperor Menilik. In fact the top Generals like Balcha Abanefso, Fitawrari Habtegiorgis (Menilik’s defence minister), etc. were Oromos. If the flag was not the peoples’ emblem Ethiopians could have suffered as slaves of a colonial master for a long time and lost their pride. I don’t think Lencho understands or cares about this historic fact.
Just to show that Muslim Amharas are equally exposed to persecution like the Christians, when the OLF and OPDO/TPLF tortured, brutally killed and forcibly evicted Amharas in mostly Muslim areas of Arsi, Bale and Jimma, Asossa and others, the Oromo butchers did not differentiate between the two groups at all. They simply massacred both Christian and Muslim alike showing their hatred of Amharas has/ knows no religious boundaries. This is ultimate hate and not hearsay that all Oromo politicians that work alongside the TPLF FASCIST regime and Oromo separatists share in common and preach to their constituencies the hate and anti Amhara rhetoric 24/7. Amhara resistance must therefore, incorporate both Christian and Muslim Amharas in order to expand and succeed. I raised this issue because most civic and political Amhara groups seems to rely mostly on Christian Amharas and need to work very hard to attract our Muslim brothers and sisters to enrich the struggle.
Forces of all kinds, that strongly challenge the Amhara from organizing have continued to cause havoc and mayhem using ‘money’ to buy undecided Amhara’s support to further destabilize the whole struggle of the Amhara resistance from gaining momentum. They also concentrate their propaganda work using a false premise, that if the Amhara achieve a strong political stance in the form of a party, the unity of Ethiopia is doomed. So, they are using this scare tactic and rumor mongering to disenfranchise the Amhara by instigating division between the two religious groups and achieve their goal of seizing power. But this is not going to happen. The Christian and Muslim Amhara have built a longstanding bond of brotherhood to the envy of their enemies. The writer also believes that these forces might come up with a bogus ‘Amhara organization’ to confuse the people. This as well is not going to be a surprise to the majority of Amharas.
MISCONCEPTION OF AMHARA DOMINATION
In addition to the above, there is an established misleading rhetoric or conception that the Amhara dominated and ruled over the rest of Ethiopia for many generations. (Most ethnocentric groups like the TPLF, OLF, others including Eritrea’s EPLF reduce Ethiopia’s over 3000 years of history to only a little over 100 years and claim that the Ethiopian state was established in 1889 by the Shewan Amhara kings in particular when emperor Menelik came to the throne). But in fact it was during Emperor AmdeTsione’s rule between 1314 and 1344 the Ethiopian state was shaped to look like the map that we all know before 1993 came about. (Before Eritrea became separated)
In the late 16th century and early 17th century, an orthodox priest Abba Bahrey who wrote about the carnage caused by the Oromo warriors expansion and invasion, was serving the Ethiopian King of the time, although he lived in southern Ethiopia. This means the king in the north was ruling southern Ethiopia. I can go on with countless facts to dispute the separatists’ artificial claims, but this is enough for now.
Most foreigners who are brain washed by colonial powers, as well as the above mentioned separatist elements’ elites’ artificially created and poisoned interpretations of history and relentless propaganda, underline the lie and myth of Amhara domination & control over the rest of the people whenever they write about Ethiopia. Attaching the Solomonic dynasty and the Ethiopian kings only with the concept of ‘Amhara domination’ is an absurd and ridiculous fiction with no intellectual and rational merit whatsoever.
At different times, Ethiopia was ruled by the Agew, Felasha, Hadiya, Tigre, Adal (Issa), Oromo,
Amhara etc. kings, queens, and war lords. For example, the Zagwe kings, Queen Yodit (Gudit), Queen Eleni, Emperor Yohannes, even Ahmed Gragne himself who is not widely considered to have such a title, and many others. Facts on the ground however, speak otherwise. Almost all emperors who are mentioned and associated with the Amhara by such forces however, have a well-established multi ethnic background. A good example is that Emperor Menelik who is widely targeted by the various separatist elements and foreign writers is half Oromo and most of his loyal officials were not Amharas but Oromos. Emperor Menilik and his administration were mostly dominated by the Oromo elites of that particular period. Therefore, even by Menilik’s standards, Amhara domination was not there. ‘Amhara domination’ is nothing more than a distorted myth that continues to be loudly mentioned all over without being challenged about its authenticity. In this regard, the truth must come out. Therefore, I urge all Amhara and foreign intellectuals to conduct a research on this particular subject in order to expose the fiction and misleading picture created by TPLF, OLF, EPLF, and some brain washed foreigners who are somewhat forced to skip the facts for reasons not clear to explain.
