Letter to President Obama on his controversial trip to Ethiopia
President Obama at a business forum in Tanzania in 2013. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Letter to President Obama
Dear President Obama,
I am writing to express my deep concern over your planned visit to Ethiopia amidst worsening
human rights violations and political repressions.
As you may know, the TPLF-led ruling junta has recently declared to have “won” 100 percent of all parliamentary and regional seats. Ironically, this cruel electoral joke that has never been seen in any democratic elections, has only revealed that they have completely hijacked the whole electoral process and installed oppression as an institution. It is another testimony to the fact that the brutal minority junta has completely shut out the majority from democratically and peacefully participating in the political process of their country.
Against the backdrop of this shameless tyrannical travesty, I fear that your visit can be counterproductive as it can be misconstrued by the TPLF-led regime as your administration's endorsement and seal of approval for the sustenance of the crimes, atrocities, abuses, extrajudicial killings, torture and corruption that they are committing with impunity.
Scores of journalists, bloggers, activists, religious, political party and civil society leaders, as well tens of thousands of ordinary citizens that have never committed any crimes, are languishing in hellish jails across the country. As a result of the land grab policy, millions of poor peasants are being displaced to give way to corrupt oligarchs and their local and foreign business partners.
A cursory look at the annual U.S. State Department human rights report can even reveal a litany of disturbing atrocities being perpetrated against defenseless civilians. “The most significant human rights problems included: restrictions on freedom of expression and association, including through arrests; detention; politically motivated trials; harassment; and intimidation of opposition members and journalists, as well as continued restrictions on print media,” the report reads.
“The government continued restrictions on activities of civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) imposed by the Charities and Societies Proclamation (the CSO law)....Other human rights problems included arbitrary killings; allegations of torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; reports of harsh and, at times, lifethreatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; a weak, overburdened judiciary subject to political influence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches; allegations of abuses in the implementation of the government’s “villagization” program; restrictions on academic freedom; restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement; alleged interference in religious affairs; limits on citizens’ ability to change their government; police, administrative, and judicial corruption; violence and societal discrimination against women and abuse of children; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; clashes between ethnic minorities….”
All these disturbing facts are excerpted from the text of your government’s human rights report. If the United States is indeed sincere about reporting and documenting the disturbing crimes of the ruling elite, it beggars question why your administration is silently rewarding the terrorists with aid money and diplomatic support.
I understand that the United States is cooperating with the ruling junta in Ethiopia in the fight against terrorism. As far as Ethiopians are concerned, I can assure you that the TPLF and its surrogates are the only terrorists in Ethiopia that have total disregard to their own constitution and laws. Using the so-called anti-terrorism law to terrorize journalists, activists, dissidents and ordinary citizens that raise their voice against the regime’s oppressive and unjust practices, they have practically criminalized free expression.
Mr. President, during your visit to Ghana almost six years ago, you had declared: “Africa does not need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.” It is for this very reason that visiting Ethiopia, where strongmen are playing the devil, sends the wrong message to the remaining evil dictators and corrupt tyrants across the world.
I firmly believe that the long-term interests of the United States seriously compromised when it forges alliances with tyrants known for their wanton disregard to human rights, individual liberty and dignity.
It would, therefore, be prudent to reconsider your travel to Ethiopia, which can be misinterpreted
as a blessing to the brutal regime which is committing crimes against humanity with direct and
indirect support from the United States.
Mr. President, I would like to urge you to cancel your travel to Ethiopia, which has been turned into a giant prison because it will send a much better message that being seen shaking hands with criminals who hands are soaked with the blood of so many innocent people. If cancelling your travel is not an option for whatever reason, please help Ethiopians by delivering a strong message in support of human rights, individual liberty, justice and democracy.All political prisoners must be freed unconditionally. So many children, moms, friends and loved ones are tearfully waiting for their release.
Mr. President, stand by the oppressed people of Ethiopia. In the end, when the dictators face their inevitable fall, we are the ones who will sing your song: “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty we are free at last.”
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
I appreciate your attention.
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