As protest rallies hit the region, state admits pseudohistory narratives nurtured hate and attack towards Amhara

The politically motivated historical narrative that radical Oromo ethnic-nationalists have been advancing for decades has shaped extreme hate and prejudice towards ethnic-Amhara. And many ethnic-Amhara have become targets of hate attacks in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, among others. The abduction of Dembi Dollo University students is seen not only as a manifestation of lack of the rule of law in Ethiopia but also as a manifestation of hate ideology towards Amhara. The demonstrations across several towns in Amara regional state primarily reflected that very sentiment. The regional state has issued a statement explicitly admitting that negative narratives nurtured hate towards Amhara. 

Bahir Dar Protest _ Ethiopia _ Oromo region
The protest in Bahir Dar. Photo credit : AMMA

January 28, 2020

It has been nearly two months since Ethiopians knew about the abduction of 21 Dembi Dollo University students, most of whom are girls who happened to be from the Amhara region. The Federal government’s silence on the issue has angered many Ethiopians. 

Massive demonstrations took place in several cities of Amhara regional state on Tuesday, demanding the government to secure the release of abducted students. 

Bahir Dar, Debre Markos, Debre Birhan, Woldia, Shewarobit, Kobo, Durbete, Dangla, and Finote Selam are some of the towns where protestors were condemning government’s inaction against those who abducted the students.   

They also commended the federal government for not coming clean on the abduction and for conflicting information. Parents have not heard from their children two weeks after the government claimed that it had rescued 21 students. 

The protests were peaceful and ended with no security incident, based on confirmation from Amhara regional state security authorities. 

Demonstration _ Ethiopia _ Dembi Dollo University students abduction

Amhara regional state statement 

Meanwhile, the regional state has issued a statement on Tuesday, hailing protestors for demonstrating discipline while expressing anger over what they think is government failure to act to maintain the rule of law in the country. 

Citing the contribution of Amhara people in the making of the Ethiopian state in history, the statement said Amhara people live in different parts of the country just like the rest of Ethiopians and are obedient to the rule of law and industrious. However, said the statement, Amhara has become a target of ethnic-based hate attacks from different organized groups due to a narrative based on Pseudohistory. 

“Attacks against Amhara students due to their ethnic identity in the institutions of higher learning [in the Oromo region of Ethiopia] have been tolerated for the sake of the unity of Ethiopia. However, the problem is still going on,” said the statement.

The statement also amplified messages from protestors in several cities in the region in connection with abducted Amhara students and attack on Amharas as well. It identified the attackers as “unidentified anti-Amhara forces.” 

“The attack is not just on Amhara students. It is against humanity and Ethiopian citizens. Therefore, all Ethiopians, especially people Oromo region where the attack took place, should stand with us and condemn the attack against our children and demand for their release.”  

Meanwhile, Muferiat Kamil, Minister for Peace, discussed with Dembi Dollo University. Authorities said that only 12 of the abducted are students in the university. It is unclear if the rest of the abducted are students from other universities. The Federal Police Commission Commissioner, Endashaw Tassew, and Head of Press Secretary in the office of the prime minister, Nigussu Tilahun, attended the meeting, according to government media sources.  

The Federal Police claims that an investigative team is formed to determine the “identities of abductors,” how and why they kidnapped them. However, no timeline is indicated as when the investigation is expected to be completed.

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