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The Fanno Manifesto (By Yonas Biru)

Fano Manifesto _

A Cover Note for The Fanno Manifesto 

(Unedited First Draft for Discussion) 

This proposal is prepared to address three critical gaps in the Fanno Movement. My hope is that  it will encourage further discussion that will lead to subsequent improvements and ultimate  adoption by the Fanno movement and its support ecosystem at home and abroad.  

First, there is a time-honored diplomatic decree that the Fanno movement needs to pay heed to.  In and of itself, truth has no currency unless it is widely heralded both at home and abroad. If  Fanno does not frame its movement’s agenda and articulate its narrative, its enemies will have  the honor push their “ስልጣን ልቀቅ-ስልጣን ልንጠቅ” narrative to point Fanno as outlaw. Obviously, an  effective narrative must be undergirded by a legitimate endgame embodied in a robust strategy, 

a clear roadmap with sufficient flexibility, and an achievable and adoptable endgame. 

Second, the Fanno movement must present itself as a stabilizing force with a clear strategy,  roadmap and a reasonable endgame that is flexible to build consensus with all stakeholders. It  must communicate and engage local and international actors to address their concerns, earn their  confidence and win their support. Key local constituencies include, but are not limited to, political  actors in all tribal regions, the military and civil society organizations. On the international forum  the key constituencies are the Ethiopian Diaspora and the international community, most  importantly, the AU, UN, US, and EU. 

Third, the Fanno movement must break the EPRDF, EPRDF 2.0. and EPRDF 3.0 cycle. Let us use an  example to drive the point home. In an email distribution, someone from the Southern People  tribal land wrote the following:” The Amhara have legitimate grievances that must be and can be  resolved through dialogue. The Amhara resistance currently underway has the potential to  dismember the country into mini states if it is not nipped in the bud. What makes this resistance  very dangerous for Ethiopia is that this is a leaderless and backward-looking revolt that will not  get much support from outside of Amhara circles.” 

Whether this is true, or it is the writer’s perception is not material. What is material is that it needs  to be addressed. The thinking that such concerns are baseless, or Amhara will form a broad-based  coalition after it takes power is wrongheaded for two reasons. First, the road to success is shorter  if a broad coalition is formed. Second, if Amhara is not interested or able to listen to others,  address their concerns and build consensus now, how can it be trusted to form a coalition  government after it grabbed the levers of power?  

Ethiopians remember there was the EPRDF (led by Tigrayans), EPRDF 2.0 (led by Oromos) and are  not keen to give EPRDF 3.0 (led by Amhara) the benefit of the doubt. The problem with the Oromo,  Amhara and Tigray political class is that they want to dictate their views on others. This is the time  to break that cycle and the Fanno Movement must do it both for its own and Ethiopia’s sake.

Fano voice for justice _ Ethiopia _ Ethiopian

The Fanno Manifesto 
Prepared by Yonas Biru (PhD) 

August 14, 2023

(Draft for Discussion Only) 

 “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make armed protest inevitable”  ~John F Kennedy 

This draft was prepared as a proposal in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders both  within the Amhara community and outside of it. Its purpose is to encourage further discussion, subsequent improvement, and ultimate adoption by the Fanno movement and its supports at  home and in the diaspora.  

The draft has four parts. The first part is an exposé of the current spiraling crisis: The Oromo  Prosperity Party (Oromo-PP) undergirded by a 16th century Oromummaa tradition that has  been resurrected and adulterated as the master ideology of the Oromo national movement.  

The second part provides facts on the ground reflecting the inevitable existential outcomes of  the forceful and violent imposition of 16th century Oromo culture and traditions on 80 plus  ethnic groups in Ethiopia.  

The third part provides a way forward for a peaceful resolution. 

Part four concludes with a clarain call for support to all Ethiopians at home and in the diaspora  and to the international community at large. 

I. Oromummaa: A Backward Ideology of Domination 

The ongoing armed conflict is not between Amhara and Oromo. It is between right and wrong.  What is wrong is that the Oromo-PP (Ethiopia’s governing party) and Oromummaa (the master 

ideology of the Oromo national movement) are destroying the nation in a futile attempt to  create a 16th-century-inspired hegemonic “Greater Oromia.” 

Lencho Bati, one of the founding members of the Oromo liberation struggle, and former senior  advisor to the Prime Minister Abiy, put the motive behind the long-standing destructive  Oromummaa ideology succinctly: “During our struggle as an Oromo liberation front, we  systematically deconstructed Ethiopia in order to construct Oromo.”  

He is now of the opinion that “Since the Oromo are in power, Oromo needs to play a different  role of uniting different regions of the country.” Unfortunately, his view is in the minority in  current Oromo politics. He was conspicuously pushed out of the Prime Minister’s office and  exiled to a largely irrelevant Ambassadorial post in Saudi Arabia.  

The project to construct Greater Oromia on the ashes of Ethiopia is in full swing. Oromo-PP  political leaders and their Oromummaa ideologues are on the record asserting their goal to  resurrect and institutionalize the 16th century Oromo governance system of Gadaa. 

During its heyday over four centuries ago, the Gadaa system encompassed the political, social,  cultural, economic, religious, and military affairs of the Oromo people. The adulteration of the  16th century tradition as a 21st century political ideology has made its adversarial religious  ethos and boundless ambitions for military supremacy existential threats to Ethiopia. 

