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HomeOpinionA choice made to die on feet than live on knees 

A choice made to die on feet than live on knees 

Fano Struggle _ Ethiopia

Kibour Selam 

Dagne Walle is a famous Amharic singer whose lyrics of various songs mirror the plight of Amhara, and the music bit of his songs and his vocal articulation are an inspiration to the people to come together around their common cause. A single song entitled ‘Wend Lij Korete’  released 4 weeks ago on Youtube has got over 5 million viewers. 

A verse translated from his recent single music summarizes why the Amharas have picked up arms and opted to lock horns with the federal government.

As the repression reached to its peak
And I can no longer bear the suffering
That I’m compelled to call the wilderness (forest) home
In a country that fails 
To deliver justice to all
No better choice than getting one on one  

(translation mine, tried to carry only the sense)

Following a fresh fighting between Fano and government forces, Tibor Nagy former US Asst. Sec. of State for Africa, who served as US Ambassador to Guinea and Ethiopia, tweeted his belief on the war on Amhara. His unsupported claim at least helps us fathom the seriousness of the problem.

“My saying will anger many but FANO militias will not capture Addis, and Feds will not end insurgency militarily-so need peace process as with Tigray conflict now. All Ethiopians deserve peace + security!” Time will tell whether they come to Addis or not. 

But, the five-star general Berhanu Jula bragged about bringing the leadership of Fano to Addis with their pants removed.  He looked Fano down his nose and promised to unbuckle up “Fanno belts”. He said his force let alone disarm the rebel group but has the capability to remove Fanno’s pants. In the Amhara’s long-held tradition, “pants or trousers” are signs of masculinity and bravery. 

The takeaway

The active conflict in the Amhara region that is claiming the lives of innocent civilians as well is not something to undermine. First and foremost, the Amharas strongly believe that they are in a ‘Just war’. The Amhara activists warned the ruling either to warrant their existence as people or will pull their swords. The government’s complacency led to the latter. 

The IC has to give ears to the voice coming out from the leaders of Fano.  Eskinder Nega’s recent statement that went viral on social media must be taken seriously.  He has raised the issue about the suffering of the people of Amhara for close to 50 years in the hands of brute governments. Both the Derg and EPRDF deliberately targeted the Amhara people. Elite Amharas were in one way or another killed, displaced, impoverished and had been made to flee the country. Many also believe that even the Fascist Italy as well deliberately attacked the same people during the five years occupation. 

Killing spree against Amharas has not been halted for all these years. They have been displaced from their ancestral lands. The case of Wolkayt is more than enough that tens of thousands were displaced. Still, the political path in Ethiopia is primary anchored on labeling Amhara as settler and declaring genocide on the people. The tip of the Iceberg on such horrific incidents are reports by Human Rights Watch (August 31, 2022) and Amnesty International (November 2, 2020). The people of Amhara is also being killed in their own lands and have remained vulnerable.

The world marked international women’s day last March 8. But no one, except their heart-broken families, remembered the around 17 female students of Dembi Dollo University that have never made it to their family. They were abducted en route to their homes. The heartless act was done to them because they are Amhara. No media in Ethiopia talks about it ever since. 

As the “cause” of the current conflict is widely shared among the over 60 million people of Amhara. Even if the ruling Prosperity tries to quell the Amhara armed movement with an all-out war, it never wins the war. The marital law and ongoing war on Amhara cannot be a solution. The people are fully aware of the looming existential threat. Better “to die on two feet than live on knees” is the motto of the people that have been fighting foreign invaders. 

As Eskinder said it and is shared among the wider Amhara population, the demand of the people is clear. Amharas’ demand is not a mere question of representation, the people never want to be hegemon or anything else. The questions standing high are, “The right to live, the right to property and the right to equality” The world opinion knows that human beings were brutally slain in most parts of Oromo dominated places such as Wollega–only because they are Amharas. 

A Muslim kid who begged a Shene (Oromo Liberation Front, armed wing of Oromo Liberation Front) soldier as he had got close to her to take her life is a rallying factor among many Fano fighters. She pleaded, “Wolahi (I swear in the name of Almighty Allah) , I’ll never again be Amhara, don’t kill me.” 

Shimelis Abdissa, Oromia state’s president, is viewed by most as a plain closed Shene. It was him who first told people gathered to celebrate Irecha (Oromo ‘thanksgiving day) as the time is for Oromo to avenge the Amharas. “We’ve broken the back of Amharas at a place they broke ours.” The ongoing demolishing of houses in the guise of ‘reconstructing Addis’ also stirred doubts among residents particularly after Shimelis apparently announced a plan to create Oromo settlement in the city. 

The UN and AU are silent on the plight of Amhara. It is inexplicable why such multilateral institutions that claim to defend humanity overlooked the issue. The international outcry during the Tigray war was huge. But it seems a double standard if the international community muted itself on the plight of Amhara. Nobody can remain indifferent to the voice of the people of Amhara. The Fanno forces are not looting, raping or killing innocent people. The disciplined force, though poorly armed as compared to the government that is equipped with all kinds of arms, has continued the fight for a year.  If we weigh it with Tibor Nagi analysis, the war has no end. If it has to, the ball is in the IC’s court. 

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


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