ዓለም-አቀፋዊ የኢትዮጵያውያን ማሕበረሰባዓዊ ድርጅቶች ኔትዎርክ
World-wide Ethiopian Civic Associations
July 21, 2020
Via Email and First-Class Mail E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Honorable Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair Norwegian Nobel Committee The Nobel Foundation P.O. Box 5323, SE-102 45 Stockholm, Sweden
RE: Nobel Laureate Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Dear Honorable Reiss-Anderson,
The World-wide Ethiopian Civic Associations Network (WE–CAN), an umbrella group of 57 Ethiopian civic society organizations from around the world, writes to you in response to the letters your committee received from some groups and individuals urging you to take the unprecedented and exceptionally offensive measure of revoking the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Although we are confident that your committee would not entertain such requests, we felt compelled to express our views on the matter as it provides an opportunity to invite all friends of peace across the globe to support Prime Minister Abiy in his quest to promote peace, stability, and prosperity within Ethiopia and the horn of Africa.
Perhaps no leader in the country’s history assumed power facing so many intricate internal and external challenges as did Prime Minister Abiy. No sooner than he assumed the position of Prime Minister, he narrowly escaped an attempt on his life at a rally organized by the newly liberated populous where millions came out to express their support and hope for a new era. His government’s response to the attack on his life was extremely measured, lawful, unprecedented, and exemplary in many respects.
In the 27 years preceding Prime Minister Abiy’s assumption of power, Ethiopia had undergone a sweeping structural change that resulted in the fracture of the many social fabric that had held it firmly as a unified nation for hundreds of years. The division of the country along ethnic lines, the drastic change in the educational system which promoted ethnic identity over citizenship or national identity and unity, the rampant corruption and the moral decay that it festered throughout the various administrative bodies all combined to create a volatile and explosive political reality. PM Abiy’s ascendancy to power was opposed by the powerful Tigrean People’s Liberation Front, a party that ruled the country for 27 years. Oromo separatists and extremists also opposed him from the start. These are armed and well financed groups who operate with impunity in the areas they control.
Despite the challenges he faced, PM Abiy took decisive measures that propelled the country to a path of peace and democracy. After releasing all political prisoners, he immediately ended the long
standing conflict with Eritrea. He invited all previously exiled opposition groups to return to Ethiopia. He allowed private media to operate freely and openly. Most impressively, he led the greatest environmental campaign by organizing and leading a reforestation program where Ethiopians of all walks of life planted a record 353 million trees in 12 hours.
If PM Abiy was criticized by many in the past two years, it was mainly because of his government’s reluctance to crack-down on extremism. Many extremist groups and disgruntled leaders of the TPLF have been openly undermining the democratic change. TPLF, for example, openly opposed the peace initiative with Eritrea and also attempted to undermine PM Abiy’s effort to build a unified nation. Some elements of the free media, instead of promoting peace and democracy, openly encouraged and fomented ethnic-hatred and, in many instances, incited violence against ethnic minorities in Oromia region. The instigation continued unabated and has caused horrific ethnic-based killings of innocent civilians in the Oromia region over the last year and a half. The latest organized and ethnic-based violence three weeks ago claimed the lives of at least 177 people, injured 200 more and burned to the ground countless private businesses and property.
The individuals responsible for these acts must answer for their crimes in a court of law. The primary duty of any government is to maintain peace and security of its citizens. The Ethiopian people demand justice for the victims of these heinous crimes. Unlike previous governments, the government of PM Abiy has made the legal process open and transparent. While there is room for improvement in the legal process, there has not been any substantiated claim that the accused are being denied the due process of law.
It is not by coincidence that almost all of the groups that belittle PM Abiy’s accomplishments and peace initiatives have yet to condemn the ethnic-based killing of civilians and have refused to call attention to the Rwanda-like danger that is facing the country. As such, their efforts to attack the Prime Minister are misplaced. It is a sad testament to the pettiness and short-sighted, yet costly, bickering that has afflicted our brothers and sisters.
It is therefore time for all Ethiopian groups inside and outside Ethiopia as well as friends of Ethiopia across the world to come together to avert the danger facing the country. What we need is not a revocation of a well-deserved peace prize. This is a time to build upon the progress we made. It is time to end extremism and build a system that serves the interest of all and chart a true democratic, peaceful, and stable future for the country and the region.
It is in this vein that we ask the Committee to stand with Ethiopia and Prime Minister Abiy in this critical moment in our country’s history.
Geheph lyry Gebeyehu Ejigu, Ph.D. Chairman, Organizing Committee
cc: WE-CAN Member Organizations