Bruke Lemma, PhD
“Societies that overcome authoritarianism and oppression are often confronted with a moral reckoning, striving to build a just and compassionate order after enduring a dark chapter.” – Vaclav Havel
The horrific atrocities unfolding in the Amhara region, which include mass killings of unarmed civilians using drones, heavy weaponry, and deliberate targeting of vulnerable populations such as women, children, the elderly, and the infirm, along with the deliberate destruction of critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals, are being carried out by the national armed forces— transformed by Abiy Ahmed into a private army exclusively devoted to serving his and his ethno extremist allies’ interests.
These actions being perpetrated by Abiy Ahmed, the Oromo ethno-extremists, and the debased former national army epitomize the culmination of a steady decline in decency and morality under successive dictatorships. The distressing events unraveling before us not only display a stark absence of restraint but also mark the total breakdown of cultural norms and ethical values.
Ethiopia’s descent into its darkest era under the Abiy Ahmed regime can be traced back to the tyrannical reign of Mengistu Haile Mariam, which gained momentum during the three-decade rule of the TPLF, particularly under the extremely unenlightened leadership of the late Melese Zenawi. This decline now reached its nadir with the brutal Abiy Ahmed regime, marked by extreme violence, appalling mass killings, and now relentless destruction of the Amhara region.
The Amharas were targeted relentlessly by both the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed, along with other ethnicities and dissenters to varying degrees. The highly dishonest, hidden objectives of both these regimes for a separatist future prompt reflection on the degenerated and morally bankrupt society they sought to build through extreme brutality, corruption and dishonesty.
Both the TPLF and the Abiy Ahmed regime failed to grasp that a society built upon extreme brutality lacks a foundation, inevitably turning the violence it inflicts outward onto itself. While the TPLF may be experiencing this now, their lack of intelligence makes it difficult to determine with certainty. However, the sheer brutality and lack of intellect displayed by the Abiy Ahmed regime surpasses both the TPLF and any prior regime, reaching an unimaginable level.
The brutality and inhumanity once inflicted by the TPLF on others now threatens to turn inward, increasing the likelihood of the Tigray region descending into self-destruction. This dire situation is compounded by poverty and pressing needs in a region devastated by the TPLF’s miscalculations and misadventures. Armed robberies, sexual violence, and food aid theft continue to plague the region, further exacerbating the suffering of the Tigrayan people.
This grim situation seems poised to worsen significantly. The very group that once ruthlessly brutalised outsiders now sits on the precipice of inflicting the same cruelty upon its own people and power base. Moreover, hundreds of Tigrayans are dying from starvation due to the criminal diversion of food aid, a situation implicating both the TPLF and the Abiy Ahmed regime. These
harsh realities serve as a stark reminder that building an ethical and stable society cannot be achieved through violence and cruelty.
While a substantial number of Tigrayans directly or indirectly benefited from the TPLF’s embezzlement and other crimes, remarkably few spoke out against the atrocities the TPLF perpetrated against others. Crucially, when we are speaking of beneficiaries, we are primarily referring to the Tigrayan elites.
The majority of the ordinary Tigrayan population gained very little or nothing from TPLF’s crimes, except, perhaps, psychological benefits from being indoctrinated into a belief of their ‘special’ entitlement above other ethnicities—a form of group narcissism. Nevertheless, all members of this community find themselves now trapped in a nightmare reminiscent of the suffering once inflicted by the TPLF on others.
While some covert dealings are underway between TPLF, who was, once again, given control over a devastated region through a phony peace deal and who in due course is likely to resort to brutalizing the Tigray people in order to maintain its power—and Abiy Ahmed, an extreme psychopath who caused and is causing havoc not only in that region but all over Ethiopia, including the Amhara region and beyond—there’s very little hope for any positive outcome from the machinations of the ‘dumb and dumber.’
