Ethiopia’s Peaceful Uprising is Evolving into an Armed Resistance

By making peaceful and democratic changes impossible, the regime in Ethiopia makes violent revolution almost inevitable.

Peaceful uprising or armed resistance? The choice is the regimes’.

By Alem Mamo,

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 is an Ethiopian and can be reached via

34 thoughts on “Ethiopia’s Peaceful Uprising is Evolving into an Armed Resistance

  1. Barack Obama once said he opposes any Ethiopian opposition group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been “democratically elected.” LOL

    The fact of the matter is there is no organized opposition inside or outside Ethiopia. It is a complete mystery to many why the Ethiopian Diaspora “opposition” cannot unify around a common agenda and present a clear alternative to the TPLF thug rule.

    The Diaspora “opposition” is styling in earnest along ethnic lines. The “opposition” is all about ethnonationalism. Self-appointed and –anointed individuals and groups are spewing the toxic vocabulary of ethnic hate, division and chauvinism.

    Interestingly, it all seems to be a gabfest of parrots. I have no idea why the “opposition” wants to play the TPLF’s zero sum ethnic games. Only the TPLF could be the victor in the game of ethnic thrones whoever plays it. The tragedy is that some in the “opposition” are sleepwalking in the TPLF minefield of ethnic and identity politics. The outcome is predetermined. The TPLF guys are watching on the sidelines smiling ear to ear as their opposition commits the equivalent of hara-kiri before their eyes.

    What Ethiopians have today in the Diaspora is an opposition unified against itself; an “opposition” resolute in its opposition against its own rational self-interest. They have an “opposition” that seems to be unwilling, unable and unready to form a genuine inter-ethnic and inter-religious alliance willing to work together to defeat the gang of criminal thugs that are plundering the country and indiscriminately massacring citizens and lay a foundation for an egalitarian society based on the rule of law. This, in my view, is sheer madness.

    I have often wondered why the Diaspora “opposition” will cut its nose to spite its face. The “opposition” talks the talks of being unified against the TPLF but it refuses to walk the talk. That is the crux of the problem.

    – Professor Al Mariam

    1. The good professor is at a loss because “Ethiopia” as an entity was never formed with the consent of all its citizens. Also the fact that no one under the banner of “Ethiopia” has ever done anything to the effect of “reconciliation”. Putting aside the fairytale history for a moment. I think the only person who ever tried was Aman Andom the Eritrean-ethio national who tried to make amends with Eritrea and he got a bullet for it. I will use Eritrea as an example.., i saw 2 young ethiopians who claim Eritrean heritage on one side of their family on some radio program. They were asked why the rift between Eri/Ethio these young women said Eritreans think they are Italian (more or less). I bet if the good professor was asked the same thing he would also use “tlyan” propaganda and if that fails there is always arab :p. So here we are almost 80yrs later and the same propaganda from 2 college age girls claiming Eritrean on one side /yawn. This is why Ethiopia will never have peace because it refuses to face up to its transgressions.

    2. Ethiopians know only their belly and their big mouth, they don’t know Ethiopia, for an Ethiopian, Ethiopia exists only in biblical manuscripts!!!

  2. The extreme toxic diaspora would never be happy with any kind of reform unless the democratically elected government is gone for good. After the little stunt they pulled, why even bother make a case as if democracy is what they seek? The people might be bombarded with fake news but not stupid enough to buy an argument such is this. Not only you are trying to take 100 people with laptops and call them “organized” but the suggestion these so called opposition are arming themselves in the North? Out of all places where we guard Axum from shabo? It’s at least believable if the claim was made somewhere in sawa, 500 people are ready fight the number two army of Africa in the name of our cousins or something. What a joke.

    1. Sentiko,

      Do you think in your right mind Ethiopia could ever rise peacefully at this very point? The 70,000 you detained in Oromia alone have 5-8 siblings in the country that would die for their brothers/sisters and that’s enough to recruit the needed to cover the overthrow terrorist corrupt TPLF in the trash bin of history. And I guarantee you that’s exactly where the opposition groups are going to target.

      As economists said, cost of goods/aid/ will Prices of imported goods via djibooty is set to increase abruptly and rapidly to double digit by 2020. Meaning, it would cost arm and a leg to import sugar because TPLF over promised and looted billions for sugar plants that never materialized.

      1. To answer your question, the sugar planet is ready to go within two or three months. You are doing some shabo economics but 2020 is a game changer in many aspects in Ethiopia, stay tuned but please use a nick and learn to start this respected shabo site. I don’t know if you are guest 1,2 or 5.

    2. Did you say ‘100 people with laptops’?

      .ወይ ጉድ! That is all it took for you to block the social networks at the cost of millions of dollars to your meagre economy, Mr. IQ63? What a coward በጥራቃ!.

      May God Save Ethiopia From These Illiterates!

      1. Sir, let alone Ethiopia even the great China and Turkey does it when out of control idiots are using sites to light a fire. Yes loosing revenue is sad but what’s the cost of peace? Ayeee mammoqilo

        1. Aye Sentiko. So you’re comparing your ‘nation’ with just 4% internet penetration (mostly for NGO purposes), with nations like China and Turkey, with penetration rate of 50-60%.

          May God Bless TN For Allowing You, Mr. Entertainer, Among Us!

    3. You are a good entertainer and you are a big jock in the web .keep barking . I feel so sorry for Ethiopian people ruled by you.

    4. One more thing to bring to your attention, so that to give you more ulcers. take a look at he soldier’s shoes. Do you know where they came from? lol now, you can figure it out with the rest……. the greatest mistake you ever made was when you mess with the Eritreans. You will pay!!!!!!!!!!

