The Time to Help the Amhara is NOW

Jeff Pearce
5 min readMay 26, 2024
Photo by Jemal Countess from his Tears of Wollega website

It is a rain-soaked, early afternoon in Toronto, and I am thousands of miles away from a people whom the world has conveniently forgotten. And because I can’t help directly, all I can do is think about them and write. It’s not a scientific principle or anything, but maybe one measure of how truly vulnerable a persecuted people are is when there are next to no international advocates for them. The Amhara are one such people.

I can think of moments and protests for the Uyghurs, the Rohingya, the Ukrainians, the Palestinians — obviously — and who is so spiteful as to begrudge these causes their due?

And so I wait for the Amhara to get their supporters setting up tents on university campuses. I have yet to see a march for Amhara that has any white faces for it besides my own. I wait for the rest of Africa and indeed the rest of the world to find its way back to that happy, optimistic spark that prompted “No More” signs and sympathy in cities from South America to the Middle East.

You can’t even call the Amhara the “forgotten people” because no one forgot their persecution — next to no one outside the Ethiopian diaspora bothered to pay attention to their plight in the first place.

And the few ferenji individuals inside Ethiopia are either so oblivious or so damn gutless that they will not investigate conditions for the Amhara and sound the alarm.

Apparently, just sitting on your ass in a café in the capital authenticates your opinion as equal to those of us who actually covered the Tigray war and met internally displaced persons in Dessie, those in our ranks who have witnesses and sources in Lalibela giving them direct information on door-to-door raids by federal soldiers, those in our ranks like Sheba Tekeste, who accompanied University of Gondar researchers as they collected the bones of Amhara victims.

For what it’s worth, here is what I know. I know I would rather publicly support the Fano movement organizing defenders and raising Amhara fists than stand over a pile of Amhara bones.

I know that I wake up each morning with an unquenchable rage over a people denied justice and humanitarian care, that I’m carrying around this flame-thrower indignation at the sheer scale of the lies about them, the denial of their situation, and if I feel that — and I’m nobody, with literally no skin in the game — imagine those living through it, and the despair of their diaspora family members abroad.

For next to no one outside their community will help amplify their voices.

I know that slandering a defense movement established as a last resort to ethnic cleansing, lumping Fano in with “ethnic militias” or “ethno-nationalists” is the cheap tactic of the ignorant or the willfully ignorant.

I know that reading just one book on Ethiopian history does not make anyone an expert on it, and only a fool cherry-picks lines from 19th century texts to slap into X posts and peddle a toxic philosophy that Tigrayan or Oromo or even Amhara people, for that matter, are a master race; that their chosen ethnicity did everything, achieved everything substantial in a nation’s culture, we are the champions, no time for losers, la la la. This is why I have a forest of low book towers on my floor, some bought and some loaned, to parse the complexities. I know that a smart person stays humble — he or she keeps learning, keeps digging to find out more.

I know this as surely as all of us should know the chest-beating, the bragging, the training of a psychopathically fanatical militia and deploying them around a capital city is the surest way that leads back to a landscape of bones.

I know that the Amhara need acknowledgment. Not because they ask for intervention or any self-absorbed superpower to come along and solve their problems. They would simply ask in the politest way possible for that superpower to stop helping the people trying to kill them and fucking up their country. They would ask for their displaced to be given shelter, their hungry to get food, their people to be treated with the dignity, respect, and basic human rights everyone is supposed to receive.

I know that the divine spark, or the essence of the truly compassionate and good in each individual, the sense of justice and decency that is every human being’s natural birthright, or whatever fancy way you wish to express it, dictates that you should care about these people.

You don’t do it because you are a middle-class white liberal who clicked onto Amnesty or Human Rights Watch yesterday (and please don’t do that again, ugh, because they’re bloodsuckers, and that can be proved again and again and again). Don’t do it out of “Down with America” sentiment that’s a reflex as sure as Pavlov’s dog panting, and hey, yes, I certainly understand that sentiment much of the time because I mean Jeez, I have to live next to these guys (who just might be stupid enough to re-elect the babbling fool who tried to overturn their government). Don’t do it to tick off a check list of oppressed peoples to add to your virtue signal list —

Do it because they face rapid extinction. The Abiy government and its accomplices intend to kill them all. They are already trying to exterminate the very cultural institutions of Ethiopia, trying to summon a shambling, grotesque Frankenstein monster of ethnic hate and terror to put in these institutions’ place.

I’m not going to chew your food for you. Go look at the moving, captivating photos of Jemal Countess. Go pay attention to the postings of Betty Sheba Tekeste and read the articles on sites like Borkena. Go check out the meticulous research done by the Amhara Association of America.

Grant the Amhara the minimal decency of your attention. And then realize you’re needed. To add your voice, help others organize, hit the streets, make a donation to their humanitarian relief — make a difference. For them.

Do it because they are entitled to acknowledgment. More than that, they are entitled to sincere allies and their moments to make their case — not beg or plead their case, but argue it — with the definitive evidence, which is so damn overwhelming, it is a disgusting crime that the Western mainstream media ignores it.

And the only natural conclusion can be that major media brands are deliberately ignoring it out of standard journalistic group-think, to keep their access to certain sources, to peddle the narratives they have already invested in, to pass off moronic, inconsistent U.S. State Department messaging and bromides as “news.”

I know that the Amhara can save themselves, through Fano, with help. Your help. What I want to know is… why is it taking so damn long for the rest of the world to wake up and offer it?



Jeff Pearce

Writer person. Books - Prevail, The Karma Booth, Gangs in Canada; in June 2021, Winged Bull, a bio of Henry Layard, the Victorian era’s Indiana Jones.