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HomeOpinionUnfounded allegations against Eskinder: Separating facts from fiction

Unfounded allegations against Eskinder: Separating facts from fiction

Eskinder _ Amhara Fano _ Ethiopia
Eskindir Nega (SM)

By Mekuria Gize 

There have been unfounded allegations made against Eskinder that need to be addressed with facts. It is crucial to separate truth from speculation and ensure that any accusations are based on concrete evidence. To maintain integrity and fairness, it is essential to approach such matters with a clear understanding of the facts. Let us focus on presenting the truth and avoiding baseless claims.

Eskinder Nega is known for his journalistic discourse and human rights activism since the TPLF came to power in Ethiopia. He has been imprisoned over 11 times and spent 7 years in jail. Eskinder was aware from the beginning that Abiy Ahmed came to power without a genuine intention of bringing political reform to TPLF’s Ethiopia. His simple challenge to Abiy Ahmed was to see him block off the TPLF constitution like neighboring Sudan and make preparations for reconciliation in the footsteps of South Africa. Abiy Ahmed has shown no intention of doing either, except using Ethiopianism to defeat the TPLF. Unfortunately, many underestimated the situation and allowed Abiy Ahmed to rule freely in Ethiopia with unlimited power.

Eskinder hoped that Ezema would play the role of a genuine opposition party like the CUD did in the 2000s, but to no avail. The highly respected Berhanu Nega, Yeshiwas Assefa, Andualem Aragie, and Kebede Chane failed by collaborating with Abiy Ahmed or not taking on the role of an opposition party. It was at this point that Eskinder immersed himself in politics by establishing Balderas because he sensed what was brewing. He worked tirelessly with his colleagues, awakening the people of Addis Ababa, defending those whose houses were demolished, and opposing the destruction of historical landmarks, among other issues. In most cases, the victims of the ruling party were Amharas. He traveled to North America to advocate before the United Nations, raising concerns about the plight of Amharas in various parts of the country.

In June 2020, following the death of Hachalu Hundessa, Eskinder was imprisoned and remained in jail for a year and a half. Upon his release, he visited the leaders of Fanos in various parts of Ethiopia. Eskinder recognized the shrinking political space in Ethiopia and traveled to the USA for consultation. Upon his return to Ethiopia, he resigned from Balderas in August 2022. His whereabouts were unknown until he was detained at Bure, Gojam 7 months later (February 2023). The Amhara security was en route to Addis Ababa to hand him over to the federal government. Dejen Youth blocked the road and demanded his release. He was returned to Bahir Dar and imprisoned for a few days. Growing discontent and mass gatherings in Bahir Dar city forced the Amhara PP to release Eskinder. This momentum of youth rebelliousness continued, and Zemene Kasse was released in June 2023.

In April 2023, Eskinder announced the formation of APF, 3 months ahead of the release of Zemene Kasse from prison, from his hideouts in Gojam. The government panicked and immediately deployed heavy weaponry and ENDF soldiers to arrest or kill Eskinder in the vicinity of Debre Elias Monastery. Eskinder and his group fought bravely for days and narrowly escaped assassination. Following this event, the Fano movement gained momentum and spread to almost all parts of the Amhara regional state, except for a few cities like Woldiya, Dessie, and Kombolcha. By August 2023, the regional capital was partially controlled by Fano, and the Azezo airport in the outskirts of Gondar was seized by Fano. Ethiopian Airlines was forced to halt flights to Lalibela, Bahir Dar, and Gondar. Although Fano eventually withdrew from larger cities due to concerns about property destruction and harm to innocent people, they maintained control of up to 75% of the Amhara region. Despite efforts to unify the Fanos under one leadership, it did not materialize due to the ripple effects of conflicts within the Diaspora community. In fact, this unification should have occurred naturally and gradually without any push or intervention. A Fano leader with a significant army should have emerged in due time.

