To whom it may concern,
For the last three decades, Ethiopia's political culture has been one focused on ethnicity. Parties, most of them formed along ethnic lines, pushed the agenda of their group, with little focus on cross-cutting topics such as social or economic issues. This, some say, favored populist agendas and is one of the reasons for interethnic conflict and internal displacement. "[The parties] try to justify their existence by claiming that others are going to attack you as an ethnic group. They don't have any other reason to exist," says Girmachew Alemu, a law professor at Addis Ababa University. "Ethnicity makes it difficult for people to come together and fight for their rights, they think they are more different than similar," he adds.
For almost 30 years, some ethnic groups were kept out of the decision-making process, while authoritarian practices left many without a voice. After Abiy came to power in 2018, increased freedom of expression made it easier to manifest grievances, further fomenting revengeful discourses within the country's nine self-administrated regions. In many parts of the country these dynamics, coupled with a fast-growing population, contributed to conflicts and divisions linked to land ownership, border issues and political representation. In the past year, the country has experienced a regional push for self-determination, as seen in the unrests in Oromia.
This ethnic divide across the country has caused numerous acts of violence against the Amhara people and more specifically Christian members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church have been targeted. This has breached a human rights violation and we call for support. We call for awareness to be brought to the situation and ask our diplomats, fellow people and government officials to step up. In order to solve this horrific problem internal negotiations within the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, should aim to bring order into and among each constituent party. Inter-party negotiations should be candid and thorough, and based on the principle of reciprocity. The negotiations must include a concrete plan to secure peace in each region, with cascading
A lasting solution will necessitate a constitutional reform that establishes new checks and balances that mitigate the risk of ethnic politics exploding into downright violence. This, however, will require an extensive process of consensus-building around a bargain that reconciles the interests of federalists with those advocating for a more unitary state.
We are Ethiopians residing in Ohio. We write this letter to you with heavy hearts to show our solidarity with Amhara and other non-Oromo Christian minorities who were victims of the genocide in Oromia region of Ethiopia and denounce these inhumane acts, with the strongest terms.
Following the recent killing of the Oromo political activist and musician, Hachalu Hundenssa by Oromo hardliners, in the capital, Addis Ababa, there were several public demonstrations over his death. These protests were held mostly in the Oromia region. Soon, aided by the social media spin, the protest became an outlet of outrage at the government and the Amharas whom they refer as “Neftegna,” a derogatory term for Amhara warriors. Even though little was known about the details of the assassination at the time, it was concluded that “Neftegnas” were responsible. In a well-coordinated manner, incisive diction on Oromo Media Network (OMN) and call for retribution turned the protests into dangerous violence targeting ethnic Amharas in different Oromia regions. According to independent credible sources such as Washington Post, VOA, BBC, and eye-witness accounts, over 300 people have been brutally massacred, many of whom are Amharas & some vulnerable minority Christian groups. This number is feared to be much higher when an independent investigation is complete in the future.
The lack of transparency and utter callousness on the Ethiopian government’s part prompted us to alarm the international community, the US in particular, to investigate the extent of the genocide committed on Amharas and other vulnerable non-Oromo minority Christians by an Oromo organized youth terrorist group called, Qerro. This independent Investigation can shed light on the role of the government, particularly, in Oromia region, and bring the culprits to justice to prevent future occurrences.
In October 2019, following the distress call of their leader, Jawar Mohammed, on social media, this group (Qerro) killed 86 civilians, mostly Amharas. Efforts were made by the human rights watch group in Ethiopia to report the Qerro as a terrorist organization as it has an organizer, leader, and financier. They had a list of Amhara businesses and residents to target. Reports indicated that Jawar Mohammed has close ties with Egypt where he gets his funding. He also has close ties with the Tigrian liberation front (TPLF) and Islamic extremists. Through the media that he owns (Oromo Media Network), Mr. Mohammed called for revenge on Hachalu’s death and ensuing targeted attacks on the Amharas, who have nothing to do with the incident. He also has close ties with the government officials and members of the ruling Party (Prosperity party). Hence, during the attacks, the government forces, both federal and state, either sat back and watch nonchalantly or actively participated in the pillage and mayhem. We believe this was a well-coordinated genocide orchestrated by the aforementioned actors.
The actual extent of the genocide is not known. We believe that the Ethiopian government, particularly the Oromia regional government, acted irresponsibly and recklessly. Security forces turned a blind eye to the call of the victims and in some circumstances, when those under attack tried to organize themselves and attempted self-defense, security forces swiftly took action against them. Some are still hiding; others fled their homes in desperation, seeking refuge within churches as they face imminent threats of genocide in their villages.
Therefore, as American citizens of Ethiopian ancestry:
1) We urge the USA to put diplomatic pressure for an independent and thorough investigation of the genocide committed on the Amhara and non-Oromo Christian minorities.
2) We urge the USA to put pressure on PM Abiy Ahmed’s government to bring those who aided and abetted in these crimes to justice.
3) We also urge the USA to use its hegemony to pressure the United Nations to intercede on behalf of the Amharas and non-Oromo Christian minorities and dispatch UN peacekeeping forces to put a stop to this violent act against civilian Amharas.
4) We demand the immediate release of innocent political party members such as Eskinder Nega, Sentayehu Chekol, Engineer Yilkal Getnet, Lidetu Ayalew, and many others who are detained wrongfully.
Thus, it is with this urgency that we implore you to help us save lives and save Ethiopia before the current political situation led to its destruction. Please, stand on the right side of history and implement every political and diplomatic means at your disposal to stop the genocide in the Oromia region of Ethiopia immediately. Please initiate an independent investigation of the Amhara genocide and convince the UN to intervene.
Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.