Ethiopia: Amhara People, Betrayed Persecuted And Ignored – OpEd
Throughout the world the ideology of division and intolerance has permeated mainstream politics and poisoned societies; tribal nationalism, hate and prejudice are widespread, animosity and suspicion toward ‘the other’ commonplace. In Ethiopia this vile, fear based trinity appears to have become government policy.
The focus of the regime’s enmity is the Amhara people, a large ethnic group making up around 30% of the population. In the last four years Amhara communities living in the Oromo region have been subjected to sustained violence by Oromo nationalists; the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)/Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), together with Oromo Special Forces ((OSF) and the Queero (Oromo youth group) are behind the violence, with it seems, the approval, perhaps active participation, of the government.
Ethnic cleansing of Oromia is part of an OLF plan to create an independent Oromo nation (Oromia for the Oromo people), and reduce the overall number of Amhara in the country. Tens of thousands of Amhara civilians have been killed, thousands of homes destroyed on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa (which sits within Oromia), hundreds of thousands displaced (Ethiopia has around 5.6 million internally displaced people according to the UN). Anyone talking about the violence, journalists, human rights workers, lawyers or students, run the risk of arrest.
And in a dramatic inflammatory move, on 8 April the government moved the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) into the Amhara region with orders to disarm and dissolve the only body offering protection to the people, the Amhara Special Forces (ASF).
The government’s malicious move
Each of the 11 regions of Ethiopia has a paramilitary force of varying strength. They sit somewhere between the police and federal forces, and form part of a complex national security framework. After the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) were defeated by the ENDF in November 2022, and were forced to accept disarmament as part of the peace agreement (something which has still not happened), many called for a program to disarm all regional forces, not just the TPLF, as part of a larger constitutional review.
Prime-Minister Abiy Ahmed had made clear he intended to reform the system for some time, and on 6 April the government announced plans “to integrate all regional special forces either into the national army, or the federal or regional police.”
Fine, long overdue and a measure in principle that Amhara people and the Amhara regional authority support. So begin with the two major terrorist groups operating openly within the country, the TPLF and the OLF/OLA and then proceed within an agreed democratic framework; discussions with regional administrations need to take place, a clear plan laid out and consensus reached.
No such balanced steps have been taken, and the only force currently being disarmed/dissolved is the ASF, and the reasons are clear: It is not to dismantle an inherently flawed security apparatus, but to leave the Amhara region vulnerable to attack; whether from the TPLF in the North or the OLF/OLA to the South. The ENDF, which should be protecting the Amhara people, is not trusted any more than the government is; with a command structure dominated by Oromo personnel it is seen not as a national force, but as an ethnic army run by Oromo war lords.
This malicious move has been seen by the Amhara community as an invasion of the region by the ENDF, acting in collaboration with, the OLF/OLA and TPLF. Huge protests erupted leading to clashes with security forces in which live rounds were fired on demonstrators. It reinforced the view that, while the OLF/OLA/OSF are the primary perpetrators, the federal government is complicit in the ethnic violence taking place in the Oromo region and elsewhere. Which, if true, begs the question: ‘why’? Why is the government allowing, indeed facilitating a genocide?
A coalition of the malign
The Ethiopian government is led by PM Abiy Ahmed, who is leader of The Prosperity Party, (aka the Oromo Prosperity Party (OPP)); a political alliance he established in December 2018, a little over a year after coming into office. It is, on paper at least, a broad coalition representing political groups from all the major regions except Tigray, as the TPLF refused to join. In practice though the OPP, and therefore the government, is dominated by one faction, the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), which, as chairman, PM Abiy led prior to becoming PM. This mirrors the previous regime, the EPRDF; another supposed coalition, in power for 27 years, that was in fact controlled by one group, the brutal TPLF.
When Abiy and Co. came to power in 2018, exiled opposition groups were invited back to Ethiopia. This included the OLF/OLA, who, unlike other parties were not forced to disarm. Since their return, the OLF has been classified as a legitimate political party, unlike their shadow, the OLA, which is rightly regarded as a terrorist group, and has established a close working relationship with the OPP.
They are driven by an extreme nationalist ideology; a divisive dogma that has blighted many nations in recent years, expressed in numerous forms. At its core is intolerance and hate; a misinterpretation of events and a disregard of facts. Underpinned by blame and anger at a particular social/ethnic group for the ills they, the believers, have suffered, perceived or real. The immigrant, the refugee, the metropolitan elite, or in the case of the OLF, the Amhara, who they associate with ‘The Evil Ethiopian State’, become the subject of their animosity and, in Ethiopia, their brutality.