The same deeply unintelligent actors, with the same criminal mindsets, operating within the same environment, is bound to lead to the same dismal results. While it’s sadly characteristic for the current dictator, Abiy Ahmed, to demonstrate a complete lack of ability to learn or gain any insight—arguably one of the least sagacious leaders in Ethiopia’s history—it’s profoundly disheartening that many of the Oromo elites haven’t absorbed any lessons from the tragedy in the Tigray region.
The Oromo ethno-extremists, never known for being the brightest bulb in the box, completely fail to grasp the gravity of the dire situation unfolding in the devastated Tigray region—a region now nearly beyond recovery. It has suffered countless casualties, almost a million youth, by some counts, lost their lives, and thousands of survivors, many barely teenagers, left permanently maimed, having lost limbs, while millions more endure suffering. Hunger has claimed hundreds and is poised to worsen dramatically.
The ashes of the TPLF’s separatist ambition, fueled by the exploitation of other Ethiopians, now lie smoldering. Yet, the Oromo ethno-extremists cling to a similar dream, one destined to suffer the same fiery fate. The nightmare currently endured by the Tigray people will inevitably engulf the Oromo people and the Oromo region as well if Abiy Ahmed and his ethno-extremist supporters are not stopped in their tracks.
Abiy Ahmed and his ethno-extremist regime continue to perpetrate unimaginable atrocities against the Amhara people, exceeding even the suffering inflicted on them by the TPLF. Words struggle to capture the horrors they endure each day, yet each new dawn brings even greater barbarity, inflicted with stomach-churning cruelty.
Despite Ethiopia’s imminent financial collapse and inability to secure further loans, Abiy Ahmed continues to sell out the nation’s interests, bartering its future for mere dollars to fuel his machinery of death and perpetuate the slaughter of the Amhara people. Consequently, not only are casualties soaring, but if this continues unchecked, there will be nothing left of the country— Abiy Ahmed will have sold it all.
As drones unleash daily terror on Amhara people, including women, children, and the elderly, the world remains silent. Left to their own devices, the Amhara people must do their best to survive the indiscriminate killings that are being orchestrated by the madman, Abiy Ahmed.
In this struggle, Ethiopians have a crucial role to play. They must dedicate their resources to researching and outlining effective strategies for Amhara people to survive these drone attacks. Alongside these efforts, others must tirelessly continue to inform the world, hoping to awaken their deafened ears and prompt action to end this senseless slaughter.
In recent decades in Ethiopia, the TPLF’s emergence signified the rise of one of the most corrupt, violent, and profoundly incompetent criminal groups worldwide. However, their successors, Abiy Ahmed’s ethno-extremist regime, managed to exceed TPLF in corruption, violence, and incompetence. Moreover, the emergence of the OLA group, with its documented connections to the Abiy Ahmed regime, unleashed a degree of brutality that surpassed both the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed’s regime, as I will elaborate on in my upcoming article.
OLA, operating as an extension of the Abiy Ahmed’s regime, engaged in robbing banks, over 25 of them so far, committing grotesque mass murders of Amhara civilians, often burning and destroying entire villages of the Amhara people living in the Oromia region, among other atrocities. They have been and continue to carry out horrifying abductions of locals, tourists and foreign businessmen, resulting in casualties and fatalities.
In contrast, the Fanos stand out as a beacon of hope. Their dedication to decency, restraint, and a moral compass is unparalleled in recent memory, both within Ethiopia and globally. Throughout their seven-month struggle against the Abiy Ahmed regime’s all-out war against them, they have consistently resisted the temptations of theft and bank robberies, steadfastly upholding their principles of decency and morality. They have been and continue to safeguard civilians—locals, tourists, and foreign businessmen—often at the risk of their own lives.
This stark contrast between the unwavering principles of the Fanos and the persistent engagement in despicable actions by TPLF, Abiy Ahmed, and other ethno-extremists in the country, including OLA, underscores a profound divergence in ethical standards.
