by Wondmu Workuw
Since the government change in Ethiopia in 1991, multiple ethnic-based political parties had/have been organized in the country including Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and All Amhara Organization led Professor Asrat. Only the Agaw people had no political organ that stands for their interests. These Agaws have become members of the ANDM had/have served others’ interests against their people’s aspiration. Thanks to the ANDM’s unfolding oppression, the Agaw Democratic Party (AgDP) born on November 3, 2012, to address children’s education, promote democracy, equality, development and political autonomy in the region, including Kemants’ self-rule. Nevertheless, the AgDP had no plan to quest for separate regional statehood.
However, persistent undemocratic practice, repression, partiality, and intolerance to a multi-party principle in Region-3, has forced the Agaw people to strive for the alternative solution, the organization of Agaw Regional State. Given the current situation in the region, this process is essential to ensure the survival of the Agaw identity, culture, language and values beyond social-economic justice. Otherwise, once the greatest people in the history of mankind for their contributions of civilization can disappear for once and all. This may seem joke for some people who have not yet grasped ongoing reality in Region-3. Indeed, it is the actual threat we are facing day to day, for instance, since Amhara National Democratic Movement(ANDM) has controlled the Agaw areas, more than 50,000 people lost the Agaw language.
A primary educational system set by the ANDM is designed to produce literates, not intellectuals. High school graduates cannot even read a passage written in English. Because of the language deficiency, our student’s admission rate to university is 15% less comparison to others. The same figure is virtually true for a success rate at university, in first and second academic years even after admission, In order to minimize the failure rate associated with the language, the AgDP has thoughtfully proposed 4th and 5th-grade lessons be offered in an English medium of instruction. It is the same medium the ANDM officials teach their children in Bahir Dar, at private schools starting from the first grade. The ANDM officials have deprived this basic educational right for the Agaw children because they do not want to see the success Agaw children at university.
The ANDM deliberately deprives infrastructure areas where the Agaw people live. As a result, there is no a single industrial firm despite there is plenty of raw material resource including bamboo trees, which can be a reliable source of much need hard currency for the country. The developmental budget allocation in the Agaw areas is five times less than other areas. This figure is calculated under consideration of the ratio of budget to the population. In another example, the Agaw people are 30 times larger than the population of Gembella, but their annual budget allocation is 30 times less than the State of Gembella.
In recent days the ANDM has sounded that it has dropped objection and accepted the Kemants’ planned self-rule positively to do its shares for the implementation of self-rule. If the ANDM’s statement is genuine, the AgDP should congratulate the ANDM and prepare to work in cooperation with the same while maintaining its political differences. But, the ANDM’s reaction seems non-genuine, the full of sabotage. Information coming from the region from independent observers indicates that the ANDM issuing residential identification card (ID) for non-residents in respective kebeles to dilute Kemants’ vote in key contested kebeles and claim itself as winner illegally. The ANDM’s current move is not only undemocratic, it is also unconstitutional and an insult to the Ethiopian people and the federal government who own the constitution. If the latter move is put in practice, and if fair & free process is not guaranteed to the Kemants, it is clear that ANDM has pushed hard for the Agaws’ exit and then we have little choice.
Generally, Agaws do not have any role in political, economic and educational affairs in Region-3. They have been treated as second-class citizens; they have been coerced to breath in the lungs of key NDM of the despotic official. Those who entertain independent views for the progress of our people and the society as the whole are thrown to jail under any pretext, for instance, the case of AgDP leadership and Kemant Committee detention is the prove of the ANDM’s intolerance to democratic values and diversity. The ANDM’s bigotry is not only limited to its competitors. All we have learned recently sanctions committed against even its members with Agaw blood, Kassa Teklebirhan, Binalf Andualem, Ayanew and Bezezaw for entertaining different views during the crisis in the region in August and September 2016. The ANDM is the most oppressive political entity in the history of the region; the ANDM is the most repressive organization even in comparison to feudal kings. The worst tyrant officials in the ANDM are Ferta/Gafat natives of South Gondar. There are hundreds of copies of Meleku Tefere, Red Terror murderer in South Gondar. Since the perpetrators of the civilian Agaw-Kemants and Tigrians in 2015 and 2016 have never been brought to justice for their crime against humanity, there is no guarantee it will not happen again. Therefore, our struggle for the regional status becomes the question of survival, not desire for power.
The Beta Amhara/Amhara Tegadlo called the Diaspora of ANDM, which claims to replace the ANDM in the future is even the worst one. Beta Amhara sounds, like an 18th-century political organization. It declared to clean up Muslims, Protestants, Tigrians and Agaws from the region when it assumes state power. All these phenomena justify and legitimize our quest for the regional status since the ANDM has no intention to respect the Agaw people’s political, economic, educational and cultural rights, etc. Of course, I believe that AgDP should be fixable enough to negotiate all entities including the ANDM and other regional players upon the practical acceptance of the Agaw people’s fundamental rights to determine their destiny. Settling antagonistic difference through negation is the sign of maturity and civilization, not weakness, as some ANDM officials think.