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HomeOpinionFano’s Fight: Why the World Must Listen and Act 

Fano’s Fight: Why the World Must Listen and Act 

Fano's fight _ Ethiopian News
Zemene Kassie, leader of Fano forces in Gojam (Photo : file/EMS)

By Sisay Mulu (Amoraw)

For more than three decades, the plight of the Amhara people has been overshadowed and minimized, with their sufferings reduced to mere statistics in the face of brutal and systematic violence. Since TPLF came to power in 1991, heartrending accounts emerged from places like Arsi, Arba Gugu, which painted a stark and urgent picture of the violence inflicted upon Amharas in Ethiopia. This grave situation extended to areas such as Jimma, Benchi Maj, Sheko, East Wolega, West Showa, South West Showa, Kamashi, and Metekel, among others. Ethnic Amharas faced unimaginable atrocities: beheadings, mass shootings, and horrific incidents of victims being thrown from cliffs or drowned. Tragically, places that should offer refuge—churches, mosques, and homes—were transformed into scenes of devastating carnage, with many innocent lives lost to flames. 

This brutality did not happen in silence; it occurred under the watchful eyes of the world. The cries and grievances of the Amhara have, tragically, fallen on deaf ears. Each massacre, rather than catalyzing action or sympathy, was often distilled into cold, impersonal numbers. The phrase “Never again,” a global vow against genocide and mass atrocities, paradoxically turned into “time and again” for the Amhara, as each incident seemingly prepared the stage for the next with little to no intervention from internal and external actors. The lack of significant accountability for these atrocities has not only perpetuated the cycle of violence but has also deepened the wounds of the Amhara community. The enduring nature of these attacks, coupled with a glaring lack of decisive actions to prevent them, has instilled a profound sense of injustice and marginalization among the Amharas.

Amhara’s Battle for Safety and Recognition

It is a grave misconception to simplify the current war in the Amhara region as merely a response to the government’s plan to disarm regional forces and reintegrate them under the federal command of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Such a view grievously overlooks the profound mistrust and deep-seated grievances that the Amhara community harbors towards a system that has consistently failed them—economically, politically, and, most critically, in terms of their very survival.

Under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed, rather than seeing an improvement, the Amhara community has witnessed an alarming escalation of genocidal violence. Accounts of gruesome massacres from the early 1990s have not only continued but have grown more frequent, evolving into nearly daily atrocities. In the past six years, ethnic cleansing of the Amharas has tragically morphed into normalcy so entrenched that the public’s shock has been dulled to numb acceptance. The Amharas have been routinely humiliated, massacred, barred from entering Addis Ababa, displaced en masse, and subjected to relentless ethnic profiling and targeted attacks.

Given this backdrop of relentless persecution, the government’s initiative to disarm the Amhara regional forces was not merely a policy move—it was perceived as a direct threat. How can the Amharas be expected to relinquish their only means of defense and place their safety in the hands of a government under whose watch they have suffered endlessly? Trust is not given lightly—it must be earned, particularly when it has been shattered by repeated betrayals. The same government, whose soldiers and high-ranking officials have been implicated in genocidal violence against the Amharas, cannot be trusted to safeguard the interests of this beleaguered community.

The Amharas’ alarm at being disarmed is not born of irrational fear or love for the gun but a rational response to a history of atrocities. Over three decades marked by repeated betrayals and countless massacres, the Amharas have been systematically marginalized—both economically and politically. They have learned, through bitter experience, that their survival depends solely on their ability to defend themselves. Alarmingly, neither local authorities nor the international community has shown genuine concern for the welfare of the Amhara people, leaving them painfully aware that without means of self-defense, their fate hangs precariously in the balance. Trusting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his regime to prioritize the safety and interests of Amharas has become not just unwise but a hazardous gamble—one that could exacerbate the plight of an already vulnerable community. It’s crucial to recognize and address these legitimate fears, ensuring that Amharas are not left defenseless in the face of potential threats.

Therefore, to understand the war on Amhara adequately, one must look beyond superficial explanations and acknowledge the legitimate fears and grievances of the Amhara people. Their resistance against disarmament is not an act of defiance but an act of survival. The international community, human rights bodies, and all stakeholders must come together to address these grievances with sincerity and a commitment to justice, ensuring the Amhara community can live in safety and dignity, free from the shadows of violence that have haunted them for too long.

