Acknowledgment: Mesfin Tadesse is the main author of this post.
Ethiopian New Year in September is joyous, and the countryside filled with yellow blooms. View this springtime midnight prayer dance for blooming flowers by Orthodox Amhara . This year, we did not celebrate the Amhara festival because Amhara were fighting for their lives.
16 days later, was Meskel: Commemoration feast of the finding of the true holy cross of Christ. UNESCO lists it as follows: Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Despite the prime minister’s hostility toward Ethiopian religions, he could not stop the ancient celebration, nor the enormous turnout for the ceremony. Note the unnecessary Security presence 17 minutes into the video for Amhara are inherently peaceful .
Elsewhere, government attacks upon Amhara continued, with 14 farmers killed by drone and 5 young Jewish boys mutilated in Gojjam region.
This post surveys reporting on the war and various forms of Amhara genocide. For convenience, most attacks of the past 6–7 months are listed separately in our previous post “List of Government Attacks on Amhara”. Its length illustrates how the risk to Amhara people, culture and language has intensified since our earlier posts on persecution of Ethiopia’s best.
Comparison with Holocaust
Genocide is the systematic destruction of a people based on ethnicity. Ethiopian Amhara have suffered genocide for almost 50 years. Oromo forces of Abiy Ahmed’s government are now systematically attacking regional and urban Amhara people. In other words, destruction of Amhara regions and people is state sponsored. World War II’s holocaust was Nazi sponsored, highly systematic destruction of European Jews. For much longer, 3 Ethiopian régime’s—Derg, TPLF and Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party—have perpetrated genocidal crimes against Amhara.
The holocaust specifically attacked Jews, intellectuals, homosexuals, Roma gypsies and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mass killings were also mechanised. Otherwise, there is little difference between a holocaust and genocide. May a holocaust never happen again. However, powerful countries need to use their influence to end genocide worldwide .
As with the European holocaust, each crescendo of genocide of Ethiopian Jews has begun with deliberate misinformation about Amhara. In an address to Welega Oromo, the prime minister said, ‘If you don’t stand up to Amhara, they will dominate for 250 years.’ He incited hatred.
The ground was prepared. Hatred of Amhara has been encouraged by Europeans since Ethiopia’s triumph in the Battle of Adwa 1896. It is widespread and dangerous. Late one evening in March in the US, a 3rd-year university student left the library. White supremacists murdered him. He was Ethiopian. For more than 80 years, fascists have made false historical claims against Amhara. An example is Amhara as supporters of slavery or as colonists in their own right .
Singer Teddy Afro’s 2022 release “Naet”—“now” in Ge’ez—encapsulates the steady creep of prejudice, which is an affront to Ethiopians used to traditional racial harmony .
Evictions began under the previous government and recommenced in 2022 or earlier under current rule .
Abiy Ahmed and Mayor Adenach have evicted 200,000 Amhara, demolishing more than 100,000 homes. They displaced 500,000 Amhara around Addis Ababa. Breadwinners suicided rather than see family starve and turn to prostitution.
Security swooped upon families, telling them, ‘Go back to Amhara.’
They said, ‘We built Addis Ababa. Abiy Ahmed, you go back to Jimma.’
Evictors called them, ‘Buda,’ and, ‘Invisible devil’. Any person renting rooms to displaced Amhara faced a 35,000 ETB fine with 3 months’ imprisonment .
A 6-year-old told the prime minister and mayor of Addis Ababa to stop evictions and build more houses.
A husband showed his building permit; security ripped it and burnt it with a cigarette lighter. His wife tried to stop them; they shot her. The husband left her body at a monastery, obtained a gun and shot several in the demolition work team. Another man was shot trying to stop demolition of the home that he had supported with 40 years’ work in the Middle East. A neighbour of Falasha sheltered them in the underground area of his Sebeta industrial premises. Local council betrayed them to the Federal police, who killed them all. The owner fled.
From one area called Yeka Mikael in Addis Ababa, 98,000 people were displaced to make way for Abiy Ahmed’s Oromo ‘bush house’ palace and 3 artificial lakes worth USD 800,000. The prime minister destroyed 79,000 dwellings, community stores and workshops and services such as teff mills and mitmita spice preparation. He destroyed 111,000 homes in Addis Ababa belonging mostly to people that worked abroad in the Middle East as housemaids and mechanics.
Internally Displaced Persons
Nationwide, April saw 211,000 newly displaced persons fleeing Shene in Welega and Benishangul-Gumuz, north-west. By May 5 million Ethiopians were displaced. In Menz in North Shewa, 120,000 displaced from Welega were without shelter in June, which is the start of the wet season. Right now, 4 million are in dire need of urgent help with nothing to eat. 20 million people are extremely vulnerable – that’s every 5th or 6thEthiopian .
