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Response from Amhara Fano Leaders to Ambassador Ervin J. Massinga’s Policy Address on Human Rights and Dialogue

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Press Statement: Response from Amhara Fano Leaders to Ambassador Ervin J. Massinga’s Policy Address on Human Rights and Dialogue

May 24, 2024 (Ginbot 16, 2016 EC)

On May 15, 2024, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia Ervin J. Massinga delivered a policy address on human rights and dialogue at American Gibbi. He reflected on the Yekatit 12 Massacre of 1937, during which over 30,000 Ethiopians were killed by fascist colonial forces, and highlighted the role the United States played in saving hundreds of Ethiopians during those dark days. This underscores the deep ties shared between the two countries for over 120 years. Unfortunately, we are now living in a time where the ruling party, led by Abiy Ahmed Ali, has been as cruel, if not more so, than Rodolfo Graziani was towards the Ethiopian people. At the time, it was the altruism of historic figures like Cornelius van Hemert Engert and the heroism of the likes of the “Brown Condor” John Robinson, who volunteered to help Ethiopia in her trying times, that saved countless lives. Although the horrors of fascist occupation may seem like a distant past to many, it has become a daily reality for the Amhara people since Abiy Ahmed’s rise to power. From Wollega to Metekel, from Ataye to Mai-Kadra, from Kobo to Merawi, the Amhara people have faced numerous massacres across Ethiopia without due protection.

First and foremost, we appreciate any desire by Ambassador Massinga, the United States and other international observers to see an end to our people’s suffering and finding lasting peace in Ethiopia. However, it is crucial for Ambassador Massinga and the United States to understand the Amhara people's struggle in order to play a constructive role in finding a lasting solution. Before the declaration of the state of emergency and the onset of full-scale genocidal war against our people by the Abiy Ahmed regime, on April 2nd, 2023 the Amhara people began peaceful protests in more than 30 cities and towns saying “don’t kill us”. This date marked the anniversary of Abiy Ahmed taking office, which the Ethiopian people have come to call the “day of darkness”. In fact, the Amhara people spent the first five years of Abiy's rule persistently trying to voice their grievances through peaceful means. This was despite facing relentless genocidal massacres, ethnic cleansing, and even travel restrictions to their own capital city. During the Northern Ethiopia War, the Amhara people faced the brunt of genocidal invasions by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) during which we fought in self-defense to protect our people from the invading forces which inflicted unimaginable suffering on our people, committed weaponized rape against our mothers, sisters and daughters, and destroyed property and foundational institutions including schools, hospitals, places of worship and residential houses. When global leaders imposed a peace process without our inclusion, the Amhara people still made efforts to participate in the process by appointing Amhara representatives to sit at the negotiating table. At the time, the wider Amhara community warned that excluding the Amhara people and ignoring our interests would not bring lasting peace to Ethiopia. Unfortunately, our sincere dedication to peaceful struggle was met with unwavering belligerence and aggression from Abiy Ahmed, culminating in a full-scale genocidal war soon after the signing of the so-called “peace deal” with the TPLF.

In reality this deal was more of a war pact between the Abiy Ahmed regime and the TPLF as demonstrated by the genocidal war waged against our people and the TPLF’s recent campaign of ethnic cleansing in Raya and Telemt, which has displaced tens of thousands of our people. This underscores the existential threat the Amhara people are facing from genocidal forces which have demonstrated their commitment to rejecting peace and waging war.

Given this context, we were dismayed to hear Ambassador Massinga portray Fano as a party that rejects peace and dialogue. This was never a war of volition but one forced upon us and our people. That is, our primary aim for fighting is to ensure the survival of our people but also to seek justice for the decades of genocide committed against our people. Therefore, our struggle is not one of aggression but rather our universal right to self-preservation and the protection of our people. So we share the Ambassador’s stated concern for the suffering of innocent civilians due to this war, including those who have been victims of door-to-door massacres, weaponized rape and drone strikes by the regime’s forces, and those facing mass starvation due to the regime’s total humanitarian and communications blockade.

Regarding negotiations, our refusal to negotiate with this genocidal regime is not due to a lack of understanding of the cost of war or a disregard for peace. We are contending with a regime that boasts about droning primary schools, demolishing homes of the poor, and arbitrarily profiles and arrests people. As we speak, detention facilities across the country hold thousands of Amhara opposition figures, journalists, civil society leaders, humanitarians, religious leaders, human rights activists and other civilians based on their identity and political beliefs. This is why we find the regime has demonstrated no capacity for achieving peace, finding common ground, leading a national dialogue process or pursuing transitional justice. This is a ruling power that thrives on chaos and poses a threat not only to the stability of Ethiopia but to the entire region. Therefore, those who know the decades-long plight of the Amhara people recognize the patience and restraint we have shown in seeking peaceful solutions and would not question why we took up arms, but rather ask why it took us so long.

We urge the United States and other observers to choose to side with humanity so the Ethiopian people can leave days of darkness in the past and establish a country with true democracy, equality and freedom. This can be achieved by supporting Fano to hold this regime accountable for the crime of genocide it is committing against our people. In the interim, global leaders should exert maximum pressure on the regime to immediately and unconditionally withdraw their forces from the region, release all political prisoners, and end the humanitarian and communications blockade. We are fully prepared to work with international partners to facilitate distribution of life-saving humanitarian assistance to those in need. Lastly, we are committed to working with all Ethiopians towards a genuine and inclusive national dialogue and transitional justice process once this genocidal regime is removed from power. Just as Ethiopian patriots defeated the evils of fascism during World War II, Amhara Fano will triumph over fascism today.


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Fano Response to Amb Massinga - 2024-05-24
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