The OPP (the ruling party) is, many believe, working in tandem with the OLF/OLA, indeed there are former members of the OLF now embedded within the Abiy government. Their fanatical doctrine has infiltrated the mainstream, their violent methodology countenanced in exchange for political support.
And where, within this cauldron of duplicity and violence, is PM Abiy? Like so many current ‘leaders’ he lacks principle, is politically and morally weak, and will do anything to cling on to power – including it seems, allowing a genocide to take place. Dishonest and manipulative, he is driven by personal ambition rather than a commitment to serve the people, unite the nation and create social harmony.
Beyond ‘the why’ is this happening, crucial as that may be, is perhaps the more significant question, certainly for the Amhara people living in Oromia: How can this brutal ethnic violence be stopped? And secondly, why have no foreign powers, Western or African, (openly) called for the assault on Amhara people to stop and the perpetrators be brought to justice? In contrast say to the recent violence in Sudan, which has rightly attracted a substantial response from foreign governments as well as global bodies such as the Arab League, the African Union, the UN, and generated a great deal of international media coverage, there has been little or no response to the Ethiopian/Amhara crisis.
Geo-politics is not animated by notions of brotherhood and compassion, it is motivated by self-interest, or perceived self-interest and short-term gain. Only when it is judged that US/western ‘interests’ (a reductive term based itself on global divisions) are threatened in some way, or an opportunity for greater regional influence/control presents itself, do these global powers act. Otherwise men, women and children can die in their thousands, particularly when they happen to be poor, and African; the same pattern of neglect and hypocrisy pertains to climate change. The result of this inhumane approach to global affairs is the same as it has always been, exploitation, injustice, and suffering of the most vulnerable.
Whilst all pressure should be applied to western governments, and the US administration in particular, the source of hope does not lie in Washington or Brussels, but rests firmly with the people of Ethiopia. Fanatical groups like the OLF/OLA play on people’s fears, indeed they themselves exist only within an atmosphere of fear, and thrive when distrust and social fragmentation takes hold. It is the coming together of people from the various tribal/ethnic groups scattered throughout Ethiopia, uniting against division, duplicity and hate, that offers the greatest hope of peace and social harmony, not external intervention.
15 thoughts on “Ethiopia: Amhara People, Betrayed Persecuted And Ignored – OpEd”
This is the truth that many western governments are ignoring intentionally for the sake of geopolitical interest. Ethiopia’s government is a genocidal ethno-nationalist government that is being driven by hate and unprincipled aspiration for power. Thanks for exposing the silent genocide against Amharas that has been ongoing for more than 40 years.
Well articulated and the truth on the ground, I have seen your hard work and contributions to expose the extreme tribalist current Ethiopian government and backward tribal based constitution.
It’s an article that shows what’s really happening on the ground, I’m there and I know the issue as an Amhara native. Thanks a lot.
Ethiopia is in the brink of collapse and Northern parts of the country is victimized to the sustenance and creation of the new Oromo faced Ethiopia.
Thank you very much Mr. Graham for being a voice for the voiceless People of Amhara. Your essay exposes the incumbent regime which is behind all sorts of crimes perpetrated against ethnic Amharas such as ethnic cleansing,genocide & displacements at the hands of the oromo special force,the so called “national defence force” & it’s paramilitary forces of the Olf/ola including it’s notorious urban youth group called ” Querro” . Thank you very much sir for standing with the people of Amhara who are being gaslighted apart from the ample of atrocities being committed on them & for exposing the true crimes of the perpetrators which are not that well known to the outside world.My Big Respect sir!!!
Dear Prof. Graham
It is true, the world is forgetting Amhara, in addition to genocide in Oromia, Benshangul Gumuz region called Metekel zone, tens of thousands have killed and hundreds of thousands have displaced because of Abiy’s racist.
Abiy Ahmed is really, the most extremist Oromo, and all olf and qeero have armed and backed by Abiy, this is tangible information.
The bad thing is that, the Amhara regional government is working with Abiy, and cooperate with him to intensify the genocide on their own people.
Abiy is prepared to kill millions of Amhara in the next three months operation inside Amhara region.
Abiy also invited Sudan to take Amhara land in the border, and ask to fight with Amhara.