Debre Elias Monastery in east Gojjam—bombed and pillaged in May—was an advanced educational centre for printing, book binding, craft, music, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, agriculture, animal husbandry and botany – taught in Ge’ez, Hebrew and Amharic along with the oral tradition Qine (Qene). The genre is explained in that article.
This documentary is introduced by a Genius of Geniuses; birana or goatskin books and elegant Fidal are shown after 6 minutes; navigation by stars abroad to Israel is explained after 7 minutes. The area of Debre Elias was home to Haddis Alemayehu, acclaimed author of Fikir Eske Mekabir or Love unto the Crypt; after 10 minutes, Amharic text is shown .
Cabinet members resigned over the Debre Elias massacre, looting and destruction . Our previous post lists these events of May 2023.
The prime minister said that he attacked monasteries because they sheltered anti-government forces. This was false. Orthodox monasteries shelter orphans and host the sick, whom they heal.
Debre Elias monastery is 542 years old, and nobody knows how it was built. The prime minister feigns superstition, pretending to fear the monks as buda or “high sight”.
90 years ago, Mussolini’s fascists aimed to burn the monastery, but could not set foot in Gojjam Province. Closed-door meetings precede atrocities and looting; the prime minister’s most recent was with France and Germany.
Other monasteries were attacked in Amhara regions including Giorgis on Lake Tana shores.
Prelude to the April War
As the April war began, Ethiopians had no internet and phone services were cut in Amhara regions. City Amhara endured a curfew and increasing violence and harassment from Abiy Ahmed’s Oromo federal police.
Killings then increased. By August, civilians had been murdered in Gondar, Gojjam, Welega and Welo. There were more than 20,000 innocents in prisons and 11 concentration camps. Most Amhara journalists were detained including Meskeram Aberra, as well as unprovocative civic and youth leaders.
The prime minister arranged for China to make yagerlibs. Synthetic, they are marked down by one-third. Ethiopians refuse to buy the rip-off designs. The exported industry destroys the livelihood of craft workers.Shiro Meda workshops are closed or destroyed. In September the prime minister said that Ethiopia needs Amhara crafts and wisdom, but Amhara themselves must be eradicated .
At no stage did most Ethiopians want war. That includes Oromo citizens. Early in October, Amhara and Oromo intellectuals called for a ceasefire, which Abiy Ahmed refused. Instead, he intensified the war upon Amhara. On October 03, more than 20,000 government troops were brought by 11 Antonov “elephant’s bottom” aircraft to Gondar [12,13].
UNESCO Listed Sites
The war upon Amhara directly affects all; the Ethiopian government appears to be getting away with bombing World Heritage Sites: Fasil Castle, listed as Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region; and 2 of the Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (Gabriel and Medhane Alem monasteries).
The prime minister is also responsible for destruction of cultural heritage in the form of goatskin books and parchments, some 5,000 years old, as well as paintings and ceremonial objects such as crosses. This covers collections held in mosques, churches and monasteries. They are Treasures from National Archives and Library Organizations, belonging to UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register.
Gabriel and Medhane Alem monasteries, 2 of the 11 interconnected Rock-Hewn Churches at Lalibela, housed countless ancient texts. So did Asheton Maryam Monastery, reached on foot via a narrow cliffside path in the area’s Semien Mountains. Abiy Ahmed’s destroyed the monastery, clergy, worshippers, and contents in a mortar attack.
We await UNESCO public statements. These would have come rapidly and stridently if any of Ethiopia’s attacked sites were in Europe.
You Can Help
Amhara have struggled long to help themselves. Robel Alemu speaks up for them during a panel interview at 9 and 15 minutes and at the end . Peaceful, lawful protests by Amhara were widespread in the lead up to the war. Young people persisted for months in advocating for their rights as well as those being murdered in rural areas by Shene and by gaolers in prisons. One monastery alone now shelters 37,000. Eshatu of Donkey Tube fame raised 3 million ETB to help monasteries .
In this 4-way discussion on Al Jazeera, the only Amhara participant argues that persecution of Amhara be condemned internationally .
Ethiopians will never give up, but please consider signing an online petition like this or support it .
Declaration of War on Amhara
Amhara Regional Forces Banned
Sudan had taken farming land that encompassed gold mines in Gondar. Abiy Ahmed did not support the region’s special forces in taking it back. Gondar’s only defence was Fano resistance fighters. Amhara insistence upon their right to their own defence was the excuse for the prime minister’s declaration of war on Amhara.