After the fall of the Zagwe dynasty that left us the renown famous rock hewn churches of Lalibela, Yukuno Amlak who replaced the last Zagwe king is believed to be the first Amhara to climb to power. In real terms, his ascendancy to the throne as emperor by claiming that he descended from the Solomonic dynasty of the Axum line of kings makes it open for further study about his precise background.
Emperor Yukuno Amlak and the other monarchs that followed up to 1974 did not rule Ethiopia in the name of the Amhara people or give a priority to the Amhara in terms of political power, infrastructure & economic development and other related favors. This is not an empty rhetoric but an undeniable historical, physical and material fact that is visible on the ground. Following the official myth, infrastructures like paved roads, healthcare centers, schools, and safe drinking water facilities, etc. could have been available in the lands of the Amhara, but this is not the case. The standard of living of the Amhara stands at the bottom compared to any other ethnic group in Ethiopia. For more information refer to publications of the Ethiopian central statistics office that clearly support this argument. Even Aljazeera network in its documentary about the issue of Trachoma in the Amhara region openly commented that: “The Amhara region is the poorest in Africa.” (I quoted Aljazeera in my 2014 article published on ECADF).
Therefore, claims of Amhara Hegemony and Domination propagated and contemplated by the TPLF, OLF, EPLF etc. are pure fiction. The never ending fiction of Amhara domination is clearly stated by quoting Christopher Clapham who intelligently & convincingly explains in the book ‘The Rising Tide of Cultural Pluralism, The Nation State at Bay’ edited by Crawford Young as follows:
”… the Ethiopian central government far from being the Amhara preserve, as the mythology of the opposition movements claims, readily provides positions of power for Oromos, Gurages, Aderes, Wolayittas, or Kambattas…. Some non Amharas rose to positions of prominence and power both before and after the revolution of 1974… Therefore, the system is not ethnically exclusive and considers the cries of the opposition that they have been dominated by the Amhara to be just a stick with which to beat the regime.”
ATROCITIES AGAINST AMHARA FROM 10th to 21st CENTURY GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The history of the Amhara is characterized by invasions and worst destructions committed against its population from the north, east, west and south by forces that usurped Amhara’s ancestral lands & assimilated the vanquished Amhara at different moments. There are many examples; the carnage of Queen Yodit (Gudit) left a lasting & prominent scar inside Amhara. She burnt and destroyed monasteries and any structure standing on her way with rage. If it wasn’t for her cruel tenth century genocide and destructions, those old relics could have been testimonies to the humble Amhara and their civilization.
In the 16th century the Adal war lord popularly known as Ahmed Grange, with Ottoman Turks
push and support carried out jihadist invasions and destroyed whatever was left of the Christian Amhara after the destruction of Yodit’s atrocities. Grange Ahmed’s Islamist war against Amhara left feudal lords and kings of that moment weak and defenseless. (I mentioned about this in a number of my articles). As a result, the various Oromo Lubas carried out successive moves into Amhara lands. The relentless, opportunistic and ”predatory” acts of invasions during the second half of the 16th and 17th centuries by the Oromo resulted in their forced settlements on traditional and historic Amhara territories. The Oromo invasions left hundreds of thousands of Amhara people killed & the rest in particular child bearing Amhara women and small children mostly girls were assimilated. The boys just like grown men were mutilated massacred and their organs were severed and taken as trophies. The Amhara people lost thousands of young and adult men whose male organs were cut or mutilated.
