Sunday, June 23, 2024

Washington Update: Letter to the US Ambassador to Ethiopia

May 18, 2024

The Honorable Mr. Ervin Massinga

Ambassador of the United States to Ethiopia

U.S. Embassy

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

Re:  Your Policy Speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 16, 2024 

Dear Honorable Ambassador:

We are writing you on behalf of Ethiopian/American civic organizations that share your concern about the current situation in Ethiopia.

We thank you for your powerful speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 16, 2024, addressed to the people of Ethiopia and its government.  You accurately summarized the current situation when you said: “Regrettably, many people across Ethiopia, and across the globe, continue to face the same fear that Ethiopians did 87 years ago here.  Bandits, armed groups, and, at times, government security forces act with impunity in carrying out violations of the very same rights to life, dignity, and respect, reflecting a disregard for due process and the rule of law.”

The problems that must now be resolved in Ethiopia are straightforward:  a corrupt authoritarian government is standing by while the country descends into civil war and lawlessness.  Corruption is so rampant that the international community cut off life-saving food assistance for months and remains reluctant to meet the needs of desperate people.  Economic mismanagement is pushing the nation to the brink of famine, and the government is fomenting deadly conflicts among ethnic groups that have lived in harmony for centuries.

The United States and the global community must support fundamental human rights for the Amhara people, the rule of law, democracy and good governance.  The failure of the Biden administration to condemn crimes being committed on a daily basis by the autocratic regime of Abiy Ahmed encourages its continuing war on the Amhara people, creating needless suffering and the risk of violence that could destabilize the Horn of Africa.

We recommend that the United States undertake a three-part strategy focused on cessation of hostilities, sanctions, and constitutional reform.  This strategy has been described in a commentary, Atrocities in Ethiopia, by Mesfin Mekonen, Chairman of the Coalition of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations, and Bart S. Fisher, Counsel for the Council of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations.

First, the United States should play a significant role in promoting a settlement of this ever-escalating war against the Amhara by the government of Ethiopia.  At a minimum, the United States should promote collective efforts of local, regional, and global actors to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks by the government of Ethiopia against its own people.  Lasting peace in Ethiopia requires an urgent and inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.

Second, the White House and State Department should condemn the abuses that the Abiy government is undertaking and condoning and take steps to ameliorate the situation.  Your policy speech in Addis Ababa on May 16, 2024, is a good first step in that direction.  However, such exhortations to do the right thing will remain as empty words without the imposition of targeted sanctions on the government officials who are responsible for abuses or who fail to protect the lives of innocent civilians.

Third, the U.S. government should promote the drafting of a new constitution, an essential precondition to lasting peace and prosperity.  Article 39 of the 1994 constitution of Ethiopia grants rights for any ethnic group to secede and form a nation.  Thus, groups such as the Tigrayansand the Amhara currently have the constitutional right to secede, which, of course, sparks a protracted civil war.  The ability of the central government to govern is undermined when every ethnic group has the right to secede.  The present constitution has exacerbated ethnic tensions and, if not revised, will lead to the disintegration of Ethiopia.  In recognition of this fact, the Coalition of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations convened at the Ethiopia Constitutional Conference in Washington, D.C., in the Senate Russell Building Kennedy Caucus Room in November 2023.  We would like to work with you and your State Department colleagues on such efforts to promote constitutional reform in Ethiopia.

Again, thank you for the powerful and moving speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 16, 2024.  We are prepared to work with you to bring peace to the country that we love.

Sincerely,

Mesfin Mekonen, Chairman, Council of Ethiopian-American Civic Organizations.

The following are the Organizations  

 Ethiopiawinet

Ethiopian Survival Salvation Association (ESSA) 

Horn of Africa Peace Development Center (HAPDC) 

Ethiopian American Community (EAC)

Ethiopian Dialogue Forum (EDF

Global Amhara Coalition (GAC) 

Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GAR)

CC. Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Cory Booker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Policy

Senator Peter Welch, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Human Rights

Representative John James, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee

Representative Chris Smith, House Committee on Foreign AffairsMary Catherine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Adviser

H.E. Hilda Suka-Mafudze, African Union Ambassador to the U.S.A.

Author profile
Mesfin Mekonen

Mesfin Mekonen is the author of Washington Update, a bulletin about Ethiopia’s struggle for freedom and prosperity, and founder of MM Management.

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