Understanding the Amara Uprising
Tiqat Alwedim, Friday, December 30, 2016
When being an Amara becomes a political issue, every individual Amara is forced to become a political Amara. This is an existence issue. When the Amara existence becomes a political agenda of the rulers, then the Amara people have no choice but deal with the government on a politically organized manner. This is not a luxury the Amara took on their own by choice. The Amara are forced to fight for who they are, to exist, to wedge a political struggle for who they are. This political struggle has an objective, a strategy, and the will to take it to its logical conclusion. Here is an explanation for those who question the validity of the Amara uprising.
Let me start with the basic notion of citizenship. Land issue has been the driving force for feudalism. Associating oneself with the land one occupies is the trademark of feudalism, of yesterday. Today, one is not tied with the land one lives on. The country one lives in is the ground for claiming citizenship. Ethiopia is the country an Amara lives in and is a citizen of. In current Ethiopia on the other hand, the Amara has been forcefully evacuated, lost property, imprisoned, and killed from most areas within Ethiopia. This is not limited to the lands where historically the Amara is supposed to have not lived. It is even within the historically exclusive Amara land. This is not only counter to the essence of citizenship, but by being labeled as an outsider, the Amara are postured as enemies of the land they live on. This is done exclusively to the Amara. This makes the very existence of the Amara people a political issue.
In the process of the current ruler’s political configuration, the Amara have been excluded for being Amaras. When TPLF assumed power in 1991, all other ethnic groups were highly sought after and given the opportunity to form their own political organization to participate in the political life – if there was any real one at that – whereas the Amara were purposely excluded. This is counter to those Amara fighters who collaborated in the TPLF struggle not knowing what was to follow. Many have given their lives to the cause yet theirs did not count because they were Amaras.
Let me go back to the beginning of the struggle TPLF wedged. One of the four tenets of the Tigrean liberators was; to create a Tigrean Republic at the grave of the Amara people. No other point explains what the Amara have gone through and are going through than this very core tenet. This is what TPLF has done since its birth. Be it itself or through its surrogates, this has been its major task all over the country. To this end, it associated EDU, led by no other than Seyoum Mengesh, the Tigrean ruler of Tigray. To this end it associated Derg that has devastated heroic Amaras and destroyed many Amara institutions. To this end, it demolished many Ethiopian institutions by labeling them AMARA. To this end it cleaned the University of Amara lecturers. To this end, it encouraged others to attack the Amara. I could go on and on, to list the grievances but you know it all. I am not claiming that the Amara has exclusive right to all the abuses of TPLF. No, what I am saying is TPLF has been attacking all the people of Ethiopia, but what it has done to the Amara is on a policy bases and as a core pillar for its own existence. That makes it unique.
In all the government office hierarchy on the federal level and on the zone level, the Amara are not allowed to be in any decision making capacity. Don’t go to the Ethiopian military and police. Even those who were leaders in the fighting army of TPLF have been purged with one reason or another. Any Amara who is gaining popularity with the Amaras is dealt with immediately and severely. Only those who are there for their bellies and ready to shine a TPLF shoe are kept.
All major properties at the time of TPLF’s occupation of Gondar, Dessie, Bahrdar, and Debrebirhan have been taken to Tigray. All office positions in the city or town administration where the Amara live, are controlled by TPLF and its agents even on a local level. This hits hard because it puts the Amara on a level of not a person but I dare say beneath a person. Yes the Tigre is first, the rest of Ethiopians second and the Amara below that. Hence what is left for the Amara?
The Amara did not form a political organization to represent them in the TPLF government. The Amara did not take an ideology and formed a party to run for power. The Amara elite or otherwise did not envision a land of their own to flourish and enrich them. In fact it is not even the elite that started the struggle. It started when TPLF invaded Wolqait and Tigedie and declared them to be Tigreans from the day they landed there. That was followed in Telemt, Waldiba, Bira Wassya, and North West Wollo. This is an attack of a combination of their identity and their land. Amara is attacked for being Amara. The purpose of TPLF for doing this is clear to those who live in those areas. These people know who they are. When enough is enough, they said: “I have nothing left. I will not die a slave. I will fight and gain my identity back and let that be my legacy.” Thus they rebelled. What followed was a spontaneous self-defense here and there. Kefagn has been in the front of the resistance since TPLF invaded Woqait. And then formations of Wolqait Committee and a legal appeal followed. The rest of the story, you all know.
Coming back to the whole Amara resistance, it started because the Amara wanted to be who they are. It started because the Amara were attacked for being Amara. In the eyes of TPLF, Amara was an enemy. Thus the Amara is forced to defend itself. This struggle is totally different from the liberation movements and ethnic organizations that are in the pockets of TPLF. This unique situation it is in has forced the Amara to stand up and defend what makes the Amara, Amara. The Amara is stating that Ethiopia is my home. It says I will live with others in Ethiopia. Nobody should see this as a disintegration of Ethiopia. This is not anti-Ethiopia. Those who want to struggle forming their own political organization based on the unity of Ethiopia can do so without fighting the Amara uprising. Amara uprising is a necessity and not a luxury. This is the core of the Amara uprising; “Don’t attack me because I am an Amara!”
I am an Amara