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Thundering Amhara Fanos and Myanmar’s Resistance Forces Mirror Revolutions: Parallel  Paths to Freedom, Shattering the Foundations of Tyranny

Fano combatants (Photo : SM/File)

Bruke Lemma, PhD 

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” 

“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.”- Victor Hugo 

In the nations of Ethiopia and Myanmar, few political commentators or observers had predicted  the rise of forces capable of overthrowing the entrenched, degenerative terrorist dictatorial regimes in both countries. The oppressive regimes, inflicting suffering upon their respective  populations, were ill-prepared for such a challenge, thus they were caught entirely off guard by  these unforeseen events they had failed to anticipate. 

The remarkable ascendance of the Fanos in Ethiopia and the highly effective coalition of  resistance forces in Myanmar over recent months has been an extraordinary phenomenon to  witness. Both groups have achieved successive victories against their respective dictatorial  regimes that have impressed many commentators and observers. 

The Fanos confronting Abiy Ahmed’s regime in Ethiopia continue to provoke extreme fear and  upheaval within the regime’s hierarchy. While the regime has a well-known history of  disregarding the human rights of the population, the emergence of the Fanos has pushed the  regime completely over the edge. Now, it has resorted to committing egregious and widespread  war crimes and crimes against humanity in a desperate attempt to cling to power and shield  itself from the genuine threat posed by the Fanos. 

Meanwhile, in Myanmar, the coalition of resistance forces persist in effectively challenging the  entrenched military junta—a regime characterised by rather unorthodox belief systems and  worldviews. These encompass adherence to conspiracy theories, mystical and occult beliefs,  consulting fortune tellers, and performing rituals, among other peculiar beliefs. 

In Ethiopia, a nation that has endured the oppressive reign of three successive dictatorial  regimes, spanning decades, with each outdoing the other in tyranny, the current epitome of this  oppressive history is Abiy Ahmed’s regime, arguably the most incompetent, inept beyond  measure, deeply corrupt, arrogant and by far the cruellest. 

This regime, similar to its counterpart, the Myanmar Military Junta, adheres to unorthodox  beliefs, specifically, a prosperity cult, fortune-telling, and various other peculiar and  unconventional beliefs while it has been terrorising and tyrannising the nation for the past five  years. The ethno-nationalist regime also mirrors its precursor, the TPLF, both embracing a  homemade ‘ethno-nationalist’ ‘ideology’ that exploits ethnic grievances to pillage the country,  enriching their own ethnic elites while operating very much in the manner of a mafia gang. 

Under Abiy Ahmed’s ethno-mafia regime, the entire nation has been engulfed in unending  conflict instigated by the regime, resulting in the tragic loss of more than a million lives, predominantly youth. The conflicts have led to the widespread destruction of vital  infrastructure, including health facilities, schools, and others; more than five million people  have been internally displaced, while an alarming thirty million people now teeter on the brink  of hunger and starvation, with thousands already succumbing to these dire conditions. 

The nation’s economy has plummeted into a severe downturn, grappling with uncontrollable  inflation and an officially downgraded debt rating that now rests within junk territory.  Moreover, the country recently defaulted on its external debt, precipitating far-reaching  consequences. 

The regime has incarcerated almost all journalists, intellectuals, opinion leaders, and even  politicians who dare to express dissent, even in the mildest forms, confining them in disease ridden makeshift prisons all over the country. This appalling situation exposes the country’s  best and brightest to disease and hunger, continually subjected to and humiliated by an unjust  legal system that truly serves only the dictator, Abiy Ahmed and his cronies. 

The emergence of the Fanos came about in a landscape already scarred by widespread death,  destruction, and continual turmoil perpetuated by Abiy Ahmed’s regime. While this pervasive  oppression targeted anyone not aligned with the regime, the Amhara people, the ethnic group  from which the Fanos emerged, faced particularly severe treatment. 

This included ethnic cleansing from the Oromia region, characterised by extreme violence  including mass murders, the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes belonging to the  Amhara Ethiopians living on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, and severe restrictions  on their movements, among other abuses of their human rights. What’s more, the regime has  unleashed its cruelest war against them in the Amhara region, utilising the entire defence  army—now effectively functioning as a private military serving only one man, Abiy Ahmed. 

