May 24, 2021
Mr. President, the last five decades have been hell for Ethiopia and its people, specially, with the last three years standing out as the most excruciating and agonizing. Though the prior 27 years under the most brutal TPLF leadership were unrivaled in what happened to the country and its people in terms of corruption, human rights violations, and total domination by a single group, there is no doubt that the last three years have been the most violent ones with most of the horrific violence directed at the great Amhara people.
Literature on the persecution of the Amhara people is abound. Its genesis is easily traceable to the TPLF Manifesto of 1968 in which the organization designated the Amhara people+ as its primary enemy alongside with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. After TPLF came to power in 1991 with the help of the Bush First Administration and its allies, it made sure that the Amhara people were excluded from real power sharing in the new government. When the current Ethiopian Constitution was drafted and adopted, not only there was no Amhara representation, TPLF made sure the spirit of the Constitution smacked of condemning the Amhara people as enemies to the rest.
Mr. President, it is almost next to impossible for the US not to know what TPLF was up to regarding the Amhara people at the time of the London Conference of 1991. Nonetheless, Herman Cohen, as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, literally handed Ethiopia on a plate to the TPLF leadership without adequate consultation with the other stakeholders who were in town at the time. This was a watershed moment for the Amhara people because their fate was sealed off at that time condemning them to be targets of all sorts of injustices including harassment, intimidation, confiscation, torture, maiming, killing, imprisonment, and exile. In other words, it is very clear that USA, as the deal maker in the 1991 London Conference, must share responsibility for the injustices the Amhara people have suffered in the last 30 years.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, it seems that Ethiopia is one of the few unlucky countries in the world where America did not care to promote or facilitate democracy in the true sense of the word. For as long as it was in power, USA was not only supplying TPLF with the latest weaponry and sharing intelligence with it, US officials were also busy promoting the late Prime Minster Meles Zenawi as the hope of Africa and a panacea to its complex problems. In return, Ethiopian Armed forces were available for the US “War on Terror” effort confronting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and at a moment’s notice taking peace keeping missions in other troubled spots of Africa such as in Sudan, Rwanda etc.
Mr. President, while the two countries were enjoying their honeymoon, USA – the bastion of democracy – remained impervious to the sufferings of the Ethiopian people. It kept looking the other way when TPLF was jailing journalists, religious leaders, political opponents, the Youth, and amassing wealth with absolute domination of the politics, the economy, the military and the security apparatus of the country to benefit only itself and its lackeys.
In an interview with VOA in December 2017, Mr. Cohen, who officiated the power transfer at the London Conference, admitted trusting TPLF was a big mistake that he would regret for the rest of his life. However, on June 24, 2019, on the heels of the killings of prominent Amhara officials in Bahr Dar under mysterious circumstances, Mr. Cohen did not have any qualms in tweeting, “Failed coup in #Ethiopia’s Amhara state was an attempt by Ethnic nationalists to restore Amhara hegemony over all Ethiopia that existed for several centuries prior to 1991. That dream is now permanently dead.” Mr. President, TPLF operatives and Oromo Nationalists did not waste time fanning and exploiting Mr. Cohen’s baseless accusation against the Amhara people in the social media riling up their base resulting in deadly consequences. Be that as it may, it is so sad to notice that your administration is also taking its cues from a partisan like Mr. Cohen.
On October 12, and 13, 2019, 86 innocent civilians, most of them Amharas, were hacked to death in the Oromia Region after Jawar Mohammed – a US citizen and an Oromo extremist currently in jail – posted a false Mayday call on social media and his ragtag machete wielding bandits converged on Addis Ababa and its vicinity. In June 2020, after the murder of the popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa in Addis Ababa, over 250 innocent civilians were murdered in the most unimaginable gruesome ways and businesses were burned down in the city of Shashemene in the Oromia region. Again, a large majority of the victims were Amharas and the culprits once again were Oromo nationalists. It is necessary to note that the suspects in the murder are not Amharas at all.
Mr. President, in the last 12 months, over a thousand have been hacked to death and burned alive inside their houses in the Oromia and Benishangul- Gumuz Regions, and close to a million have been displaced because of their Amhara identity. In one instance, over 200 Amharas, young and old, men, women and children were buried in a mass grave irrespective of their religion after their corpses were transported in bucket plate fitted tractors. These are ongoing occurrences with no solutions in sight.
Recently, towns such as Attaye, Kara Qore, and Shoa Robit in the Amhara Region were pulverized to dust and ashes and looted by invading Armed Oromo Nationalists who also killed more than two hundred Amharas and displaced thousands upon thousands. Believe it or not, Mr. President, this carnage and wonton destruction happened a month after your Secretary of state Antony Blinken testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee blaming the Amhara Special Forces for ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses in “Western Tigray” (Wolkait, Tsegede). Mr. Blinken also urged the Ethiopian government to remove the Amhara Special Forces from the area and wrongly hinted that the victims in the Maikadra Massacre were Tigrayans. The truth is “Western Tigray” belongs to the Amhara people and most of the victims in Maikadra were Amharas and the rest non-Tigrayans. It is also well established that the ethnic cleansing was committed by a TPLF organized youth group called Samri that crossed the border to Sudan right before the arrival of the Ethiopian Defense Forces and the Amhara Special Forces in the town of Maikadra.
Mr. President, in its press statement of May 15, 2021, the Department of State indicated that “…The conduct of the ….. Amhara Regional Forces have been particularly egregious…..we equally urge the Government of Ethiopia to withdraw Amhara Regional Forces from Tigray region and ensure that effective control of western Tigray is returned to the Transitional Government of Tigray.” Such kinds of statements not only are based on false premises, they are also very irresponsible and dangerous because Oromo nationalists and Gumuz armed brigands who share the same deep hatred for Amharas use them as excuses and justifications to kill more innocent Amharas. This is not to deny, however, that the bulk of the Amhara massacres are related to the false narratives fabricated by Oromo Nationalists and TPLF. But we cannot also deny, as a superpower, whatever USA says has weight and consequences. Mr. President, I hope you are getting my drift. Simply put, the statements that come out of the State Department these days as related to the Amhara people are tantamount to death sentences.
Mr. President, the Amhara peoples’ plight is not a fiction, and neither are the Amhara people aggressors. They are unequivocally victims. How could your administration forget HR128 and SR168 of the 115th Congress that targeted TPLF? Pushing for the inclusion of TPLF in any future settlements of the current Ethiopian crises is no different than asking all Ethiopians, especially the Amhara people, to relive 27 years of misery and agony. Mr. President, instead, why can’t USA consider using this opportunity to rectify its past mistakes for supporting 27 years of TPLF tyranny that contributed a great deal to the current chaos in Ethiopia?
Mr. President, statements issued by your administration so far on the current crises in Ethiopia, and the visa restrictions that you just imposed that ironically and laughably included the “..Amhara regional and irregular forces…” make no mention of the plight of the Amhara people elsewhere in the country. Therefore, at this point, it appears that your administration is deliberately not heeding the genocidal crimes against the Amhara people. Mr. President, if you are not helping, please at least stop blaming the Amhara people or the Amhara Special Forces for the wrong reasons and exacerbating their predicament. Mr. President, to put things in perspective, please think of Rwanda when you think of the Amhara people. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.