The Tragic Death of 28 Ethiopians and U. S. Ethiopia Policy

Ethiopian protesters hold image of Eyasu Yikunoamlak (left) and Balcha Belete (right), who were two of the 28 victims of ISIS in Libya. 

By Daniel Teferra

On April 19, 2015, a violent, extremist group disclosed its video of the gruesome killing of 28 innocent young Ethiopians on the Mediterranean beach along the Libyan Coast. This senseless act has caused a huge resentment among Ethiopians towards the current Regime and the U. S. Ethiopia policy.

The present U. S. Policy toward Ethiopia is rooted in the London Meeting of May 27-28, 1991, whereby rebel decisions were imposed on the Ethiopian people, sanctioned by the United States Government. This was a violation of the fundamental principle of democracy, representation and playing by fair rules. For the last 24 years, the people of Ethiopia have been forced to live under a divisive and repressive regime.

American financial and diplomatic assistance has emboldened Ethiopia’s rulers to be more repressive and callous in the treatment of the Ethiopian people. As a result, poor and desperate young Ethiopians are braving the scorching heat of desert lands and the violent waves of the Mediterranean Sea to reach the shores of Europe in search of freedom and economic opportunities. Yet, the U. S. Government officials want us to believe that Ethiopia is a democracy and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. If this were true, so many young Ethiopians would not risk their lives to flee their country.

The people of Ethiopia, just like those in democratic countries, have the right to enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy. However, the people of Ethiopia have never had such an opportunity. While the Ethiopian people are still suffering, the U. S. Government unfortunately continues to support a repressive regime in Ethiopia at the expense of the legitimate aspiration of the Ethiopian people for freedom and democracy.

The U. S Government is capable of fostering a genuine transition to freedom and democracy in Ethiopia for mutual benefit of the two peoples of America and Ethiopia. BUT this capability can only be realized through a unified voice of Ethiopian Americans (including this Writer) to represent before the U. S. Congress the genuine aspiration of the Ethiopian people for freedom and democracy.

The 28 brave sons of Ethiopia did not die in vain. May they rest in peace.

*Emeritus Professor of Economics at Ferris State University;; UW-Whitewater.