Letter to President Trump on Human Rights Abuse in Ethiopia
July 23, 2020
The Honorable Donald J Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20500
Ref: Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia
Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the Global Oromo Advocacy Group (GOAG), we appeal to you to stop Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Laureate turned ruthless dictator, from continuing the destructive path he has embarked on. We believe that you and your government value human life, freedom and democracy. As the president of the United States, you have the strongest clout to influence the course of actions being taken by a leader of a country that depends on the US government aid. We are reaching out to you because we know that your actions can save lives and change the fate of millions of Oromo children, women and men in Ethiopia who are, as we speak, suffering from human rights abuses, grappling in prisons, and are being administered via an illegally declared military command rule. We plead with you to act because we believe that the United Sates should not remain indifferent when a country that depends on its aid turns against innocent civilians.
As you may recall, while there are many deserving individuals, Prime minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2019, barely a year into his current position and before the dawning of a glimmer of peace. In its official announcement, the Nobel Committee detailed a litany of accomplishments for Dr. Abiy: lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalizing outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption, and increasing the influence of women in political and community life. Today, what is happening in Ethiopian is quite contrary to what were listed as accomplishments above for the Prime minister.
We all know that in a country where critical institutions that deter the violations of core human rights, and the basic principles of transparency, accountability, non-discrimination and meaningful participation in every aspect of the life of the community are absent or weak, the start is not necessarily a good predictor of the end. In less than 10 months since he has received the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Abiy has turned Africa’s second most populous country into a dictatorship mess. On January 27, 2020 Amnesty International condemned what it described as the return of mass arrests of opposition activists and supporters; the striping of the rights to freedom of expression and association, and brutal attacks on opposition party supporters particularly in the Oromia regional state. After an iconic Oromo musician and human rights activist, Haacaalu Hundeessaa, was gunned down by the PM’s security gangs on June 29, 2020, more than 166 people have been reported killed. Exacerbating the violence, the Prime Minister responded by shutting off the internet, closing Oromo Media outlets and incarcerating journalists and high-profile opposition leaders along with more than 4, 500 Oromos. In a statement it released on 3 July 2020 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the fact that targeted attacks and excessive use of force by the country’s security has become rampant.
Overall, the promise Dr. Abiy Ahmed has made to the people of Ethiopia and the global community has turned to be false and hollow at best. Today, ordinary citizens of the country, particularly Oromos live in a moment of despair and hopelessness: their houses burning on families, fear being instilled in women and children, able bodied Oromo youth being haunted as the enemy of the state, opposition figures being accused of crimes they have never committed and locked down in prison, and Internet and social media services getting shuttered and state owned media serving as a propaganda machinery.
It is with these facts and underlying grave concerns that we plead with you. You have the power and multiple options to stop Ethiopia’s ruthless leader from committing further egregious human rights abuses and devolving the country into greater abyss. We thank you for your understanding and the actions you might take.
Global Oromo Advocacy Group