የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ የጋራ ትግል ሸንጎ [ሸንጎ] ኦፊሴላዊ ድረ ገፅ

Joint Letter to President Obama on Ethiopia and Kenya

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We welcome your decision to visit sub-Saharan Africa once again, and we applaud your support for African human rights defenders through your Stand with Civil Society initiative. The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held last year demonstrated your commitment to engage constructively with leaders on a number of key economic, political and security issues. Your upcoming trip to Ethiopia and Kenya offers another timely opportunity to demonstrate America's commitment to helping to build strong democratic institutions to benefit the continent's one billion citizens.

Ethiopia and Kenya face grave and worsening human rights challenges, and we trust those issues will be at the forefront of your discussions. The longstanding crackdown on human rights groups and journalists in Ethiopia and the use of so-called "anti-terror" laws to stifle the legitimate work of civil society actors in both Kenya and Ethiopia underscore their overall failure to adhere to democratic principles and international human rights standards.

For example, in April 2014, six Ethiopian bloggers and three journalists associated with the Zone 9 blogging collective were accused of "creating serious risk to the safety or health of the public" and arrested under the country's vague anti-terrorism law. While we welcome the recent release of five of those arrested, four remain behind bars today. Also, on April 7 of this year, two Kenyan human rights groups, Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and Haki Africa -- with which many international human rights groups and donors have worked for many years -- were officially listed by the government as "Entities Suspected to be Associated with Al-Shabaab." As a result, their bank accounts remain frozen, and the NGO Coordination Board has commenced investigations into these two prominent groups, which may well lead to their deregistration. These recent examples illustrate a much broader and worrying trend in the region that affects the ability of civil society to freely operate without governmental intimidation or harassment.  

We believe it imperative that you take the opportunity of your visits to meet publicly with pro-democracy and human rights activists, especially those at risk. By doing so, you would be affirming your solidarity with them, while demonstrating the concern we know you share regarding the troublesome developments described above. You would also call attention to the need to protect shrinking civic space in Kenya, Ethiopia, and the broader region, thereby sending a strong message that your administration remains committed to integrating human rights and good governance concerns into its official bilateral relations with all nations. Most importantly, meeting with activists will provide them with the necessary protection as they go about working on behalf of the same human rights issues the United States stands behind.

We would be pleased to work with you and your staff on arranging such a meeting during your upcoming trip, including helping to identify civil society groups and other key issues to address.

Thank you for your time and for your thoughtful consideration of these important issues.

Sincere regards,

Front Line Defenders (Global)

Open Society Foundations (Global)

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (Global)

World Movement for Democracy (Global)

 

Africa Center for Peace and Democracy (Africa Regional)

Africa Freedom of Information Center (Uganda)

American Jewish World Service (Global)

Atrocities Watch Africa (Africa Regional)

AU We Want Coalition (Africa Regional)

BudgIt (Nigeria)

Bulawayo Agenda (Zimbabwe)

Centre for Constitutional Governance (Nigeria)

Center for the Development of People (Malawi)

Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (Nigeria)

Civil Society Associations Gambia

Coalition for Change (The Gambia)

Council for Global Equality (Global)

Counseling Services Unit (Zimbabwe)

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (East Africa Regional)

FAHAMU-Networks for Social Justice (Africa Regional)

Federation of Women Lawyers (Kenya)

Freedom House (Global)

Gender Awareness Trust (Nigeria)

Grace to Heal (Zimbabwe)

Human Rights Foundation (Global)

Human Rights Watch (Global)

Independent Advocacy Project (Nigeria)

InformAction (Kenya)

Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (Kenya)

Media Initiative for Open Governance in Uganda (Uganda)

Muslims for Human Rights (Kenya)

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (Kenya)

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (Uganda)

New Initiative for Social Development (Nigeria)

Open Democracy Advice Center (Global)

OpenTheGovernment.org (Global)

PEN American Center (Global)

Pan African Lawyer's Union (Africa Regional)

Publish What You Pay (Global)

Sexual Minorities Uganda (Uganda)

