Thursday, March 23, 2023

Washington Update: US-Africa Summit

U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit
President Biden is hosting leaders from across the African continent in Washington, DC on December 13-15, 2022, for the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit. About 50 leaders have been invited. According to U.S. State Department statement, the Summit will demonstrate the United States enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities.
Ethiopian-Americans request that the Biden administration use the summit as an opportunity to demand that the Ethiopian government immediately act to stop the killing and displacement of Amhara people in the Oromia region.
U.S. policy on Ethiopia has been distorted by a failure to understand the corrosive effects of a constitution that exacerbates ethnic divisions, by a willingness ignore human rights abuses, and a desire to simplify complex conflicts into fights between forces of good and evil.
Engagement with the Ethiopian government should aim for stopping the violence and then turn to the need for long-term change. After the immediate conflict has been calmed, Ethiopians must take steps to avoid future conflicts. Peace and stability depend on abandoning the ideology of ethnic division and launching a project to revise the Ethiopian constitution. The present constitution was created to exacerbate ethnic divisions. It will lead to the destruction of Ethiopia.
Ongoing horror
While the world is focused on the tragedy in Ukraine, Ethiopia is falling further into chaos. The most recent tragedy occurred over the last week in the Haro Kebele (ward) and Kiremu Woreda (district) [East Wollega Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia]. The massacre perpetrated by the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Liberation Army is ongoing.
The deteriorating human rights situation, jailing and persecution of journalists, and ethnically based attacks have created conditions similar to other countries that have suffered unexpected, sudden, and violent upheavals. While some in the west cling to the image of a ruler who was awarded a Nobel Prize for peace, the reality is that Abiy is running a repressive, violent regime. He is doing nothing to counter rampant, widespread corruption or turn around heartbreaking poverty and bleak economic prospects. The government has targeted and alienated the Amhara population and launched a war on civil society.
The government lead by Abiy has ignored genocide and crimes against humanity committed by OLF/Shenne, ethnic Gumuz on Amhara and Agew people in Metekel Benshangul, Wollega region of Ethiopia, jailed and persecuted peaceful political opponents, and censored the press.
Abiy and his government have failed to stop the violence, including bank robberies committed by the Shanne/Oromo Liberation Front, the abduction of university students, the killing of innocent Amhara and Gurages people by extremists, burnings of Christian Orthodox churches and the destruction of properties in Shashemne and other Ethiopia regions.
There are too many examples in recent months of tragedies that could and should have been prevented.
The conflict is causing manmade famine. According to the World Food Program, over a million people in Ethiopia are in dire need of food.
Speaking on behalf of the Ethiopian-American community, Mesfin Mekonen contacted members of Congress, including Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to request U.S. action to help stop the killings of Amhara people, free journalists and political prisoners,  including Tadios Tantu who have been unjustly imprisoned. Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of House International Committee, subsequently tweeted recently: “Shocked and dismayed by the mass killing of hundreds of Amhara civilians in western Oromia. I condemn these atrocious acts of violence and call for an independent and transparent investigation.”
Speaking on December 1 while visiting Ethiopia to discuss the ceasefire in Tigray, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the international community to “support Ethiopia in its development” and said that support for economic development is the best way to “consolidate peace.”
While the statement by Guterres is reasonable, he and other public officials have failed to discuss or express sympathy for the Amhara Ethiopians who have been massacred by the OLF/OLA.
Author profile
Mesfin Mekonen

Mesfin Mekonen is a Washington, DC based Ethiopian-American writer.

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