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An Open Letter to Mr. Ervin Massinga: A Response to Your Policy Speech in Addis Ababa

May 20, 2024

Washington update – May 20, 2024
May 18, 2024

The Honorable Mr. Ervin Massinga

Ambassador of the United States to Ethiopia
U.S. Embassy
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia

Re: Your Policy Speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 16, 2024

Dear Honorable Ambassador:

We are writing you on behalf of Ethiopian/American civic organizations that share your concern about the current situation in Ethiopia.

We thank you for your powerful speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 16, 2024 addressed to the people of Ethiopia and its government. You accurately summarized the current situation when you said that: “Regrettably, many people across Ethiopia, and across the globe, continue to face the same fear that Ethiopians did 87 years ago here. Bandits, armed groups, and at times, government security forces, act with impunity in carrying out violations of the very same rights to life, dignity, and respect, reflecting a disregard for due process and the rule of law.”

The problems that must now be resolved in Ethiopia are straight forward: a corrupt authoritarian government is standing by while the country descends into civil war and lawlessness. Corruption is so rampant that the international community cut off life-saving food assistance for months, and remains reluctant to meet the needs of desperate people. Economic mismanagement is pushing the nation to the brink of famine, and the government is fomenting deadly conflicts among ethnic groups that have lived in harmony for centuries.

The United States and the global community must support fundamental human rights for the Amhara people, the rule of law, democracy and good governance. The failure of the Biden administration to condemn crimes being committed on a daily basis by the autocratian regime of Abiy Ahmed encourages its continuing war on the Amhara people, creating needless suffering and the risk of violence that could destabilize the Horn of Africa.

We recommend that the United States undertake a three-part strategy focused on cessation of hostilities, sanctions, and constitutional reform. This strategy has been described in a commentary, Atrocities in Ethiopia, by Mesfin Mekonen, Chairman of the Coalition of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations, and Bart S. Fisher, Counsel for the Council of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations.

First, the United States should play a significant role in promoting a settlement of this ever-escalating war against the Amhara by the government of Ethiopia. At a minimum, the United States should promote collective efforts of local, regional, and global actors to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks by the government of Ethiopia against its own people. Lasting peace in Ethiopia requires an urgent and inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.

Second, the White House and State Department should condemn the abuses that the Abiy government is undertaking and condoning, and take steps to ameliorate the situation. Your policy speech in Addis Ababa on May 16, 2024, is a good first step in that direction. However, such exhortations to do the right thing will remain as empty words without the imposition of targeted sanctions on the government officials who are responsible for abuses or who fail to protect the lives of innocent civilians.

Third, the U.S. government should promote the drafting of a new constitution, an essential precondition to lasting peace and prosperity. Article 39 of the 1994 constitution of Ethiopia grants rights for any ethnic group to secede and form a nation. Thus, groups such as the Tigrayansand the Amhara currently have the constitutional right to secede, which of course sparks protracted civil war. The ability of the central government to govern is undermined when every ethnic group has the right to secede. The present constitution has exacerbated ethnic tensions, and, if not revised, will lead to the disintegration of Ethiopia. In recognition of this fact, the Coalition of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations convened on the Ethiopia Constitutional Conference in Washington, D.C. in the Senate Russell Building Kennedy Caucus Room in November, 2023. We would like to work with you and your State Department colleagues on such efforts to promote constitutional reform in Ethiopia.

Again, thank you for the powerful and moving speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 16, 2024. We are prepared to work with you to bring peace to the country that we love.

Sincerely,

Mesfin Mekonen

Chairman, Council of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations.

The following are the Organizations

  • Ethiopiawinet
  • Ethiopian Survival Salvation Association (ESSA)
  • Horn of Africa Peace Development Center (HAPDC)
  • Ethiopian American Community (EAC)
  • Ethiopian Dialogue Forum (EDF
  • Global Amhara Coalition (GAC)
  • Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GAR)

CC. Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Cory Booker, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Policy
Senator Peter Welch, member of Senate Judiciary Committee on Human Rights
John James, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee
Representative Chris Smith, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Adviser
Mary Cathrerine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affiars
H.E. Hilda Suka-Mafudze, African Union AZmbassador to the U.S.A.

3 Comments

  1. Good letter what seems to be written by matured individuals. I wish the letter also mentioned about the atrocities citizens are facing in Oromia region where just like Amhara region they are caught up in the deadly war between armed rebels and federal forces. I am saying this because the groups that sent this letter claim to be Ethiopians except two of them. Aren’t Oromos Ethiopians?

  2. Dear Mesfin:-
    Are you telling us that unless you get financial support from the US Government, you cannot come up with a constitutional draft in 6 months? You are the Chairman of a council of 7 NGOs in the USA, and it appears to be sad you are still talking about a draft while trying to tell us you are gravely concerned about the possible plight of Ethiopia. If you had Ethiopia at heart, the draft would have been there a long time ago. Believe me, it can be done if the intent is genuine.

  3. “Article 39 of the 1994 constitution of Ethiopia grants rights for any ethnic group to secede and form a nation.”
    SO, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT? IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. THE REST OF ETHIOPIANS LOVE IT MAN!

    “Thus, groups such as the Tigrayansand the Amhara currently have the constitutional right to secede, which of course sparks protracted civil war.”
    YOU MORON, SECESSION IS A SOLUTION TO AVERT CIVIL WAR, NOT A REASON FOR IT. A CONSTITUTION THAT GAURANTEES SECESSION IS THE MOST DEMOCRATIC ONE. wandagarad hulu!

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