The lingering and confounding question remains: How could groups originating from the same country, operating in almost the same environment exhibit such extreme differences in their decency and moral conduct?
While I’ll explore these matters further in my upcoming article, it’s widely acknowledged that there has been a persistent decline in ethics and morality under successive dictatorial regimes in Ethiopia. This pattern is common in post-dictatorial regimes globally, although Ethiopia remains still under the control of a dictator—the worst so far, but hopefully the last, and soon. The gradual erosion of morality and ethics under the reign of successive dictators has reached its peak with the current ruler, Abiy Ahmed, widely regarded as the worst of them all.
Ethiopia has endured a dark chapter under the rule of successive dictators, whose economic mismanagement and brutality have steadily escalated. This culminated in the current regime, led by Abiy Ahmed, the darkest of them all, who embodies unparalleled incompetence, corruption exceeding any prior level, and violence of unprecedented scope.
Abiy Ahmed’s actions, including instigating widespread conflict and deploying drones and heavy machinery to indiscriminately kill civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, have caused immeasurable death and destruction. This period marks the darkest chapter in Ethiopian history within living memory, potentially even surpassing any previous era.
Still, the key question remains: what specifically accounts for the escalating brutality of these dictators and their specific targeting of the Amhara people? All the dictators, except Mengistu Haile Mariam, rose to power by exploiting real and fabricated grievances of a single ethnic group: Melese Zenawi and his TPLF, that of the Tigray people, Abiy Ahmed and his ethno
extremists, that of the Oromos.
The Amhara people, as one of the largest ethnic groups in the country, if not outright the largest, posed a challenge to the hegemony sought by these ethnically organised regimes. Consequently, these regimes launched prolonged campaigns of hate and demonisation against them. Additionally, profound fear motivated these actions, anticipating retaliation from the Amhara people known for their warrior culture. Hence, the dictators treated them mercilessly, inflicting maximum pain on them and continuing to do so – as they say, ‘the coward is always cruel’.
Beyond the pursuit of ethnic dominance, another key factor driving the moral decline of some segment of Ethiopian society under successive regimes, particularly the late Melese Zenawi and his TPLF group and Abiy Ahmed and his ethno-extremists, is their deliberate effort to mould the populace, especially their own ethnicities, in their own image which, they have largely been able to achieve. These regimes nurtured a culture prioritizing greed and wealth acquisition by any means necessary, a pursuit almost invariably fuelled by theft and corruption.
These dictatorial regimes have normalized these behaviours over decades, shaping and conditioning the populace, particularly elites from their own ethnic groups, to comply unquestionably, even resorting to violence if required, all in pursuit of wealth, as we tragically are witnessing today.
Another significant factor contributing to this phenomenon was the intentional sabotaging of the education system. Specifically, the late Melese Zenawi and his TPLF deliberately and systematically undermined the country’s education system in regions beyond their own, diverting lavish investments exclusively to their own region, which now lies in ruins, much like the rest of that region.
Over the last five years, the present dictator Abiy Ahmed has consistently allocated an excessive portion of resources to his native region, the Oromia region. Despite this, Abiy Ahmed, considered the most unintelligent and unenlightened amongst all the Ethiopian dictators, has displayed minimal interest in investing in the education system, not just in the rest of the country but also in his own region. It is noteworthy that Abiy Ahmed, a man with a plagiarized PhD, and this disclosure hardly comes as a surprise.
While that encapsulates the essence of successive dictators that ultimately led the country to a state of extreme brutality under Abiy Ahmed now, prior to their rule, the nation was governed by a monarchy whose long reign yielded minimal progress or modernization. While surface level changes occurred, the overall cultural landscape remained predominantly feudalistic, characterized by both commendable and negative aspects.