The Hidden Agenda of Abiy Ahmed Against the Amhara

Over the past six years, amidst relentless turmoil and betrayal, it is concerning how many within the international community still have not fully grasped the true nature of Abiy Ahmed. This is a leader whose dangerous ambitions and dictatorial tendencies have significantly shaped his leadership. While the world celebrated the Pretoria peace deal with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), few recognized that Abiy was quietly laying the groundwork for further divisive actions. While proclamations rang out, claiming “We have silenced the guns in Northern Ethiopia,” the reality was starkly different—Abiy was actually setting the stage for another devastating conflict, this time aimed at the Amhara Region, an area four times the size of Tigray.

Despite being fully aware of the deep-seated grievances of the Amhara—a community whose frustrations have been simmering for over three decades—Abiy missed a critical opportunity for reconciliation. Rather than addressing these significant cries for justice, he chose to suppress them with a relentless iron fist. The Amharas, along with countless other Ethiopians, had placed their hopes in Abiy, believing he would lead Ethiopia to become a beacon of peace and justice. Unfortunately, their trust was betrayed as they were forced to face the reality of his deceit and the disturbing truth of his character. By August 2023, Abiy took a shocking step by declaring war on the Amhara region—the second largest in the federation. His approach was uncompromising and brutally familiar: a regime characterized by force and severe suppression. This decision severely jeopardized the prospects for unity and peace, casting a long shadow over Ethiopia’s journey towards true justice and national harmony.

Confronted with such dire circumstances, the Amharas had no choice but to resist. Before this escalation, the Amhara community had organized nine peaceful public demonstrations across the country, clearly demanding an end to the regime’s tacit support of genocide against them, the removal of barriers that prevent Amharas from entering Addis Ababa, and a stop to the mass displacement of their people from the capital and other regions. Unfortunately, each of these heartfelt appeals was met with scorn and outright dismissal. Abiy not only ignored these legitimate grievances but further exacerbated the situation by sending his forces to wage a relentless war against the Amhara civilians.

Since August 2023, the Amhara region has been under total and brutal siege. Connectivity to the outside world has been severed; there is no internet connection, and phone coverage is restricted solely to major urban areas tightly controlled by government forces. The isolation is strategic and suffocating, designed to mute the cries of the Amhara people and cloak the horrors unfolding within. The violence has been relentless and indiscriminate. Hundreds of drone strikes have rained down on busy town squares and public markets, targeting civilians with a cold, calculated precision that betrays a chilling disregard for human life. These are not isolated incidents but a methodical campaign, where the skies bring death without warning. The recent massacre in Merawi, which briefly pierced the global consciousness, is merely the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, a horrifying continuum of violence engulfs the region—massacres that remain largely unknown and unreported. 

Day-to-day life in the Amhara region has become a gauntlet of terror. Abiy’s soldiers, who are supposed to protect civilians, are instead perpetrating acts of unimaginable cruelty. Reports of gang rapes, arbitrary arrests, and summary executions are pervasive. Each day brings new stories of brutality, each more harrowing than the last. Yet, amidst this onslaught, the international response has been woefully inadequate. Shockingly, while the Amhara suffer, the world remains largely silent. Western countries, rather than addressing the humanitarian catastrophe and calling for accountability, scramble to patch the financial deficits of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. The funds, alarmingly, are funneled into purchasing more drones and military equipment, fueling the very campaign of genocidal violence that they should be condemning.

The Resurgence of Amhara Fano

At a pivotal moment in their history, the Amhara people have reached a critical juncture. Ignored by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, their profound grievances have not only deepened but have also sparked a fierce resolve to fight back. This resolve has rekindled the flames of the Fano movement, a historic emblem of Amhara resistance, now shining as a beacon of hope and defiance. Fano, deeply rooted in centuries of Amhara tradition, epitomizes the collective spirit of defense during severe crises. In such times, the stark choice remains: to arm oneself against oppressors. This resurgence is far from a mere reaction to recent injustices; it is a powerful reawakening of the Amhara ethos of self-preservation.