The President of the Oromo region, who is second only to the Prime Minister in the Oromo-PP  architecture, (Shemelis Abdisa) is on the record announcing that the future of Ethiopia is “The  Gadaa System.” In another speech, he revealed that as part of this grand strategy the  “Prosperity Party is built in such a way to advance the interest of Oromo. The head of the Party  will always be an Oromo or an Oromo plant.”  

He upped this in a different speech, stating: To rejuvenate and spread the Gadaa system, the  Oromo government is “spending billions and erecting Oromummaa markers in Addis Ababa.”  The ultimate goal is to “slowly, but surely, transform Ethiopia to Gadaa democratic Ethiopia,  i.e. de facto Greater Oromia.” 

I.1. The Gadaa Religious Agenda 

The Gadaa indigenous religion is Waaqeffanna that is followed by only 3.3 percent of the  Oromo population. According to Waaqeffanna, the first man that God created is an Oromo  and he was made of water. Little, if any, is known about its foundational tenets, institutional  settings, or organizational architecture. 

One thing is for sure. Waaqeffanna does not have scriptures or a holy book. Professor Tesema  Ta’a, one of the leading Oromummaa intellectuals, brough to light a research work that  documented: “The Whites, the Arabs and the Abyssinians [Ethiopians], each one has a book  given to them by God. In the beginning Waaqa also gave the Oromo a book but a cow 

swallowed it. Waaqa got angry and did not give them a second book.” 

Oromummaa advocates see Christianity and Islam as a threat to the resurrection and growth  of Waaqeffanna. They condemn the two Abrahamian religions as instruments of “Ethiopian  colonial terrorism.” 

The alleged terrorist acts are highlighted in two articles penned by the Godfather of the  Oromummaa ideology. They include: “suppressing indigenous Oromo religion in order to  psychologically control and dominate them”; and “Changing an original Oromo religion and  taking Habasha and Arab names, religions, values, and norms.” The same sentiments are  reflected in books published by the Oromo government. 

The President of Oromo is vehement that Islamic and Christian names are undermining the  Oromummaa identity. Oromos named after Prophet Mohammed or the Blessed Virgin Mary,  the mother of Jesus, are guilted and shamed. This has led many Oromos to abandon such  names as Yohannes (John) and Musa and take indigenous Oromo names.  

Oromos who resist taunting and shaming campaigns and continue to embrace their Ethiopian  heritage and revere their Christian or Islam religion are under attack. This is how the leader of  the “Oromummaa ideology” stated it. “Oromos, who like their Habasha masters have been the  defenders of the Habasha culture, religion, and the Amharic language and haters of the Oromo  history, culture, and institutions.” 

Oromos who wish to live in peace need to submit to the political tenets of Oromummaa, which  takes precedent over the “borrowed [Abrahamic] religions.” The working political principle is:  “All Oromo religious institutions, including the church and mosque, must reflect Oromo centered culture and values.” Accordingly, the Oromummaa literature requires accepting that  “the concept of Waqaa [Oromo God] lies at the heart of Oromo tradition and culture, which  shapes the basis of Oromummaa.”  

The Oromo nationalist allegiance has become “I am an Oromo first before I am Christian” and  “I am an Oromo first then Muslim.” What makes this dangerous is that the 16th century Gadaa  military tradition is the force behind its implementation. 

I.2. The Gadaa Military Tradition and Ambition 

The Gedaa military tradition is known as Mogassa. Mogassa was the force behind Oromo’s 16th century success in forcefully absorbing non-Oromos into the Oromo tribal structure, first as  serfs and slaves and eventually as equal members. Professor Mohammed Hassen (the most  renowned Oromo historian and a leading Oromummaa ideologue) acknowledges that the  Mogassa assimilation process was “inspired by political, military, and economic  considerations.”  

In his widely quoted book published by the Cambridge University Press, the good professor  meticulously documented that the Mogassa practice “included absorbing defeated tribes as  clients or serfs into the [Oromo] tribal structure… The vanquished, still owners of their plots of  land became the serfs or clients of the pastoral Oromo, who demanded service and tribute  from them. The Oromo term for the conquered people was Gabbro.”  

Furthermore, Professor Mohammed documented the use of slavery during the Oromo  expansionary reign. Here is how he explained it. “While the Gadaa leaders marched with men  and cattle from pasture to pasture as soon as the forage of a place was consumed, the wealthy  individuals settled permanently on the lands. Their cattle were looked after by Oromo servants  and non-Oromo slaves. By the beginning of the nineteenth century in the Gibe region of  western Oromo land the term Borana had already acquired the meaning of noblemen, rich in  cattle and slaves.” 

C. F. Rey’s article published in 1924 on Journal of the Royal African Society (Vol.23, No. 90) stated: “It must be borne in mind that Oromos are and have been for nearly four hundred  years, invaders on strange soil… Their methods of warfare were cruel even for that age, and it  was they who introduced the horrible practice mutilating the dead, and even the wounded  and prisoners.” 

Pedro Paez added: “The Oromo slaughtered many people and carried out extraordinary  cruelties, because they cut to pieces the men and many of the boys and girls that they seized,  and they opened up pregnant women with their spearheads and pulled the babies out of their  wombs. The people of that land therefore came to fear them so much that nobody dared resist  them.”  

It is this Gedaa military domination mindset of centuries past that the Oromo-PP and  Oromummaa ideologues wish to resurrect and use to absorb 80 plus ethnic groups under the  Oromummaa political architecture. The aim is a 16th-century-inspired subjugation. The  practice is Mogassa 2.0. 