Much like the TPLF before it, Abiy Ahmed’s regime perceives the Amhara people, one of the  largest ethnic groups, as a direct threat to its ethnic hegemony—the complete takeover of the  country by Oromo elites. The deliberate exclusion of the Amharas and other ethnic groups from  influential positions, while favouring Oromo elites and their allies, is instrumental in  perpetuating the regime’s unchecked corruption—a pervasive culture of theft and lawlessness  that defines the Abiy Ahmed’s regime. 

Under Abiy Ahmed’s administration, the country has spiralled into a realm where abductions  for ransom, assaults, sexual violence, and beatings occur with impunity, devoid of any avenue  for legal recourse. Diplomats, typically protected under international protocols, have not been  immune to the regime’s aggression and disregard for the rule of the law. Recently, security  forces who were working closely with the Prime Minister himself and his finance minister viciously assaulted two high-level diplomats from an African Development Bank, AfDB. 

These diplomats, who accidentally uncovered the embezzlement of millions of dollars, were  attacked, and their residences vandalised without due legal process, compelling the AfDB to  immediately withdraw all its staff from the country due to safety concerns. This starkly  demonstrates how Abiy Ahmed has fostered an environment akin to a criminal playground, 

devoid of accountability, allowing thieves and robbers, including himself and his associates, to  operate without any constraints – the Prime Minister, operating now, as the thug in chief! 

The Fanos who stood up against Abiy Ahmed’s army and achieved consecutive victories, have  earned widespread respect and appreciation not only from the Amhara people but from all  Ethiopians who are disgusted by the thug in chief and his cronies. They stand as the sole force  capable of halting the criminal regime of Abiy Ahmed and his corrupt ethno-mafia gang, which  relentlessly terrorises the entire populace, pushing the country now toward a complete abyss. 

The regime, apathetic to the country’s plight, directs its entire budget solely toward procuring  drones and weaponry to suppress its people. In many parts of the country, public servants  remain unpaid, and vital services have come to a halt. The regime’s exclusive agenda now is  waging war against its own population, aiming to cause as much harm as possible.  Unfortunately, much of the world has remained silent amidst these grave atrocities. 

In Myanmar, an unfortunate country that has been under the thumb of a military junta since their  1962 coup, a regime much like Abiy Ahmed’s terrorises and tyrannizes the population by weaponizing ethnicity, among other things. 

Dominated by the Bamar ethnic group, the junta has fuelled ethnic tensions by promoting  Bamar supremacy, both to consolidate power and enrich its members. This approach sowed  seeds of resistance across diverse ethnic groups, some seeking autonomy, others separatism, and  many simply yearning for democracy. Decades of conflict followed. 

Faced with mounting pressure, the junta reluctantly allowed a short-lived experiment with  partial democracy, culminating in Aung San Suu Kyi’s electoral success. However, this glimmer  of hope was extinguished in 2021 with a brutal coup, sparking nationwide protests and a  resilient civil disobedience movement. 

2023 witnessed a significant development: existing resistance groups, including the  Brotherhood Alliance, joined forces in a unified coalition. Their combined efforts yielded a  remarkable feat – the capture of a growing number of towns, over four hundred military outposts  and strategic locations from the junta. This unexpected victory shattered the regime’s aura of  invincibility and sent shockwaves through the nation. 

While the junta remains a potent force, wielding superior firepower and controlling key areas,  the coalition of resistance forces including the Brotherhood Alliance’s success demonstrates its  vulnerability. Crucially, it underscores that with sustained support and unwavering unity  around a shared vision for Myanmar’s future, including the preservation of its territorial  integrity, the regime can be further challenged and potentially toppled. 

However, while the shared dream of a democratic federal Myanmar unites these diverse groups,  the path forward remains fraught with challenges. Meticulous negotiation and compromise are  crucial to flesh out the details of this shared vision, ensuring it reflects the aspirations of all  Myanmar’s people.

Still, few dared to imagine such a potent alliance emerging, let alone achieving such resounding  victories against the entrenched military junta, masters of exploiting ethnic divisions. Yet, these  groups have defied expectations, proving that unity and purpose can shatter even the most  formidable obstacles. 

