By: A group of Ethiopian Americans
It is with deep concern and disappointment that we are writing this letter on the deeply disturbing and very dangerous developments in Ethiopia. Following the conflict which started by TPLF rebels back in November of 2020, the government of Ethiopia’s law enforcement operation lingered for months resulting in loss of lives, destruction of property and mass suffering.
After a careful reevaluation of its law enforcement operation and the prolonged destruction, suffering of the people of Tigray, and the looming food shortage, the government of Ethiopia declared a unilateral cease fire and withdrew its forces from Tigray. This gesture executed with the hope of easing the tension, reducing human suffering, and with appeal for reconciliation and rehabilitation. On the contrary, the remnants of the criminal enterprise of TPLF, instead of responding positively to the ceasefire and taking an equal responsibility to avert the looming humanitarian disaster, refused to accept the cease fire and took the fight to the adjacent Amhara and Afar Regions of Ethiopia.
As the US has been calling for cessation of hostilities, when the Ethiopian Government did a unilateral ceasefire and drew its federal forces out of Tigray, even though Ethiopia has every right to protect its sovereignty and the clear and present danger the TPLF terrorists poses, we thought that the Biden Administration would be pleased and acknowledge this as a step in the right direction. Instead, not only was this not acknowledged but even more pressure was put on Ethiopia, the party that committed itself to the ceasefire. The US failed to chastise and denounce the TPLF leaders who publicly mocked the ceasefire “as a sick joke” and declared they will take the war to the rest of Ethiopia. No statement came from the administration. Instead, more pressure was put on the Ethiopian government. How is this justifiable?
Humanitarian Aid and food corridor: The Ethiopian government left over 400,000 sacks of grain in Tigray before withdrawing its forces from Tigray region. 100s of trucks of humanitarian aid were also delivered. Even while TPLF continued its war of aggression, the govt of Ethiopia gave permission to Aid agencies to fly from Addis Ababa airport to Mekele to deliver aid. WFP was providing food aid into Tigray throughout the time the US and EU were saying there is no unfettered access.
Now TPLF is further hindering humanitarian aid by declaring war on different parts of Ethiopia such as war raging in Afar region to close the Djibouti corridor, blowing up the bridge over Tekeze, and declaring war on Amhara to invade the western corridor. TPLF is blocking new food aid convoys from crossing into Tigray through these aggressions to escalate the problem.
Atrocities in Mekele Massacre of civilians and officials begun immediately after TPLF set its foot in Mekelle. Sources reported, 38 people have been executed in Mekelle, 158 were taken outside of the town into the mountains. More than 200 people have been killed in Adigrat. Muslim communities living in the small towns of Gejjet and Mehoni have been murdered [execution style] in broad daylight and in public. Scores of young people have been murdered in the town of Shire for organizing to protect their town. The massacre of Eritrean refugees is also going unnoticed just like the MaiKadra massacre, which to this day is the worst massacre TPLF openly committed.
Now the TPLF terrorists are claiming a siege by Ethiopia and that they are surrounded by the enemy. Well Ethiopians live in Ethiopia and Tigray is in Ethiopia. people cannot leave their homes to satisfy the delusional whims of the TPLF. What they call western Tigray is Welkayit and Tselemt, Humera all lands where Amharas have lived for millennia. They are not going to leave their home.
Child Soldiers: The most atrocious of TPLF’s crime, however, is its current forced conscription of children into its fighting units and their deployment as the it escalates the conflict into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions while simultaneously trying to internationalize the conflict by provoking Eritrea. On July 12, 2021, Declan Walsh of the New York Times published a story about Ethiopia in which it featured images of scores of armed underage soldiers, reminiscent of the infamous images from the Lord’s Resistance Army belonging to the notorious Joseph Kony, as active-duty soldiers on the field. The ensuing silence of the international community and the Biden administration is deeply alarming. Children belong in school and playgrounds by day and bed by night. This forced conscription of children is not only a crime against humanity but a direct attack on the people of Tigray who would not put their children in harm’s way unless they were forced. Time and again, the administration’s reluctance and failure, right from the outset, to condemn the TPLF for what it has always been – a prime source of terror in the Horn of Africa for nearly five decades now – has emboldened it. We Ethiopians call for the US administration to condemn the deployment of children by the TPLF.
The current position taken by the US administration is very dangerous and emboldening the remnants of the terrorist group and further fueling the conflict and the suffering of the people in Northern Ethiopia. It is also promoting unending inter-ethnic conflicts between Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia with devastating and unfathomable consequences for the subregion.
The very inflammatory statements released by your office and the unjustified undue pressure on the Government of Ethiopia do not reflect the reality on the ground. It emboldens terrorists, inflames ethnic conflicts, weakens the position of the Ethiopian Government, and undermines the US strategic interests, global leadership, and the long-standing US Ethiopia partnership.
We, Ethiopian Americans, and members of the Ethiopian community, thus express our deep disappointment at the US State Department’s erroneous position on Ethiopia and request your urgent consideration to take corrective measures.