    5. Only because was blessed by powers as “100 % democratically elected government” for their need doesn’t mean so, or can’t convince the two major ethnic groups in Ethiopia about that out-laddish statement as a fact Abel, in fact that explained how that declaration was a fiasco made by senior us government included an out loud laugh in a press conference..

  3. Stanford summit to address crisis in Ethiopia

    ESAT News (January 6, 2017)

    A two-day summit at the Stanford University will bring scholars, activists and varied political groups to come up with suggestions to resolve the multifaceted problems in Ethiopia.

    Abebe Hailu, chair of the Ethiopian American Council and organizer of the summit told ESAT that issues of land and border, human rights press freedom and aid will be high on the agenda at the summit organized by the Council from january 21-22, 2017.

    He said the two day summit will create an opportunity to Ethiopians of diverse political views as well as friends of Ethiopia to put forward their suggestions to resolve the social, political and economic crises in Ethiopia.

    Executive Director of ESAT, Abebe Gellaw said on his part that the unique forum would not only explore the critical problems facing the people of Ethiopia but also seek a permanent way to end the TPLF-led tyranny, corruption, gross human rights violations and abuse of power.

    He noted that Ethiopians, especially aspiring changemakers, activists and political leaders, should attend and be part of the high profile discussion that brings together foreign and local stakeholders.

    “I believe that the forum will be a springboard towards an all-inclusive dialogue that can boost the struggle for freedom, justice and national consensus,” he said.

    Several panelists including Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, Felix Horne of the Human Rights Watch, Prof. Larry Diamond of the Stanford University, Prof. Richard Joseph of Northwestern University, Dr. Getachew Begashaw of Harper College and a number of other scholars and representatives of political organizations will present papers at the summit.

  4. Ethiopia: Up to 70,000 detained in Oromo region alone

    ESAT News (January 5, 2017)

    The Ethiopian regime announced on Wednesday that it has released 10,000 prisoners in the Oromo region but local opposition political party says up to 70,000 people still remain in jail.

    Mulatu Gemechu of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress told the Associated Press that an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people have been detained in the Oromo region in recent months.

    He says prisons are full and some people are now being held at private residences.

    The regime declared a state of emergency early in October following a yearlong anti-government protests mainly in the Oromo and Amhara regions where at least 1,500 people were shot and killed by security forces.

  5. Ethiopia: Eight soldiers killed in a fight with guerilla groups

    ESAT News (January 6, 2017)

    Eight regime soldiers have reportedly been killed in a fight with guerrilla groups operating in western Ethiopia.

    A human rights activist for the Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia, Halid Nassir confirmed to ESAT the ongoing fight between regime forces and guerrilla groups operating in the area.

    Nassir said 12 people have been detained following the fight on Thursday and Friday. He also said security forces have been arresting and taking several people to Assosa in the last few days. Nassir said over 1000 people have been detained without due process of law.

    The Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement claims a total of 51 regime soldiers have been killed in recent fights. Head of the Movement Abdulahi Aladih said civilians have also been killed in the recent fights but did not say how many.

    The Ethiopian regime is facing armed resistance in all directions. There have been reports of fighting in northern Ethiopia where both the government and guerilla fighters claiming to have the upper hand.

  6. For TPLF and Tigray to stay in power they have to control 100 percent of seats in parliament. Partial control will NOT work for TPLF or Tigray. They need total and complete control of government in order to continue to steal and rape Ethiopia. Therefore, it means TPLF WILL NEVER SHARE POWER with anyone. Which also means TPLF CAN NOT GET OUT OF THE CRISIS IT IS IN. Which means the uprisings will continue and eventually the people will win and TPLF will be violently overthrown, which is the worst possible outcome for Tigray.

  7. The Ethiopian people are had it enough is enough, Weyanit are now very close to the grove .Soon and very soon 6 feet down to the ground.

  8. ኣሌክ - Alec you · Edit

    Only Ethiopian unity is the end of Woyane-Tigray.. especially Amhara and Oromo unity.
    And if Tigrayans doesn’t join the unity of Ethiopians to defeat TPLF apartheid regime, then isolation of Tigray is the only way to defeat the Tigrayan dominated power ‘TPRDF’.

  9. The good professor’s analyses make sense to understand where Ethiopia is heading , because of the TPLF’s tyrant narrow minded leadership . The TPLF regime is though one step ahead of its opposition groups or to that mater of the people that he implanted the ethnic division race card game into the country for the last quarter of a century and he is surviving at this moment with that card in his hand. Wrong move by the ethnically divided opposition might prolong its power but the faith of the nation will be different. That is considered a win for the minority regime, as far as the international interest group are on his side. The international order doesn’t respond on body count , they are responsive only when their interest is jeopardized. Therefore, as far as weyane is a good servant for their interest, the international community will close their eyes and ears regarding Ethiopian atrocity.

  10. Sometimes people writing nonsense letters but instead of that lets find out together the solution of Ethiopia…If you really accept my opinion the only solution is to throw “Woyane” out completely & all Ethiopians to unite and fight very strongly for the sake of the country & the people of Ethiopia…stop completely once & forever fighting against Eritreans cos they are your close brothers & sistets…& let the boarder demarcate, respect the law of the boarder commision & solve the boarder conflict by removing the Ethiopian Army from Badme & live peacefully with your Eritrean brothers and sisters…believe me I am sure 200/100 Ethiopia & The people of Ethiopia will live peacefully without any problems forever…This is the only & the best solution for the bright future of Ethiopia & The people…


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  12. “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.”

    You forgot to include Eritrea in that list, may God free the Eritrean and Ethiopian people from tyranny. Other than that, good article.

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