Amhara Uprising: Poverty as a cause of instability [by D. B. Kebede]

welkeitPer the 2007 Population and Housing Census, Amhara is the second largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Most of the Amhara population lives in Godner, Gojjam, Wollo and Shewa provinces. However, due to historical reasons significant number of Amhara people are distributed throughout Ethiopia which makes the most widely dispersed ethnic groups in Ethiopia as well. Before the coming of TPLF to power, Amhara people were leading relatively a stable life in different parts of Ethiopia. However, the coming in to power of the TPLF and its consequent introduction of ethnic federalism has resulted in the surge of anti-Amhara sentiment by the government agents.

TPLF was started as “an anti-Amhara” front. In its 1967 manifesto declared Amhara are its arch enemy that must be crashed. The party has indoctrinated its ideology of hate to its members for close to half a century. The parity’s staunchest cadres have believed what is written in their manifesto is true and must be adhered by every part faithfully.

The aftermath of 1991, Amhara people were becoming primary victims of torture, harassment, displacement and killing. For quarter a century, TPLF unabashed by corruption, tirelessly uses government owned media and other meanness to inculcate anti-Amhara hate among other ethnic groups. The official ideology, Revolutionary Democracy, stated Amhara’s were colonial powers and their struggle is to dismantle Amhara domination. To garner enough support to perpetuate its political hegemony, TPLF encourages others ethnic groups to take revenge against Amhara who are perceived as their former oppressors. This, negative campaign has led to the massacre and displacement of Amhara’s in Harar, SNNP, Gabella and Benishangul Gumuz regions.

The Amhara’s being the most dispersed society in Ethiopia and they become easy targets for ethnic cleansing. Untold stories of atrocities are now surfacing out due to prevalent social media activism. Currently, people are protesting the systemic marginalization and brutal crackdown on any dissent.

The TPLF rule are the worst to Ethiopian in general and the Amhara people. The recent protest is the result of an accumulated grievances. It is related to past mistreatment, discrimination, harassment, killing, torture, and economic marginalization. Wolkite identity restoration movement which is considered as the immediate causes that sparks the regionwide Amhara protest. The forcible annexation of territories of Wolkite’s into Tigri Regional state has caused various human rights abuse including land expropriation and genocide to clear lands to lay a claim.  Areas such as Humera, Wolkite and Tsegedie, better known as fertile belt of the norther region, are areas that have witnessed ethnic cleansing of Amhara’s by the Tigris minority regimes.

The government to economically marginalize and weaken the region has several times redistributed land in region. The expropriation of land was solely implemented in the Amhara region. The redistribution of land, other than creating fragmented arable land that are not sufficient to support domestic needs have created a social conflict between the new owners and the old land lords. Such skewed support to the local elites have in turn created a network of clientele officials that mismanaged the economy. The Amhara region what was once considered as a bread basket of Ethiopia is now known for its inflated safety net programs. The land use now is less than hectare per house hold. Family dependency ratio is unusually high. Therefore, fragmentation of farm land is one Couse of rural poverty. On the other hand, there is no industrial labor market that taps the rural youth. Now most rural youth has started migrating to the capital and even crossed borders to neighboring in the hope of searching a greener pasture.

These army of un employed youth demands change that would promote their desire for change. Unless there is democratic system in place that would create a forum to channel grievances in peaceful and orderly manner popular demands would rocking the system.

It is not late to resolve the problem. The government should initiate public discussion with the aim to provide a forum for the people to air out their concerns. The discussion should include land policy which is now entirely owned and run by the government. This policy contrary to its professed purpose serves as a mechanism to control the rural mass. Other than releasing cooked data the government with the help of international organization has to start a new agricultural census and poverty surveys to redress what has been done in the past 25 years.



  1. The trial and tribulations of Amaras because of their ethnicity has a long history. At any rate, there has been no time in the history of our ancient land that a horrific crime such as what Amaras are experiencing today, ever occurred.

    The misplaced blame assigned on Amaras for the country’s imperial administrative imperfections, was the beginning of the studied hostility towards them by the so-called Ethiopian left and liberation movements. The Amara elites were guilty of complicity.
    Amaras and other Ethiopians who have traversed the breadth and length of Ethiopia to delineate and defend the borders of the country and settled there, were suddenly branded colonialists. The DERG dutifully disarmed Amaras as has fascist Italy done earlier.
    The first targets of Mengistu and his ilk, the EPRP, MIESON, OLF, TPLF, were Amaras.
    Tens of thousands of innocent and unarmed Amaras who had lived there for three generations or more were massacred in Arsi, Harar, Keffa, Sidamo etc

    When Somalia got wind of the chaos in Ethiopia and particularly the official anti-Amara policy of the Derg which singularly disarmed Amaras in Ogaden and the rest of the country, it was emboldened to invade. Consequently, tens of thousands were slaughtered at the hands of Somali insurgents with the connivance of Muslim Oromos.
    The properties of Amaras were either looted or set alight. The Amara elites in the Derg were no less complicit in that planned genocide.

    Save the conscientious, principled and courageous surgeon, Prof. Asrat Woldeyes who stood up to challenge the wholesale genocide Woyane Tigres waged as soon as they invaded Ethiopia, Amara elites were dumb and numb. After subjected Asrat to a slow and painful death, Tigres with their partners in crime had a free reign to committed massacres of genocide proportion on Amaras similar in scale to the 6 million Jews gassed to death by Nazi Germans.
    Amara elites still wanted to be seen to be above ‘tribal’ politics. It is a sheer irony of fate that the Amaras who cried for the Oromo peasantry, greater social justice etc, suddenly found themselves tongue-tied when the victims were their poor kin and kith.
    Well, the colossal destruction visited upon Amaras, physically, materially, psychologically, emotionally in the last 25 reached a critical threshold.
    The indignity has boiled over. It seems Amara elites are now set to atone for their crimes of both omission and commission. They had expediently neglected the plight of Amaras as if defending unjustly maligned Amaras tantamount to compromising their loyalty to the motherland.


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