Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeOpinionFive  Reflections Inspired by the War on Amhara 

Five  Reflections Inspired by the War on Amhara 

Abiy Ahmed speaking at the parliament

Part 1

By Sisay M. (Amoraw)
Seattle, Washington 

The latest spate of genocidal violence against the Amhara perpetrated by Abiy’s Fascistic regime has largely been ignored by international media, and therefore, very few people around the world are aware of it. Ever wondered why? This article is an outlet for personal introspection and reflection on the War on Amhara. 

I did this reflection with a deep sense of concern and curiosity, seeking to understand the dynamics of global, regional and local politics, our relationship with our own history, and the current ethnic-fascist regime in Arat kilo. I invite anyone to reflect upon these thoughts, as they are meant to encourage introspection and foster dialogue rather than make sweeping assumptions.

  1. In War, Semantics Matter. A Lot.

Words can be weapons, and the phrase “law enforcement operation in Amhara” has been a powerful weapon for Abiy Ahmed. It is used to convey the impression that any Amhara carrying a gun is labeled a villain who operates outside the standards of “law and order” — someone who merits condemnation and must be stopped. 

Since 9/11, the semantics of war in global politics have been thoroughly debated—one man’s terrorist, as they say, is another man’s freedom fighter. Just as calling the participants in wars by different names affects our feelings toward them, what we call each war itself is also very important (e.g., “the Tigray war” vs. “the conflict in Amhara”). When Abiy’s regime “disarm and demilitarize Amhara regional forces,” the Amhara forces is to win the world’s approval for the implementation of the so-called Pretoria peace deal. To call the conflict what it is – a full-blown war on Amhara- is to imply something completely different. 

 “Conflict in Amhara” is a gross understatement of the full-blown genocidal war the fascistic regime of Abiy Ahmed waged on Amharas in Ethiopia. It is an inaccurate description, the same way “roughed up” is an inaccurate description of torture. Both are non-legal euphemisms that do not connote or demand the accountability of perpetrators and an obligation to prevent and protect civilians from government brutality. Conflict in Amhara is a euphemism deployed to cloak the war’s bitter and brutal realities; over-the-top honorifics like “law-enforcement operations” were assigned to conceal Abiy Ahmed’s genocidal full-blown war on Amhara.

Some fraudulent elites and pundits even tend to describe the situation in Amhara as a “quarrel between two former allies.” As if in their mind, the millions of Amhara victims (who are killed, displaced, or trapped) on the one hand and the all-powerful government military and anti-Amhara armed groups on the other, could be reduced to an analogy of two grumpy teenage siblings having a spat over tv channels.

The more fraudulent political elites and diplomatic community—and the media that quotes them endlessly—employ such euphemisms to cloak the harsh realities of the war on Amhara, the more they ensure that such harshness endures, indeed, that it is likely to grow harsher and more pernicious as we continue to settle into a world of euphemistic thinking.

We owe it to the victims and the issue to choose our words carefully, not based only on the most recent crisis, but on a deeper, richer, and longer-term understanding of the history of persecution, exclusion, and suffering of the Amharas. It is this deeper analysis that has led many to conclude that a genocide has been unfolding before our eyes for over three decades. If my only reference point was November 2020 or the Pretoria agreement that ignored the Amhara voices, my conclusion too might have been different.

We have to understand that the labels we use do not change the nature of the experiences of those at the receiving end of the war on Amhara. The enduring trauma of watching helplessly as your child is being burnt alive or your mother is being raped is as excruciating, unimaginable, and life-changing, whichever label the international community decides to use. Only an appropriate label to the war on Amhara could lead to a better understanding of the crisis and thus influence policy to bring about resolutions and stability.

  1. Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.

Before the United States had its current national motto ( In God We Trust) signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, another motto endorsed by Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin (Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God) was in use.

History has taught us that the right to rebel against tyranny is an inherent right that is as old as humanity itself. Historians claim that the right to rebel against tyranny was first asserted as a natural right in 285 CE, after the death of Augustus Caesar, when they asserted the natural rights of men to rebel against the miserable conditions they were placed under. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential philosophers and theologians of his time, agreed with the right to resist tyranny and concluded that overthrowing a tyrant could not be sedition but was always a right and even a duty. 