Nowadays in the country, Oromo elders or Gedas as they are called openly wear on their foreheads a replica of a male reproductive organ during traditional or cultural ceremonies, proving beyond reasonable doubt that Oromos never gave up their obsession of displaying in public a mutilated male organ as a trophy of victory. But OLF by twisting evidence that any Ethiopian or foreigner can see, wrongfully level Amharas as the mutilators instead. This is more than fiction and every Amhara must officially expose the atrocities the Oromo invaders carried out against the male population of
Shewa & Bete Amhara, etc. There is a saying in Amharic, ‘ጅራፍ ራሱ ገርፎ ራሱ ይጮሀል‘ i.e, ‘A whip makes a jittery cry after flogging ‘. In other words ‘The victimizer is accusing the victim’. This is what Oromo activists are doing in their relentless false propaganda.
For a detailed and precise nature of Oromos predatory invasions and atrocities of the above mentioned era, read the eye witness accounts of Abba Bahrey’s ‘Zenahu Le Galla’ that narrates in detail the Oromo invasion originally written in Geeze script during the end of the 16th century. The late professor Alem Eshete translated this monumental work into the Amharic language. Other Ethiopian and foreign elites as well translated it into various languages and it is available in most libraries around the world.
Amhara also lost huge territory now occupied by Oromo settlers and OLF has made plans to officially invade and territorially expand at the expense of the rest of Shewa and Wollo, Gojam and even Gondar just like the Tigryans have done in north Gondar and Wollo when they seized power in 1991. OLF plans to incorporate Metekel (Metekel is part of Gojam, Amhara) and give Gondar’s land bordering the Sudan to Benishangul. In fact, both OLF and TPLF have the same agenda in dismantling and wiping out Amhara from world geography. Simply by referring to their dream maps of these fascists, anyone can see their devastating future plans for Amhara.
Enough is enough! No more silence! The Amharas therefore, without hesitation need to hurry and set up a defensive mechanism before it is too late to save themselves. Every able-bodied Amhara from now on must openly expose the various anti-Amhara dogmatic ideologies, propaganda and their destructive goals by fighting them to the end. Amharas must teach their children about all this, instead of sticking to the old attitude and passive silence that time & again continue to bring one cruel misery after another! Amharas must unconditionally adopt the new and active philosophy of pro-Amhara resistance mentality.
This approach should be nonnegotiable. Amhara political activists, civic and pseudo-political organizations must start openly talking about the lost Amhara territories which are now settled by the Oromos and Tigres and challenge OLF and TPLF about the myth & fiction they created about ‘Oromia’ and so-called greater Tigray, with tangible facts and figures of history, etc. Amharas must remove and trash the mask that covers their entire self-consciousness and absolutely stop being diplomatic for the sake of their very survival. In order to refresh the need for attitude change of every Amhara, the writer of this article presents quotations from ‘Treasures in the Family Tree: Some Notes in Ethnic Interactions in Ethiopian History’ by Alessandro Triulzi a scholar who produced a number of works about the Oromo.
“The vast plateau of Shoa in the center of the present Oromia region contained many Amharic speakers. This used to be the center of the Shoan Amhara kings (not talking about highland Bulga, Menz and Minjar). Debre Libanos- the most important monastery in Ethiopia, and the location where Gran burned 400 monks is located here. Clearly many Amhara were assimilated into the Oromo ethnic group here… Who were the original inhabitants of Wellega prior to the Oromo conquest? Some people note the remains of a 15th century palace attributed to Zera Yakob (Jibat Forest), and refer to maps showing the historical region of Damot used to be located here.”
Those Amharas of different denominations who are against the need for an Amhara to organize and defend itself, please refer to the OLF map that proves the hateful, predatory, genocidal and expansionist agenda that the Oromo ultra-nationalists adopted at the expense of the Amhara just like their forefathers of the 16th century.
From the west, in the 19th century, the Mahdi or the Dervish of the Sudan repeatedly invaded and destroyed various villages in Gondar. If not for such invasions, Gondar could have been one of the very few well preserved and spectacular castle towns in the world. Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia during the Second World War was another devastating incident that engulfed the Amhara with a cruel torching fire. Although, the Italians return during the Second World War was to colonize the country, their sinister and ruthless military actions brought about the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Amhara victims and the total destruction of Shewa (a historic Amhara province). This proved Italy’s hatred of the Amhara. They brought horror to avenge their defeat in the late 1890’s by the famous emperor Menilik at the battle of Adwa. Italy like present day enemies of the Amhara blindly associated the role of the heroic emperor Menilik only with the Amhara people despite his Oromo and Amhara background which they knew very well. But make no mistake: All Amhara people and Ethiopians are proud of Emperor Menelik and his legacy, except all separatist groups that are planning to dismember the country.