Eskinder selected Major Dawit Weldegiorgis to lead his diaspora support group, recognizing his vigor, diplomatic experience, and connections to world leaders and high-level officials. This move should be appreciated. However, some were dissatisfied. During this time, diaspora Amharas with closer ties to certain Fano factions formed an International Fano coordinating team and initiated a smear campaign against Major Dawit, labeling him as a Dergist, which is irrelevant to the current situation facing Amharas. Two prominent historians, Achameleh Tamiru and Dr. Habtamu Tegegn, criticized Major Dawit based on his past records during the Derg regime, as if he were running for a presidential election in the USA. They extended their criticism to Eskinder and suggested he step back from the Fano movement and work from overseas. Both Achameleh Tamru and Dr. Habtamu were early critics of Abiy Ahmed, appearing on the Reeyot show and contributing significantly to revealing the hidden motives of Abiy. They also authored two important books, “Ye Welkayit Guday ” and “Berera (Barara),” respectively. Another individual from the Welkayit committee in the USA resigned from his position and claimed to represent the Fanos of Gondar through the late Wubante.

Recently, Zemene Kasse joined the criticism bandwagon and accused Eskinder on social media of undermining his movement. Eskinder refrained from responding, displaying the maturity expected of a seasoned individual. These accusations against Eskinder appear to be part of the ripple effects of a diaspora power struggle, with individuals fearing political dominance rather than presenting substantial concerns. At the time, Eskinder operated in West Gojjam near the border with Wellega and Metekel, while Zemene’s group operates in East Gojjam and around Merawi. Eskinder does not even know when Zemene will be released from prison as he announced his front. There is no overlap between their operations. Eskinder’s presence in Gojam actually boosted the fighting spirit of Fano, as Zemene’s own Fano group had been inactive for months until Eskinder emerged and announced the APF openly. Despite Zemene’s covert operations in Gojam since May 2022, he sought reconciliation through an Amhara PP-sponsored process in Bahir Dar but was later betrayed, detained and imprisoned in September 2022. Even after Zemene’s release in June 2023, he hesitated to leave Bahir Dar until the fighting broke out in August, 2023. It is important to provide this historical context, despite my admiration for Zemene’s current efforts and bravery in Gojam.

Eskinder’s diaspora team successfully raised a substantial amount of money twice. However, the dissatisfaction grew among some Diaspora splinters.  Just recently claimants representing four Fano groups from Misrak Amhara, Shewa Amhara (operating near Majetie), another Fano faction leader from Gondar, and an unnamed individual from Gojam appeared twice on a press release (Hiber Radio, a pro-Amhara media outlet known for balanced views). They accused Eskinder of sabotaging the struggle and hindering their progress towards the country’s capital. The spokesman for the Majete Fano group was particularly resentful towards Eskinder, leveling various unfounded allegations against him. He dismissed Eskinder as a former leader of Balderas, whose members have connections to Ginbot 7. Labeling Balderas and its leader, Eskinder, as part of Ginbot 7 is a tired former EPRDF tactic. Balderas and Eskinder’s entry into the political arena is a direct consequence of Ginbot 7 politicians’ inability to function as a true opposition party to the Abiy regime. One of the accusations directed at Eskinder was regarding his slogan, “Meneshachin Amhara medreshachin Ethiopia (We defend Amhara from genocide and March to protect Ethiopia).” This criticism originated in the diaspora from fervent Amhara nationalist youth and was echoed by the four Fano leaders to discredit Eskinder, even though they themselves may not believe in it. It would have been fair to critique Eskinder’s ideology without resorting to character assassination, which was not the case. In every interview with Fano leaders in the field, they express their goal of liberating Amhara and Ethiopia, which aligns with Eskinder’s sentiments.

Eskinder has no negative records against the Amhara or Ethiopian people to be ashamed of. Eskinder’s critics even resurfaced an old YouTube interview where he appeared on the Betty show, in which he mentioned that Amharas did not create Ethiopia, as Ethiopia originated during the Axumite period and Amharas Kings emerged later. This line is often used by his critics to undermine him that he is not interested in Amhara affairs because he did not equate the Axumite Kingdom to Amhara making. While historians may shed light on this topic, the recorded history of Amharic is well-documented in the Middle Ages, and Eskinder’s lack of detailed historical knowledge on this matter is understandable if in fact he erred. Let us also not forget that he is a politician working for unity. The theme of that interview, however , was “chimblihin awulk” (get off your mask, you are an Amhara politician under Ethiopia cover). Nobody talks of that substantial topic.

