Bruke Lemma, PhD
“Despotic governments can stand ‘moral force’ till the cows come home; what they fear is physical force.” – George Orwell
Abiy Ahmed’s genocidal rampage against the Amhara people of Ethiopia has escalated to unparalleled levels of heartlessness, brutality, and extreme inhumanity, leaving devastating trails of destruction in its path. His military forces have launched an intensified assault on urban centres, employing an unremitting barrage of heavy weaponry, drone strikes, and airstrikes.
This relentless campaign has resulted in the tragic loss of countless innocent civilians, a grim reality that has unfolded across numerous Amhara cities and towns, most notably in Debre Markos and Debre Brehan, as well as several other areas within the Amhara region.
What compounds the horror is the calculated, deliberate, and cruel targeting of both innocent civilians and vital infrastructure by Abiy Ahmed’s military. This military, once the national defence force established for safeguarding the nation, has tragically undergone a transformation and has become a private, ethnically based brutal mercenary army, marked by high levels of unprofessionalism.
It is exclusively devoted to Abiy Ahmed and his ethno-nationalist party, the Oromo Prosperity Party, also known as the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP). Of course, like almost all dictators, Abiy Ahmed and his cronies use the term ‘democratic,’ though they abhor democratic practices. In any case, Abiy Ahmed’s army conduct has revealed extreme brutality, coupled with extreme incompetence and a disturbing lack of restraint and decency.
This shift within the national defence force was achieved through the systematic expulsion of nearly all members from the Amhara region, especially those who were serving in leadership positions, retaining only those individuals devoid of conscience, ready to commit heinous acts of atrocities against their own people. This ruthless purification extends to anyone suspected of having allegiance to the broader interests of the nation, rather than the narrow objectives of Abiy Ahmed and his extremist ethno-nationalist Pathocrats.
The result was an entirely indoctrinated, ruthless, and subservient army, accountable for the destruction of critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools, and the indiscriminate and summary executions of Amhara youth, including children as young as 12. Tragically, beyond the executions of these young lives, there are reports of other youth subjected to mutilation after being conveniently labelled as members of FANO, the courageous anti-regime Amhara people’s force that are opposing Abiy Ahmed’s despotic rule.
Simultaneously, the regime has not only maintained but also intensified its widespread campaign of mass arrests and chilling disappearances, extending its reach into every corner of the nation, including the capital city Addis Ababa and various other regions. This oppressive
effort continues to ensnare Amhara youth, intellectuals, journalists, members of parliament, and other vital pillars of society.
Almost all journalists in the country have been imprisoned, with some held for months without access to legal representation or any initiation of judicial proceedings against them. In certain instances, their families remain uninformed about their whereabouts, while others are transferred to remote regions where family visits are practically impossible. Those who do appear in court are subjected to a farcical justice system, where judges repeatedly grant extensions for police investigations into fabricated crimes.
The judges, handpicked by Abiy Ahmed and his exceptionally ignorant and completely mindless retrograde ethno-extremists, actively participate in the continued mistreatment and humiliation of Amhara intellectuals, journalists, and other political prisoners who appear before them. This goes beyond repeatedly granting unjustified extensions for the police to carry out their never-ending investigations.
Disturbing reports have also now emerged, suggesting that the tortures of individuals who have spoken out against the administration and called for Abiy Ahmed’s resignation, including the Member of Parliament Christian Tadele and others, are being personally overseen and orchestrated by Abiy Ahmed himself, exposing his highly vindictive nature. In addition to his pathological vindictiveness, this situation also reveals his extreme arrogance, complete lack of wisdom, and ongoing descent into insanity.
Ironically, amidst all of this, the regime occasionally calls for discussions and encourages public participation, only to later arrest and forcibly disappear those who participate and express views contrary to the official line. Many of these individuals are transported to remote regions, a now-customary practice under Abiy Ahmed’s regime, with some meeting tragic ends, all while their families are left in the dark about their whereabouts. Thus, the behaviour of Abiy Ahmed’s regime has become grotesquely comedic in its absurdity, crudity and cruelty.
In regard to Abiy Ahmed’s venal army, it consistently fails to match the valour and courage displayed by the lightly armed FANO fighters, who have inflicted and continue to deliver significant blows to it. In response, the army has resorted to cowardly tactics, shifting its focus to softer targets – unarmed civilians and critical infrastructure within the Amhara region.
As a result, the army has descended into the depths of savagery, indiscriminately targeting and killing children, women, the elderly, and the infirm. These heartless actions persist alongside calculated assaults on urban infrastructure, most notably hospitals where patients, including women and their newborn children, tragically continue to lose their lives. Schools and universities have also fallen victim to destruction.