If they could overcome the junta’s divide-and-conquer tactics and forge this powerful coalition,  surely, they can also come together to forge a shared vision for the country, one that embraces  the aspirations of all. Let us hope they do. 

While reading those and other details in a recent New York Times op-ed discussing Myanmar’s  united resistance forces puncturing the military junta’s perceived invincibility, I found myself  drawing immediate parallels with Ethiopia’s own valiant Fanos, who more than punctured the  aura of invincibility of Abiy Ahmed and his army, scoring victory after victory, just as the  Myanmar coalition of forces are continuing to do, sparking the thoughts behind this article. 

Both emerged in 2023 as beacons of hope, demonstrating remarkable unity and organisation  against formidable regimes. While their ethnic compositions differ – Myanmar’s resistance  consisted of a diverse tapestry, whereas the Fanos predominantly represented a single group  unified under a single banner across a vast territory – their narratives echo powerful parallels  of resistance and victory against deeply entrenched forces. 

In Myanmar, the diverse groups united to form the resistance coalition, with the Brotherhood  Alliance playing a pivotal role, have delivered significant blows to the junta by seizing towns  after towns, including taking control of hundreds of military posts and other strategic locations.  Their ongoing success would benefit from sustained international support, both in material aid  and moral backing, and, critically, their ability to craft a unified vision for a democratic, federal  Myanmar that honours the aspirations of all its people. 

Likewise, the Fanos, emerging predominantly from a singular ethnic group, have consistently  secured significant victories against Abiy Ahmed’s oppressive regime. Their ongoing progress  hinges on preserving robust internal cohesion, establishing a more unified structure, and  consistently conveying a coherent political message to counter the regime’s propaganda—areas  where they’ve shown remarkable progress but still require further improvement. 

Moreover, it is imperative for the Fanos to broaden their alliances beyond their own ethnic  boundaries, forging coalitions across diverse ethnic lines. Such coalitions could play a pivotal  role in swiftly dismantling Abiy Ahmed’s regime. 

Both the Myanmar coalition of democratic resistance forces and the Fanos epitomise vital  lessons in the fight against tyranny, demanding urgent global attention. They embody the  transformative power of unity, organisation, and a collective vision for a brighter future. Their  ongoing struggles underscore the pressing need for international engagement. 

In response to the success of the resistance forces, these regimes have resorted to brutal tactics  against unarmed civilians, causing widespread destruction and casualties through airstrikes,  including the use of bomber jets that indiscriminately devastate vast regions.

Abiy Ahmed’s regime has employed heavy weaponry directly targeting civilians and resulting in countless casualties. The regime continues to perpetrate egregious acts, including widespread  drone attacks that indiscriminately kill innocent civilians, particularly in the Amhara region.  Despite Abiy Ahmed’s regime’s inability to provide salaries to public servants or adequate  services to citizens, it has continued to invest in acquiring drones and other lethal weapons. 

The lack of robust global condemnation in the face of these heinous atrocities is deeply  concerning. Such silence could be perceived as encouragement by human rights abusers and  war criminals like Abiy Ahmed and key members of the Myanmar’s military junta terrorising the populace there. However, silence in the face of such atrocities cannot be tolerated.  

The United States and other nations have the capacity to play a crucial role by exerting pressure  on these regimes through targeted sanctions, weapon restrictions, advocating condemnation via  the United Nations, and employing other diplomatic measures. These actions are vital to curtail  severe human rights violations and pave the way for the establishment of inclusive democracies,  aligning with the earnest aspirations pursued by these groups. 

The New York Times op-ed that sparked this reflection highlights the existing framework for  promoting democracy in Myanmar, including the Burma Act. This framework commendably  showcases the United States’ commitment to democratic values. However, despite this  framework, the pace of tangible support for these democratic groups remains sluggish. 

As the op-ed emphasised, Congress, policymakers, and other stakeholders must expedite their  efforts to provide crucial support to these resistance forces. This accelerated assistance is  essential in bolstering their efforts to secure continued victories against the military junta. It is  not only vital for their ongoing successes, but also pivotal in dismantling the oppressive regime  and ultimately fostering a democratic transformation in Myanmar. 

