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The Amhara People – Silent Victims in Ethiopia

January 27, 2023

by Sewale Belew – sewaleb@yahoo.com.
January 27, 2023

Background to systemic victimization of the Amhara people

In Ethiopia, the Amhara people belong to that category of victims of major human rights violations who only few in the world want to acknowledge as victims. Not only today, but also since the past 50 years, during which the TPLF and OLF have been labeling it as their respective scapegoat. Their unfounded and fake accusation eventually became more pronounced since the TPLF sized power in 1990 officially ruling Ethiopia as the EPRDF-government.  Consequently, unlike other victims of skirmishes occurring within the country, the Amhara people don’t enjoy that aura of empathy that benefits other victim groups.

Today, not only among the major Media sources and human rights system in the Western world, but also by the current Prosperity Party Government on power, some victims are deemed “politically correct” and garner all the attention, whereas the unsung Amhara victims are safely ignored and forgotten. Worse still, the Amhara activists are defamed by the Prosperity Party Government as “Fano-terrorists” / “Amhara-Shene terrorists”, so that no one feels any compassion for them.  Individuals like Tadeos Tantu, Meskerem Aberra, and many other human rights activists are similarly defamed as “terrorists” and their human rights are systematically violated and taken away from them not to advocate. Nevertheless, at least the Ethiopian public knows well-enough about them.

Although several internationally located historians defend the rights of the Amhara as well-behaved Ethiopians, most politicians in the USA and Western Europe only accept the ongoing atrocities in Ethiopia as “genocide of the people of Tigray”. In the recent past, they have shown indifference about the atrocities committed by the TPLF warriors against the Amhara farming communities living in Maikadra; and by the OLF Shene terrorist groups who massacred the Amhara people in Oromia and Benishangul regions as well as in Ataye, Shew Robbit, and the vicinities in the bordering Amhara region.

There are some 65-70 million Amhara people living within and outside the Amhara Region, which is an estimated 47% of the Ethiopian population. Among the Diaspora, there are many Amhara descent residents in Australia, Canada, Europe, the Middle Eastern Countries. Yet, since the takeover of power by the TPLF group in Ethiopia in 1990, this phenomenon of who belongs in the category of “consensus victim” is not new; and if unchecked in time, it will probably continue, as part of the unbecoming competition among victims. The unsung Amhara victims need conscious Amhara activists who will stand up and plead for “Amhara victims’ solidarity”, so that the Western media attention be generously given to all whose rights and dignity have been violated by the Ethnic-led Oromo-Falangist Prosperity Party in Ethiopia.

Ethiopians of all walks of life hoped the current Prosperity Party régime would plausibly try to repair the currently ongoing injustices against the Amhara people and their communities. Although many Ethiopians in Diaspora and those at home have called upon the Prosperity Party régime to: (1) immediately end the reliance on the TPLF-intuitive draconian security laws and crackdowns committed by ethnically organized narrow nationalist groups like OLF-Shene and TPLF extremists (who on purpose regrouped themselves against the Amhara peaceful citizens), (2) reverse the drift towards militarization, and (3) implement security sector reform and end impunity, the government chose to give deaf-ear and keep mostly quite as if peace and orderliness is fully under the control of the national security within Ethiopia.

The core problem with the constitution and its executives

The TPLF constitution and system in force today is clearly the enemy of Ethiopians since   citizens are persistently slaughtered under its jurisdiction. Yet, the Prosperity Party regime officials claim the constitution has no equal, for which they are determined to not change or reform it. Yet, in the past four years, the Ethiopian public has witnessed barbaric events than before due to indifference shown by authorities who are stained in corruption, nepotism and lawlessness. In reality, the previously condemned TPLF-regime’s system is carried forward by its follower, the Oromo-regime.