In an unmitigated zeal for a hegemonic supremacy, Oromo-PP see the Amhara as a stumbling  block. Therefore, Amhara is marked as enemy number one. The Amhara Fanno is fighting for  survival against such a force that is hellbent on subjugating or annihilating the people of  Amhara. 

II. Mogassa 2.0 is in Full Display with Mogassa’s Signature Cruelty 

The Abiy administration and the Oromummaa ideologues allege the current crisis is caused by (a) Amhara’s desire to revive the Ethiopian Colonialist Empire, and (b) Amhara’s refusal to  disarm. The people of Ethiopia know the truth. Protest against the Oromo tribal domination is  echoed in every nook and cranny of the nation.  

The world needs to hear the cry of helpless women in Harar: “Who will stand up for Harar.  They [the Oromo] have chased us. It is Over. At this rate, we won’t find means to even be  buried.”  

The World should not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the Amarro [a small tribe in Southern  People Region] representative who appeal to the Prime Minister at the 11th Ordinary session  of the national Parliament: “The people of Amaro are surrounded by Oromo on three  directions. We are denied access to other regions. It is hard to explain our suffering in words.  We are invaded and butchered, and our existence as an ethnic group is in peril.” 

One can also see with horror a three minute video clip about Gurage women in labor and  those nursing after labor evicted and their husbands crying. We can list numerous similar  cases of Ethiopians of all ethnic groups, religions, and traditions suffering under Oromo  subjugation.  

Apart from cruel mass evictions, hanging people upside down and pelting them to death with  stones and hacking the necks of children and elderly with machetes have become the  signature political tools of Oromummaa’s subjugation.  

Graham Peebles, a British freelance writer and charity worker, has it right when he wrote “the  only force currently being disarmed/dissolved is the Amhara Special Force (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.”  

The international media has reported many mass murders that the Amhara community has  suffered in the Oromo region. Sadly, the savagery has become so common, not every mass  murder is reported.

Notable cases of mass murders reported by the international media include, the Guardian  report that documented “more than 200 Amhara people killed” by Oromo extremists. The  Human Rights Watch also documented another round of mass killing, noting “heavily armed  assailants shot and killed about 400 Amhara civilians, including many women and children.”  

The report quoted a grieving Muslim father: “My 8-month-old child started crying. I heard an  attacker say, ‘Look there, look there …’ before they shot in our direction. They shot my baby  dead. I wrapped the dead body with some clothes I was wearing. My other child was shot in  her back; the bullet came out around her neck … I then pressed my injured child against my  chest, and I prayed to Allah to save her life.”  

Further, as Amhara freedom fighter, we cannot let Ethiopians and the world at large ignore  the cry of hundreds of thousands of Amhara children who are evicted from their homes and  left homeless. Oromo landlords are threatened with 15,000 Birr and 3 months in prison if they  rented their property to evicted none Oromos.  

This is done at the order of the President of the Oromo region and the full knowledge of the  Prime Minister. Watch and listen to a crying girl below and multiply it by 100,000 times to  imagine the horror Amhara children are faced with. “When I returned from school, our home  was ransacked and emptied. For a couple of weeks, my family stayed with friendly families.  Then when we tried to rent, it was prohibited. This is when my family came here (to the  displaced camp at Debre Birhan in Amhara Region.” 

These are not isolated cases. According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, 111,118  families were forcefully displaced by the Oromo government, over the last 6 months alone. The Ethiopian Statistics Service suggests that one-quarter of households are headed by  women and the average household size is 4.6 members. This means well over half a million  people were forcefully displaced by the Oromo government in the last few months alone.  

Before the recent round of forceful evictions, according to the Voice of America report in  January 2023, the number of Amhara expelled from the Oromo region was close to a million.  

This is not all. As Yohannes Buayalew (the Amhara representative to the Ethiopian Parliament)  lamented at the Amhara Congress meeting, Amhara’s are not only evicted out of the Oromo  region. Their movements are also restricted.  

As Representative Buayalew stated: “There are five gateways into Addis Ababa. Two of which  link the Amhara region to Addis Ababa. The government routinely blocks these gateways to  isolate the Amhara population. Amhara traders cannot transport their merchandises into 

Addis and through Addis Ababa to southern parts of Ethiopia. Gravely ill Amharas are not  allowed to enter Addis to get treatment in big hospitals with lifesaving medical equipment. 

The so-called Oromo Sheger City that encircles Addis Ababa in all directions is designed not  only to evict on-Oromos from the surroundings of Addis Ababa, but also to control who is  entering and leaving Addis Ababa. When the President of Oromo and the Second most  powerful official of Oromo-PP was asked the purpose of building Sheger City, his response was  “our enemies understand our intentions.” Amharas know that they are the enemy.  

PM Abiy has publicly justified the roadblock policy, accusing Amhara of instigating conflict in  the capital city to remove his government. In 2021, he accused the Amhara of conspiring to  remove him from office and threatened them stating that they would see “the slaughter of  hundreds of thousands of people over night.” In 2023, he upped his threat, stating the  consequence will be deadlier than the red terror in the 1970s.” According to the African Union,  “more than 700,000 people were killed” during the red terror. 

One of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Rank Senior Advisor had it right when he warned the world  on April 3, 2023 stating: “Today’s Ethiopia is at a juncture similar to that of Rwanda when it  found itself at the dawn of genocide.” Soon After the Minister’s public notice, the Lemkin  Institute for Genocide Prevention issued a red flag alert for genocide, stressing the Amhara  are “in a perilous discursive position that could easily devolve into genocide.” It is to avoid such  an existential threat that Fanno raised arms. 