Shalom Project (Zimbabwe)

Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia

State of the African Union (Africa Regional)

Strategic Empowerment & Mediation Agency (Nigeria)

South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (South Sudan)

Sudan Social Development Organization (Sudan)

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Zimbabwe)

 

 

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Open Letter to President Barack Obama

June 22, 2015

To: President Barack Obama, President of the United States

Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State, United States of America

From: Ethiopian People’s Congress for United Struggle (SHENGO)

Subject: President Barack Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

“If the dignity of the individual is upheld across Africa, then I believe Americans will be more free as well, because I believe that none of us are fully free when others in the human family remain shackled by poverty or disease or oppression…Governments that respect the rights of their citizens and abide by the rule of law do better, grow faster.”

President Obama, South Africa, June 30, 2013

Dear Mr. President,

The Ethiopian People's Congress for United Struggle (SHENGO) wishes to express deep concern about your decision to visit Ethiopia at a time when the vast majority of Ethiopia’s 100 million people live in an environment of fear, repression, dejection and exclusion by their own government and chronic poverty. The plethora of evidence on the ground shows unequivocally that civil society, independent media and political competition and the chance to set up private businesses and to gain employment on merit have been thwarted by a narrow band of ethnic elites that has captured the state and the national economy. The U.S. Department of State and numerous human rights organizations offer evidence of unprecedented and persistent human rights violations including summary executions and jailing of political leaders and members, the abrogation of the rule of law, the undermining of public trust in their government institutions and public officials. By your own definition, the Ethiopian government is not one that respects the “dignity of individual citizens or respects the rights of its citizens or abides by the rule of law,” values that you echo in public.

SHENGO recognizes the fact that in a region dotted by failed and failing states, internal displacement of millions, unabated migration and human trafficking, endemic poverty and hopelessness, civil conflict and terrorism, the government of the United States considers the Ethiopian government as a reliable ally and friend in the war against terrorism.  History teaches

us that, regardless of the government in power in either country, U.S. and Ethiopian relations span more than 100 years and will endure for generations to come. We are therefore skeptical that, in the long term, the Ethiopian government that suppresses and oppresses its own citizens under the pretext of Anti-terrorism will serve as a bastion of stability by providing the institutional and policy basis for sustainable and equitable growth for Ethiopia’s millions.

Mr. President,

While Africans, including Ethiopians welcome America’s engagement, especially in the advancement of human rights, the rule of law and democracy and in building prosperous societies, we are concerned that your proposed visit to Ethiopia is most likely to do the opposite. It will embolden the single party state that uses Anti-Terrorism and Charities and Societies Proclamations to punish all forms of dissent. Andrew Beatty of AFP put the risks your visit entails succinctly in his comment on June 20, 2015. “U.S. President Barack Obama will in late July become the first sitting American leader to visit Ethiopia and the Headquarters of the African Union” where he plans to “meet with Ethiopian government and AU leaders.” As you know, the African Union is the only organization that served the Ethiopian government by sending an observation team to a make-believe Parliamentary Election best described as a “sham” and a non-event. For this reason and as noted by Mr. Beatty, “human rights groups have questioned the visit to Kenya, but are also asking why Obama is visiting Ethiopia so soon after a contested,” and we add, flawed “election in which the ruling party won 100 percent of the votes” in succession.

Ethiopia’s case is reminiscent of the old Soviet system; and your visit will be taken as an approval that the single party state is acceptable to the U.S. as long as it serves as the “policeman” in the Horn of Africa. We do not believe that you want generations of Ethiopians to remember you as the leader of the “free world” who gave a stamp of approval to a dictatorship that maims , murders, jails and forces to flee all those who stand for freedom, justice, the rule of law and democracy and is unrepentant in compromising Ethiopia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Mr. President,

