Return Address: P.O. Box 69009, Skyview RPO Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6V 1G7
Date: July 04, 2020
To: The International Community
We are a group representing Canadians of Tigray origin (North Ethiopia) and kindly writing this letter to plead with you to put pressure on Mr. Abiy, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, to stop harassing, selectively imprisoning, and waging Nazi-like propaganda campaign against the Tigray nation of Ethiopia. His bellicose narratives and actions have reached dangerous levels that would inevitably create havoc in the already volatile region of the horn of Africa.
When PM Ahmed came to power following the resignation of Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn as a result of successive waves of protests in the Oromia region (and to some extent in the Amhara region), there was a wide-spread optimism that he would unify the country and transition it into a functioning democracy. Although Mr. Abiy had held key security/intelligence positions in the previous Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led government, he was relatively unknown to most Ethiopians until a few months before his ascent to the prime ministerial position. As Ethiopia is historically an ethnicized country where political support primarily stems from ones ethnic identity, public support for PM Abiy, for the most part, was rooted on attributes ascribable to his ethnicity and religion, rather than his qualifications. In his own admission, he was born to the two most populous ethnic groups (Amhara and Oromo). This being the case, some section of the population was also initially attracted by his evangelical narrative of “Medemer”, literally meaning “addition”; a concept described by Getu Teressa as a “hodgepodge of ideas constructed with rhetorical fallacies and delivered with pseudo-intellectual evangelical self-help fervor”12.
Following his swearing into office in April 2018, PM Abiy held a series of meet-and-greet tours to different regions of the country where he addressed regional parliaments and public gatherings and made several promises. He said that he would open up a new political culture in Ethiopia, namely a culture of reconciliation and forgiveness; upholding the constitution, due process and supremacy of law; respecting freedom of speech and opening up political space; resolving the conflict with Eritrea. Although the decision to release political prisoners and make “peace” with Eritrea was made during the last months of his predecessor’s term in office, PM Abiy unabashedly took the credit and used it in his bid for the Nobel Peace Prize nomination. He was also hailed as ‘reformer and pacifier’ by Western governments and media outlets; an endorsement that helped him receive the prize. Of course, part of the reason for Western support to PM Abiy was the expectation that he would ‘liberalize’ the economy and open the doors for foreign competition. However, other than sophistry, self-aggrandizement, building persona by embellishment through state media, the endless dinner extravaganza and vanity projects, did PM Abiy live up to even the simplest promises and expectations of the Ethiopian people? The answer is a resounding NO! Because Mr. Abiy came riding a wave of populism and on anti-Tigray platform, he did not have any viable roadmap for the country to start with. Hence, he had to create enemies and blame his failings on them. Traditionally, Tigreans have become an easy punching bag for the blame game and propaganda assault Amhara elites have been employing for over a century, and PM Abiy is doing exactly that. By all accounts, PM Abiy is a full-fledged dictator, much less having the caliber to qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize. Below are highlights of some of his failings.
· Freedoms of Press and Speech Stifled: Yes, PM Abiy has allowed in previously banned and exiled media outlets but only because they were his allies. As these media outlets are predominantly anti-Tigray and continue to bash anything Tigrean while heaping praise upon him, it might have given the false impression that freedom of the press has improved. In reality, however, media and individuals critical of Abiy are being harassed and jailed quite frequently. He has also added restrictive laws, such as the “Hate Speech and Disinformation Law”, to the repertoire of repressive laws he already has at his disposal. Shutting off the internet at whim for political reasons, hacking citizens’ email and social media accounts, wiretapping, fabricating fake propaganda documentaries, and spreading fake news to saw division within Tigreans has become the norm.
Dear Sir or Madam:
With the plethora of local, regional, and international actors directly interfering in Ethiopian politics, the situation has become more complicated than ever. In particular, the unholy partnership of PM Abiy with the Eritrean dictator, is taking a dangerous turn. Both leaders have made it clear that elections are not necessary, that the current Ethiopian federal system should be dismantled in favour of a unitary dictatorship, and in order to accomplish this, the defenders of federalism, the Tigrean people must be vanquished. Therefore, we plead with you to employ all diplomatic powers and resources to pressurize PM Abiy to: (1) unconditionally release all Tigrean and other political prisoners, (2) desist from the unconstitutional maneuvering and hold election on time, and support Tigray Region’s decision to hold local elections, (3) refrain from colluding with the Eritrean regime in an effort to hurt Tigray, (4) bring in the tens of thousands Tigrean immigrants languishing under horrifying conditions in various detention centers in Saudi Arabia, (5) stop the Nazi-style propaganda campaign against Tigreans, (6) allow an independent and UN-led investigation in to the high-profile assassinations that took place during PM Abiy’s tenure in Ethiopia, and (7) stop the blatant abuse of power.
ASSOCIATION OF TIGREAN COMMUNITIES IN CANADA (ATCC)
CC: Embassy of Ethiopia, Ottawa, Canada
1) ) Mom Told Me I'll be Ethiopia's 7th King: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhDoLdIYfyg
2) Election not always a necessity, says col. Abiy (1:16:24): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guyP6JDJSBk
4) Ethiopia postpones August election: https://nationalpost.com/pmn/health-pmn/ethiopia-postpones-august-election-due-to-coronavirus-4
6) Aby’s Threat of force against those who want to hold elections! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU9jrnmfzyw
7) Eritrean dictator visits Ethiopia in the middle of COVID-19 State of emergency: http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/news/editors_pick/detail?cid=55769
9) Constitutional “Re-interpretation Bill” to Prolong Abiy’s Term: http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/news/editors_pick/detail?cid=55795
10) The arrest of Journalists: https://cpj.org/2020/04/ethiopian-journalist-yayesew-shimelis-detained-fol.php
11) Ethiopia passes controversial law curbing 'hate speech': https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/ethiopia-passes-controversial-law-curbing-hate-speech-200213132808083.html
12) Getu Teressa’s Analysis: https://www.ethiopia-insight.com/2020/04/05/abiy-ahmed-a-philosopher-king-or-a-sophist/
13) Towards Tigray Statehood? http://addisstandard.com/in-depth-analysis-towards-tigray-statehood/
14) Ethiopian police ignore court orders to free journalists: https://cpj.org/2020/05/ethiopian-police-ignore-court-orders-to-free-journ.php
15) Ethiopian security forces committed 39 extrajudicial killings – Amnesty https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-ethiopia-violence-idUKKBN2351BN?fbclid=IwAR09gFP-vC-TvlUJ3slIqAVC7bW3Nr9mdM_ZKFlftet97JF7_dyQrzBZ9jg
16) Rape, extrajudicial executions, homes set alight in security operations in Amhara and Oromia (Ethiopia): https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/05/ethiopia-rape-extrajudicial-executions-homes-set-alight-in-security-operations-in-amhara-and-oromia/
17) Speaker of Ethiopia's upper House resigns after polls postponed: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-politics-idUSKBN23F2IN?fbclid=IwAR138B9u10xHbTq67Pi--TbFHV6NAK419YZOoQcBMBRipV8wK5EUlgii3-8
Endorsed by representatives of:
Tigrean Ethiopian Community Association of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
Socioeconomic & Relief Association of Tigraian Ethiopians in Alberta, Edmonton AB
Socioeconomic & Relief Association of Tigraian Ethiopians in Alberta, Calgary, AB
Tigrean Community in Saskatoon, SK
Tigrian Community in Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
Tigray Association of Toronto and Surrounding, Toronto, ON
Tigray Community in Ottawa, ON
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