The Italians, who lost the 1896 war at Adwa, returned after 40 years under Duce Mussolini’s fascist leadership and invaded Ethiopia in 1935 to avenge their loss and satisfy their long dream of colonizing the country. As a result the Italians massacred numerous Amharas by using heavy fire power, executed thousands by hanging, using the outlawed Napalm bomb, also burnt and destroyed all palaces and monasteries built by the people and emperors of Shewan Amhara in Ankober, Angolela, Menz, Tegulet etc. during the 5 years of terror they imposed upon the Amhara. The scars of Italian destruction are still visible today on the ground in the above mentioned areas of Shewa.
Between 1974 and 1991, the military regime carried out surgical and targeted executions in all
Amhara provinces. At the beginning when it declared its ‘Land to the tiller’ proclamation, prominent Amharas who were blacklisted as feudal lords were one by one extrajudicial executed all over Ethiopia. In the former Harerghe province, the military officials forcefully disarmed Amharas by accusing them of chauvinism and branding them as ‘Neftegnas’ and used the local militia that it formulated and armed to kill them in cold blood. Amhara students identified with the opposition groups of that moment were mercilessly eliminated during the famous RED TERROR campaign. Thousands of mothers and wives who lost their children and husbands are still broken with sorrow and have not yet recovered. Today everywhere you go in Ethiopia, mostly in Gondar and Shewa the loss of loved ones and the deep grief of their families still reverberate around.
TPLF HATRED OF AMHARA
Now the most concealed and systematic terror and genocide condoned and sanctioned by a domestic born regime against the Amhara is in full swing since 1991 unabated. The past 25 years transformed Ethiopia in a tumultuous and complicated way into a living hell for each and every Amhara. The TPLF junta of Ethiopia has identified the Amhara as the number one enemy of the Tigryan people that must be dealt with harshly until it gets into the status of a dissipated, broken and weak, minority that won’t recover to pose any challenge to a future independent greater Tigryan state.
This very genocidal hatred against the Amhara is officially stated by the TPLF manifesto of 1978. Since that moment on, the Woyane Tigryan ethno centric junta opened an all-out war against the history, culture, tradition, language, political and economic wellbeing and the very existence of the Amhara people. These facts alone make the quest for Amhara resistance and the need for organization an unavoidable necessity for the very survival of the Amhara.
TPLF’s official hatred to the Amhara began way before Tigryan activists were in their earlier stages of beginning an armed struggle. This fact is well explained by one of those activists who at one
time was TPLF’s chief financial officer and now lives in Australia as a refugee by the name Gebremedhin Araya. He said on 12/31/2011 during an interview on ESAT:
”… ትግራይ ነፃ አገር የነበረች ሉዓላዊነትዋ ተከብራ በነፃ ትኖር የነበረች አገር በአፄ ሚኒሊክ ተወራ የአማራው ቅኝ አገዛዝ ሆነች። ትግራይ የአማራ ቅኝ ግዛት ነች። ፓምፍሌቱም አለ እዚህ በደንብ አድርጎ ሊያስረዳን ይችላል። ይሄ የወያኔ ማኒፌስቶ ነው። ዋናው ሕገ ደንብ ነው… ስለዚህ ትግራይ ከአማራው ቅኝ ገዢ እጅ አስወጥተን የትግራይን ዲሞክራቲክ ሪፓብሊክ መንግስት መመስረት አለብን የሚል ነው (ሁለተኛ) ። ሶስተኛ አማራ የሚባል የትግራይ ሕዝብ ጠላት ነው። ጠላት ብቻ ሳይሆን የትግራይ ሕዝብ ጠላት ጠላት ነው። ስለዚህ አማራን መምታት ፤ ማጥፋት ፤ አለብን። አማራ ካልጠፋ ፤ አማራ ካልተደበደበ ከዚህ መሬት ካልተነቀለ ትግራይ በነፃ ልትኖር አትችልም። ለምንፈጥረውም መንግስት እንቅፋት የሚሆንብን አማራ ነው የሚል ነበር።”
The close English translation of the above is as follows:
”… Tigray was a sovereign and independent country. After Emperor Menelik’s invasion, Tigray became an Amhara colony. I have with me a TPLF pamphlet that clearly explains the Amhara hatred. This is the main principle of the Woyane(TPLF) manifesto which says, therefore, we must free Tigray from Amhara colonialism and establish the Government of an independent Tigray Democratic Republic. Amhara is the enemy of the people of Tigray. Amhara is Tigray’s enemies’ enemy. Therefore, we must hit Amhara hard and destroy it. If Amhara is not hit hard, eliminated and uprooted, Tigray will not (cannot) exist as an independent entity. Amhara is an impediment of the Government that we envisage to establish.”
