The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Via Facsimile 202-647-1811
RE: The Brutal Crackdown of Peaceful Protesters in Ethiopia and A Call for U.S. Sanction Against the Rogue Regime in Ethiopia
Dear Secretary Kerry:
In the last nine months, spontaneous protests have erupted in many regions of Ethiopia – specifically in the Oromo region and most recently in Gondar and other Amhara regions that accounts for 75% of the Ethiopian population. It is widely reported that many peaceful protestors with legitimate grievances have been killed by government forces. According to the statement issued on August 13, 2016 by Human Rights Watch as many as 100 people have been killed.
More than 500 demonstrators are now estimated to have been killed by security forces in largely peaceful protests since November 2015.
Ethiopian Advocacy Network (EAN) is deeply troubled and outraged by the persistent killing of peaceful protesters by the repressive regime in Ethiopia. The regime’s security forces have very well documented history of using excessive lethal force to stifle any type of dissent.
Choking off all peaceful and legitimate avenues for dissent coupled with unaccountable institutions fuels violent extremism and increases the likelihood of long-term instability in Ethiopia.
In 2006 Vicki Huddleston, the Charge d’ Affairs at the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, announced the cancellation of future sales of Humvee military vehicles to Ethiopia because they were being misused to “disperse demonstrations.” Almost ten years later, it has come to our attention that guns and bullets supplied by the U.S. are being used
to kill peaceful demonstrators. We understand that there is a strong high level relationship between the Pentagon and Ethiopian Defense Forces. It is imperative for the U.S. to stop supplying tools of repression to the Ethiopian regime. In fact, we strongly believe that the mass killings at the hands of the brutal security forces should trigger the Leahy Law.
At this point, we urge the Obama Administration to sanction the Ethiopian regime by immediately cutting U.S. military aid and other forms of assistance except humanitarian aid that the regime uses to bolster its arsenals of repressions in many ways, including the recent massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters.
While we are astounded by the deafening silence of the Obama Administration, the minority regime in Ethiopia is interpreting U.S. acquiescence as endorsement of its criminal actions in Ethiopia. We, therefore, urge the U.S. to publicly condemn the carnage in the strongest possible terms and demand that the state sponsored terror against Ethiopian citizens and the egregious human rights violations come to an immediate halt.
On August 10, 2016 Zeid Raad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stating that “the use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromia and Amhara of course would be a very serious concern for us,” has called for an international investigation into the killings which the regime has promptly rejected. Such is the lawless nature of a regime that has a seat in the Security Council. The UN, the U.S., UK and EU should pressure the regime to allow international observers access to Ethiopia to investigate the murders.
Amnesty International in a statement issued on August 8, 2016 has called for “the prompt, impartial and effective investigation of the crimes and all those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice.”
We firmly believe that there can be no sustainable economic growth, peace and stability in Ethiopia without political reforms. respect for human rights and the rule of law. The U.S. should pursue a constructive policy that would advance fundamental reform that would lead to a genuine constitutional democracy through an all-inclusive transitional process. The U.S. should also use its leverage to pressure the regime to stop the bloodshed and enter into a constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.
The violent response to the peaceful protests is intolerable and the campaign of
repression by the brutal regime must end immediately to avert wide spread chaos that is bound to engulf the country and the region. All peaceful protesters that are being held for simply exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released.
In March of 2013 you stated that “it’s no coincidence that the places where we face some of the greatest national security challenges are the places where governments deny basic human rights to their nation’s people.”
Ethiopia, the most populous country and the regional power in the strategic Horn of Africa is the key player for the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. It is time for the U.S. to take a principled stand and reassess its “unholy alliance” with the repressive regime that is widely viewed as illegitimate in the eyes of the vast majority of the 100 million Ethiopian citizens.
The U.S., as the principal ally of the Ethiopian regime, should take the lead and issue a strongly worded public denouncement of the mass killings in Ethiopia and impose sanctions (visa restriction, asset freeze) against senior government officials – both civilian and military- who are implicated in the mass killings
In the absence of strong actions on the part of the U.S., Ethiopians are inclined to believe U.S. complicity in the massive human rights abuse and state sponsored terror being committed by the minority ethnic dictatorship in Ethiopia. U.S. policy makers should understand that, short of a serious commitment and intervention to avert an impending tragedy, the current volatile political situation in Ethiopia could potentially slide into civil war, ethnic cleansing and even genocide; thus, threatening peace and stability in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this very urgent matter.
We look forward to hearing from you very soon
Araya Amsalu, Ph.D.
cc: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Sharon M. Umber, Ethiopia Desk Officer
Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Rep. Christopher Smith, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Rep. Karen Bass, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Senator Bob Corker, Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
Senator Jeff Flake, Chairman Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Senator Edward J. Markey, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Ethiopian Advocacy Network is a grassroots organization that was formed in January 2015 by Ethiopian-Americans, Ethiopian activists and community organizers to promote democracy, human rights, and justice in Ethiopia through advocacy, civic education and grass roots mobilization. EAN has a global presence with members in the USA, Africa, Canada and Europe.
The Honorable John F. Kerry