In Ethiopia, a country divided into 11 regions and with dozens of ethnic groups being propagated about political feud, there occur ethnic divisions and conflicts. Where ethnic differences and historic grievances are enflamed by ideologically motivated individuals (and groups), violence flourish. Usually, ethnic-based conflict emerges not from the exercise of the right of individuals, groups, and communities bonded in diversity, but from the unjust denial thereof. Far from being a form of lawlessness, human rights constitute a building-block of civilized governance, the fountainhead of a just society based on equal rights and level playing fields. It was the cruel violation of human rights toward the Amhara farming communities that led to the OLF-Shene and TPLF extremists’ indiscriminate mass murdering and the deaths of at about half a million Amhara households in the last 4 years alone (and an estimated 1 million people in Northern Ethiopia during the recent TPLF invasion (according to Obasanjo, the peace mediator and former President of Naigiara) the disappearance of tens of thousands (presumed dead) and the destruction of an enormous amount of private property and cultural heritage of various communities in the regions.

Within Oromia and its neighboring regions (Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz), a targeted slaughter, that many believe constitutes genocide, is taking place — perpetrated by Oromo extremists against the Amhara people. Among the main brutal actors, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) is the cradle force behind the ongoing violence. During the recent power struggle war betwixt TPLF and the Prosperity Party, OLA combatants allied themselves with the US-backed TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) terrorists, and have over the last four years carried out dozens of deadly incursions. Whole districts in western Oromia are being purged of Amhara people in a brutal campaign which, some fear, could trigger a civil war between the two largest ethnic groups.

The main mission of TPLF, OLF-Shene and other ethnic activists and that of Ethiopia’s foreign based unkind enemies is to spread terror, shed innocent blood, create fear, disrupt progressive activities, destroy property/infrastructure/ and food crops, as well as bring Ethiopia into endless turmoil and chaos with the aim to totally bring Ethiopia to its knee and force its citizens to surrender to the main foreign enemy.

Likewise, the main purpose of the externally and internally coordinated campaign of bloodshed and genocide against Ethiopians is to destabilize Ethiopia and make it fall into an abyss from which it will not come out. The end goal is to make Ethiopia completely naked and open to its enemies who plan to rob it of its natural resources.

At the end of the day, only the enemy will benefit from the internal violence and destruction that is happening in Ethiopia. Mainly Egypt, Westerners and internal enemies who compete for power, will dominate the Ethiopian power struggle by creating such a destructive mission. Optionally, they attempt to assign a loyal government of their desire and choice upon the shoulders of the Ethiopian people.

The core problem with the human rights of the unsung Amhara victims in Ethiopia is the denial of internal and external self-determination by the Prosperity Party authorities who propagate and promote the ethnic-based tribal constitution composed and implemented by TPLF in the early 1990s.  This governmental action is particularly irritating most Ethiopian citizens, because the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, clearly stipulate the right of self-determination of ALL peoples regardless of the ethnic origin.  Although this article constitutes the following three outlined hardcore law – it is not self-executing:

  • All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
  • All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
  • The Ethiopian state parties to the present convention, including those having responsibility for the administration of Regional Territories, shall promote the realization of the human right of individuals and communities, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

By and large, the Ethiopian people, drained after two years of power struggle war betwixt the TPLF and its offspring, the Prosperity Party (November 2020-November 2022), with many deeply traumatized, requires human rights activists’ intervention to halt the endless bloody conflict targeted to eradicate Amhara people and “Oromize the area”.

Certainly, it is devastatingly the Amhara people who are being murdered (sometimes in the most barbaric, horrific fashion), women/girls/ raped; and countless households have been displaced, myriad of homes destroyed, livestock stolen by the OLA/OLF/ combatants with the aim The Ethiopian people, drained after two years of power struggle war betwixt the TPLF and its offspring, the Prosperity Party (November 2020-November 2022), with many deeply traumatized, requires human rights activists’ intervention to halt the endless bloody conflict.