When the Woyane (TPLF) set up a transitional government in 1991 and later catapulted to head an ethnic based federal arrangement, the only people not represented in the conference were the Amhara. The former leader of the Woyane and prime minister of Ethiopia said during an ETV (EBC) interview: “No one came to us and requested to participate in the conference as a representative of the Amhara.” But in reality, the same person and his political organization TPLF managed to pick antiAmhara individuals from most of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups and let them form ethnocentric parties as its allies to represent the interests of their respective constituencies during the meeting that resulted in the creation of the present Apartheid like regional states.
Between 1991 and 1995 the TPLF junta ruled the country as head of the transitional regime with a martial law called the TRANSITIONAL CHARTER that curtailed human and democratic rights in favor of Tigryan domination. By applying the charter, hundreds of thousands of Amhara became targets and were politically purged from the civil service and the military. Thousands or even millions of these Amharas and their families were forced to be destitute and homeless. Others were arbitrarily arrested and killed after being severely tortured. Between the establishment of the transitional government and the declaration of a federal state in 1995 the TPLF leadership practically applied its MANIFESTO. TPLF architects proudly mention this particular time of cleansing the civil and military services from Amharas as a very critical political measure in terms of consolidating power for Tigryan hegemony.
After the fall of the military government, the Amhara were not allowed to take part in the 1991 meeting of the rest of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups that resulted in a transitional government. The unrepresented Amhara people lost huge territories to Tigray in the north, to the newly set up Beni Shangul state in the west, to the Oromia region in the south and to Afar in the east. ANDM/TPLF that is imposed upon the Amharas by the Tigryan junta was EPDM whose leadership and members were and are mostly Tigryans, Oromos and from other ethnic groups. ANDM has neither an Amhara affiliation nor interest what so ever. It is a kind of colonial administration that is imposed upon the Amhara by force.
The predominantly Amhara lands like the fertile districts of Humera, Welkait, Tsegede, Tselemt, Ofla, Inda mahony, Raya and Alamata were forcibly annexed by Tigray and the TPLF authorities. Following which they settled more than six hundred thousand Tigryans from its arid lands to the fertile lands of Amhara by forcibly uprooting and evicting the indigenous Amharas. The regime, in order to destroy the will of the Amhara people, ordered its plant (ANDM/TPLF) and the other politically powerless regional states leaderships of the so called federation to cleanse their respective states from all Amhara settlers or wipe out Amharas from their midst by all means available. (In all of my Amharic and English articles I exposed this crime).
As a result it is now an accepted fact that about 5 million Amharas were killed during the twenty five years in the country since the present regime came to the center of power. These Amhara killings are no doubt clearly tantamount to GENOCIDE. A number of publications in the form of books are now emerging revealing the quietly taken and hidden crimes committed against the Amhara by the ruling junta and its satellites with evidence, eg. ምፅዓተ ዐማራ ‘Amhara Genocide’ & የጥፋት ዘመን ‘The Era of Destruction’.
I highly recommend to foreigners and Ethiopians alike to read these informative books to have an understanding of the horrific crimes against humanity that continue to take place in Ethiopia against the Amhara people. I also strongly urge the 2 authors, Moresh Wegenie Amhara Organization and journalist Muluken Tesfaw to make available an easy-to-read summarized format in English in order for the international community to have a firsthand information on the subject of this very smartly camouflaged terrible genocide in Ethiopia carried out against the Amhara by the Tigryans and other ethnocentric groups. All Amhara activists must contact the UN, EU, and the US, and all other influential governments that blindly support the TPLF regime by introducing and presenting these books. The genocide against the Amhara people needs to come to the attention of the world, without which it will be an uphill and arduous battle for the Amhara to avert the devilish situation alone.
