Washington D.C. 20044
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2016
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) controlled regime in power for the last 25 years is now on the verge of collapse. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians across religious and ethnic lines have been protesting demanding for the ouster of the tribal regime. The response of the regime, as usual, has been brutal and indiscriminate killing which has further strengthened the resolve of the people to fight back. Despite the pretention to be a coalition of various ethnic-based political groups, the regime is completely controlled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) claiming to represent 6% of the minority Tigrean ethnic group.
The situation has become increasingly volatile with protesters calling for the removal of the regime and demanding accountability for atrocities committed by the regime’s security forces. While the protests have been directed at the regime, the possibility of intra-ethnic violence looms over the current situation mainly due to the highly inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric of the ruling party. Should this happen, the scale of the ensuing genocide will dwarf the horrible genocide in Rwanda.
The immense discontent and resistance are widespread. The pent-up frustration and anger due to years of autocratic rule is bursting at the seams in all regions of the country and particularly in areas inhabited by the Oromifa and Amharic speaking Ethiopians constituting 70% of the population. According to eyewitness reports, the regime’s forces have used heavy machine guns and sniper rifles to kill unarmed civilians causing hundreds of deaths and injuries, according to international media sources.
The obsessive focus of the West on the “War on Terror” and the unconditional support for repressive regimes maintaining ‘political stability’ at the expense of human rights, democracy, and fundamental freedoms, has never produced security and stability. Ethiopia is the latest, and possibly the most dangerous example of this utterly misguided and counterproductive policy. Considering Ethiopia’s 100 million population, its geo-political importance and strategic location in Africa failure to act now can have dire consequences for regional stability and global security
Ethiopian Advocacy Network (EAN) and many rights groups (i.e. Human Right Watch, Amnesty International, Genocide Watch, etc.) have been sounding the alarm bells about the long simmering tension and the chasm that exists between the people and the regime. Despite the egregious human right violations well documented by various rights groups, the international community particularly the US and EU as well as multilateral agencies such as the World Bank have been providing more political, military and financial support to the TPLF regime.
On August 8, 2016 the US Embassy in Addis Ababa put out a tepid statement devoid of any substance. The statement incredibly assigns blames on the unarmed victims of the regime’s violence. Far from calling the regime to rein in its security forces in order to de-escalate the situation, the embassy seems to condone the shoot-to-kill order of peaceful protesters. This raises the disturbing question whether the real purpose of the security partnership agreement signed between the US government and the TPLF regime is to ensure the security of the TPLF criminals at the expense of the Ethiopian people. One wonders if all the extra judicial killings by the security forces might trigger the Leahy Law.
As the second most populous country in Africa and the regional power in the Horn of Africa, it is imprudent to underestimate the catastrophic impact that civil strife could create inside Ethiopia and in the volatile region as a whole. The longer the political turmoil continues unabated, the greater the risk of humanitarian disaster with millions of lives at risk, millions others fleeing the conflict.
It is in the vital security interest of the West, particularly the US, UK and EU, to exert their influence to demand accountability for the crimes committed by the regime’s security forces against peaceful protesters with legitimate grievances. The regime’s all-too-familiar response of using lethal force to quash dissent will only exacerbate the situation. The patience of the Ethiopian people has run out and they are saying enough.
If the current stand- off continues it is not hard to fathom a horrific scenario of civil war with all its catastrophic consequences for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. U.S. silence or inaction in the face of the regime’s brutal repression in Ethiopia would be perceived as meddling in favor of the rule breakers. It is time for the US, in particular, and the West in general to re-examine its short-sighted and misguided policy that has emboldened the minority regime. Make no mistake, the brutal ethnic dictatorship is taking Ethiopia down a dark path.
Ethiopian Advocacy Network is a grassroots organization that was formed in January 2015 by Ethiopian-Americans, Ethiopian activists and community organizers to promote democracy, human rights, and justice in Ethiopia through advocacy, civic education and grass roots mobilization. EAN has a global presence with members in USA, Africa, Canada and Europe.