Recently, Dr. Habtamu and Ato Tekle Yeshaw appeared on YouTube and criticized Eskinder in support of the four Fano leaders. Ato Tekle Yeshaw, a former senior Derg cadre and member of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Mengistu, lacks a commendable record compared to Eskinder. Dr. Habtamu vividly expressed satisfaction as he criticized Eskinder, leveraging support from a few Fano leaders’ interviews, and promptly demanded that Eskinder apologize and withdraw from the Fano movement. He accused Eskinder of being an Ethiopianist and failing to work for the Amharas, disregarding the known records. To his credit, Zeme Kasse did not directly engage in the campaign or send his PR representative to Hiber Radio, although his team reportedly participated in the press release. It is important to note that Fano is not a monolithic group. It is rather composed of hundreds of independent factions. Undoubtedly, Eskinder has supporters in all four provinces. Even in Gojam, which appears to be centralized and led by Zemene Kasse, some groups within that coalition support Eskinder but choose to collaborate for the greater cause. Dismissing Eskinder in such a manner is impractical. Even if he lacks support in the field, Fano leaders cannot exclude him from the struggle due to his significant Addis Ababa and diaspora backing, unless they intend to disregard Addis Ababans  ad the diaspora entirely, which would be detrimental. These are opinion makers in the Amhara society and cannot be discounted. The middle ground is to respect each other’s positions. Let the Fanos who do not support Eskinder operate independently, while Eskinder continues with his groups. No one holds the exclusive right to fight for the Amhara cause. Regarding financial accusations, it is known that the money raised by Eskinder’s team was intended to support the community Fano works with. His representative, Umer, clearly stated that their team provided funds to other Fanos, even though they raised the money under the APF banner. The recent video message of Eskinder regarding “Yedem Nergadewoch” is meant for diaspora factions against him and his group and not to any Fano group in the field.

Conclusion

1) Unsubstantiated allegations against our heroes do not uplift us. Recognition should be given where it is due. Otherwise, we risk following the path of Abiy Ahmed and becoming worthless individuals. Isn’t Abiy’s betrayal the root cause of the conflict with the Amhara?

2) The baseless accusations against Eskinder are a result of a power struggle within the diaspora seeking to influence the Fanos in the field. The diaspora chapters of the Amhara People’s Army (APA) led by Eskinder should continue their fundraising efforts, as there are thousands willing to contribute. They should not be distracted by allegations coming from here and there.

3) Regarding the records of Eskinder, the facts are clear. Eskinder advocated for the residents of Addis Ababa whose homes were demolished, the majority of which were Amharas. He campaigned for the preservation of historical landmarks where the Amharas have a direct connection. He advocated for the human rights of Amharas. After Hachalu’s death in June 2020, widespread unrest erupted in Oromia. Agitated Oromo youth on the outskirts of Addis Ababa gathered and marched towards the city. When security informed Abiy of this, he allowed them to express their anger. Eskinder prevented bloodshed and property damage by alerting Addis Ababa youth to protect themselves and their city, where 50% of the residents are Amharas. Eskinder was unjustly arrested for a year and a half simply for defending his people against intruders.

4) The primary existential threat to the Amhara community comes from Abiy Ahmed, not Eskinder Nega. Amharas should not pay heed to criticisms from individuals with negative views, accusing Eskinder of neglecting Amhara interests. It is absurd to think  that TikTok users like Zemedkun Bekele care more about the Amharas than Eskinder does. While Zemedkun Bekele has consistently advocated for the Amhara community, unlike TPLF propagandists Deru the Hareru and Ethio Forum, and critics of the Amhara like Yoni Magna and Mota, he has also been involved in spreading false information, criticizing Eskinder, and intimidating him and his colleagues with baseless accusations. These actions should be condemned and rejected without delay.

