Letter to Secretary Pompeo:

by Bruck Tl
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August 25, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20520

RE: HUMAN RIGHT CONDITION AND DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE IN ETHIOPIA

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We read with great disappointment the letter sent to you by the Honorable Representative Dean Phillips. Although We appreciate Representative Phillip’s long held interest for human rights and democratic principle in Ethiopia, we respectfully object the fundamental analysis and subsequent conclusion of his letter regarding the current human right condition in Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia is a multicultural country where over 80 ethnic groups have lived together peacefully for thousands of years. While Ethiopia is undergoing a tumultuous political transition with hopes for broader democratization, internal and external forces have joined to unleash extremists political- religious agenda. This is partly due to a three decades long systemic development of ethnic politics mandated by the TPLF brought about an unprecedented level of mistrust and animosity among the various ethnic groups. The constitution adopted in 1995 did carve up territories along ethnic lines. In doing so it established ethnic administrative regions called “Killel”, a flowed system which contributed to ethnic exclusion of non indigenous people as ‘alien settlers’ within their own country. Although the new prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed emerged as a unifying leader eager to create a new political system in which no ethnic group has dominance over others, anti-Abiy alliance between radical Oromo groups and the TPLF was soon created to challenge the reform process. Extremist Oromo leaders who expected Abiy, himself an ethnic Oromo, to fight solely to expand ‘Oromo Only’ political dominance over the federal government were disappointed by his policies aimed at achieving national reconciliation and inclusive governance. 

With such political backdrop, we sincerely hope for you to access the entire situation developing in Ethiopia to mitigate civil unrest cascading into a full-blown ethnic conflict similar to the 1994 Rwandan massacre. At this unique juncture, the United States cannot afford to repeat another historical error by ignoring the early signs of a looming human catastrophe in the same continent under similar underlying conditions. 

We are presenting you with historical facts that has constituted to the current political and Human Right crisis in Ethiopia. 

1- Since 2018, the reform process led by Dr Abiy is progressing at astonishing pace by opening political space and allowing all opposition parties to peacefully participate in the upcoming election 2 – Diaspora opposition groups were allowed to move back to their homeland to participate in peaceful political activities which most have indeed complied 

Ethiopian American Civic Council 

16890 E Alameda Pkwy #472795 , Aurora, Colorado 80017-2795 720.329.6764 

EACC 

http://www.sr168.org/

3- During the same period, the government has made significant effort to accommodate the extremists which is unprecedented in Ethiopia’s political history 4- Oromo extremists leaders including Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, OLF – Sheneye (current armed insurgency group fighting the Ethiopian government) have resorted to repeated and intolerable violence which has resulted in the current ethnic cleansing, kidnapping, and human right violations including the assassination of a popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa. 5- The government finally took the solemn responsibility of Law and Order to protect the safety of all its citizens by arresting suspects who have planned or participated in the current civil unrest 6- There is clear and present danger of Islamic extremism similar to the state of its neighboring countries such as Somalia is steadily growing. If left unchecked, it can pose imminent terrorist threat to Ethiopia and the entire region 7- The Internet system is now fully restored nationwide 8- With the exception of few enclaves, no Emergency decree exists in Ethiopia 

On June 29, 2020, over 239 civilians were killed in a massive outburst of violence following the assassination of a famous Oromo singer Hachalu Hundesa, a patriotic Ethiopian. Carefully choreographed, vigilantes were immediately called into action after the singer’s killing. In the city of Shashemene, the epicenter of the violent site, the extremists used the killing as a pretext to unleash death and destruction on non-Oromo Ethiopians who reside in the Oromia region. The vigilantes went door to door with carefully prepared lists of names, checking ethnic identity cards before killing them including women and children. Those who survived the mayhem, their homes and businesses were looted and burned to the ground and many were displaced from their homes permanently. These mobs of young men were not peaceful protest- ers but merciless killers. They came armed with deadly weapons including machete, knives, spears in order to hunt down their victims. Non Oromos were targeted solely for their ethnicity while Christian Oromos were targeted for their religious affinity. 

During such carnage and despite multiple attempts made by the victims pleading for protection there were no government forces present in the scene. Instead, they were told the security forces were not given the order to protect civilians. In some cases, the security forces themselves have collaborated with this horrific crime against humanity. As Minority Group Report correctly documented, “We are seeing a tale-tale- sign of Ethnic cleansing.” 

We acknowledge there are well crafted narratives from both ends of this topic that makes it extremely difficult to decipher the complexity of the crisis due to the multitude of languages being used by extremist groups to confuse the world. Both English and Oromo language formats are alternatively used depending on the intended audience. In the English version, a more diplomatic and highly polished political message is rendered; while the Oromo language is used to carry hateful message which inciting violent actions which the world just witnessed its aftermath 

Therefore, we Ethiopian Americans without ethnic or religious distinctions collectively ask your excellency the following measures to be considered in order to mitigate further killing and destructions: . 

Ethiopian American Civic Council 

16890 E Alameda Pkwy #472795 , Aurora, Colorado 80017-2795 720.329.6764 

EACC 

http://www.sr168.org/

1. Congressman Dean Phillip letter lacks concrete evidence on the ground which in turn has contributed to its a biased conclusion by making the reform government to be responsible for the current political unrest 

2. Urging the Department of State to reject the recommendation letter of congressman Dean Phillips and condemn the killing perpetrated solely by extremist group mentioned herein 

3. Urges the US authorities to intervene to hold it accountable for hate speech propagated by US-based Oromo Media Network, which broadcasts messages that incite violence against ethnic Amhara, Gurage and other non-Oromo minority groups in the region. 

4. Urges the US to support the law enforcement effort being taken by the government against the perpetrators including, TPLF, OLF Shenneye, Jawar Mohamed and those active collaborators within the government who failed to protect the safety of the Ethiopian people. 

5. Encourage the Ethiopian government to continue implementing institutional and legal reforms that ensure the safety and security of all people especially minority groups in Ethiopia. 

6. Forewarn all countries that are contributing to the civil strife and human right violations including religious persecution in Ethiopia. 

Contrary to congressman Phillip’s assertion to what makes Ethiopia a “less reliable partner for the United States” only occurs when member of congress provide political cover for extremists all while exerting undue pressure on the government to refrain from enforcing law and order by bringing those responsible to face the fullest extent of the law. Although Rep Karen Bass has endorsed the letter issued by Rep Phillip, we welcome Rep. Bass own statement on July 6, 2020 to the contrary. “…I encourage the Government of Ethiopia to continue to work toward positive reforms; end the country’s Internet blackout; bring calm and stability to the region that has been devastated by ethnic violence for years; and swiftly bring to justice those who have caused division in the country by fueling hatred and advocating violence.” 

Therefore, the international community led by United States should address the ethnic cleansing and religious persecution in Ethiopia seriously. Certainly, in view of decades of Ethiopia’s authoritarian past, building strong democratic institutions and ensuring peace and security in Ethiopia presents difficult chal- lenges but possible. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the United States to see to it that Ethiopia remains a stable, peaceful, democratic, and inclusive ally in the Horn of Africa, a region that has been a hotbed of conflict, state failure, and human tragedies. 

Thank you in advance for taking the next step of taking a strong stand on this matter to help avoid an even worse outcome. We hope to hear from you. 

Respectfully, 

Deacon Yoseph R Tafari, Chairman, Ethiopian-American Civic Council 

Ethiopian American Civic Council 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Araya Amsalu Chair, Ethiopian Advocacy Network 

16890 E Alameda Pkwy #472795 , Aurora, Colorado 80017-2795 720.329.6764 

EACC 

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