There is no other population in the world other than the Amahras to whom this fundamental right to rebel against tyranny applies. The history of the world is replete with evidence of an existential threat to any group whose marginalization is made a subject matter of constitutional enshrinement. And every man or woman of Amhara descent possessed of conscience has a divine duty to resist the ongoing tyranny. 

The ongoing Amhara resistance against the war waged on Amharas by Abiy’s regime is embarked on a big and noble dream borne out of the necessities of our history and the imperatives of justice, equity, and fair play. While Amharas’ history is proud, long and deep, with a substantial imprint in Ethiopia, the reality of our contemporary existence as people has been critically threatened. These times call for self-assertion, and Amharas must rise and answer the challenges with one voice. Amhara resistance is a struggle for survival and justice: a divine endeavor to ensure the continued dignified existence of the Amhara ethnic group on earth. The impulse to demand justice and the instinctive revolt against injustice constitute the most essential ingredients of humanity. If we recognize this philosophical essence of what truly defines our sentient nature, then we must accept that Amhara resistance is not only inevitable but mandatory.

No one should be in any doubt that the political struggles and strife raging in Ethiopia today, and which will rage for at least another generation, represent the struggles to assert group identity and legitimacy expressed through the mechanics of politics. Amhara people can ill-afford to take a passive stance in this maelstrom that diminished Amhara as a people and will surely continue to cleanse them off. The only way out of the hellish conditions in which Amharas find themselves is to end the tyrannical system that was imposed on them. Amharas need to end the ongoing genocide, the cycle of cultural and religious persecution and exclusion, political and economic marginalization. These all have been steadily going about their courses as the world went about its own for three decades. The current Amhara situation cannot and must not continue. Not in the 21st century. Not after Rwanda. Not in a world of human rights, where it is the duty of citizens to revolt against Tyranny. 

  1. “Never again” has become “time and again.”

On December 9, 1948, United Nations member states approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – a treaty born out of the fervent desire to ensure that “never again” would any person face the horror of genocide, such as the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis during the Holocaust. However, since then, the world has witnessed the odious scourge of genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Cambodia. 

It wasn’t long ago that ethnic cleansing of Amharas in Oromia made headlines when close to 250 Amharas were slaughtered like chickens. Most recently, several violent episodes of anti-Amhara discrimination, deprivation, and arbitrary detention of Amharas and putting them in Concentration camps have been compounded with a full-blown genocidal war declared on Amharas as part of a campaign of unfathomable cruelty by the Abiy fascist regime. But for the most part, when it comes to Ethiopia, the world is fixated on the Pretoria peace deal, which serves the narrow geopolitical interests of certain players. Two weeks ago, there were several diplomatic statements reminding us of the one-year anniversary of the Pretoria peace deal. Those statements rarely captured the war on Amhara.  

Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, when accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, said, “Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” How far now are the Amharas from the center of our universe? But it is no surprise. If we glance back to recent genocides in Darfur, Rwanda, Burma, and Cambodia, we see how the world has, in fact, averted its eyes even as victims were still victimized and perpetrators still not held to account. The genocidal governments of Sudan and Maynamar remained in place, yet from both American and European policy perspectives, have largely been legitimized by the international community. The plight of the Amharas in Ethiopia is yet another intolerable (and yet tolerated), grievous (yet how many are grieving) trend: the normalization of genocide. 

  1. The UN, the EU, the African Union, and Human Rights Groups consistently fail those that matter the least.

The international community’s response to the war on Amhara has been very weak and fragmented, to say the least. The US and EU, which are best placed to pressure Abiy Ahmed’s regime, have not issued strong statements condemning the war on Amhara. The war on Amhara clearly exposed the moral deficit and hypocrisy of the US and EU foreign policy towards Ethiopia. 

This is not a new revelation. In the past five years, Abiy Ahmed has, time and again, been given the signal that he is allowed to exterminate and expel the Amharas with impunity. Even in the face of gruesome war crimes happening in Amhara, several opinion pieces advise caution, warning of the derailment of the so-called Pretoria Agreement implementation and Ethiopia’s supposed pacification process and calling for local and international restraint. As if what the world needs is more false reasons not to protect Amharas from being massacred with absolute impunity.

