Bruke Lemma, PhD
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
The unyielding brutality of Abiy Ahmed’s regime in the Amhara region remains unchecked. Recent surges in drone activities have led to more frequent civilian casualties, including women, children, and the elderly. These atrocities now occur almost daily, compounding the violence: heavy weapons target residential areas, and the army has been summarily executing youths and farmers working in their fields as well as continuing to perpetuate sexual violence against women and girls.
Moreover, deliberate destruction of grains in fields during the collection process, with the intention of starving the population, coincide with the systematic obliteration of critical infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. Essential services, including ambulances, are also diverted for military purposes, civilian trucks and heavy vehicles are regularly commandeered for military use, and widespread civilian looting via army-led house-to-house raids have now become the norm in the Amhara region.
While subdued voices from world powers were heard earlier, they have since remained silent for an extended period. This silence partly stems from a preoccupation with crises in other parts of the world, relegating this dire situation to a secondary concern. However, the ongoing mass killings and destruction in the Amhara region rival the severity of atrocities witnessed elsewhere globally.
Over forty million Amharas endure an excruciating existence, confronting daily death and destructions by drones and heavy weaponry. They are deprived of almost all government services, subjected to deliberate cut-offs of water and electricity in some cities. Internet and phone services have also been cut-off by the regime and have not been available in the region for most of the past six months.
Hundreds of thousands teeter on the brink of death due to starvation and a severe lack of basic medical care. This dire situation disproportionately affects children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions, all of whom receive no healthcare whatsoever. In addition, pregnant women and their newborns endure severe hardships, with many newborns not surviving, all inflicted by a regime singularly fixated on enforcing submission through extreme oppression.
This relentless assault on the Amhara population has persisted for nearly five years, intensifying immeasurably in the last six months, with nearly the entire national defense force concentrated now in the region, causing extensive harm to the population and destroying everything in its path.
Moreover, recent reports indicate the regime’s procurement of more advanced weaponry, including advanced drones, escalating the threat to the population. Regrettably, there has been scarce outcry or advocacy for decisive action against Abiy Ahmed’s regime from global powers in response to the escalating crisis. Notably, Western nations like the US, the EU, Canada, and Australia have remained relatively silent.
Nevertheless, there seems to be an increasing recognition of the dire situation in the Amhara region now. This acknowledgment has led to the issuance of a report by the UN, coupled with a comprehensive assessment from the International Crises Group. Additionally, the US Secretary of
State, recently contacted the autocrat, Abiy Ahmed, and expressed concerns about the ongoing conflict in the Amhara region and across the country. These reports and communications have all emphasized the need for dialogues to address the issues through negotiations among various involved parties, specifically between the regime and the Fanos engaged in conflict against it.
While these actions are commendable, a perilous misconception persists: the belief that the regime would be receptive to appeals or genuinely interested in negotiations. Unfortunately, these assumptions do not hold true. It’s essential for all these entities to understand that their verbal condemnations of the violence and more are highly unlikely to alter the behavior of this deceitful, psychopathic autocrat. Moreover, the regime shows no interest in authentic negotiations to resolve issues; it thrives on manipulation and revels in creating chaos and misery, as evidenced by the past five years.
As long as Abiy Ahmed can fund his war machinery and there are entities that supply the lethal instruments, the killings will persist and likely escalate. What’s more, recent reports suggest that the regime is now in the process of acquiring or has already obtained even more advanced drone systems, exacerbating the crisis in the Amhara region and beyond.
Given these circumstances, the most effective measures would involve imposing stringent sanctions, specifically targeting Abiy Ahmed and others involved in the ongoing atrocities. There must be a complete weapon embargo against Abiy Ahmed’s government, coupled with crucial support directed to the Amhara region, including vital provisions of food and medical supplies.