Since August, the expansion of the Amhara Fano across their region and beyond has been nothing short of remarkable, signaling a widespread awakening to the pervasive trauma, anguish, and frustration inflicted by a governance system that seeks to marginalize them. The revival of the Fano movement stems directly from systematic failures, leaving the Amharas no alternative but to mobilize in defense of their lives and fundamental rights.

In just nine months, the transformation of the Fano movement has been dramatic. From village-level factions to robust battalions and brigades, the Amhara Fano has evolved into a well-structured resistance force capable of shielding Amhara communities from brutal governmental repression. This evolution from scattered groups to organized divisions is a testament to the deep-seated grievances and the resilience of the Amhara people. Having lost all hope in the government, the Amharas are acutely aware that their survival hinges on unity and resistance. As the Fano movement continues to grow, it serves as a clear message to Ethiopians and the international community: the Amhara people will no longer stand by as passive victims of violence and neglect. They demand acknowledgment, justice, and a significant shift in how they are treated. The spirit of Fano is not just a call to arms but a call for dignity, signaling a pivotal chapter in the Amhara’s fight for their continued survival as a people.

Beyond Rebellion: Embracing Fano as a Legitimate Voice for the Amhara People

Fano stands as an unwavering emblem of the Amhara people’s enduring spirit and quest for dignified survival. It represents a cross-section of Amharas from all walks of life and embodies their unyielding pursuit of a future in Ethiopia that is enshrined in justice, law, and order. Fano’s resolve remains strong, and it will not rest until justice is achieved for the Amhara people and their future is securely protected.

Despite attempts by the international community to diminish its significance or the Abiy’s efforts to belittle its impact, Fano has surged across the Amhara region like a powerful wildfire, becoming a movement that no one ignores. History shows us that no government has ever successfully quashed a rebellion born from legitimate, well-documented grievances that resonate deeply with the public.

It is high time for the international community to recognize the formidable force that Fano represents. This movement holds the potential not only to reshape the political landscape of Ethiopia but also to bring significant change to the entire Horn of Africa region. The world must acknowledge the power and legitimacy of Fano as a key player in the region’s future. It is imperative that we recognize the Fano group as a legitimate representative of the Amhara cause. To effectively address the pressing issues in Ethiopia, it is essential to acknowledge the Fano group as a legitimate representative of the Amhara people’s interests and aspirations. Ignoring the crucial needs and causes of the Amhara would be not only impractical but also destined to fail. For any engagement in Ethiopia—be it security, political, economic, or diplomatic—to be meaningful and fair, it must incorporate the ambitions of the Amhara community.

In addition, the Amhara Fano transcends the typical characteristics of a rebel group. It represents moral clarity and a deep dedication to confronting the existential threats the Amhara face. Fano’s authenticity is rooted in the righteousness of its cause, setting it apart from other groups that may rely solely on military power. In a country marred by conflict, where ethical lines are often ambiguous, Fano emerges as a symbol of justice, steadfast in its fight against a genocidal regime. Importantly, Fano harbors no hostility toward any ethnic or political group within Ethiopia. Their struggle is precise and targeted, aimed at overthrowing a regime they see as detrimental to the very fabric of the Amhara community. This focused and principled stance not only underscores Fano’s integrity but also underlines its capability as a trustworthy ally in any diplomatic endeavor.

Engagement with Fano is more than a diplomatic move—it is a moral obligation for the global community. Recognizing Fano acknowledges their critical role and the legitimate grievances driving their actions, without endorsing rebellion.

Ultimately, if peace and stability are to be achieved in Ethiopia and the broader Horn of Africa, it is crucial to address these grievances with sincerity, accountability, and a commitment to justice. The world must no longer turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the Amhara but must act decisively to ensure they can live in safety and dignity, free from the shadows of violence that have haunted them for far too long. The time to act is now—lest “Never again” becomes an echo of the past, repeated yet unheeded. 

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

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1 COMMENT

  1. Why are all these leaders of ethnic groups so obese? Look at TPLF, OLA and now FANO. Their fillet mignon source seems not to be adversely affected by the current global supply chain crisis. You just can’t be this thick on just fried beans and wild berries. I’m just saying.

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