Amhara forces did not attack Oromo civilians, contrary to popular news reporters. Such an assertion is near the end of one English Al Jazeera report . Moreover, the existence of special regional forces is supported by the Ethiopian Constitution .
Integration of Amhara special forces into national armed forces and police would have destroyed them. No national force had protected Amhara. Amhara forces also protected civilians while the government ignored attacks upon Amhara people living in what have become Oromia regions. They were essential to the survival of regional Amhara civilians and enterprises such as farming.
Despite widespread protests, Abiy Ahmed relentlessly insisted on dismantling Amhara special forces that had helped his government defeat the junta 2021–22. Without them, Raya and Welqait in Tigray would have fallen to the junta. By mid-April, the prime minister had declared war upon Amhara regions.
Foreign Blessings and Weapons Funding
Both military action against Amhara and militant group attacks were supported by foreign donations. These funded the bombing of Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches and mountainous resistance-fighter strongholds.
In May, Abiy Ahmed obtained US approval to use drones against Amhara people. In exchange for 800 million ETB worth of drones to attack Amhara, he sold a 25-year lease on one-third of Muger Cement Factory to Turkey. Run from Istanbul, it employs no Ethiopian gardeners or other workers, re-settling Turks from disaster zones.
Muger is on Oromo land, yet locals do not prosper from this sale. 4 decades ago, Mesfin encountered a more sustainable take on economic prosperity. An elder smiled as he planted trees that would bear delicious fruit in 65 years’ time, for up to 3,000 years. ‘When I came onto this planet there was fruit.’ Does the prime minister care about this wonderful Oromo culture? He even withheld months of pay from workers at a sugar mill. Expenditure on war is his priority.
Sweden had given 88 million USD, and Norway 68 million USD, in weapons to Shene. Shene was trained and hosted in Eritrea prior to Abiy Ahmed’s coming to power. Prior to April’s declaration of war, the International Monetary Fund had given 204 million USD to Ethiopia.
In October 2023, when 200,000 government troops had surrounded the whole of Amhara, the European Union paid 789,000 euros to the prime minister. Was this a reward?
Europe would benefit from a weakened and divided Ethiopia. Amhara regions are mineral rich and fertile. Amhara people are in the way. They do not want to be part of post-colonialism exploiting their rich resources .
Government Troops Out
Field Marshal General Jula sent in 13,000 government troops into Amhara regions, but 12,000 ran away to Eritrea. 8 generals said, ‘We’re not killing our children, our countrymen, our farmers.’ With 600 special force soldiers, they also fled to Eritrea. In May, a pilot was ordered to bomb Bahir Dar, the city on the shores of Lake Tana. Instead, he disabled the bombs, dropping them in the desert, reported back and shot himself.
To offset the loss of troops, Abiy Ahmed released TPLF prisoners ranked lieutenant to colonel, with 2 years’ worth of back pay and promotions. They were to kill Amhara. However, they took the money and escaped abroad. He also encouraged Somali and other mercenaries to join forces attacking Amhara.
Recently, the prime minister has used yet more taxpayer money to hire Sudanese mercenaries to attack women, children and the elderly across the border in Gondar.
Around 18 September, the prime minister redeployed 2,500 Ethiopian UN Peacekeepers from Somalia to use against Amhara. With government troops behind them, they were to kill or be killed. Fano killed 2,200 and 300 gave themselves up to Fano. ‘I’m not killing my brothers.’ Of the 500 peacekeepers left in Somalia, al-Shabaab killed 168, sparing only Muslims.
The Addis Ababa mayor attempted to bribe Eritrean forces with city real estate if they would fight Fano .
Fano means special traditional warrior. It is the Amhara unpaid national army, the people’s only defence. Dating from Queen Saba more than 3,000 years ago, Fano was formed to fight outsiders. It participated in the Battle of Adwa 1896. During peace time, Fano members are carpenters, farmers, builders, handymen or monastic students. They taught Oromo to make yoghurt, separating out milk’s damaging fats. Abiy Ahmed called them “wearers of shorts”. Always working, they shun the garb of crooks, namely neckties.
You do not need to understand Amharic to appreciate this video explanation of Fano. The images are suitable for all ages, featuring noble young volunteer fighters and the Fano flag .
In Gondar in April, Fano killed 2 generals, 6 colonels and 5 majors. The highly ranked government forces were poorly trained, having been promoted as a reward.
By the start of August, Fano had captured Lalibela Airport in Welo .