Foreign governments, international organizations and media give great attention and wide coverage to the Oromo, Gambella, and the Ogaden. Has any Amhara asked why the suffering of the Amhara is not taken into account? It is very clear that less attention is given to the plight of the Amhara by the majority of Amhara intellectuals who are watching the genocide by sitting on side lines. But now the young Amharas have openly become strong activists and started to be more practical in their resolve in openly publicizing and talking about Amhara genocide in social media. The uprising of the Welkaite Amhara identity issue as well as the revolts that followed in Gondar and Gojam, etc. is now international public news. Amhara activists must capitalize on this golden and wide open opportunity to further their diplomatic work in order to expose and begin the process of holding the TPLF and OLF cadres legally responsible for the genocide against the Amhara.
ETHNIC CLEANSING OF THE AMHARA BY OLF AND OPDO (Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Org.)
All Oromo nationalist groups and their vocal activists in common spread relentlessly an all-out propaganda war against the history, culture, language and psychological makeup of the Amhara people. The above mentioned organizations openly committed and continue to carry out ethnic cleansing in the form of forced evictions, forced robbery of properties, and massacres against the Amhara who lived and are living for thousands of years in today’s TPLF created Oromia regional state since 1991. The OLF was a TPLF partner between 1991 and early 1993 in the Transitional government holding four ministerial posts and with a share of large number of ambassadorial positions Diplomatic missions abroad. Before the TPLF created OPDO became visibly favorable to the Tigryan junta, OLF enjoyed political, security and economic administration as leader of Oromo state. This short lived advantage was due to OLF’s close ties with the EPLF of Eritrea and TPLF during the war with Dergue or the military regime. Still the headquarter of this group is in Asmara, capital of Eritrea.
In its 1993 World Report, Human Rights Watch, on page 8 of ‘ Africa Watch ‘ section printed the following:
” In December 1991, OLF cadres instigated repeated attacks on Amhara settlers. Villages were burned and civilians were killed. One hundred fifty-four Christians mainly Amhara, were killed in Arba Gugu, and a further 46 were murdered in a neighboring area of Harerghe. In July and August 1992, another round of attacks were launched, allegedly at the instigation of a senior OPDO cadre. Harrerghe province in the east of the country was the site of other fierce clashes. At Bedeno in mid-April, 150 civilians were reported killed, many of them by being forced to jump of cliffs. Most of those killed were ethnic Amhara. A commission of inquiry into the incident established by the Council of Representatives, the Ethiopians parliament, put the blame squarely on the OLF. While admitting that its supporters were responsible for the massacre, the OLF denied institutional responsibility.”
On different forums that the OLF itself organized in Europe and North America over the years, during a number of interviews the OLF leaders in charge of their organization’s conduct as a key member of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, and even today some of those well-known OLF leaders who joined Ginbot 7’s coalition still defy public opinion and reject involvement in the killings and atrocities and deny any fact finding mission took place about the Human Rights Watch reported ethnic cleansing of the Amhara. For example, Dima Negeo, former minister of information during the Transitional period and ex OLF leader in order to hide the facts and clear himself from any future legal responsibility, lied and blamed OPDO for the crimes and denied also that any inquiry took place, during an interview with ESAT. The full interview is uploaded on YouTube by ‘Bete Mera’ on September 20, 2011. During this interview Dima said:
“The OLF choose 4 ministerial posts, i.e. agriculture, education, trade and information with the purpose of directly reaching our people and explain our position …”
This self-admission clearly indicate that Dima used the media under his command to instigate hatred that resulted in the various hate crimes that took place in the Oromo dominated Arsi, southern Showa, Welega, provinces as well as Jimma, Asossa etc.