5) Without control over Ethiopia, short of being an independent country, there is no way to safeguard Amhara interests. Remember the TPLF’s incursion into North Wello, which led to the formation of the EPRDF in coalition with ANDM.

6) Regardless of Ethiopia’s future, land ownership is crucial for the Amhara community, and they should not be complacent on this issue in the name of a unified Ethiopia. They should assert their historical land claims, regardless of the ethnicity residing there. Just as Ukraine is contesting Russian claims in Eastern Ukraine, Amharas should be proactive in safeguarding their interests.

7) Despite differing political views, the diaspora recognizes the contributions of all Fano fighters, and we will fulfill our responsibilities as Amharas and Ethiopians. But some Fano leaders and their overseas agents need to be careful in the words they use to spread false allegations against Eskinder.

8) Regionalism is a key aspect of Amhara culture, influenced by Ethiopia’s historical “king of kings” tradition. The recent conflict within the Fanos group underscores the importance of recognizing and supporting regional autonomy. Instead of pushing for a centralized command structure, we should support the Fanos in their fighting efforts. As they advance towards Addis Ababa, a natural central command will likely emerge, with the leader of the strongest army taking the lead.

9) Eskinder and his group should avoid wasting time on establishing a pan-Amhara fighting force under one central command. The approach advocated by the diaspora was wrong. Pressuring Fanos to unite under one central command will only lead to conflicts among the Fanos, as has already happened. Therefore, Eskinder’s group should focus on recruiting and organizing fighting battalions, brigades and divisions, naming them after localities or well-known Amhara heroes, whether alive or deceased, and including Ethiopians who support the Amhara cause. This strategy will help reduce conflicts of interest with other independent Fano forces. For instance, they can consider naming a brigade “Sentayehu Brigade, Meskerm Abera Brigade and so on”.

10) Abiy is struggling in the war in Amhara, and his recent messages to various sections of society suggest he is severely wounded, indicating Fano’s eventual victory as a reality. He is so frustrated by the ongoing conflict and the military’s ineffectiveness that he assumes all Amhara intellectuals, investors, and clergy are Fano backers and avoids eye contact in his discussions. In guerrilla warfare with strong popular support, no government can succeed while trying to govern and fight simultaneously. The war is exacerbating Ethiopia’s economic woes, and eventually, everything will come to a halt. The government’s failure to create wealth and growing isolation from regions will ultimately lead to Abiy’s downfall, like a crumbling house of cards. Unity and tolerance are essential among the Amharas and other Ethiopians right now. Horizontal conflicts should be avoided, and the focus must be on the broader goal of removing Abiy Ahmed Ali, who has been dreaming of power since the age of seven.

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

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like article above was written or dictated by Eskinder himself. The background “cave” pic resembles one used by Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. No kidding. Eskinder staff in hand crossing a river a few weeks ago published in Borkena was also similar with Osama’s. Go check, please. You don’t want us to believe Fano is a version of Al Qaida, do you?

  2. If what they’re saying and claiming is true they’re going to be a challenge to the current regime including Abiy, who obviously can’t shoulder all the responsibilities alone since there’ll be many other participants to run the government including the parliamentarians. No matter, it’s good to know what the so called Fanos are doing and we thank them for spilling some beans. However, from what they’re claiming they seem to have the resources but no matter what they might claim, they might not make it close to where TPLF was when it was defeated by the current government. In fact, TPLF alone might put Fano to its place or out of operation because they’ve done it many times. Do they recall EPRP? Anyways, if all the Amharas want is to take the government by force just to put their hands on the government machine, they’re making a great mistake. Because if they can unify themselves like this they might become an economic powerhouse and could save everyone from disappointment because it’s a better route to take.

    Now everyone could demand that they should be disarmed and be forced to become economically, socially, politically, and intellectually responsible, useful and productive. Because if a group wants to take over a government by force they’re outlaws or they might call themselves gorilla fighters if the engagement kept dragging, without having a just cause. Their own region can put to good use all what they’re going to squander and offer them all the opportunities they want while saving them from plotting to loot an established system in a stark daylight. Everyone hopes that the appropriate way of continuing what they’re doing might somehow dawn on them.

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