Myanmar’s coalition of resistance forces challenging the military junta have achieved a  remarkable feat that extends beyond their victories. They have transformed the seemingly futile  struggles of Myanmar’s diverse ethnic minorities, battling against Bamar ultranationalist  dominance, into a unified pursuit for a collective democratic future. 

This united front, while upholding the nation’s territorial integrity, seeks equality and justice  for all citizens, transcending individual ethnic aspirations. Their shared vision of a prosperous  and equitable future serves as a compelling motivation and stands as a crucial component in  their quest for freedom—worthy of robust support from the U.S. and its democratic allies. 

While Myanmar’s resistance coalition has received some valuable support, there remains a  substantial disparity between their needs and the current level of assistance, a gap that demands  immediate attention as highlighted in the op-ed. However, the situation faced by the Fanos in  Ethiopia necessitates even more urgent action and demonstrates a far greater neglect. 

In Ethiopia, the oppressive Abiy Ahmed regime has instigated multiple conflicts, resulting in  widespread death and devastation that has pushed the country backward by decades. 

Numerous reports from both national and international organisations confirm this dire  situation: Almost all opposition figures in the country, including journalists, intellectuals, and  even members of parliament who dared to express mild criticism or ask timid questions, have  been imprisoned under deplorable conditions in makeshift prisons. Thousands of youths are  being apprehended daily and incarcerated in remote locations. 

Drones ruthlessly claim countless lives each day in the Amhara region, where the country’s national defence forces, acting as a private army for the dictator, Abiy Ahmed, continue to  perpetuate mass murders, robberies, and the deliberate destruction of civilian vital  infrastructures including health facilities and schools. There are also disturbing reports of the  deliberate burning of crops in the fields in many parts of the Amhara region, an atrocious act  aimed at starving the Amhara population. 

Millions of displaced Amhara people face immense hardship and uncertainty across the  country. Recently, reports have emerged of the regime attempting to relocate some of them back  to areas from which they were forcibly displaced by regime-aligned forces. These locations lack  any genuine safety guarantees, potentially exposing them to further abuses away from public  scrutiny if they are to return. Their desperate pleas for help find little acknowledgement,  tragically adding to the litany of injustices inflicted by the Abiy Ahmed regime. 

These forced relocations into unsafe areas, against international law, along with the multitude  of documented human rights violations against the Amhara people, highlight the pervasive  brutality of the Abiy Ahmed regime. In this dire situation, the Fanos stand as the only force  actively resisting these abuses and advocating for the protection of the Amhara people. 

The Fanos stand resolutely against Abiy Ahmed’s continued human right abuses, including  ethnic cleansing and genocide and war crimes that he and his regime have been committing against the Amhara people, representing the sole counterforce against the regime’s oppression.  Their courage and sacrifice deserve recognition and support by the international community  including the United States, Canada, Australia and others.  

The international community must urgently hear the desperate pleas of those suffering under  Abiy Ahmed’s regime’s brutalities. The widespread use of drones against civilians, killing  countless mothers, children, the elderly and others, is a blatant violation of human rights and  should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Every effort must be made to hold the  regime accountable for these atrocities. 

Interestingly, the Times op-ed briefly mentioned the National Unity Government (NUG), a  civilian entity formed in response to the Military junta that emerged after the 2021 coup,  deploying units equipped with drone capabilities in recent conflicts against the military junta.  While the article lacks specifics regarding the NUG’s drone capabilities and deployment  methods, it’s plausible to consider their potential offensive and defensive application against the  military junta’s drone attacks as a significant advantage. 

This potential, along with their plausible roles in intelligence gathering and surveillance,  presents an intriguing opportunity for the Fanos to explore developing such capabilities, should 

it is within their means. While significant global aid for the resistance currently appears  limited, there’s a chance for this to shift as the Fanos continually demonstrate discipline,  effectiveness, and success, contrasting with the continued incompetence and brutalities exhibited by the Abiy Ahmed’s regime. 

These contrasting traits might lead both active and passive supporters to renounce the regime,  potentially vocalizing their opposition. In the meantime, it remains critical for the Fanos to  mobilize all available resources to persist in dismantling Abiy Ahmed’s regime, with the  continued steadfast support of the Amhara people and the broader Ethiopian community.


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


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