Ethiopia's Amhara minority accuses Biden of ignoring atrocities

Eskedar, a 47-year-old, ethnically Amhara priest with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, watched as neighbors fled their homes from Oromo regional forces suddenly intent on removing Amharas from the village.

There was not ever discrimination, not ever before — this was an attack that happened after they decided to make us evacuate,” Eskedar, who lived in the village for 29 años, dicho.

The Oromo regional forces accused the Amhara community of housing members of the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA), an opposition political party, but Eskedar said this was merely an excuse to target the largely Amhara-occupied village.


Oromo security forces shot Amharas as they fled their burning homes.

Eskedar said he knew of 16 people who were killed that day.

Over a three-day period, más que 700 houses were burned, por lo menos 23 la gente fue asesinada, y 27,000 Amharas were forced out of six other surrounding villages, according to the Amhara Association of America.

The priest and his eight children separated into groups of three and fled — not daring to stay together in case they were captured and killed.

Separately, they made the arduous 275-mile trek from their village to Bahir Dar in the Amhara region – a trip that took two weeks by foot and various means of transport.

Eskedar’s story echoes chilling accounts from another region of Ethiopia, its northernmost, Tigray.

Violence there between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has garnered international attention, and the U.S. has called on the Ethiopian prime minister to gain control and facilitate humanitarian aid.

El lunes, the State Department forcefully condemned thehuman rights violations, abuses, and atrocitiesoccurring in Tigray and announced new visa restrictions against thoseresponsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray.

Over a million people have been displaced by the conflict in Tigray, y por lo menos 2,000 have been killed – though due to unreliable reporting, the actual figures are believed to be much higher.

But Eskedar’s story didn’t happen in Tigray. His Amhara village was located roughly 500 miles to the south, in the Oromo region.

Ethiopia Regional Map

Ethiopia Regional Map (UN OCHA)

Targeted attacks against the Amhara ethnic group have increased since last summer, displacing 800,000 and killing an estimated 2,000, according to combined reporting by the Amhara Association.

But this second human rights crisis plaguing Ethiopia has been largely unacknowledged by top U.S. funcionarios.

The complex ethnic prejudices felt throughout Ethiopia go back decades, exacerbated by a constitution that sectionalized the nation.

Drawn up in 1994, the constitution divided Ethiopia along ethnic lines into nine regional states, allowing each region the right to self-govern.

But rather than embracing all major ethnicities under a system of ethnic federalism, it made those living outside their corresponding ethnic regions, like the Amaharas in Oromo, subject to second-class citizenry, and worse.

The Amhara’s plight emerged from a history of conflict that has battered the region’s people for decades.

En 1974, a brutal civil war broke out after a military junta staged a coup against Emperor Haile Selassie. It raged until 1991, when the Ethio­pian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) overthrew the military regime and instated Meles Zenawi as prime minister, who ruled until his death in 2012.

Though the Tigrayans make up only about 6% of Ethiopia’s population, they dominated the EPRDF and effectively acted as the ruling ethnic group until 2018.


Members of the Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups – that combined account for over 60% de Ethiopia’s population – grew frustrated by the seemingly disproportionate rule of the Tigrayans, and by 2016 the government faced widespread protestas over human rights abuses and corruption.

Abiy Ahmed, who is ethnically Oromo, became prime minister in 2018, though his leadership has been frequently contested by those in the Tigray region.

Abiy ordered an immediate military response to a Nov. 3, 2020 attack by TPLF on a federal military base in Tigray.

The Ethiopian military, Eritrean troops and Amhara militia have engaged in guerilla warfare since, killing civilians en masse and using sexual violence as a weapon.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the human rights abuses in Tigray asethnic cleansing.

But the Tigray are not the only ethnic group in Ethiopia experiencing targeted attacks. The Amhara have been subject to large-scale assaults that have escalated since last summer.

Less than a week after fighting between the TPLF and government forces began in November, a community comprised largely of ethnic Amharas were targeted by a Tigrayan youth group known asSamri,” who are believed to be sympathetic to the TPLF.

On Nov. 9, 2020, por lo menos 717 people in the town of Mai Kadra were brutally murdered in homes they shared with fellow seasonal workers and their families, according to the Amhara Association. The victims were largely Amhara.

They killed hundreds of people, beating them with batons [y] sticks, stabbing them with knives, machetes and hatchets, and strangling them with ropes,” the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission found following an investigación into the attack.

It has been made apparent that the attack was ethnicity-based and specifically targeted men the attackers profiled through, amongst other things, identification cards, as Amharas,” the report added.

Algunos estimates of those killed in the Mai Kadra range as high as 1,200.

Image provided by the Amhara Association of America.

Image provided by the Amhara Association of America.

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