Furthermore, as home to devoted Christians and Muslims, there is nothing more that the  Amhara region cherishes and protects than its religious leaders and houses of worship. Over  the last few months alone, the Oromo government has demolished over 200 Churches and  Mosques. Additionally, over 600 more churches and mosques are marked for demolished. He  has instructed church and mosque leaders to do the demolishing themselves. 

The government has two justifications for the mass demolitions of churches and mosques.  The first explanation is that the demolished houses of worship were built illegally. The  Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has rejected this claim.  

The second explanation is “Muslim and Christian houses of worship are demolished to clear  space for the new Sheger city.” This is an outright lie. The City plan, as described by the  President of the Oromo region, is to build a city that will house as many as 30 million people.  When new cities are planned, the first requirement is water availability. Water resources in the  Sheger area are not even sufficient for the current population of Addis Ababa and its 

surroundings. Sheger city is used as an excuse to implement Oromummaa’s anti-Amhara, anti Christian, anti-Islam agenda. 

There is nothing sacred in the belief system of the two destructive forces of Oromo-PP and  Oromummaa. They slap Orthodox Priests and beat up Muslim Imams in public, They kill religious leaders and desecrate religious books, and throw teargas at Orthodox Christians  while they pray and sing hymns of praise to God.  

During Mengistu the butcher’s era, there was a short poem a grieving mother uttered that  remains etched in the memory of that generation. “ሻለቃ ተፈራ የእግዜር ታናሽ ወንድም፣ የዛሬን ማርልኝ ሁለተኛ አልወልድም.” In a sardonic twist of irony, the mother was Amhara. Today, her iconic description  of diabolical cruelty is replaced by an iconic cry for mercy uttered by a little Amhara girl  pleading with her killers: “የዛሬን ማሩኝ ሁለተኛ አማራ አልሆንም.” 

In two generations, Ethiopia has transitioned from a mother’s promise of “ሁለተኛ አልወልድም” to a  child’s vow of “ሁለተኛ አልወለድም” Words cannot describe the savagery. Pictures may. 

The picture below shows masse demolitions by the Oromo special forces (regional army) and  eviction by the Oromo government with the full knowledge and approval of the Prime Minister.

The pictures below show victims of mass murder. The picture in the middle is a satellite imagery of demolished structures (houses) taken by the Amnesty International. The satellite shows fire damage. Other news sources have reported people were burned alive in their huts.

What makes the crime dangerous is that it is not only tribe-based, but also religion based. The  below picture on the right shows Muslims praying Infront of what used to be their Mosque,  after it was demolished. The picture on the right portrays an Orthodox priest being paraded  on the streets by Oromummaa mobsters with a dead chicken hanging from his neck. 

It is against such anti-Christian, anti-Islam, anti-Amhara, and anti-Ethiopia campaign that we  are defending our religions, our families, and our basic human rights by raising arms as a  matter of self-defense and survival. 

II.3. Beyond Mere Survival 

As Ethiopians we believe we have the right to economic freedom and equal access to resources  the federal government controls. As reported by the US based Heritage Foundation, the  nation’s “Economic Freedom Index” is deteriorating. What the Heritage Foundation has not  looked at is how much economic freedom varies across Ethiopia. 

Businesses predominantly owned by Amharas face disruptions for days on end without legal  proceedings as was the case with Bajaj taxis in Addis. Nearly 10,000 Bajaj owners who were  legally operating with government issued licenses were left without work or income after the  government stopped them without prior notice. The Bajaj restriction was ultimately lifted after  public uproar exposed the decision was aimed at targeting people from Amhara and Southern  Peoples who constitute the majority of Bajaj business.  

The most damage to the Amhara economy is attributable to restrictions on free movement of  goods and services to and from Amhara regions. Though the Amhara are the targets of the  policy, other tribes have become collateral victims as Addis Ababa is transit city connecting  different regions. For example, a businessman from Southern People region who travels to  Amhara region through Addis Ababa to sell his merchandise faces restrictions to return to his  home base through Addis Ababa. Similarly, Amhara businessmen are finding it increasingly  difficult to take their produce to Addis Ababa and to other regions through Addis Ababa.  

Businessmen and women are forced to buy three billion Birr (US$58 million) worth of the  Prime Minister’s latest book. Depending on the size of the business, a business entity is  required to spend up to 2 million birr or nearly $US39,000. A large part of the 3 billion Birr  extortion is expected from Amhara businesses. Those who do not want to or cannot afford to  face economic sanctions including cancelation of their business licenses. 

More importantly, the Prime Minister’s obsession with vanity projects (including the $15.3  billion palace) that are financed by printing money is destroying the nation’s economy. In  January 2022, Ethiopia’s inflation was amongst the worst 10 inflationary countries in the world.  For 2023, IMF’s projection for Ethiopia is 31.4 percent. By 2024, the projection is 23.5 percent. 

The median inflation for Africa is projected to be 5 percent by the end of 2024.  

In 2018, there were 7.88 million Ethiopians in need of international food assistance. Today, as the Prime Minister goes on a Dubai-inspired binge for flashy vanity projects, 22 million  Ethiopians need international food aid of which 4.6 million are internally displaced living in  makeshift camps. More than 2.3 million children are out of school, as they wait for the 

reconstruction of schools destroyed by the war. Furthermore, three million people have  slipped below the absolute poverty line. 

In 2023, the Prime Minister chose to export wheat, deepening the food crisis in Ethiopia. The  consequence is a very high food inflation rate of 33.6 percent that is 17 percent higher than  the general inflation rate.  

