By Wondemagne Ejigu
The massive civil uprising in Ethiopia last week has captivated the attention of the world. Needless to say the world is now well aware of the protest by the Oromo ethnic group, the so called Oromo Protest, that has been going on for the last nine months. The second largest ethnic group, the Amhara, joined the uprising last week. The magnitude and consistency of the uprising in Amhara is quite a surprise and uncommon for many non-Ethiopians, including the mainstream media. It has however been observed that larger mainstream medias are reluctant to report on this uprising for reasons that remain unclear. On top of this, there is very little information available that exposes the immeasurable suffering of the Amhara people under the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) dictatorial rule. This article aims to fill this information gap so that one may fully grasp the deteriorating political situation in Ethiopia – even though it is a daunting task to express inumerable years of suffering inflicted on the Amhara people in just one article. This should be considered a simple framework that outlines some specific insights.
Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their misguided attempts to silence the peoples voices.
TPLF is the current ruling party in the Ethiopian dictatorial government. There is no difference between TPLF and the government. TPLF was formed as a guerilla fighter group representing Tigrayan People which accounts for 6% of the Ethiopian population. When TPLF took power 25 years ago, it fabricated different political alliances in the name of other ethnic groups in the country, such as OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Organization) and ANDM (Amhara National Democratic Movement) representing the Oromo and the Amhara respectively. However, these political alliances have no legitimacy in the eyes of the people which they claim to represent. They are mainly serving the TPLF as a trojan horse to solidify TPLF’s sinister repression upon the people of Ethiopia.
Having said this, I will now attempt to discuss the untold and least reported plight of the Amhara people in two categories. The first category is The crime of ethnic cleansing perpetrated on the Amhara people. The second category will be The Welkite Identity restoration movement.
The crime of ethnic cleansing perpetrated on the Amhara people
TPLF’s unconstitutional political aim to systematically exterminate Amhara was not a secret at all; it was vividly written on the TPLF’s party manifesto stating that TPLF is anti-Amhara. This anti-Amhara message was indoctrinated into each member of the TPLF throughout their 17 year armed struggle. One of the first things TPLF did when it took power was to fully implement its goal. Commencing from 1991, the TPLF has systematically displaced, tortured, harassed and killed Amharas in the most inhumane ways in all corners of Ethiopia. In places like Harar, Aris, Jimma, Gurda Fera, Wollega and Afar, the Amhara people have been systematically exterminated. TPLF was the mastermind behind this notorious act. The most inhumane killings were in Bedeno, Hara. Sadly, the killings extended into the so called Amhara region in places like Metekel as well as the neighbouring Beni Shangul region. Apart from using the conventional way of exterminating and killing, TPLF killed thousands of Amhara people by denying access to medical care while they were affected by malaria and many other illnesses. There is tangible evidence that explains the incidents in depth. Speaking of figures – in the year 2010, when the Population Census Commission Agency announced the 2007/2008 population result to the Ethiopian Parliament , the agency officially confirmed that 2.5 million Amharas were missing. What was most shocking was that the same document from the Agency showed that the annual population growth of the Amhara region was 2.3%, but 2.5 million Amharas were missing compared to the previous Population Census result. One does not need to be an expert to understand the magnitude of the ethnic cleansing, when there is a decrease of 2.5 million people, while the annual growth of the population is 2.3%.
The Welkite Identity restoration movement
The issue of the Welkite Amharas has managed to get some attention due to the current massive unrest in Gondar and Bahir Dar. Unfortunately, Welkait, Tsegede, Humera and basically the whole of northern Gondar has been under the TPLF’s brutal repression for the last 36 years. The Welkait people are blessed with a vast and fertile land. This fertile land produces the largest export of cotton and oilseed for the nation. 36 years ago TPLF’s agenda was to kill as well as exterminate Welkite Amharas and in the long run take over their fertile land. TPLF tortured and killed around 30 thousand people in a prison camp called Bado Sidest. Bado Sidest is an underground prison and it was the main place where TPLF ran a miserable camp to exterminate Welkait Amharas in the most grueling and unspeakable ways. When TPLF assumed power in 1991, it illegally incorporated North Gondar and places like Welkait, Humera and others under the Tigray region. The Welkait community has been crying for justice for the last 36 years.
The Swedish Government is supporting such a dictatorial regime in Ethiopia. Why?
To make it clear for non-Ethiopian readers who are not familiar with the relations and diversity of ethnicity in Ethiopia, take this scenario: You invite a guest to your home. The guest stays for a long time and so you offer him a room to stay with you as a family. Now, imagine this: After a few years, the guest throws you out of your house, boldly claiming your house belongs to him merely because he has stayed in your house for a long time. Can you imagine that happening to you? The Welkait community has established a committee and has been demanding the restoration of their identity for a many years. The committee took all the necessary steps and appealed to every concerned government office in a mature way. They used the Ethiopian constitution as their tool. But sadly, the TPLF is always TPLF and cannot – and will not – respect the law. Instead, it started to kill, harass, intimidate and imprison the committee members.
This of course resulted in the current massive public uprising in Gondar and Bahir Dar. As you can see, people in Amhara have been brutally mistreated for the last 36 years and now they have had enough. The current uprising in Amhara region is massive, and is a big shock for the TPLF. As IBT UK news described it, it is the biggest anti-government unrest Ethiopia has witnessed in recent history. The TPLF is using heavy weapononry like tanks and trained military sniper soldiers to handle the uprising. As Amnesty reported, the security forces response was heavy handed but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their misguided attempts to silence the peoples voices. During the last few days of massive civil uprising in the Amhara region, around 150 people have been killed. According to the aforementioned report from Amnesty, 30 people have been killed only in Bahir Dar. In surrounding villages like Dembia, Sanga, Sekota and others, the TPLF is actually engaged in a war with the barely armed farmers of Amhara.
Together in Solidarity
The very important aspect of the current unrest in the Amhara and Oromiya regions is that the Amhara and Oromo people show their solidarity for one another. In the Gondar and Bahir Dar demonstration people demanded justice for Oromo, with the same token in the grand Oromo demonstration. In all cities demonstrators shout for justice to be served in Amhara. This act, this solidarity, is tantamount to a death sentence for the TPLF. TPLF has been working tirelessly to create conflicts between the two ethnic groups for the last 25 years. The people of Oromia and Amhara, however, have effectively showed that they are there for one another.
Finally, I would like to conclude by asking a question to my dear Swedish readers: Is there anything you can do? As you can see, the TPLF is a dictatorship with blood on its hands. As I am writing this, the TPLF soldiers are killing countless peaceful demonstrators in Amhara and Oromia. Someone as peaceful as you who are reading this, is being killed right now. The ministers and diplomats of the TPLF dictatorial regime are criminals, but they come and shake hands with your leaders. Why? The Swedish Government is supporting such a dictatorial regime in Ethiopia. Why? I always believe that you, my dear Swedish friends, can do something about it – at least by sharing the information.