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HomeOpinionUnmasking the Deceptive Narrative: A Response to Yonas Birru's Shifting  Agenda 

Unmasking the Deceptive Narrative: A Response to Yonas Birru’s Shifting  Agenda 

Amhara movement _ Fano _ Sept 8
Noticeable that the Fano movement in Amhara region is getting a popular support in the region and beyond. (Photo : from the web/file)

Bruke Lemma, PhD 

“Better a good enemy than a bad friend.” – Plato 

After being perplexed by the actions of Yonas Biru (PhD) for some time, it suddenly became  clear to me that he has been employing a tactic that, while not that original or particularly  clever, remains highly effective. This strategy involves initially telling one’s audience precisely  what they want to hear, only to later use the credentials or the trust gained through these initial  communications to undermine and cast doubt on everything that the audience believed.  

It’s like removing the rug from under the audience’s feet, leaving them confused and dazed,  potentially turning them against what they were supporting before. While I wholeheartedly  support open and honest criticism, debates, and discussions, this particular practice is not only  intellectually dishonest but also deeply misleading and insidious. 

We were all initially captivated by Yonas Biru’s writings and the interviews that he gave in  various media, where he passionately supported the Amhara people and their struggle while  fervently criticizing the government of Abiy Ahmed and the ethno-extremists that he surrounds  himself with, along with the crude and retrograde worldview, Oromuma, in very strong terms.  

We eagerly consumed these articles and interviews. However, over time, the tone of these  articles and the substance of the interviews, some of which I watched with alarm and disgust,  shifted towards implicit and explicit attacks on the Amhara people and their leadership,  undermining the very objectives of the struggle that he initially championed. 

The above is an excerpt from Yonas Biru’s recent article titled: “The Passive aggressive . . .” in which he  makes crude references to the great Eskinder Nega and Shaleka Dawit Weldegiorgis 

Yonas Biru relied on a combination of facts and highly crude rumours in these attacks, some  of which could be easily disproven. Considering his apparent intellectual capacity, these cannot  be dismissed as mere mistakes. It appears to be a deliberate and calculated effort on his part to  spread false narratives, sow discord, and undermine the Amhara peoples’ efforts. 

A case in point here is Yonas Biru’s recent article decrying what he perceives as passive  aggressiveness in Amhara peoples’ politics. However, it becomes evident that this critique is  nothing more than a case of projection and a glaring lack of self-awareness on his part. After  ostensibly sympathizing with the Amhara peoples’ three decades of suffering, he proceeded to 

launch both subtle and overt attacks against the very Amhara people he claimed to stand in  solidarity with.  

His targets included Amhara intellectuals, scholars, and the political elite, whom he criticized  for their alleged failure to develop a cohesive national agenda. In stark contrast, he seemed to  praise the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed’s government for their efforts in this regard. It’s truly  perplexing how Yonas Biru has come to regard ethno-extremism, which promotes a politics of  radical exclusion and an ethos of extreme greed that seeks to claim everything exclusively for  a single ethnic group, as a praiseworthy comprehensive national agenda. 

Without explicitly stating it, it appears that Yonas Biru is attempting to portray the Amhara as  disregarding the existence and rights of others, promoting a self-serving agenda. He insinuates  that the Amhara intend to impose their ways or preferences on others, much like the TPLF,  Abiy Ahmed, and other ethno-extremists have been doing. This supposed disregard for others  then serves as a pretext for Yonas Biru and others like him to conduct a campaign against the  Amhara. Their tactics include generating fear among other ethnic groups, specifically, pitting  different ethnic groups against one another, and ultimately undermining the Amhara’ cause. 

However, the reality is quite different. The Amhara have an inclusive agenda that celebrates  the rich tapestry of ethnic and religious diversity within Ethiopia. Thus, Yonas Biru’s criticism  of Amhara intellectuals and political parties and others for not openly expressing a desire to  transform the entire country into a unitarian state is not only malicious but also a deliberate  misrepresentation. It appears to be a calculated attempt to set the Amhara up for criticism and  attack, all based on a false premise. 

In any case, the term ‘unitarian state’ remains vague and undefined, intentionally designed to  stoke animosity towards the Amhara. It has long been exploited as a propaganda tool by the  TPLF, Abiy Ahmed, and various Oromo ethno-extremists and others. The sole purpose of this  narrative is to depict the Amhara as a threat to the interests of other ethnic groups in the country.  However, in reality, the Amhara are advocating not only for their fair share but also for the  rights of all communities, including an equitable distribution of power.  

Their goal is not to replace one unfair system with another. This is the truth, and it’s high time  someone called on Yonas Biru to cease and desist from spreading misleading gossips and  malicious TPLF’s and Abiy Ahmed’s and other ethno-extremists propaganda under the guise  of supporting the Amhara. The last thing the Amhara need is a friend like Yonas Biru, who is  worse than an enemy to the Amhara people. 