But in the face of “The Pretoria Agreement implementation,” “national dialogue,” “state-sovereignty,” and “geopolitics,” the Amhara lives are up for bargaining. The global response to the war in Amhara, not just since August 2023 but for many decades, exposes the emptiness of words such as “never again” and “no one left behind,” which flow so easily off the lips of so-called human rights advocates and champions. 

Genocide never happens in isolation, nor is it inevitable. It is denied, enabled, and enforced through lies, complicity, counter-narratives, propaganda, turning a blind eye, and weighing human life against economic and geopolitical gain. For genocide to happen, the rest of the world has to be too divided, conflicted, selfish, or indecisive to – even for a short moment in time – come together to protect those under fire. In the Amhara genocide, we see all these ingredients and more.

Thus, advocates for the rights of Amhara people have to escalate the pressure and find new ways to do so. Our advocacy should remain steadfast, principled, and pragmatic so that we can be efficient AND effective in the face of such local and international apathy.

  1. It is a Mismatch of mindsets and values  

As decorated warriors would say,  the will to fight and the unyielding determination to fight to the end is the single supreme factor in war. With very few exceptions, all wars and almost all battles are decided by matters of human will: Breaking the enemy’s will to fight while sustaining one’s own will to fight is the key to success in any battle. A well-trained elite squadron armed with the best military technology in the world can easily be trounced by an army of fighters with stronger will and indelible determination to fight, to keep fighting, and to win. That is what we are witnessing with the war on Amhara. 

When the Abiy regime declared war on Amhara with the pretext of disarming Amhara special forces and Amhara Fanos, most political pundits applauded the move. There was a gross miscalculation of what was about to surface. Abiy Ahmed’s generals and military intelligence units ignored or idiotically undermined the unyielding determination of Amharas to resist and the deeply embedded public support for Amhara Fano and special forces. 

During his recent speech at parliament, Abiy Ahmed said that he would spend any amount of money to crush the Amhara resistance. He mockingly said, “I can borrow ten billion Dollars to support my war, but the fighters can get a penny from anyone.”  This is a clear indication of Abiy Ahmed’s flawed understanding of what it takes to win against Amhara resistance with extensive public support. Just like any dictator, Abiy wants to hear what he wants to hear, and he believes what he wants to believe. This grass-is-greener view of Aby’s fascistic mindset perceives war primarily as a contest of opposing gear. That is why he is focused on spending millions of dollars to import expensive military technology.  

Unlike the Amhara fano, Abiy’s military has no true cause to fight and die for. On paper, the regime has more soldiers, better guns, heavy artillery, tanks, and drones. They had a clear advantage over Amhara Fanos, which is made up of Amharas from all walks of life with AK 47. In practice, their numerical and technological superiority vanished as the regime’s forces are being trounced on every battlefront, having no will to fight against the Amhara resistance that is determined to fight and fighting to win.

A final thought

The Amhara tenacity, drive, and relentless optimism to pursue life’s enduring dreams of family, faith, and success and to overcome challenges will surely see them through. But the world must listen to our voices whenever we cry out, for we have long suffered and endured in silence for over five decades now. Here is an ancient African idiom that says, “He who does not recognize the point at which the rain began to beat him would not recognize when the rain ceases to fall altogether.”

For the Amhara people in Ethiopia, the rainfall ensued in the early 1960s when the anti-Amhara rhetoric and political narrative started to take shape. The rain began to beat Amharas from the early days of the Derg military junta when Amhara elites were targeted and systematically destroyed in the name of reform such as ‘land to the tillers’ and redistribution of private property. While other major ethnic groups like Oromos and Tigres established their own political groups in the name of liberation movements, the Amhars were left alone like sheep among a pack of wolves. 

The rain has not abated with the removal of Derg and the emergence of the TPLF-dominated EPRDF, and the eventual arrival of the tyrant fascist Abiy Ahmed. In fact, the bloody rain was enabled through a constitutional and anti-Amhara policy and continued to beat harder on the Amhara people, resulting in organized Amhara massacres in several parts of  Ethiopia. It is time for the bloody rain on Amhara to stop. Amhara people are already drenched and soaked to the point of suffocation. It is not only in the best interests of the Amharas but also in the best interests of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region for the sun to rise and shine on the land of Amharas and others in Ethiopia.

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

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