Another crisis area is the unprecedented corruption and the total collapse of the bureaucracy  because of it. The PM have thrown the proverbial towel and promised on TV not to prosecute  corrupt officials if they agree to use their loot to open businesses. The running joke in  government offices is that they will continue to loot until they have enough money to open a  five-star hotel. Corruption has reached a point where government officials steal international  food aid while the people to whom the food aid is intended die from starvation.  

Morality is not the only thing that is “dropping sharply lower.” In general, “dropping sharply lower” has become the theme for every sector of the nation’s economy. Since Oromo-PP  came to power, government capital expenditure (money spent on long term development  projects such as roads and bridges) has dropped sharply and consistently. A Cepheus Capital  report quoted by Ethiopia in Data shows, in the 2018/2019 fiscal year, government capital  expenditure was 6.5% of GDP. In 2022/2023 it was down to 2.9%. In 2023-2024, it went  down to 1.8%. 

Perhaps the most saddening line item in the “dropping sharply lower” column is poverty  targeted government expenditure. According to the UNDP Quarterly Economic Profile, poverty  targeted expenditure for 2022 was 2.9% of GDP, the lowest since 2017. The report that three  million people have slipped below the absolute poverty line is due partly to the decline in  government support. 

Manufacturing is another sector in the “dropping sharply lower” column. According to Melaku  Alebel, the Minister of Industry of Ethiopia, in 2022, 446 manufacturing industries stopped  production. He attributed the problem to the shortage of finance, infrastructure, the absence  of coordinated support from the government, and lack of skilled manpower.  

The agricultural sector is another crisis area, suffering because of shortage of money to  import fertilizer.  

As critical areas of the economy drop sharply, the nation’s resources are prioritized to  the Prime Minister’s $15.3 billion palace that the French flagship newspaper, Le Monde described as “pharaonic taken by delusions of grandeur.” The palace is glamoured up with a  waterfall, three artificial lakes, a zoo, and futuristic luxury villas rivaling Dubai’s iconic high-

rises. What is even more concerning is that the $15.3 billion palace (14% of the nation’s GDP)  is built without the approval or constitutionally sanctioned oversight authority of the nation’s Parliament.  

According to the UN-OCHA report, “about 80 percent of the land has been cultivated across  all Meher dependent areas; however, only about 50 percent has been planted in Amhara,  80 percent in Oromia, 48 percent in Benishangul Gumuz, 50 percent in SNNPR, and 30  percent in Tigray, according to the Agriculture Cluster.” The Oromo 80% figure shows it has 

better access to fertilizer than other regions.  

Our struggle is not only a struggle for survival but also for economic freedom and equal  opportunities. Our and our children’s future is closely tied to the nation’s economy. The  nation must change course in the way the economy is managed. The economy is one of the  reasons why the entire Amhara population is behind our movement. 

III. A Way Forward for a Peaceful Resolution  

Fanno is faced with the tension between two conflicting end-goals. First, is our  uncompromising position for self-preservation and democratic rights, while being cognizant  and careful not to allow the crisis turn into a civil war. Second, we are determined that a  potential civil war should not mean allowing the current status quo to continue without a  transformative change.  

The question that is imposing itself on us is: How do we delicately balance this tension? The  need to avoid a civil war requires it, and the nation’s political transformation depends on it. Our goal is to be a catalyst for a transformative political reform without escalating the tension  to a civil war.  

Sadly, the Prime Minister’s solution for every and all political crises of his own making is  sending troops, establishing command centers, and ultimately abandoning them in haste. The  cycle continues as Ethiopia slips into a political and economic abyss. Below we provide a path  for a peaceful transformative change.  

III.1. A First Critical Step 

The first critical step is for the government to accept the current Fanno movement is embraced  by the entire Amhara population. Our strength comes from the people who are behind us not  from the arms we raised in self-defense. The Prime Minister needs to be remined that he 

cannot silence 40 million people. He needs to also be reminded that his promise and  confidence to wrap-up the war with TPLF in two weeks lasted two years.  

It is current history that the Prime Minister established a command center to administer the  Tigray region only to abandon it and retreat in haste and humiliation. He established a  command center in parts of the Oromo region with nothing to show for it. One of the booming  economic activities in the Oromo region has become kidnapping truck-drivers and business  owners for ransom. 

We wholeheartedly believe every step needs to be taken to avoid pushing the country into a  disastrous civil war. Below are our demands for a ceasefire and peace talk.  

We ask the international community to put political and economic pressure to bring the Prime  Minister to a negotiating table. Failing that, the international community must realize the risk of a civil war is caused by the Prime Minister’s intransigence and refusal for a transformative  change, not by Fanno’s uncompromising drive for justice, democratic rights, stability, and  security.  

III.2. Preconditions for a Transformative Change 

We would like to stress that all the demands are within the constitutional order. 

1. Immediate withdrawal of all Ethiopian National Défense Forces (ENDF) from the  Amhara region. We are referring to those who have been brought in to contain the  Fanno Movement. Those who are stationed in the Amhara region must be ordered  to return to their barracks.  

2. Immediate suspension of the disarmament program until confidence building  measures are taken and the existential threat against Amhara is removed.  

3. Maintain the Welkait and Raya current status quo and suspend any plan to transfer  the contested lands from Amhara to federal government administration. This issue  must be the last item on the region’s political agenda. First come the region’s  security, peace, and stability. 

