November 6, 2023
Ethiopia’s Quest for Peace, Stability, Human and National Security—why ethnic federalism is a barrier?
Presented by Aklog Birara (Dr)
Part 3 of 3
Despite the lag in decisive action discussed in Part 2, and for the first time, the international community shows deep concern. I shall use five illustrative examples to buttress my thesis:
During the 18th meeting of the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, UN Human Rights Council. Geneva, human rights experts expressed alarm at the increased violence against Amhara and non-Amhara civilians in Ethiopia. On September 18, 2023, Amnesty International urged “The UN Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of its investigative body, “The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) and maintain international scrutiny on the country.” Amnesty’s report informed the UN HR Council “how ongoing rights violations and abuses have become increasingly widespread in the country particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, noting that hostilities in Ethiopia have escalated to a “national scale.”
The report “concludes that the Ethiopian government “has failed to effectively investigate violations and has initiated a flawed transitional justice consultation process” in relation to the armed conflict that has afflicted northern Ethiopia since November 2020.”
It is unfortunate that the UN did not extend the ICHREE by another year. This provides the government of Ethiopia another tool to continue its atrocities of Amhara with impunity.
On October 11, 2023, The UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu stated publicly that she “is alarmed at the heightened risk of genocide and related atrocity crimes in Ethiopia, following reports of continued fighting between government troops and local militias in the Tigray, Amhara, Afar and Oromia regions. Ms. Nderitu urged that “Violations in Ethiopia must stop immediately.”
The Under Secretary-General identified specific “indicators and triggers contained in the United Nations Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes” that underscore “the presence of risk factors for genocide and related atrocity crimes in Ethiopia.”
The UN Under Secretary confirms my argument that the “Pretoria Peace Agreement “to cease hostilities in the country more than a year ago has largely failed, as violent confrontations continue, with mounting allegations of atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity still being committed in the country.” The Amhara region is soiled with blood, with the Abiy regime feeling more emboldened than ever before to kill, maim. Dehumanize, displace Amhara.
I am encouraged to learn that the UN acknowledges this incontestable reality in Ethiopia. “Lack of accountability for these violations will only serve to entrench impunity and feed into a vicious cycle of violence. When not held accountable, perpetrators see nothing wrong with committing these violations again. Therefore, impunity constitutes a direct enabler of further human rights violations and potentially atrocity crimes. For the victims, lack of justice results in deep-seated grievances that could spur future retaliatory attacks that would continue the cycle of violence. This is not inevitable. Violence can and must be prevented with the utmost urgency,” says Nderitu. I agree.
- On April 24, 2023, Lemkin Institute for the Prevention of Genocide issued a Red Flag Alert for Genocide, Ethiopia. Lemkin did not mince words. It warned the international community that an all-out genocide of Amhara by the Abiy regime is in the works.
Lemkin said this. “Ethiopia is facing a genocide against Amhara people, who are increasingly finding themselves marginalized within the existing political structure. The Abiy regime appears to be fanning the flames of anti-Amhara activities while publicly calling for calm. The Amhara, who are accused in political propaganda of being an elite group and who are held responsible for the historical resentments of Tigrayans and Oromos, among other groups, are in a perilous discursive position that could easily devolve into genocide. The Abiy administration has shown itself to be capable of committing genocide in Tigray and of pitting regional identity groups viciously against one another to achieve its agendas. There is no reason to believe it will not do so in Amhara as well.” This is happening as we hold this symposium.
Just last week, Abiy’s army attacked a village community in the Amhara region with drones. A young farmer who lost his brother and his entire family wept, run back and forth, and pleaded for answers from God. He called Abiy by name and asked why he slaughtered his brother, a farmer, and his entire family. Think of the horror this young man and his extended family is going through.
To its credit, “The Lemkin Institute urges members of the regional and international communities immediately to direct their attention to the situation of the Amhara and to take concrete steps to stop the spread of the clashes and to restore stability in the country lest it escalate and spread to the wider Horn of Africa region. What is desperately needed is historical dialogue and accountability. We urge regional and international actors to use all tools at their disposal to prevent further atrocities against Amhara people.”
- On October 29, 2023, EU High Representative Josep Borrell expressed “serious concern about the prolonged war and civilian casualties in Amhara Region of Ethiopia; and, alleged violations and abuses of human rights, and reports of dozens of civilian casualties in the Amhara region” following the state of emergency Abiy’s regime declared.
“The EU joins the African Union, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission in calling for the protection of civilians, for a cessation of hostilities and for a dialogue between the parties.”
- In its latest report, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC) which reports to the Ethiopian Parliament offered a blistering report on atrocities committed by Ethiopia’s defense forces. EHRC reported that the government of Ethiopia continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity by inflicting targeted and brutal killings of innocent civilians in the Amhara region, using heavy weapons including drones.
The six-month long state of emergency declared by the Abiy regime under the claim of enforcing the rule of law amounts to state and government sanctioned and sponsored country-wide extrajudicial killings and genocide of Amhara.
Tens of thousands of Amhara civilians like journalists, academics, businesspeople and men, politicians, youth, and religious leaders suffer in abominable prisons and detention centers. The Abiy regime uses arbitrary arrest, detentions, and disappearances as tools to punish Amhara.
EHRC confirms the regular and indiscriminate use of drones by Abiy’s army. Drones account for the bulk of killings of innocent civilians in Amhara towns and cities such as Finote Selam, Debre Markos, Shoa Robit.
What do I conclude and recommend?
- I propose that there will not be peace, stability, human and national security let alone prosperity in Ethiopia if the Ethiopian people and the international community fail to hold Ethiopia’s federal and regional government leaders accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and state corruption.
- I propose that the international community can help the Ethiopian people by not labeling people of Ethiopian origin by ethnicity like Afar, Amhara, Oromo, Somali, Tigre etc. This designation does not support common ground in Ethiopia. It perpetuates a political culture of divide and rule. At the same time, We Ethiopians mut stop being enablers of ethnic politics and polarization.
- For those who question “Why Amhara nationalism, defiance and insurgency are on the ascendancy”, the parallel I draw is the brutality and existential threat the Jewish people faced under Nazi-Germany and are still facing in Israel today. There is no doubt in mind that Amhara faces an existential threat. Amhara has no option but to defend themselves.
- The least the international community, especially the Government of the US and the US Congress can do is to leverage their considerable influence, and pressure the government of Ethiopia to a) stop the war immediately and unconditionally b) withdraw its troops from the Amhara region c) release all political prisoners and d) agree on a negotiated political settlement of the war with Amhara Fano and their political representatives.
- I urge the Biden Administration and the US Congress to demand accountability by sanctioning persons accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide that occurred not only during the two -year war, but also before and after the war and currently.
- Finally, I urge participants at this historic symposium and others to work together with fierce commitment and determination and offer the Ethiopian people a modern, post ethnicity and democratic constitution that meets the hopes, dreams, and aspiration of all 120 million citizens.
Thank you very much for your indulgence.
Presented on November 6, 2023
November 6, 2023