The army’s actions have extended even further, subjecting the populace to intrusive door-to-door searches for FANO fighters in areas where they are not present. Demonstrating cowardice, they deliberately avoid the territories where they know FANO operates but persist in carrying out searches in regions devoid of FANO presence.
During these searches, they resort to abducting, demanding ransoms, using violence, and assaulting whomever falls into their clutches, purportedly to gather information regarding FANO’s whereabouts. In a deeply shameful display, they unscrupulously engage in looting shops and committing theft within the homes of innocent civilians. These reprehensible actions
of the army are deeply rooted in cowardice and represent a calculated strategy intended to break the spirit of the Amhara people.
In stark contrast, the FANO militia forces continue to distinguish themselves by prioritizing the protection and safeguarding of civilians and infrastructure within the areas they operate and occupy. Throughout the four-month conflict, they have consistently refrained from looting and theft, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to protecting property and lives, including those of tourists and other foreigners within the Amhara region.
Moreover, the treatment of captured government soldiers by FANO reflects their adherence to humane principles, surpassing any previous examples set anywhere in the world. Conversely, the army, from which even higher ethical behaviour is normally to be expected, has descended into complete banditry and savagery, engaging in looting, robberies, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. This brutality also extends to the summary execution of bystanders, captured prisoners, Amhara youth who were accused of being affiliated with FANO, and others, as was revealed in multiple verified videos that emerged this week.
In my recent articles, I have delved into the underlying causes of the ongoing conflict that ultimately led to the current savage assault on the Amhara people by Abiy Ahmed and his ethnically biased and deeply indoctrinated army—a nightmarish situation that we have been witnessing with horror and outrage.
Others have also conducted in-depth analyses of how the Amhara people within Ethiopia tragically became the primary targets of successive ethno-extremist regimes in the country. Specifically, the oppression and subjugation of the Amhara people have been both facilitated and exacerbated by the Ethiopian constitution that was authored by these very extremists, most notably the infamous criminal group known as the TPLF.
This group, which deceived the world and continues to deceive some slow learners, was directly responsible for the tragic loss of over a million young lives and the heart-wrenching devastation of three regions, including the Amhara region, in a war it initiated and waged for two years to regain power, which it had accidentally lost to the current regime of Abiy Ahmed.
Although the two regimes are otherwise almost mirror images, including their extreme greed and radical propensity for excluding others, claiming everything for themselves and only themselves, it is now becoming increasingly evident that Abiy Ahmed’s regime is far less intelligent than the previous TPLF regime, both collectively and individually.
This is a surprising development that none of us thought possible without jumping to another species. In any case, after their devastating war against each other, TPLF and Abiy Ahmed, ‘dumb and dumber,’ are now collaborating to attack the Amhara people.
The Amhara people have endured decades of oppressive treatment, marked by the deprivation of basic rights, continual humiliation, harassment, pervasive poverty, and systemic underdevelopment, among multitudes of hardships. The culmination of these injustices has transpired during the current Abiy Ahmed regime, which has studied and amplified the tactics of the TPLF – a group it has unwaveringly served.
This regime has showcased even greater cruelty and an almost subhuman level of lack of intelligence, continually attempting to relegate the Amhara people to the status of second or third-class citizens within their own country, even denying them freedom of movement.
What the Amhara are now facing in Ethiopia under Abiy Ahmed is reminiscent of the Apartheid era in South Africa when black South Africans were forcefully confined to certain areas, requiring passports, having to go through myriad checkpoints, and dealing with harassment by ignorant and corrupt Apartheid officials if they wanted to move outside these regions. This deeply distressing historical context has inevitably ignited the long-overdue rebellion of the Amhara people we are witnessing today.
There is a limit to the endurance of any people, and it is truly remarkable that the Amhara have persevered through the trials they’ve faced for so long, under the TPLF, and now, under Abiy Ahmed. They are a proud, resilient, and heroic people – generous and compassionate, seeking nothing more than their rightful share and equal treatment, which they have been unjustly denied by both these ethno-extremist regimes.
It takes sheer ignorance for a government like Abiy Ahmed’s to push them to the precipice as it has done over the past five years, leaving them devoid of any hope of finding respite from their sufferings or attaining the equality they rightfully deserve. This sustained mistreatment has driven the entire Amhara population to unite behind the FANO, demanding, among other things, an end to the oppressive practice where simply being an Amhara could warrant imprisonment, torture, murder, property confiscation, displacement, and more.