4. Organize immediate national and international humanitarian support for forcefully  displaced Amhara people. The effort must be monitored by the international community. This is critical considering the report by the UN and US government 

that regional and federal government officials were involved in stealing  international food aid. 

5. Allow access to international investigations of mass killings, mass evictions and  demolitions of Mosques and Churches. The investigation must be unfettered and  time bound – no more than six months followed by full accountability based on the  findings of investigations.  

6. Hold a vote of confidence for the Amhara Prosperity Party-led government in the  Amhara region. The aim is either to establish confidence in the Amhara-PP  leadership or recall them followed by new elections if the recall through a  constitutional means leads to the removal from office of Amhara-PP leaders. This  may be done in other regions as well if there is demand for it by the people of  respective regions. The recall process must be monitored by international  organizations. 

7. Hold vote of confidence for the Oromo-PP led government in the Ethiopian  Parliament. This must be held after a vote of confidence in the Amhara region and  other regions (if the people in the other tribal lands so choose). This opens the door  to replace the Prime Minister if the majority Parliamentarians so choose. 

IV. Call for Support 

We call up on the people of Ethiopia at home and in the Diaspora to support our movement  so that we can together build a consensus on the path that our nation must take to create a  democratic, unified, peaceful, and secured nation. We need to be united and chart our future  together. No region can bring about a lasting and transformative change by itself. We need to  raise our voices together. Only then can we be assured every Ethiopia’s human dignity and  rights are honored and protected.  

IV.1. Call for Ethiopians in All Regions of Ethiopia 

First and foremost, we should pay homage to the people of Oromo who stand with Ethiopia.  They, too, are victims of the radical Oromummaa political agenda. There are many unsung  Oromo heroes who resist Oromo-PP’s pressure and threats and protect victims of the  Oromummaa cult politics. We cannot forget Oromos who housed evicted Amharas and others 

and protected Christians and Muslims alike. We call upon all conscientious people of Oromo  to be a part of the protest for a democratic, just, and peaceful Ethiopia.  

We call upon all Ethiopians from all regions of the country to join us to develop a common  agenda and a common strategy. In the meantime, we call up on your support in our struggle.  Your support may come in the form of petition letters, demonstrations, published articles, and  international campaigns through your support groups in the diaspora. 

IV.2. Call for Members of the Ethiopian Defense Forces 

The military y has sworn obligations to defend the nation not only from foreign forces but also  from local forces who are undermining the integrity and sovereignty of the nation in pursuit  of creating Greater Oromia. 

We are confident that as military officers you understand your oath is to support and defend  the Constitution, not to serve an autocratic individual who is abusing his office and using the  military as a political instrument. We call up on all defense forces to not be an instrument of  Oromummaa inspired political suppression and subjugation.  

The military is the last bastion of the nation’s unity and security. The Oromo-PP’s plan to wage  war on Amhara is bound to create tension and friction between Amhara members of the  military and others. The army needs to keep this in mind before following the Prime Minister’s  self-destructive war on the people of Amhara. 

Furthermore, high brass military leaders have duty to protect the rank-and-file personnel who  are paying the ultimate sacrifice to defend their nation. The military has suffered more than  any part of society under the current Prime Minister. The military has paid a steep price in life  and limb because of the trigger-happy Prime Minister. Those who were wounded during the  war with TPLF are begging on the streets, with no government assistant. The PM is focused on  vanity projects to fan his fancy and feed his ego rather than addressing the needs of veterans  and their families.  

Military leader must refuse to be involved in the PM’s war against the people. They need to  remind themselves that in most cases they are the ones who face war crime and genocide  charges in international courts. Recent cases in Guatemala, Myanmar, and Serbia provide a  red flag of warning.  

It is with confidence that we call upon all military forces to rise to the occasion and defend  protect the constitutional order being usurped by Oromo-PP and Oromummaa ideologues.

IV.3. Call for Ethiopians in the Diaspora 

In terms of generating foreign currency, remittance and diaspora travel to the motherland  generate more per annum than international aid and export revenues combined. If well  organized, the diaspora community has sufficient leverage to make a difference. Think of every  dollar you send or spend in Ethiopia when visiting is blood money that the government uses  to buy drones and bullets to kill your people. 

Some people think international sanction will “do serious damage to the economy [that is]  already on the precipice.” What they fail to understand is that without intervention the  economy will collapse. We believe the cost of action in the form of conditional sanction to bring  about change is lower than the cost of inaction that allows the Prime Minister to stay the  course and cross the tipping point of economic meltdown.  

We also ask you to organize a centralized support group for our proposal with branches in  different cities and countries you live in. This will help us to develop a robust international strategy and effective campaign to influence international policies.  

IV.4. Call for the International Community 

Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention has issued a red flag alert for genocide in Ethiopia,  stressing the Amhara are “in a perilous discursive position that could easily devolve into  genocide.” The Prime Minister is on the record threatening to “slaughter of hundreds of  thousands of people over night.” He has also threatened his political opponents of a 

“consequence deadlier than the red terror of the 1970s.” According to the African Union, “more  than 700,000 people were killed” during the red terror. 

The international community that promised “Never Again” after the Rwanda genocide has  moral obligations to intervene. The Oromo-PP and its Oromummaa ideologues have shown  that their cruelty has no bound and there is no savagery that is beyond them. They are one  spark  away  from  plunging  the  nation  into  a  cascading  collapse.  A dual tipping points for  economic collapse and the impending Oromummaa genocide is rapidly approaching. The time  is now to do everything possible to avert a civil war.  

