Global Ethiopian Diaspora Open Letter,
To the Prime Minister of Ethiopia,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
March 8, 2023,
Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali,
The Ethiopian Diaspora has supported you and your administration in our hope for a generational transformation in Ethiopia. The Diaspora has also been a critical catalyst in sending much-needed remittance, direct investments, funds to save lives and alleviate the suffering caused by drought and conflict, provision of public health advice, materials during the COVID pandemic, as well as diplomatic and financial support for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile.
On November 4, 2020, when TPLF launched an attack on the Ethiopian National Defense forces (ENDF) stationed in Tigray and expanded the conflict by invading the Amhara and Afar regions, the country faced an unprecedented diplomatic nightmare. Ethiopia was faced with crippling economic sanctions and immense pressure from the West and the international media. We organized and facilitated advocacy campaigns, provided diplomatic support, and lobbied the United States Congress, the United Nations, and other global bodies. We joined forces with pro-peace pan-African allies and staged massive worldwide protests to say “#NOMORE” and became the voice that Ethiopia was denied on the global stage.
We, the undersigned diaspora organizations globally, are leaders and key contributors who worked day and night on these and other efforts to help our native country in multifarious ways. While doing so, we gave you the benefit of the doubt focusing on the threat to Ethiopia’s sovereignty and unity despite your party’s controversial legacy of driving ethnic or identity politics. This, unfortunately, made us often look at defending the indefensible. We acted in good faith, guided by your promises and pledges to the Ethiopian people.
Regrettably, our faith in your leadership and hopes for real change have succumbed to broken promises. The fact of the matter, however, is that, unfortunately, the country is in an abysmal situation five years after you accede to power. We are therefore obliged to write this open letter to you.
The following are some of our concerns and disappointments:
We are watching in horror the unabated human rights violations under your stewardship. Ethnically targeted mass arrests, summary executions, restrictions of free movement, and free speech, and grave crimes against humanity continue to be committed at scale, with the complicity of your administration.
Those at home who voice dissent or challenge your policies, including journalists and human rights activists, are jailed. The number of prisoners of conscience unjustly jailed across Ethiopia has surged.
The pattern of your administration’s actions or lack thereof in critical matters of national interest has broken the public’s trust. You have consistently ignored the rules of the parliamentary system by making unilateral decisions on essential items without even a semblance of interest in listening to alternative opinions.We are also watching with grave concern as your administration works to rehabilitate the criminal enterprise of TPLF while the TPLF is openly and blatantly violating the terms of the Pretoria peace agreement.
We are dismayed at your administration’s tolerance of the wide-scale human rights violations, most notably in Oromia, and the admitted entanglement of Prosperity Party officials with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a group parliament labeled as terrorists.
Horrific crimes against humanity, including gruesome reports of lynchings, rapes, and beheadings, have been committed on civilians, most notably targeting the Amharas, Orthodox Christians, and minority groups like Gurage and Gedeo, just to name a few.
Genocidal acts against Amhara civilians, resettled in Western Oromia during the 1980’s famine, continue with utter impunity.
The pattern of collaboration among local officials, police, and security forces appears to demonstrate an organized ethnic-cleansing campaign rather than isolated tribal attacks. This has rightfully outraged Ethiopians and human rights activists throughout the world.
In contravention of the Constitution, your administration has played politics with religion. It has directly interfered with the affairs of religious institutions and undermined spiritual leaders.
Most notably, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been targeted, including the recent tragedy in Shashemene, where several churchgoers were shot dead by Oromia security forces.
You have been in power for five years! Beyond the creation of the ineffective “national dialogue commission,” there has been no genuine effort or sense of urgency to end the failed TPLF-EPRDF apartheid-like ethnic politics or to reform the ethnic-based Constitution. Instead of liberating Ethiopia from the shackles of tribal politics, your administration regrettably has chosen to normalize and expand the inequities of institutionalized tribalism.
The mass displacement of over 3.6 million people has made Ethiopia a land with the world with the highest number of internally displaced people (IDPs).
Actions by your administration under the pretext of urban development, including the forced demolition of non-Oromo-speaking citizens’ homes in the suburbs of Addis Ababa, are making the IDP crises even worse. Homes are being bulldozed on thousands of men, women, and children without warning or contingency plans.
The rule of law requires that laws be applied equally, but your administration applies the Constitution arbitrarily and capriciously. A new ethnic-based region was created in southern Ethiopia for one ethnic group (Sidama) while simultaneously denying similar requests for other ethnic groups (Gurage and Wolayita.)
Security forces have shot at civilians, including peaceful protestors in Wolkite (ወልቂጤ) and churchgoers in Shashemene (ሻሸመኔ) towns. Security forces who kill civilians are never brought to justice.
Your administration’s undertaking of the country’s recorded history is questionable. The unmatched tolerance for groups defacing or demolishing cultural heritages and national symbols, the systematic tribalization of pan-Ethiopian institutions, and the demographic engineering in multicultural cities are deeply troubling.
Your administration has focused on a single ethnic cultural revolution rather than multiculturalism. The issue of Addis Ababa’s ownership, the nation’s capital city and diplomatic capital of Africa, resonating with a single ethnic group takeover is outrageous. It will open the door to a never-ending ethnic conflict and bloodshed.
Repressive actions such as banning the Ethiopian heritage flag and harassing people who wear these pan-African colors have now been escalated to prohibiting people from celebrating Adwa’s victory at Menelik Square in Addis Ababa.
On March 2, 2023, your security forces stormed and desecrated St. George Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church during a church ceremony and indiscriminately tear-gassed people, causing several injuries and even death. The unprovoked attack on peacefully assembled citizens demonstrates a complete disregard for the rule of law and the emergence of a police state.
During the last five years, the country’s borders have become defenseless. The country’s sovereignty is being routinely violated, notably in areas bordering Sudan and South Sudan.
Like its predecessors, your administration has failed to ensure food security. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 20 million people need “targeted assistance.” The latest calamity is in Borana. The Government is too busy with image building by exporting wheat and “managing” damages on all fronts through the securitization of ethnicity.
Rampant corruption and nepotism within the Government are growing alarmingly, with the soaring inflation and total failure to make the Ethiopian economy manageable.
The gross negligence of your administration to redress these problems, and in some cases, support or ignore criminal activities of Federal and Oromia regional government officials, has allowed the culture of impunity to flourish at scale. The responsibility for why and under whose authority such problematic policies have been pursued lies on you — the Prime Minister, the Head of Government, and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
Unless a targeted and decisive corrective action is taken, Ethiopia will be the only country in the world that is directly involved in working against itself and on a path to self-destruction. History will judge our society, your government, and, above all, you personally, on how effectively you handle these crises.
The Ethiopian Diaspora is therefore obliged to be a voice for the voiceless Ethiopian people. Now is your opportunity to demonstrate that you can honor your pledges. Therefore, we request your administration to act with urgency to immediately change this dangerous trajectory and take decisive corrective actions to right the wrongs, protect the citizenry of Ethiopia, and redress grievances.
At stake is the survival of Ethiopia as a nation. To avoid the trajectory of State collapse, your government must be inclusive of all stakeholders to move Ethiopia out of the dilemma your administration has put her in.
May God bless Ethiopia! And Her people!