Dima Negeo, as information minister of the transitional government was the chief architect of the vicious anti Amhara propaganda that was launched by the Ethiopian TV and Radio, as well as the English daily Ethiopian Herald, the Amharic daily Addis Zemen and the Oromo language newspapers
Berissa. At that time the National Radio service which was transmitting programs in the Afar and Somali languages were used to spread hate against the Amhara. On the contrary Dima’s controlled media not even once mentioned about the atrocities committed against the Amhara during news hours or documentary features and articles between 1991 and 1992.
Another OLF former leader Lencho Letta who like Dima joined the above mentioned coalition, in a December 2016 fund raising held in Stockholm, sitting next to Berhanu Nega leader of Ginbot7 without mentioning Amhara victims, and by referring to the words ‘other people’ openly and with no regrets said:
” When the incident took place in Arba Gugu, OLF was not present in the Arba Gugu area, the Oromo group working with the present regime was in charge. For more than 20 years this allegation continues accusing the OLF. Although, presently, I cannot speak on its behalf, since I was a senior leader at that time, I know that OLF was not responsible. Say an inquiry needs to be held, who is going to be in it? How is it going to be conducted? Do we know that the killings even took place at all? ”
This criminal OLF founding member and former leader is in self-denial. Such inhuman cruelty took place when he was in charge of all the OLF delegation that worked side by side with the TPLF at that particular time. He lacks the credibility and moral value to challenge the conclusion of the inquiry and the report of Human Rights Watch mentioned above.
Between 1991 and 1993 alone hundreds of thousands of Amharas were evicted, massacred and their personal belongings were confiscated throughout the Oromo region by OLF and OPDO anti Amhara pressures. In all the incidents, despite the legal obligation of the regime to protect its citizens from such open atrocities, the TPLF has done nothing either to stop the killings and evictions, but also did not hold responsible the perpetrators. As I mentioned repeatedly in this paper, the Tigryan junta was and is behind the ethnic cleansing based on its political directives that officially singled out the Amhara as the enemy of the aspirations of the Tigray pepole.
At the time of the transitional period, the late professor Asrat woldeyes, leader of the now defunct AAPO (All Amhara Pepole’s Organization) attempted to defend Amharas exposed to the unfortunate situation, by seeking legal protection from the regime without success. The frustration of the organization is well explained in its official letter’s plea written to the council of representatives of the Transitional Government on June 8, 1992. It reads:
‘‘ While the Amhara pepole … who work and live peacefully in all the regions of Ethiopia, are not represented in the council, there can hardly be any argument that all as well as the groups represented have a legal and moral obligation the human rights of all groups. The All-Amhara Pepole’s Organization, true to this spirit, had in its letter dated Tir 30 1984 (January 8, 1992), brought to the attention of His Excellency Ato Meles Zenawi, the atrocities committed, and being committed against the Amhara residents of Arba Gugu Awraja (Arsi province) Rather than taking steps to bring to a halt these mass killings, the Government’s response has been to disarm the Amharas. This is not surprising as the atrocities and killings are being led by representatives of the Transitional Government itself. These government officials have prevented the Amharas from fleeing the areas where they are being persecuted; they have had their dwellings encircled, and after boasting ‘that the bones and blood of the Amhara will fertilize the soil’, have drawn up programs for daily massacres. As a result the Amhara people, including children pregnant women, and the elderly, are being slaughtered daily. Individuals who have managed to escape from these heinous crimes have come to our offices to appeal for help. They have confirmed to us that the killings have taken a grim intensity since Gnbot 26, 1984 (June,4, 1992 ), with the bodies of the dead being thrown into gorges or burnt in their dwellings.”
For the villages, areas and the time of such horrific genocide that took place at that particular moment and still being carried out in the Oromo region refer to the 1993 Human Rights watch Report, AAPO’s documents dated June 8,1992 and September, 17, 1992, the two books mentioned in this article ,i.e. ምፅዓተ አማራ ‘ Amhara Genocide ‘ and የጥፋት ዘመን ‘ The Era of Destruction’. The 2 books also displayed in detail other well documented ethnic cleansing of the Amhara that were and are taking place in Guraferda, Benishangul, Gambela, Welkait, etc.between 1992 and 2016. In short, this evidence is a wakeup call, a warning and an echo of the genocide victims and a very convincing reason whyAmharas need to be alert by organizing and defending themselves no matter what from an OLF future genocide looming over every Amhara becomes a reality. There is a saying that all Amharas must keep in their hearts, i.e. ” If you full me once, it’s on you. If you full me twice it’s on me.”