On September 11, calling it Operation Yehuda New Year, Ethiopian leaders sent 10,000 defence forces to kill Amhara. Fano killed thousands of government soldiers, burying them decently. To Oromo captives, they gave 3 meals per day and opportunities to read. Some soldiers were only 16–18 years old .
At the start of October, Fano destroyed a Battalion in Lalibela. 800 Oromo troops from the national defence force, many in their teens, surrendered to Fano .
Unlike other factions, Fano has stolen nothing; yet in 5 years, Shene (OLF) has robbed 73 banks. Within 2 years, the junta (TPLF) had robbed 283 banks. During 2021–22 in Amhara and Afar, it destroyed schools, hospitals and pharmacies; looted and demolished 56 universities; and in Welo, it even stole a high-tension transformer. This report by academic Alemayehu is in English. It is an eye-witness account of TPLF destruction of 1 university. Now difficult to access, it is included here .
Like many other Ethiopians, Fano is restrained. Relatively few foreign aid workers have been killed during her recent wars, unlike in Sudan at the start of the current conflict. Fano volunteers are akin to famed resistance warrior Belay Zelek, who fought Mussolini’s fascists 1935–41. Admire the calibre of this young Amhara Fano fighter.
An article by Girma Birhanu describes Fano volunteers’ tenacity and courage .
Fano also inspired this classic Amharic song, with lyrics and melody by the celebrated Sahle Degago .
Food Insecurity in Ethiopia
Tonight, 7 million Ethiopians go without dinner and 4–5 million starve.
Tigray, Afar and Welo
October 04 saw 3 days of mourning for the Tigray death toll that reached 1.2 million .
Throughout 2023, Tigrayans have faced starvation, with 40–100 dying each day. On May 17, 25 died in Tigray of starvation because the World Food Programme stopped donations after 2 years of theft and on-selling by both TPLF and government. Hunger steadily worsened. On June 03, 71 Tigrayans died. By the end of June, 700 had died in Tigray since US Aid ceased. On one day in July, 131 in Mekele died of hunger. Foraging is deadly for the prime minister never detonated landmines left over from the war. Today, between 25 and 38 Tigray people die, many of those killed by mines .
No Government Help
The prime minister sold US Aid food donations to pasta factories and others. 3 days later, 36 more died because the US no longer had a presence in Tigray, being unable to sell its arms there. He sent influential organisations such as the UN images of green herbaceous acres. Ignorant that they were weeds, he said, ‘2024 will see bumper grain crops.’ Extravagant with laptops and 4WDs for his employees, Abiy Ahmed did not help the starving.
Food distribution is impeded. Much infrastructure was destroyed by the junta, yet the government prevented the rebuild of the road from Mekele in Tigray. Another Tigray area, Raya, has not had power and clean water restored.
Urgent Rebuilding Needed
Neighbouring Afar and Welo remain devastated. Not a school, university, clinic or hospital survived TPLF destruction in Welo and potable water was never restored. The junta sold stolen laboratory infrastructure to Sudan, its mercenaries having aligned with them to attack civilians and their environment 2021–22.
While in government, the TPLF stole USD 1 billion from Ethiopians. Countries such as the UK and US refused to return the money, urgently needed now for rebuilding. The US continued to harbour the junta war criminal Aboy. Abiy Ahmed freed him even though he had been arrested in a war cave, finger on trigger – not in his bed at home or back garden.
7:40 minutes into April news coverage, a US politician asks whether the criminals that run Ethiopia have bank accounts that can be accessed through the international banking system .
The junta was not properly disarmed by Abiy Ahmed’s government, so now controls fertile regions that really belonged to neighbouring Gondar and Welo. Amhara farmers flee to the bush leaving farmlands untended and crops unharvested. TPLF mass graves found in 2020 at Tigray’s Mai Kadra, Humera and Welqait contained 68,000 Amhara. Some were buried alive; bodies were spray-painted with antisemitic messages. Mostly farmers, those geniuses could be feeding Tigray now.
No Drinking Water
At neighbouring Kobo in Welo, and elsewhere, thousands of hospitals and clinics destroyed by the junta have not been replaced, along with drinking water. It is the same in Afar, to the east of Tigray.
32 people died in Gondar during the 1st week of October 2023 from starvation. Borders are blocked by Abiy Ahmed. Their area had been laid waste by the junta 2 years ago and people had lost livelihoods. Now, poorly schooled Ethiopian leaders imprison the too clever. Beta Israel geniuses are barred from producing pottery that is popular abroad to afford essentials. Our self-sufficient yerada lij may support neither themselves nor the helpless. People starve in Addis Ababa [32,33,34].