While there is much more to discuss and many reasons to be deeply offended and outraged by the treatment of the Amhara people in Ethiopia over the course of decades, I won’t delve too deeply into these matters here. In any case, as previously mentioned, both I and others have extensively covered some of these issues elsewhere, including in my recent articles.
Interestingly, among those currently writing critical pieces on Abiy Ahmed’s regime are some of the very same intellectuals who once praised him and passionately advocated for various potential solutions to the country’s numerous challenges. This was, however, before they came to realize that Abiy Ahmed is a con artist who deceived them and other Ethiopians.
Initially, I shared their optimism, but I soon diverged from their viewpoint as I came to realize the destructive course Abiy Ahmed was leading the country down. Consequently, I have maintained longstanding disagreements with them, consistently asserting that they were mistaken in their understanding of Abiy Ahmed, who exhibits deep pathology and a triad personality.
However, as incontrovertible evidence continues to accumulate, the majority of them have now come to acknowledge the grim reality of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership and have jumped ship, writing mea culpa and other pieces. There remain only a few rare holdouts whose perspective on the unfolding reality remains baffling.
Here, without mentioning names, a very prominent case involves two Professors, one residing inside the country and the other outside. One of them I had the chance to meet and engage in extensive discussions with in person more than a decade ago, and I found him to be reasonably reasonable at the time. The other distinguished himself during the long struggle with the TPLF.
Despite all that and more, both of these ‘intellectuals’ have been advocating impossible and illogical positions, continuing to support Abiy Ahmed, which runs entirely contrary to reason and good sense. Whenever I come across any mention of either of them, I shake my head and am overcome by nausea.
Well, they might still regain their senses. Abiy Ahmed is not going to moderate; he is going to become more and more extreme as time goes by. That might wake them up, but I don’t know if the Ethiopian people would forgive them. That is not up to me, however.
In any case, Abiy Ahmed’s deep pathology and extreme sociopathy are glaringly evident in his deployment of heavy weapons, tanks, drones and fighter planes to ruthlessly target unarmed Amhara civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Furthermore, on his orders, his army has intentionally inflicted destruction upon critical infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and universities, among other vital facilities.
While these acts are already horrifying and morally reprehensible atrocities, it is highly improbable that Abiy Ahmed will halt this violence and genuinely seek peaceful resolutions in any near future. In fact, he appears set to escalate unless forcefully stopped.
Any gestures of peace or statements that he might occasionally make are highly likely to be nothing more than calculated distractions intended to buy time for the planning and execution of further harm against the Amhara people. Only the most foolish would believe anything the universally deceitful and pathological liar Abiy Ahmed says.
Therefore, unless he is forcefully stopped, there is nothing within Abiy Ahmed – no humanity, no decency, no rational thinking, no intelligence – that would prevent him from continuing the atrocities he has been committing. As is very well-known, Pathocrats are terrible in crisis situations, as evidenced by figures like Hitler, one of the worst Pathocrats in history, who persisted in making one disastrous decision after another, even as defeat loomed, worsening the situation for both himself and the German people.
Similarly, with Abiy Ahmed, we can anticipate a series of disastrous decisions should he remain unchecked. Moreover, the Pathocrats surrounding him are even less intelligent than he is, and they lack the courage to propose any solutions that do not originate from his mouth. Given all these factors and more, the Amhara people and their FANO must continue mobilizing their resources and defences against the destructive forces of Abiy Ahmed and his army.
At the same time, the international community must unequivocally convey to Abiy Ahmed that the indiscriminate slaughter of unarmed civilians through the use of heavy weapons, drones, and airstrikes, as well as the deliberate targeting and destruction of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, carried out by him and his army, is entirely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Several countries, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, as well as organizations such as the United Nations Human Rights Office and the EU, represented by High Representative Josep Borrell, and a host of others have called for the protection of civilians, cessation of hostilities, and dialogue between the parties involved. These statements and calls are all highly commendable.
However, the international community could and must go further. Specifically, in addition to maintaining consistent diplomatic pressure on the regime of Abiy Ahmed, they should actively advocate for sustained UN investigations into the ongoing crimes being perpetrated in the Amhara region.
It is essential to push for arms embargoes against the regime of Abiy Ahmed and extend direct humanitarian aid to the Amhara region, which continues to be devastated by the conflict. Furthermore, implementing personal sanctions on Abiy Ahmed and other key figures within his government, who are responsible for perpetuating these atrocities, including the killing of women, children, and the infirm, in general, unarmed civilians, is highly imperative.