The most important tool in the international community’s arsenal is sanction. It must be fully  used, barring humanitarian aid. The threat of sanction is what forced him to negotiate with  TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Front. Sanction is the only viable tool that can disrupt the  Prime Minister’s narcissistic fantasy of absolute autocracy.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com  

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I have found this Manifesto prepared by Dr.Yinas very important to be discussed and modified. All Amhara elite need to come up with additional ideas and perspective to make it a complete document that is approved and accepted by Fano and the Amhara people.

  2. This is ridiculous and sad.
    The writer says Abiy “established a command center in parts of the Oromo region with nothing to show for it.”

    The writer basically admitted and proved that Abiy has been doing the same military move in Oromia (against Oromo rebels) that it did in Amhara (against Fano).
    Not only is the writer proving that Abiy’s PP regime is not targeting Amhara selectively, he is proving that even Oromo nationalists and supremacists like OLA oppose Abiy.
    If Abiy was imposing Oromo supremacy, why are the most Oromo supremacists opposing him?

    Guys, stop all this nonsense please.
    No more war.
    FYI, I am Amhara!

    • You touch it with a needle here- and propelled me to express what I have been thinking all along the way! I don’t believe the PM has suddenly become an Oromo supremacist nor am I convinced by the argument that the PP government is now swallowed by the Oromumma Movement.

      I believe the problem lies with a clumsily managed TRIANGULATION strategy which seems to be the default position of the government to reconcile (the irreconcilable!) tribal tug of war threatening to tear down the governing coalition and the country with it. I suspect the logic of the strategy is like this: The new governing coalition of the PP, although held together by United-Ethiopianists from the center, is still made up of ethno-nationalists from the left to right. As this new governing coalition has made a lot of accommodations & concessions to the right (with its pro-unity visions & tones, at least), thereby alienating the left (mainly Oromo nationalists) for too long, It must now make some concessions to the left to maintain the coalition & as a means of political survival.

      But the downside of triangulation is that, if not deftly managed, you may end up completely alienating the one without getting the credit & support from the other! And even if the government somehow pull this off and ensure its political survival for the next election cycle, there is still a question of the end game strategy here: Ethiopia, unlike the U.S. where triangulation is widely practiced, is not a stable polity with a perpetuity of institutions where surviving election cycles means a lot to a political program. The political conflict besieging the governing coalition is structural to the country and triangulation is simply avoiding difficult political choices & kicking the can down the road.

      It is well known that the PM likes to get his inspiration from U.S. politics and perhaps thought he could pull his coalition & the country together with a Clinton-like triangulation strategy. But as far as the U.S. is a suitable source of inspiration for political strategy, I am afraid our current political situation resembles not the 1990s Clinton era but the civil war period in the 1860s and Honest Abe should perhaps be the right inspiration for the PM. Perhaps it is time to admit that ‘the center’ doesn’t hold anymore and what our situation calls for is not triangulating between bickering minions but a transformational leader that transcend politics as usual!

    • Considering yourself as Amhara, can you explain for yourself the Amhara mass killings and ething cleansing has been occurring in Oromia region and now further escalated to Amhara’s in Amhara region. You should know that you would be mutilated to pieces with nothing burry of because you are not at that particular time and place where mass killings has happened, and given the immediate danger ‘as evey other fellow amharas’ to your life, can you even had any idea how you’r going to save your self and your loved ones?. Instead your having fun on word games to amuse yourself. The message is save yourself then you’ll have time for it, if not save your ‘game’ for yourself so as not to be an obstacle for fellow Amharas in their struggle to preserve their life.

    • Relpy to Henok
      Considering yourself as Amhara, can you explain for yourself the Amhara mass killings and ething cleansing has been occurring in Oromia region and now further escalated to Amhara’s in Amhara region. You should know that you would be mutilated to pieces with nothing to burry of ’cause you’r not at that particular time and place where mass killings has happened, and given the immediate danger ‘as evey other fellow amharas’ to your life, can you even had any idea how you’r going to save your self and your loved ones?. Instead your having fun on word games to amuse yourself. The message is save yourself then you’ll have time for it, if not save your ‘game’ for yourself so as not to be an obstacle for fellow Amharas in their struggle to preserve their life.

  3. I always enjoy reading Obbo Yonas Biru, PhD. articles. He is a prolific writer. Whenever I find something that I differ from I always feel comfortable to make it known to him. Once again, I politely ask him to revisit this paragraph in this article which I think it may stem from misinformation. Here it is:
    ‘The Gedaa military tradition is known as Mogassa. Mogassa was the force behind Oromo’s 16th century success in forcefully absorbing non-Oromos into the Oromo tribal structure, first as serfs and slaves and eventually as equal members. Professor Mohammed Hassen (the most renowned Oromo historian and a leading Oromummaa ideologue) acknowledges that the Mogassa assimilation process was “inspired by political, military, and economic considerations.”