On the positive side, the culture embraced virtues such as the sanctity of one’s word, honesty, integrity, and a strong aversion to losing face due to any deficiencies in these values. However, it also harboured a significant emphasis on visibility and recognition, irrespective of whether such acknowledgment was earned or not—a form of narcissism that lingered insidiously and continues to impact some individuals from that historical period.
The rise of the Fanos represented a beacon of moral resurgence emerging from a predominantly negative background, embracing the best values of the past while shedding those that were damaging, including the insidious conditioning of the successive dictators. Their advent was accompanied by the remarkable and extraordinary presence of Eskinder Nega, a leader tried and tested, unwavering in his dedication to principles, untouched by the temptations of wealth or corruption.
Despite enduring imprisonment over ten or eleven times, his resolve remained unshaken, steadfastly opposing successive dictators who would have eagerly courted his favor with promises of wealth and privilege had he chosen to compromise his integrity. Both the Fanos and Eskinder Nega embody truly exceptional forces, arising from the seemingly insurmountable challenges of Ethiopia’s recent decades marked by decay, corruption, and brutality.
The already exceptional character of Eskinder Nega shines even brighter when contrasted with those once associated with the struggle against the TPLF who chose to capitulate and embrace power, riches, and privilege under the current dictator, Abiy Ahmed.
Foremost among these figures is Professor Berhanu Nega, initially celebrated as a potential harbinger of democratic leadership but now tarnished by his acceptance of a position bestowed by the worst dictator in Ethiopian history.
It is evident that Berhanu Nega, hailing from the feudalistic era, prioritizes power, visibility, and elevated status above the positive qualities of that era. Ethiopians, having bestowed trust and opportunity upon him, now view him with nothing but pity and contempt.
His narcissism has caused widespread disappointment, and his decision to sell out and become a mere puppet for the Abiy Ahmed regime, notorious for its ongoing mass murders and atrocities, will never be forgiven.
In addition to Berhanu Nega, there were others who were highly esteemed during the struggle against the TPLF, including Professor Al Mariam, who has been fervently advocating for Abiy Ahmed for the past five years. It’s not just his support for the Abiy Ahmed’s regime itself that’s perplexing, but also the manner in which he has been expressing that support—devoid of any learning or moderation.
Despite substantial evidence exposing the true nature of Abiy Ahmed’s regime for an extended period, Professor Al Mariam maintained staunch support for the regime, disregarding all facts of the true nature of that regime.
Abiy Ahmed’s regime, which Professor Al Mariam ardently stood by, continues to commit atrocities against civilians, particularly targeting Amharas civilians, now at unprecedented levels. Given these incontrovertible facts, one wonders about Professor Al Mariam current stance.
His prolonged silence might signify the dilemma he faces. Regardless, it’s improbable he will ever regain the respect and trust that he once commanded – he has squandered it all, becoming now more like a buffoon.
We are all shaped by our backgrounds, inheriting both positive and negative influences from the past. It is crucial to critically examine these inherited traits and carry forward only those that contribute to a brighter future. Unfortunately, some like Professors Berhanu Nega, Al Mariam and others don’t leave behind the negative traits they might have inherited, particularly narcissistic tendencies. In general, we must not take our inherent capacity for good for granted.
When we fail to introspect, it becomes easier to succumb to temptations, as those mentioned above and others have done and likely will continue to do. I have personally encountered those who exploit the suffering and the struggles of others, not for rendering assistance to them but to serve their own narcissistic desires—a characteristic that may stem from their feudalistic and other negative backgrounds. However, it is important not to generalize excessively.
There are many genuinely dedicated Ethiopians actively working to support those being oppressed and suffering, with Eskinder Nega serving as a shining example. With Eskinder Nega’s exemplary political leadership of the Fanos at the highest level, along that of Dawit Wolde Giorgis and others, coupled with the Fanos unwavering moral compass and our unwavering support, we have the potential to free not only the Amhara people but all Ethiopians from the darkness of Abiy Ahmed’s rule, paving the way for a brighter future for all.
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