The writer emphasized that pressure must be focused on the so called existing Ethiopian government by Ethiopians not to Washington or Brussels is very important. The solution of the Ethiopian People is in the hands of Ethiopians.
Yes Graham, For a foreigner, you sure do have a candid and sober assessment of ET machinations. As an African, I can see you may be missing the forest for the trees if you finish with this conclusion – It is the coming together of people from the various tribal/ethnic groups scattered throughout Ethiopia, uniting against division, duplicity and hate, that offers the greatest hope of peace and social harmony, not external intervention. So let me try and help your vexation. Please bear with me as it may be contrarian to the above assertion. First, we already agree the ish as hit the fan- and it probably has been the last 27 years with the TPLF. Its just payback time for the newcomers. However, this points to an existential issue not an ideological one. Secondly, if you step back or up at cloud level, you will see next door Somalia, Sudan and even Uganda havent fared much better. While I will give you credit for rightfully blaming the geopolitical tussle via proxy interests, it signals a fragility -structural if you will of these colonial nation states. Formed, controlled and exploited for foreign interests the last century, they are not in a natural state -no pun intended, but rather an artificial amalgamation of peoples,societies and norms into a hot cauldron. Obviously there will be pressure within . Likewise, expecting a “coming together” and ignoring the original sin of forced cohesion in a high stakes environment is myopic. Instead tribes/ethnicities should be given room to exert their space,culture and aspirations without being subordinate to this centralized “evil state”entity. Dont get me wrong you will always have exiles – but systemic group discrimination – real or perceived in any African nation is a precursor to violent conflict. The Amhara will be fine – remember before colonial times – these groups lived next to each other for hundreds of years and will continue once the proxies/oil/gold/cold war ahem capitalist sponsors wither.
I would like to appreciate your real and genuine review about the betrayed Amhara people. Amhara people are betrayed,intemidated,killed ,tortured not only by OPP but also by the Amhara prosperity. What I want to be midified is that OPP’s desire is not only to minimize the number of Amhara people but also to eliminate them in Ethiopia. On top of this, OPP is making genocide on Amhara people in different dimentions ,such as masacering and slaughting children,women and elders ,destroying churches, mosques ,cultures ,and weakening them by poor economy and educating. Once again thank you very much for your review.
Every Amhara people should read
We thank you for being a voice for them. The Amhara people are a society that respects other ethnic groups. However, the separatists know that the Amhara is a country, so they made me hate it in other nations. Amara’s existence is in danger. The people of the world should know this and be a voice. Thank you. You will always be in our hearts.
Thank you Graham Peebles for this well articulated piece. You will one day rewind this in your mind and feel like your life is worth-lived. I like to do something like that to feel comfortable in my death-bed.
The unjust world neglected the voices of the brutally massacred ethic Amharas. We are being barbarically killed in thousands nearly everyday. Please continue doing this until we will be heard and/or until we get organized and fight our way back. May be one thing you might have added is “the very deceptive nature of Abiy Ahmed. He deceived the Ethiopian people and the Nobel Peace Prize committee. He is the no 1 deceiver. Appears to be (talks like) a unifier and lover of the nation, but not such in heart and in his deeds”
The Amhara people who are the majority of Ethiopia have a power to make a difference in Ethiopia by creating a system that values individual write as the bases of all politics. The divide and rule policy of the past based on ethnicity formulated by the enemies of the country will not succeed even if they are supported by powerful nations. We Ethiopians were alone defending our country from colonizers in the five-year war with Italy. Our FANO freedom fighters will continue the struggle to liberate Ethiopia from the colonial ideology of Divide and Rule strategy based on ethnicity.
Dear Graham, I really appreciate your commitmet to reveal the truth and the very ethics of journalism. The whole world seam to ignore #AmharaGenocide in Ethiopia & the government sponsored conspiracy continues. Amharas are suffereing both inside and outside the so called the region of Amhara state. I have seen the real European value upon you which is standing on the truth side. Thanks to this great job you have done!
It appears, it is tantamount to swimming against the current to try to advance the suffering of the Amara people. To begin with, the policies pursued by US, the Western world and the main stream media are anti-Amhara because they believe that their interest is best served if Amara is pushed away from decision making positions within the Ethiopian government.
I hope more people like Graham Peebles will come forward and expose the genocidal acts of the government and associated groups. I also hope The Western world will come back to its senses and see the truth and take action on what is happening in Ethiopia today.