Amhara Uprising: Poverty as a cause of instability
By D. K. Bimrew
Per the 2007 Population and Housing Census, Amhara is the second largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Mostof 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 ethnicfederalism 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 staunchestcadres havebelieved what is written in their manifesto is true and must be adhered by every part faithfully.
The aftermath of 1991, Amhara people were becomingprimary 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, statedAmhara’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 BenishangulGumuz 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 surfacingout due to prevalent social media activism.Currently, people are protesting the systemic marginalization and brutal crackdown on any dissent.
The TPLFrule 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 whichis considered as the immediate causes that sparks the regionwide Amhara protest. The forcible annexation ofterritories of Wolkite’s intoTigri Regional statehas 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. Nowmost rural youthhas 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.
posted by Gheremew Araghaw