    Moggaasaa was an adopting system that was made available first to orphans and captives. It was also granted and made available to anyone who settled in areas dominated by Oromos. By the time this system was made available questions about who was victorious and who was the vanquished has been settled on the war front. The coming of Oromos all the way to the northern part of the country was a windfall for the people of that region. Oromos brought stability to the palaces in that part of the country which was in constant war footing with each other. Some of the most respected and beloved rulers during that period were Oromo chiefs. Again, I am not making this up. I came to know about it after reading history books written by historians like Obbo Bahru bin Zewde. Ras Ali the Great and Aligaz to name the few were the ones who tried and brought peace and stability/civility to the Palaces of Gondar and similar places. Many rulers of the northern part of the country used to seek refuge among Oromos when they were in big trouble. Even Menelik had sought refuge as a young boy when his father died during the fight with the ruthless Tedros. The same Menelik had to seek refuge once again among Oromos after he escaped from Tedros prison. First the Oromo queen in the present day Wello gave a refuge and a safe passage to his birth place. That was not all. When he arrived in Shewa he was just one destitute fugitive where most of his father’s chiefs were either killed or working for Tedros. But he found a very powerful Oromo chief Gobana who was tired and sick of lack of peace and stability among Oromos in Shewa. It was a frontier territory just like the old Wild West. The two formed a life long camaraderie with the aim of flushing out bandits and uniting the people. But Gobana had the opportunity to choose otherwise and do a quick work with the lonely and desperate Menelik. In stead he adopted (moggaasized) him and took him as his baby brother(by then Gobana was a middle age man).

  4. A well-articulated and informative document once again from Dr. Yonas Birru. I appreciate your relentless effort to shade light on political issues that matter most, and your openness for dialogue among the educated members of the Ethiopian community. You are doing what most of us in the community failed to do. Kudos to you, Dr. Yonas!
    Please correct me if I am wrong: the terms outlined are your beliefs on what Fano should adopt to successfully end the suffering of the Amhara people and bring positive change in the Ethiopian governance. If so, I have the following comments/ suggestions:
    From what I read, the manifest is more of a ‘negotiations’ framework than a declaration of political objectives and strategies. It lacks comprehensiveness. Negotiation is one tool, but not the only tool in the struggle for survival by such movement. I understand the points outlined in the cover page, and perfectly agree with what you stated there. However, pleasing others or conforming to others shouldn’t be your primary reason when adopting a strategy if you want to win. How far the movement can go with ‘negotiation”? The very reason Fano movement moved into armed confrontation is because the government in power did not want even to end basic human right violations such as the right to exist in peace and dignity. The strategy should be more comprehensive than the one outlined in your document.
    Below are specific suggestions I wish the manifest included:
    1) On the expose of current crisis: a) Oromuma is part of the equation, not the whole. Ethnic based movements to destabilize Ethiopia and ultimately dissolve it with the intention of creating new ethnic based country is the root cause of the problem. Amhara (and those who want Ethiopia to remain as their Country) are being attacked basically to realize this dream. B) What are the causes (questions) the Fano movement wants resolved? You have already outlined them in one of your interviews but didn’t make them part of the manifest. I think you should rephrase the background to the current crises to reflect the above two.
    2) On the existential outcome: I think it should be reframed as “what if the Ethno-fascists succeed and create their own countries by dissolving Ethiopia?” What are the implications? The expectations? Will we have a better peace and prosperity by disintegrating Ethiopia and going small? What is the alternative (how can we make Ethiopia fair, better, and great for all its citizens?)
    3) On the way forward: a) given the nature of the government in power, negotiation and other peaceful forms of struggle won’t work. Popular uprising and armed struggle are (unfortunately) not avoidable. B) How about justice? I don’t think those who did all the evil things under the sun on our people should walk free. They should face justice. And the victims must get compensated. C) The political manifest of any movement should state to the minimum its political objective and strategies. I didn’t see all this in the document.

    (ያንተኑ አገላለጽ ልዋስና ካጠፋሁ ይቅርታ)

    Respectfully,
    Yosief

  5. Thank you for your well crafted and deep intellectual analysis. Fano and the rest of Ethiopian ethnic groups have to raise up to curb those handful Oromo lunatics before destroying Ethiopia.

  6. That explains how Menelik had ordered the ‘cutting of breast’ as crafted by the Oromo elites to mobilize against Amhara’s. He must have learnt it from the ‘adopters’ given the fact that there is no such a thing in Amhara culture nor in any Christian or Muslim community.
    BTW your narrative sacks not based on facts but mere lies.

  7. Dear Dr Yonas Biru,
    First of all please allow me to express my thanks and appreciation for your serious struggle in your scholarly prepared documents including the Fanno Manifesto. I went through the Orommuma supporters’ maliciously written comments on your excellent written advice and open letters to different stakeholders. As you have tried to mention, it is the responsibility of UNICEF to protect Children like the one who has begged her merciless killers, expressing ” I can’t be an Amhara any more but forgive me for today”.. UNDP should have voiced against the Abiye cruile policy in prohibiting fertilizers to the Amhara farmers..However, nowadays the world stands with those who have power instead of with those who have rights/trouth. Days might come against these dictators to take them to the International court if it can’t be like the above mentioned UN agencies.

    Thank you so much and please don’t stop your effort in voicing for the victims
    with kind regards
    Abebaw

  8. Dear Dr Yonas Biru,
    First of all please allow me to express my thanks and appreciation for your serious struggle in your scholarly prepared documents including the Fanno Manifesto. I went through the Orommuma supporters’ maliciously written comments on your excellent written advice and open letters to different stakeholders. As you have tried to mention, it is the responsibility of UNICEF to protect Children like the one who has begged her merciless killers, expressing ” I will not be an Amhara any more but forgive me for today”.. UNDP should have voiced against the Abiye’s cruel policy in prohibiting fertilizers to the Amhara farmers..However, nowadays the world stands with those who have power instead of with those who have rights/truth. Days might come against these dictators to take them to the International court if it can’t be like the above mentioned UN agencies.

    Thank you so much and please don’t stop your effort in voicing for the victims
    with kind regards
    Abebaw

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