Legal principle tells us that the right attaches to people, not to States. Undoubtedly, the Amhara of Ethiopia are a “people” and have the right of citizenship. Yet the political constellation thus far has been unfavorable to the Amhara people who have been facedly used as scapegoats for others who desire victimization as an approach to unjustly invoke what is termed “remedial secession from Ethiopia”. As a result of false accusation, gross violations of human rights continues to be committed against the silent Amhara victims. Yet, neither the United Nations nor the international community has moved a finger to help the Amhara humanity. On its part, the Prosperity Party, heavily attached to its Oromo Extremists within the government’s rank and file, are enjoying to clandestinely organize terrorist attacks against innocent Amhara farming communities throughout Ethiopia. During his recent meeting with university intellectuals at his office, PM Abiy emphasized to them to accept “the new normal” as if the country is free from chaos and unlawful mass killings.

Much earlier before the gross attacks took place, the Prosperity should have organized and monitored the safety and protectiveness of communities in all disputed territories in order to learn what the majority of the people want for themselves and for their children. Hence, due to its indifference to ethnic attacks committed on the Amhara communities, tens of thousands of human beings had lost their lives in armed conflict.  In a very real sense, the Prosperity Party has failed thousands of households by keeping silent about major injustices and grievances, and by not formulating timely proposals to facilitate dialogue and, where necessary, peaceful resolutions and protections.

The Way Forward

Currently, there is urgent prioritizations by human rights advocates to create a ‘Human Rights Council’ that should make Amhara People’s Protection and Rights its permanent item of its agenda. Let us also remember that human-rights is part of the central natural law, as recognized by Francisco de Vitoria already in the 16th century. Even before we explore natural law and its metaphysics, we must acknowledge human rights is an inborn impulse, an instinct for freedom, a sense of identity, individualism, and self-fulfillment. Far from being the source of ethnically engulfed conflict in a country, humanity and human rights is a condition for living together.

Hence, Ethiopian citizens should stand-up for their rights against the false narratives of the Prosperity Party government of Ethiopia, which wrongly depicts the Amhara people who attempt to defend themselves against organized criminal attacks as “Amhara-Shene terrorists”. It should opt to recognize the citizenship right of moving and living freely anywhere within Ethiopia, and the right to people’s identity, culture and language.

There is also a high degree of dis-information and “incitement to hate” against the Amhara society within the national media and in the Amhara pronouncements at the United Nations and elsewhere, which constitute a violation of article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The responsibility for this unjust legal situation against the Amhara goes back to the flawed capture of government power by the TPLF.

For its own good merits, it is high time for the Prosperity Party government of Ethiopia to promote or launch a comprehensive and Amhara-victims-centered strategy on transitional justice and accountability, with a time-bound plan to implement outstanding commitments, including taking steps in relation to the establishment of a credible truth-seeking mechanism and an ad-hoc special court to promote civilian and criminal justice. Victims must be given a central role in the design and implementation of all duty and transitional justice mechanisms.

That means, instead of creating lame-excuses for their indifference to chaos as “the new normal” it is high time for the Prosperity Party to pronounce itself on the violations of human rights on Ethiopian citizens, especially, that of the Amhara. The government must fix an appropriate level of just reparation to the survivors of the OLF-Shene and TPLF-genocide. Such actions may facilitate the process of reconciliation, which should be coordinated with the assistance of the pertinent UN agencies in country.

Both the federal and local government officials, rather than busying themselves with cutting the opening rivulets at various events, they should prioritize diligence to prevent human necks from being cut by domestic terrorists who are bent on creating havoc and mayhem. That means, the Prosperity Party regime should pay attention to the life-threatening issues in parts of Ethiopia. without further delay, the Prosperity Party authorities should prioritize securing peace and orderliness in Ethiopia by efficiently acting to implement public policing throughout the country and enable a sustained living conditions of Ethiopian citizens.

