By Habte Belayneh (PhD)
The Amhara State is engaged in a war with itself and with all its neighbors. Extrajudicial killings, possibly even ethnic cleansing, of the Agew, Qemant, Argobba, and Oromo have been reported over the last three years. Hundreds of minority Oromo in the Oromo Zone, and Northern Shewa have been killed, some brutally massacred after being dragged from an ambulance and thousands of homes were burned. More than 80,000 the Oromo in the Oromo Zone are reported to have become homeless and internally displaced. A disturbing video clip of a mob of Amharic speaking youth pulling an ethnic Benishangul out of a vehicle and beating him to death while the whole town is watching idly is circulating on the Internet.
Clashes with neighboring states such as Benishangul-Gumuz and Oromia have become daily occurrences. The atrocities committed in Benishangul Gumuz are horrible, save that they are hidden from the world. Amhara militia and special forces are accused to have conducted incursions into neighboring states which has pitied the Amhara who have been living peacefully for many years in those states with their neighbors. The Amhara militia and special forces were directly involved in the war in Tigray. These forces are implicated in possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual violence, and ethnic cleansing in Tigray. As it stands now, the Amhara State has forcibly annexed western Tigray.
Territorial disputes with Sudan have exposed Amhara peasants to looting and displacement. According to some reports, Sudan has seized considerable land that was under Ethiopia.
Amhara leaders, activists, media personalities, and intellectuals appear unassailable and unaccountable. Amhara leaders at every level of the Amhara State as well as the Federal Government, Amhara mass media (state owned as well as privately owned), and Amhara activists openly debate about the war they want to wage against all their neighbors, how to seize and annex neighboring states’ lands.
Amhara internal politics appears to favor extreme views rather than finding commonalities and compromise. Leaders, such as the former Oromia State President—Lemma Megersa—and the former Amhara State President—Gedu Andargachew, who believed in bridge making between the Oromo and Amhara finding commonalities and compromising on others are pushed out from office. Leaders such as Ambachew Mekonnen were assassinated by their fellow Amhara Leaders because they promoted the spirit of peace making and compromise. Asaminew Tsige, who was killed after allegedly assassinating Dr. Ambachew and his colleagues, is venerated more than those whom he allegedly assassinated while they were dispensing their duty of promoting Amhara interest. The very Amhara militia and special forces that the General trained and brainwashed with his misguided ideology of Amhara supremacy is the one implicated by the international community for having committed ethnic cleansing in Tigray, and other regions. These actions are poisoning the environment for our Amhara brethren living in peace and harmony among their hosts in other regional states.
At present, one cannot see if the Amhara State has any friends in Ethiopia or internationally for that matter. The only friend the Amhara has at this time is Isaias Afeworki. It appears that this friendship is tactical and temporal, based on shared hatred for Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In sum, Amhara State leaders, elites, opinion leaders and activists are acting with impunity while any basis of peaceful co-existence with all Amhara neighbors is shaken.
Ethiopia is composed of more than 80 different nations, and nationalities. Like the other peoples, the Amhara people live in absolute poverty with insufficient access to clean water, proper healthcare, education, and other basic needs. It is true Amharic has been adopted as a medium in Ethiopian bureaucracy, Amhara culture is made to dominate in the country and Amhara leaders and elites have been elevated to higher positions. As a result, the Amhara people might have held to a bragging right of assuming they are the premier group in Ethiopia.
The majority of Amhara people who manage to survive with limited or no access to proper healthcare, clean drinking water, modern education for their kids, and market for their produces are pit against other nations, nationalities, and peoples for crimes they did not commit, and benefits they did not extract in any special way. Unfortunately, the sons and daughters of the Amhara people are consumed and driven by self-interest at the cost of that of their people. The more I realize that amhara elities and leaders are driven by their narrow self-interest, I worry about the future of my people. I could not fathom how the wars waged, policies developed, and rhetorics spoken by our leaders can promote and safeguard our people’s interest. Thus, I cannot help it but ask these questions.
Do our leaders have Amhara’s best interest at heart? How is Amhara interest served by fighting with all our neighbors? Can we prevail in the war against all our neighbors? Can we prevail in the eyes of the international community? How do we fare now that international opinion is swayed away due to reports coming out of Tigray? Can our militia and special forces, implicated with war crime in Tigray, keep morale high and fight? What is the endgame of the Amhara war? How is Amhara’s long-term interest served by these wars?
When all is said and done, what is the outcome of the atrocities we are gladly taking part in Tigray, Benishangul, Oromia zone, and now in proper Oromia? Why are we willing to tarnish the image of our people? Why do we consign our people to social, economic, and political loneliness and let them suffer for decades to come? How can our leaders, elites, activists, opinion leaders and media personalities sleep at night after making our people a lone wolf in a day and time when the world is creating alliances to tackle big issues? Aren’t they dismantling the very Ethiopia they presume to safeguard and save from disintegration?
If the disintegration of Ethiopia is to be averted and Amhara interest is to be safegaurded, Amhara leaders committed to Amhara people’s interest need to take quick and decisive corrective measures to avert the impedning danger before it is too late.