August 19, 2022

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Mekuanent Melese

Ethiopia: Artist Mekuanent Melese calls for a separate Agew region

Ethiopian singer Mekuanent Melese has called for the establishment of a separate region for the Agew people.

Agew is an ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. Its members live in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has four subgroups. Bilen, Qemant, Xamta and Awi are four main subgroups. Most of Agews live in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

In the Amhara region, Agew ethnic group members live in Wag Himora, North Gondar and Agew Awi zones. They have long been struggling to have a separate region. Agews accuse Amhara region of attempts to destroy their distinct ethnic identity.

For years, recurrent armed clashes between Qemants in Gondar and Amhara groups have been going on. The clashes intensified last year when Tigray Defense Force (TDF) launched a military offensive on the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

Mekuanent Melese is an Ethiopian singer and dancer. In a talk, he can be heard demanding a separate Agew region for the Agew people. He said that Agews were not Amharas. He urged Agew ethnic group members to rise for their rights.

Mekuanent Melese

Last year when TDF was in the Amhara region, it backed, trained and funded an Agew separatist armed group i.e. Agew Liberation Front. Though Tigray forces retreated from the Amhara region last year, the group is said to be still operating in Tigray-Amhara border areas. Several Agew politicians including Almarew Yirdaw, Agew National Congress, were put in prison last year. Read more..

In November 2020, Ethiopian Federal forces, Eritrean forces, Amhara regional forces and militias launched a military offensive on Tigray. In July 2021, Tigray forces started a counter offensive on the Amhara region.

After the start of Tigray conflict, clashes erupted between Qemant Agews and Gondar Amhara. Since November 2020, hundreds of Qemants have crossed into Sudan from North Gondar of Amhara region. Amhara government officials and Ethiopian National Defense officials accuse Qemant and other Agews of being backed by Tigray people’s Liberation Front. While Agews accuse Amhara regional government of repression against them.