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The Rise of Fano Insurgency and Arbitrary Arrests of Youths in Addis Ababa

Fano fighters

By Chalachew Jemberie, PhD

Fano’s Emergence in Addis Ababa

The Fano militia, originally an Amhara nationalist group, has increasingly become active in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. This movement was spurred by long standing ethnic tensions and has been catalyzed by the perceived marginalization under the current administration led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. As Fano’s influence spreads within Addis Ababa, their activities have escalated from peaceful protests to more assertive actions. These have included organizing community defense initiatives and participating in demonstrations, often as a response to what they perceive as threats to the Amhara community’s rights and safety in the multicultural city.

In reaction to rising tensions and the growing presence of Fano, the Ethiopian government has frequently instituted states of emergency. These measures, though aimed at maintaining public order, have severely restricted civil liberties. Young people, particularly those associated with or sympathetic to Fano, have been disproportionately affected by these emergency decrees. Arbitrary arrests and detentions without due process have become commonplace, interrupting education, careers, and normal life for many youths in Addis Ababa.

Pattern of Arbitrary Arrests in the Capital

The pattern of arbitrary arrests has been particularly pronounced among the youth demographic in Addis Ababa. Law enforcement agencies, under the guise of security operations, have often detained young individuals based on their ethnicity and alleged affiliations with Fano, without substantial evidence. These detentions are frequently conducted without warrants and are supported by broad and vague charges, contributing to a climate of fear and repression among the city’s youth.

International observers and human rights organizations have raised alarms over the human rights violations occurring under the pretext of security and emergency measures. The arbitrary arrests of young people not only violate international legal standards but also undermine trust in governmental institutions and exacerbate ethnic tensions within Ethiopia’s diverse capital.

Urgent Call for Reforms and Oversight 

The situation in Addis Ababa and in Amhara region, characterized by the rise of Fano insurgency and the arbitrary arrests of its youth, calls for urgent attention and action from both Ethiopian authorities and the international community. To foster a more just and peaceful society, it is imperative to implement reforms that ensure the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the inclusion of all ethnic groups in the political and social fabric of Ethiopia. This includes ending unjust practices and promoting dialogue to address the root causes of ethnic strife in Addis Ababa and beyond.

The writer is a Professional Data Scientist/Adjunct Professor at UMBC. He can be reached at : 

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


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