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Ethiopia’s Peaceful Uprising is Evolving into an Armed Resistance

by Alem Mamo

“We have to defend ourselves from tyranny. No one is going to hand us our freedom, we have to earn it.”

Robles in Northern Ethiopia

Robles in Northern Ethiopia

As the world ushers in the new year, Ethiopia’s political, economic and security situation is entering a new and dangerous phase. The peaceful and popular uprising that swept the country in 2016 is gradually transforming itself into a well-organized armed resistance in various parts of the country. The government belligerence and refusal to respond to the popular demand of citizens and engage in a genuine, inclusive and meaningful dialogue with opposition political forces and find a workable solution to the political stalemate is forcing many groups, concerned citizens and peaceful activists to re-evaluate their non-violence strategy.

The year 2016 was one of the most tumultuous and troublesome years in the country’s recent history. After 26 years of a single party authoritarian rule, millions voiced their disdain and disapproval of the regime and demonstrated peacefully in towns, villages and cities. However, the response from forces loyal to the regime was brutal and inhumane. They killed thousands of civilians in a broad daylight and arrested tens of thousands of innocent citizens across the country. The declaration of a six-month state of emergency by the regime is clear evidence that the confrontation between the regime and the people of Ethiopia has reached its climax. This attempt by the regime has, in fact, backfired and pushed some considerable segments of the society to abandon peaceful resistance and organize themselves into armed groups and confront forces loyal to the regime.

In the northern part of the country the rapid development of armed groups challenging forces loyal to the regime has increased drastically. Furthermore, the regime’s attempt to fend off these well-organized and committed forces is proving to be futile, as these small but highly organized forces garner strong support from the communities they operate within. In the eastern and western parts of the country there are number of armed groups emerging and posing a major challenge to the regime. The geographic landscape of these parts of the country naturally tends to favor a guerrilla warfare, and these small groups are rapidly gaining momentum as they present formidable challenge to the regime.

A genuine and inclusive political dialogue in Ethiopia should have happened long ago. Unfortunately, the regime time and again failed to harness several unique opportunities for a dialogue and peaceful transition of power. Instead, it chose to cling to power at any cost, leading the country into a catastrophic path that threatens its national survival.

The regime blended and infused myth, story, history into ethnic identity and manipulated the political discourse by injecting hate, division and polarization into the political discourse.  For a quarter of a century such an irresponsible strategy has been used for a dangerous political game instead of unity and cooperation among various groups. This overstretched identity manipulation is a poison that the people of Ethiopia are trying to reverse and build a more united, more cooperative union through a political system that gives a way to freedom, justice and the superiority of the rule of law. The question is which path will lead to this destination. Peaceful uprising or armed resistance? The choice is the regimes’.

Most have made up their minds and concluded the regime is not willing or interested in a peaceful resolution of the political crisis. As one northern farmer put it, “We have to defend ourselves from tyranny. No one is going to hand us our freedom, we have to earn it.”

The regimes’ six-month state of emergency that was supposed to restore peace has in fact transformed the peaceful resistance into a formidable armed resistance. Like many societies robbed of their dignity and humanity by tyranny the Ethiopian people are simply standing up and fighting for what is right. In a demonstration of this spirit, fathers are picking arms to protect their children from torture and rape. Men and women are leaving their homes and choosing to fight to liberate themselves from suffering under authoritarian rule. In effect, they seem to be echoing John F. Kennedy’s words “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  This is the reality in today’s Ethiopia.

The inevitability of protracted and destructive conflict in Ethiopia is becoming more and more plausible with each passing day. Those who would like to wish it away or who say “it can’t happen here” should simply look around the neighborhood. Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Syria are places where human tragedy unfolds before our eyes every day. These countries too once thought themselves immune from such tragedy, and sadly they were wrong.

These conflicts, this bloody violence we have seen elsewhere could have been prevented if the international community and relevant international organizations supported the demands and cries of the people. Unfortunately, the international order only responds after a considerable body count, which includes children, the elderly and those who cannot defend themselves. Is that what the international community has in store for Ethiopia?

The writer can be reached at [email protected]

One comment

  1. “Unfortunately, the international order only responds after a considerable body count, which includes children, the elderly and those who cannot defend themselves. Is that what the international community has in store for Ethiopia?”
    You surmised if the decision of the west is to simply watch thing fall apart in that land.

    It is an attested fact that the western powers ,and their political strategists give license to genocide and destruction to their client state. When it comes to Ethiopia and her people there is unspoken deep hatred about our antiquity, and independent existence. These powers are in this state primarily because of spiritual blindness. There are signs that point we are in the last days where multitude will be led astray as if they think government .The western governments are rushing to institute Socialism so that they can usurp , if it is possible, the place of GOD. They aspire to bring society,and humanity at large under their managerial control. They have already begin to transform their society through social engineering ,Obama has served his role in this project by standing as an advocate of the LBJ group. He even try to impose his agenda on nations such as Russia and Uganda but on both nations his policy met stiff resistance and came home humiliated. I am not an economist but clearly see the country’s stander of living has deteriorated ,many homeless Americans bearing the burnet of wrong government policy. In all this it is clear depopulation of society is the grand design that they set out to accomplish. This is the last frontier thy wish to take us.The use science and technology to accelerate their mad dash to bring their Utopian fantasy to planet earth.

    That is the primary reason that they are in the process of transforming society through social Engineering. There is nothing here new regarding to the behavior of western regimes and their attachment to TPLF. Moaning and groaning will not bring solution to our problem. Ethiopia is entirely our project and we must be willing to sacrifice and help our people to defend themselves. The Amara intellectuals ,professionals ,and community leaders need to converge and present facts that implicate the on going TPLF genocide against our people.

    Where ever we may be we need to held face to face meetings ,and stand in solidarity with the people. As to the western regimes though I spoke about their evil design against humanity, I am confident these nations are ripe for DEVINE JUSTICE. No matter how they think they are capable to bring their utopian dream it will not stand. This ungodly entity is a waiting divine verdict to sweep it away from the scene.
    The Bible expressly declared the LORD is sovereign ruler of every thing that he has created. That is the Most high is king, Governor and judge of all.

    1-“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.”1 cron.29:11
    2-“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, nor say unto him, What doest thou?Dan.2:35.
    3-“But our God is in the heavens:
    He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”ps.115:3.
    4-“For the kingdom is the Lord’s:
    And he is the governor among the nations.”ps.22:28.

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