The former director of the Central Statistics Office admitted before members of the TPLF/EPRDF controlled puppet parliament in 2007 that the national census was off by 2.5 million people, and she said, (this is public record & can be found from the 2007 census report)
“I think the shortage or discrepancy is associated with the Amhara population count that failed to meet the projected goal of 19.5 million by 2.5 million less population figures…”
Such an admission by an Oromo senior member of the regime, who now represents the TPLF/ EPRDF as its ambassador to Senegal, is an indication of a systematic policy in action to contain and reduce the Amhara population from growth. The 2007 census of Ethiopia according to its 117 pages report, the total coast of the project was close to seventy four million American dollars. All this money is wasted on a false conclusion that the TPLF Fascists statistic bureau released in the end. Regarding the shortage of Amhara state’s projected population count, the report in black and white acknowledged that:
“CSA’s experts working with national and international consultants … looked into the possible reasons for the difference between the counted and projected population figures of the Amhara region… the conclusion reached was that there was no need for re-enumeration and adjustment of the results of the 2007 census of the Amhara region.” (CSA in the quotation refers to Central Statistics Agency)
The TPLF regime didn’t even bother to reexamine the fallacies of the census. This shows that Amharas were and are victims of official ethnic cleansing carried out by authorities of the federal government and officials of regional states. So far no western country that claim to be champion of democracy and human rights officially exposed the genocide. Sadly, they also continue to funnel financial, military and diplomatic assistance to the criminal TPLF regime of Ethiopia.
With regard official TPLF policy to misrepresent the 2007 population census and target the
Amhara as the only community in Ethiopia that recorded the lowest birth rate and highest death rate, Berhanu Abegaz professor of Economics at College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, wrote an article entitled ‘ Ethiopia: Three million Amara missing?: An Analysis based on the 1994 and the 2007 Ethiopian Population Censuses’, Nazreth.com, March 24, 2015:
” Deliberate miscounting and undercounting: the various manifestos of the ruling Tigray Pepole’s Liberation Movement (TPLF) are full of strident attacks on the Amaras…. The Amara have been singled out for collective punishment in myriad forms including lackluster Federal budgetray allocations for basic public services for basic public services ( such as roads, education and health )… Tens of thousands of Amara, historically dispersed in all administrative regions of Ethiopia have been subjected to unprovoked violence, mass murder, dispossession, daily intimidation, and ethnic cleansing, from districts where they lived for generations. It is therefore, entirely probable that a deliberate policy of census undercounting has been deployed as an effective tool for shortchanging the Amara in the current system of Federal revenue sharing which is based on population size and need.”
STATE AGENCIES & AMHARA GENOCIDE
Although, the Woyane junta uses a number of governmental offices, the eight most important organs that carry out its sinister objective of depopulating the Amhara ethnic group into an insignificant minority are:-
The so called EBC or Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation,
The Federal Police,
The Ministry of Federation Affairs,
The Ministry of Education,
The Federation Council,
The Ministry of Public Health,
The Special Federal Support Board, (that won’t be discussed in this paper since I touched its role in my article, published by Zehabesha, on June 30/ 2014)
The Bureau of Intelligence and Internal Security,
After 2 years of observing the anti Amhara campaign, I raised from 4 to 8 the government offices that are directly used as instruments to persecute the Amhara population. But make no mistake, all federal offices and regional bureaus have their role to play no matter how big and small against the wellbeing and safety of the Amhara people. The regime rules the Amhara people under the October, 2016 state of emergency, but in reality the TPLF has been oppressing the people of Amhara with an iron fist of extreme cruelty beyond belief by an unofficially declared martial law since 1991. As I said before, Ethiopia nowadays is a living hell for Amharas. On 12/22/2016 the British newspaper, ‘The Guardian’ quoting an Amhara in Gondar wrote:
“We don’t feel like it is our country. We feel like it is the time when the Italians invaded. We are like second class citizens, says a prosperous local businessman. Like all interviews, he requested anonymity due to fear of reprisals from the authorities.”