These are imperative actions to halt the deliberate starvation of millions by Abiy Ahmed’s cruel regime. Countries that previously expressed concerns must actively re-engage and vigorously advocate for UN sanctions against the regime. Isolating the regime, especially by cutting off any financial support, international aid, or grants, is paramount. As the autocrat himself openly admitted, all the received funds would be funneled into purchasing weapons to further devastate the people. This isn’t a secondary or unverified report; rather, it’s an admission directly from the autocrat’s own mouth.
While implementing these suggested measures could potentially restrain the cruel regime, the ongoing call by some countries and other entities, including the UN, the International Crises Group, and others, for negotiations between the regime and the Amhara militia forces, specifically the valiant and heroic Fanos, in order to bring peace to the Amhara region is highly improbable to yield any results. Instead, it is likely to leave the Amhara people defenceless and even more exposed to the regime’s abuses.
As emphasized previously, this regime thrives on deceit and manipulation, and there’s a very high likelihood that it would exploit negotiations to sow division, undermine, or even perpetrate violence against the Fanos. Abiy Ahmed’s extensive history of betrayal encompasses almost every interaction that he has ever had, causing regret for anyone who has ever dealt with him. He’s a pathological liar, known for abrupt reversals without the slightest notice.
Moreover, most of the Amhara intellectuals not aligned with the regime and journalists who have expressed even mild criticism of it are currently detained. This situation has led to the absence of any independent media within the country. Opposition voices continue to be systematically silenced through violence, intimidation, and arbitrary imprisonment, subjecting them to deplorable conditions that include starvation and exposure to diseases such as typhoid and cholera.
Even lawyers representing those imprisoned by the regime, including duly elected parliamentarians such as Christian Tadele and others, who were incarcerated merely for posing mildly uncomfortable questions to Abiy Ahmed, face arrests and detentions. Consequently, this situation discourages other
lawyers from representing the detainees, including the lawyers now being arrested, due to the fear of facing similar consequences.
The country’s legal system is deeply corrupt, with judges directly following orders from the autocrat and his associates. They not only demand exorbitant payments from detainees and others for release or to respect their bail rights, but often these rights are disregarded, irrespective of any payment made.
Moreover, the lawless regime’s security forces have resorted to assaulting and detaining even foreign diplomats, as evidenced by recent incidents involving the African Development Bank (AfDB) personnel working in the country and earlier cases with UN personnel.
In light of these circumstances, pursuing negotiations with this psychopathic tyrant is irrational. Suggesting otherwise dangerously misinterprets the regime. Advocating for such negotiations, considering the regime’s aversion to this path, would ultimately prove counterproductive.
In essence, immediate actions are imperative to cut off the resources that enable the regime to continue its atrocities and destruction, as previously highlighted. These measures encompass personal sanctions against the regime’s leader, Abiy Ahmed, and those involved in these atrocities, implementing a weapons embargo, and even considering a no-fly zone to prevent the regime from using drones to kill unarmed civilians.
Urgent action is necessary, as the victims cannot endure further delay in receiving relief. It is a global responsibility to halt these psychopathic killings and prevent more innocent lives from being lost. While the Fanos demonstrate unparalleled discipline, valor, and heroism, sacrificing their lives daily for the Amhara people, they struggle to shield innocent Amhara civilians from the regime’s relentless slaughter.
While we implore the international community to protect the Amhara people from the destructive actions of Abiy Ahmed’s regime— a regime that allocates most of its generated resources, or, whatever remains after corrupt official’s indulgence, to acquire weapons, including drones, for the devastation of the country’s populace—it’s equally crucial for influential entities to ensure that the Fanos possess the essential resources to safeguard both the population and themselves from these lethal weapons.
It’s essential for those with the means to recognize that providing these systems is not just a moral obligation but also the most compassionate course of action. While the ultimate triumph of the Amhara people and the valiant Fanos is inevitable, it remains unjust to witness more of these exceptional and brightest sons and daughters of the country losing their lives due to an utterly deceitful, cruel psychopathic ‘leader’ without any legitimacy whatsoever – who is nothing but an outright criminal, a mass murder and more – was able to acquire and to use these lethal weapons against them.