Recently, serval commentators have already concluded that the war conducted by the OLF-Shene and TPLF extremists against the Amhara communities in Ethiopia constitute characters of crimes committed against humanity to the extent of genocidal degree. Both the OLF-Shene and TPLF have already been labeled as combatants terrorizing the public on their own outlaw accords; with physical extermination and homestead evictions of the Amhara people who had sought refuge in so-called “Famine Emergency Settlement Zones” in parts of Ethiopia.

Actually, Oromization has been a clear plan on the ground that included the recent introduction of the Oromo national anthem and display of the Oromo flag in schools in parts of Addis Ababa.  It was an illicit move that caused great public resistance forcing the Prosperity Party policy initiators to withdraw; a triumph for community action, which timely empowered the public to take additional actions against ethnic nationalism and communal apartheid division.

At the end of the day, the need for urgent Prosperity Party regime’s action to stop the killing/displacement/ and destruction of homes of the farming communities is clear. The government should act decisively, to strongly condemn OLA attacks and loss of life in rural areas— something that the Ethiopian people generally witness as routinely lacking. Instead of preaching to accept what its leadership calls as “the new normal” the Prosperity Party must carry out law and order effectively and consistently, and show its devotion for maintaining peace and safeguarding local communities. As The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission rightly states in its recent press release: “The killing, maiming and displacement of civilians in the [Oromo] region……calls for immediate action by the federal government and a concrete and lasting solution.”

To date, the government’s response has been disappointing. This shows political weakness of the Prosperity Party in the face of embracing the Oromo nationalist influence at the heart of its government. These ethnic inclined officials basically play their “confuse and convince the public” politics through intentional neglect, indifference, and omission, and proving their involvement in the OLF-Shene’s criminal conspiracy. As witnessed by several government officials naked admissions in recent times, Oromo officials in key government agencies are implicated in OLA/OLF-Shene intrusions, cutting telecommunication, electricity/water supplies and blocking roads in preparation for imminent public transportation attacks. Such accusations point towards complicit participation of officials at a local administrative level; thereby illuminating the degree to which regional administrations and some (Oromo) ethnically aligned voices within the federal government are able to act independently. That means, beyond delivering admissive speeches, there is priority need for strong decisive government action to tidy out such creepy actions.

To withstand ethnic divisions and conflicts and related malicious events, there should be accommodative operations for grafting tolerance, ethnic-cooperation and citizens’ unity. The dividend from such actions will result in peace and social harmony. Immediate substantive action must be taken to stop the endless massacre of innocent Amhara population, especially in the last four years. It can be done if the will is there by the Prosperity Party leadership: when the TPLF attacked in November 2020, the government initially responded decisively and swiftly. The OLA and their allies are just as great a threat as the TPLF; they, too, must be stopped. The Prosperity Party must stop playing its political entrepreneurships based on ethnic preference. The political market place should be ready to treat everyone on equal and fair deals. Political free enterprise based on cynical attempt to confuse and/or convince the Ethiopian public on partisan marketable terminologies for political profit or rent seeking may only last for short-term desires. In the long-run such persistent political rent-seeking attempts will lead Ethiopia into public chaos and instability.

So, urgently, there is a priority need to make constitutional reform to the hitherto TPLF founded divisive administrative establishment based on ethnic federalism of the apartheid nature. The Prosperity Party should revise the suffering of the Ethiopian public due to heavy handed outlaw, nepotism and corruption in its systems. Basically articles restricting citizens’ movement and living in areas of their choice should be abandoned; and all regional militia disarmed or put under the national defense force authority.

As is the current chaotic situation with its public governance by the Prosperity Party in Ethiopia, nothing lasting can be achieved without first securing public peace and orderliness. The dreams portrayed to achieve prosperity and socio-economic changes will not materialize where there is routine havoc and persistent sense of destruction and lawlessness. The indifference attitudes made by the prosperity party echelons will only be remarked as gesture politics filled with flamboyant speeches that cannot realize the most needed inclusive policies that encourage broad democratic participation; by building relationships based on respect and trust and creating a vibrant sense of national unity of Ethiopian citizens of all walks of life.

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