Amhara are also not allowed to leave Addis Ababa, nor enter it even for medical treatment. Hunger is rife there too. Yet the mayor forced residents to fund the Irreechaa holiday; they may not work Friday–Monday and must pay for oxen and goat meat and beer for 120,000 Oromo visitors. They themselves go hungry.
Stock Feed Shortage
In areas such as Gojjam and Gondar, Amhara farmers go to prison for 6 months for using organic fertilisers on stock feed. The government denies them artificial fertilisers that they need to use during the current crisis. Claiming environmental threats from traditional farming methods, foreigners do not help. However, Amhara farmers are masters of organic agriculture. Borana pastoralists could also use their stock feed.
Amhara would not like us to forget starving Borana pastoralists in the south. Despite their own suffering, they innately care about others. Since the start of COVID in 2020, there has been drought in the southern Oromo region; across the border with Kenya too. Borana from there have fled to Ethiopia, but more than 100,000 people and 4 million cattle have died of hunger.
The Ethiopian government got away with ignoring their plight because travel was restricted during COVID. Through online support, please show you care and help raise awareness of this Borana Drought Emergency.
Inflation in Ethiopia
The price of nutritious food has inflated up to 10 times in fewer than 3 years. Abiy Ahmed said, ‘Eat bananas and bread if there’s no injera and wat.’ Life is a struggle in Addis Ababa where 1 sheep sells for 45,000 ETB = 1,500 AUD. In 2022, it was 40,000 ETB.
Compare this with 30 years ago. In 1990, Mesfin bought a large and small sheep for 12 and 9 ETB. Both skins sold for 25 ETB. In the late 1970s during his youth, he sold roosters for 3 ETB and laying hens for 1 ETB 20–75 cents.
Here are prices of some staples from 2–3 years ago and 2023:
1 egg cost 4 ETB in 2020; now: 45 ETB
1-kilogram tomatoes was 8–12 ETB in 2021; now: 85 ETB
1 teff injera (flatbread) was 14 ETB in 2021; now: 85 ETB or 25 ETB if mixed with wheat flour.
1 live chicken costs 2,500–3,000 ETB. Street sweepers earn 2,000 ETB per month. They cannot dream of eating chicken.
Due to Amhara farmers being under attack by Shene and government forces, crops cannot always be harvested. This has driven up the cost of teff grain to 250 ETB per kilogram in the city. Red onions are another essential Ethiopian ingredient, always affordable in the past. Now they sell for 135 ETB per kilogram.
A visitor to Addis Ababa observed that dinner for 2 in a smart hotel cost 12,000 ETB. He began giving away bags containing 20,000 ETB in Kazanchis, a Jewish area. In the nearby suburb of Qebena, he continued until arrested as ‘Not a registered donor.’ An influential friend got him released and he fled Ethiopia after having arrived 3 weeks earlier.
Hunger is both a method of war and the price of war.
Amhara are the drivers of cultural innovations that benefit all Ethiopians and the rest of the world. They may not always be loud, but when they appeal for protection and justice, we need to hear them and speak out on their behalf.
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ReliefWeb. “Ethiopia. Human Rights Defenders Held for Documenting Forced Evictions must be Released Immediately”. OCHA Services. January 11, 2023. https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/ethiopia-human-rights-defenders-held-documenting-forced-evictions-must-be-released-immediately
Teddy Afro. “Naet=Now. [New Official Single 2022”. Music recording, 6:25. https://youtu.be/1hMVeENjVew?feature=shared
Thinkrich Africa. “The Wicked Reason France Can’t Leave Niger Exposed”. September 25, 2023. YouTube video, 9:07. https://youtu.be/H3MFr6P0ZEU?si=K5EpH6r56olzKGfu
The Wiener Holocaust Library. The Holocaust Explained. n.d. https://www.theholocaustexplained.org
Zehabesha 12. [Current Information]. October 05, 2023. YouTube video,12:43.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNUl5fUL160
Map of Ethiopia showing location of Lalibela in Welo
Meskel Celebration by Daniel Girma Tsige, Sept 26, 2016. By DanielGirmaTsige – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54901363
Giorgis Monastery in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia © Mesfin Tadesse 2016
Lalibela Deacon © Mesfin Tadesse 2017
Dawit Metshaf Colophon © ianet Bastyan 2021
Asheton Maryam Monastery site near Lalibela © Mesfin Tadesse 2017
Semien Mountains near Lalibela © Mesfin Tadesse 2017
Entoto Pottery © Mesfin Tadesse 2016
Rift Valley Farmer with Livestock © Ianet Bastyan 2020
Street Bananas in Bahir Dar © Mesfin Tadesse 2016