Open Letter to the Ethiopian People and International Stakeholders

Ethiopiawinnet: Council for the Defense of Citizen Rights

We in Ethiopiawinnet, a rights-based global civic organization committed to a united and democratic Ethiopia, would once again like to bring to your attention the extremely grave crisis unfolding in Ethiopia particularly in the Oromo, Gonder and Gojam regions. The gross violations of human and democratic rights and atrocities committed by the Addis Ababa regime since it came to power in 1991. It has proved itself to be irredeemably totalitarian as attested by with alarming consistency by Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United States Department of State Human Rights Report on Ethiopia, 13 US Senators, and the European Parliament (Joint) Motion for a Resolution of the Situation in Ethiopia. It is a sad commentary that Ethiopians have been suffering these gross human rights violations on the watch of world leaders and the diplomatic community which have instead given the regime unreserved financial, material and diplomatic support.

In some localities, the resistance is rapidly assuming the disturbing form of a popular insurrection by ordinary citizens who have overcome their fear of terror in the hands a murderous tribal militia, called Agazi, for the past 25 years. As we write, the regime is mobilizing the national army and air force, and even requisitioning the commercial Ethiopian Airlines to transfer shock troops after the Prime Minister vowed to liquidate protesters by any means necessary. We lift our voice now to express our alarm at the prospects of a bloody civil war that is likely to make Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Rwanda child’s play.

We certainly are not being alarmist and only ask you to seriously ponder the following facts:

  • The TPLF regime, which claims to represent some 5% of ethnic Tigreans, has deliberately created ethnic Bantustans and fomented inter-ethnic and inter-communal hatred, albeit with some success;
  • The TPLF regime, which claims to have won 100% of the seats in Parliament last year, is considered illegitimate and roundly despised by at least 95% of the population as the current nationwide call for a new government would attest;
  • The TPLF regime, which controls all state agencies, the commanding heights of the private sector, and has turned the security services into a glorified TPLF militia, has a long history of state-sponsored mass murder and terror in such places as Addis Ababa, the Ogaden region, and the Gambella region; and
  • The TPLF regime has been acting with impunity knowing full well that its Western backers, which have provided ample support in the form of lethal aid and development assistance, will continue to shamelessly look away in the vainglorious hope of stamping international terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

To the Ethiopian People:

  • With admiration and respect, we support your gallant and peaceful struggle for a united country under the rule of law and an accountable government.
  • We wish to note the exemplary way protestors in Gonder and Gojam expressed their empathy with those in Oromia, Gambella, and elsewhere in the country thereby turning on its head the divide-and-rule strategy of the odious regime.
  • We urge you to intensify your exemplary and historic struggle for freedom by employing a multitude of tactics (such as boycotting regime-owned businesses) which would minimize the risk to human life while upholding the core values of Ethiopiawinnet.
  • We encourage you, the youth of Ethiopia, toward the immediate promise a transitional government which will soon be formed in a manner that is inclusive of all stakeholders to finally burry totalitarianism–of the Left or the Right.
  • To the TPLF Regime:
  • We would like to remind you that the government you captured by force will be taken away from you soon.
  • Your will to continue to forcibly impose yourself on a proud people is visibly wilting as millions overcome their fear of a mirage—your tiresomely choreographed propaganda of invincibility.
  • Having taken to heart that you are unequivocally rejected by every sector of society, you will do well to minimize the damage to the country, not to mention to learn from the Derg and ensure your future as ordinary citizens, by standing aside as a transitional government is formed and by preparing yourselves earnestly to the judgment of a Peace, Truth, and Reconciliation process.

To Donors, Allies, and Neighboring Governments:

  • Ethiopia is undeniably the anchor state of a region of uniformly failed states, and has historically played a responsible role in stabilizing the turbulent region. No one will benefit from its fragility by destabilizing it.
  • The shocking contempt for the Ethiopian people over the past twenty-five years by governments of powerful states in North America and the European Community, despite the self-serving charity that is state-to-state aid, is yet another sordid example of the failure of Western foreign policy toward the Middle
  • East and Africa. As an expression of your displeasure with the disastrous performance of this client regime, please suspend all lethal aid and all non-emergency financial aid–as was temporarily done after the 2005 electoral debacle.
  • The TPLF regime must be told, in no uncertain terms, that it has to suspend its marital law and immediately remove tanks, gunships, and stockpiles of weaponized chemicals from the streets. It must be told to stop criminalizing legitimate dissent, release all political prisoners, and consent to a transitional arrangement.
  • The Security Council of the United Nations must take decisive and timely action, including enforcing the demand of the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights to allow international observers to investigate the killings which have now exceed 600 which are widely expected to rise dramatically as things escalate.

To Ethiopians in the Diaspora:

  • We urge you to continue exercising your advocacy rights and obligations in your adopted countries to galvanize support for the freedom struggle from well-meaning people, to demand that your political representatives raise the plight of the Ethiopian people with the foreign policy establishment as well as with the international donor agencies.
  • We plead with you to focus on the common good by reaching out to all Ethiopians to exploit this window of opportunity to end tyranny for good, and also to provide financial support for the victims of state violence. You must also support various initiatives underway to bring together civic organizations, political organizations, and notable compatriots to craft a national agenda for a post-TPLF transitional government.
  • Ethiopiawinnet stands ready to work with other civic groups to spearhead such effort immediately. We need to save our beloved country by forging consensus toward an all-party conference. 

Thank you.