Though very vague and almost exclusively a propaganda tool, the term ‘unitarian state’ is  sometimes used to falsely suggest that the Amhara oppose Federalism. However, the reality is  quite different. The Amhara have never opposed Federalism; instead, like many of us, they are  against Ethnic Federalism. They advocate for a Federalism model similar to the one in the US  and other functional democracies, which they believe is the most suitable for the country. 

Echoing the baseless accusations of Abiy Ahmed, the TPLF, and other ethno-extremists reveals  a profound lack of intellectual integrity and a concerning intellectual bankruptcy.  Unfortunately, this is precisely what Yonas Biru has been doing. Furthermore, he has resorted  to name-calling, using embarrassing and crude language to target Amhara leaders such as  Eskinder Nega and Shaleka Dawit Weldegiorgis and others. This behaviour raises serious  questions about the state of his own mind and motivations.

Both Eskinder Nega and Shaleka Dawit Weldegiorgis an extensive history in the struggle that  few, if any, could ever match. Their commitment dates back to the days of TPLF and continues  under the current rule of Abiy Ahmed, which has sadly proven to be even worse than the cursed  TPLF.  

In particular, Eskinder Nega has endured a great deal, including lengthy imprisonments and  years of torture, without wavering from the cause of the people. He consistently carries himself  with remarkable decorum and dignity, despite all that he has endured at the hands of these  monsters, TPLF and Abiy Ahmed. 

When TPLF was still in power, I remember reading an article written in English by Eskinder  Nega long before I knew who he was. I was extremely impressed by his wisdom, intelligence,  insight, and courage, as he wrote while being threatened and continually harassed by the TPLF,  who imprisoned him ten times or more.  

Eskinder Nega, a man of great stature, convictions, and gravitas, has even gone to the desert  now to continue fighting for the people, sacrificing his family and children for the cause. I am  totally at a loss as to what gives Yonas Biru, who has done little or nothing and has no stature  or achievements to match those of Eskinder Nega in any way at all, the right to make baseless  and nonsensical remarks about him, beyond possibly sheer narcissism.  

It’s frankly embarrassing even to address Yonas Biru’s behaviour. Even a high school student  or a teenager would know how to communicate better. He isn’t engaging in any meaningful  debate or raising substantial issues; instead, he relies on crude name-calling, rumour mongering, innuendos, and recycling brain-dead Abiy Ahmed’s and TPLF’s and other ethno extremists’ propaganda. 

While the temptation is to simply ignore him, however, given that Yonas Biru writes multiple  articles and reaches a substantial audience through other media, there is a risk that some might  mistakenly believe there is merit to what he is saying. Therefore, it becomes necessary to  respond to his attacks on the Amhara leadership, including figures like Eskinder Nega and  Shaleka Dawit Weldegiorgis, as well as the broader Amhara cause.  

This is why I have written this brief article to address these issues. However, there are other  Ethiopian intellectuals, such as Dr. Aklog Birara and others, who may be better positioned than  myself to effectively counter Yonas Biru’s continued dissemination of falsehoods and  innuendos. In any case, I strongly encourage Ethiopian intellectuals to take up the task of  countering Yonas Biru’s misleading narratives, not simply focusing on the propaganda of Abiy  Ahmed, among other things. 

Specifically, as many of us are aware, Yonas Biru was previously associated with Abiy Ahmed.  However, he claimed to have become disillusioned by Abiy Ahmed and started sharply  criticizing him in serious of articles. In these articles, he also supported the Amhara peoples’  struggle, highlighting their suffering at the hands of Abiy Ahmed and TPLF.  

However, his tone soon after shifted to overtly and covertly undermining the Amharas’ struggle  in general and its leadership in particular, along with making a host of other questionable  statements in both his later articles and in his other media appearances. 

Given this sudden change and the theatrics surrounding it, there’s speculation that he may have  been sent by Abiy Ahmed to undermine the Amhara’ cause under the pretence of working  against Abiy Ahmed. It’s hard to believe that he genuinely holds some of the views he expresses  in his articles and interviews, especially considering his apparent intellectual level. 

In any case, Yonas Biru has now become a regular contributor to some of the media, in  particular, Anchor media. I strongly encourage everyone to scrutinize his claims and his true  intentions. He has gained a platform and some following, which he is using now to subvert the  struggle from within, making his actions all the more insidious.

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

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1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Dr Biruk, እግዚአብሔር ያክብርዎት
    As early as Yonas Birru’s usage of the term “Amhara shene”, his position was crystal clear. Duly a tiny article titled “the course & curse of Amhara politics” in response to his rantings, was published on borkena dot com. Not many people were sure about his mission then. Down the line, he is disclosing his elements one after the other. As you pointed it out saying “… speculation that he may have been sent by Abiy Ahmed to undermine the Amhara’ cause under the pretence of working against Abiy Ahmed…” is a 100% true role he has been playing. Oromumma has and uses “controlled opposition agents, massively. Recently, an article titled “ስለሚፈራው የእርስ በእርስ ጦርነት ( The imminent civil war in Ethiopia)” was published in Amharic, where this issue is expressed in detail. Therefore, Dr Yonas is የበግ ለምድ የለበሰ ተኩላ።
    Thank you for your contributions

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