Equally, SHENGO shares views expressed by Jeffrey Smith of the Robert Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights who said, “The decision by President Obama to travel to Ethiopia, which has seen three opposition party members murdered this week alone, is very troubling and inconsistent with American values of respect for human rights, civil society, political pluralism and democracy.” We should like to add that over the past few weeks alone the ruling party has hunted down and jailed 45 leaders and members of the All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) and is said to have murdered an unknown number of political and human rights activists. Accordingly, your visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong signal that the Government of the United States chooses to stand more firmly on the side of African dictators rather than on the side of those who advance

freedom, respect for human and civil rights, the rule of law and ultimately democracy. In the long run, only the emergence of a just, all inclusive, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia will serve as a beacon of stability, unity in diversity, Anti-terrorism and a symbol of good governance in the Horn of Africa. Sadly, your visit reinforces the perception among the vast majority of Ethiopia’s 100 million citizens that their quest for freedom, respect for human rights, national sovereignty, inclusion and genuine democracy is secondary to America’s short-term interests of fighting against and containing terrorism. This is the reason why we urge you to reconsider your visit. If your visit takes place as proposed, there is very little doubt that the Ethiopia’s Orwellian, Surveillance and corrupt State--that spies on its citizens at home and abroad using a 5 to 1 spy network---will assume the visit as a vindication and endorsement of legitimacy and use this as a license to repress and punish with impunity.

Mr. President,

In April this year, our organization joined renowned Human Rights organizations, Ethiopian- Americans and others and expressed our outrage concerning wrongful utterances and declarations conveyed by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman who gave a stamp of approval to one of the most oppressive governments on the planet during an official visit to Addis Ababa, April 16, 2015. Her statement that “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair, credible, open and inclusive in ways that Ethiopia has moved forward in strengthening its democracy” is utterly baseless, untrue, demeaning to Ethiopians and harmful to America’s long-term interests. As we predicted, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the minority ethnic group that dominates the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and in power since 1991, run against itself and declared that it won 442 of 547 Parliamentary seats in a cycle of sham elections boycotted by 30 opposition parties and deliberate dismantlement of others. We have no doubt the remaining seats whose strategic purpose is to appease the donor and diplomatic community will be allocated on the basis of ethnic and party loyalty.

In response to Ms. Sherman’s incredible statements, human rights groups such as Amnesty International, U.S.A, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Freedom Now, Ethiopian Human Rights Project and International Rivers co- signed and sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on April 17, 2015. “We are deeply troubled over the comments made by Under Secretary Wendy Sherman yesterday in Addis Ababa. The Under Secretary’s unfortunate statement calling Ethiopia a democracy puts the United States government on record as endorsing a government that systematically suppresses the fundamental rights of its citizens. Political pluralism and the ability of Ethiopians to freely express themselves, associate, and participate in peaceful assembly is far more restricted today than ten years ago under the same government, reflecting a dramatic deterioration in the government’s respect for fundamental civil and political rights. Since 2005, the ruling party’s dominance of the political landscape, repression of political opposition parties and restrictions on media and civil society have only increased.   Under Secretary Sherman’s comments are baffling to any observer of developments in Ethiopia and contradict the assessments of human rights organizations and even other governments. Her statements also undermine the courageous work of those pushing for a freer Ethiopia, many of whom are now imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights.” Your visit reinforces the perception that human rights, the rule of law and democracy are secondary in the execution of America’s foreign policy not only in Ethiopia but also the rest of Africa. At the same time, we take your word that you are committed to free and independent media and to the critical role of civil society in building democratic institutions. Allow us to flag the fact that the Ethiopian government is committed to a rigid and defiant policy that, regardless of global outcry, free and independent media and civil society won’t happen under its watch. This places your leadership in an awkward position.

On April 21, 2015, CPJ reported that “Eritrea and Ethiopia are the most censored nations in the world.” Last year, CPJ reported “A state crackdown on independent publications and bloggers in Ethiopia this year more than doubled the number of journalists imprisoned to 17, from seven the previous year, and prompted several journalists to flee into exile.” In 2014, the U.S. Department of State reported that Ethiopia is a source and destination for men, women and children “subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.” Ethiopian girls as young as 8 years of age are subjected to “domestic servitude throughout the Middle East, as well as in the Sudan and South Sudan.” This and other reports indicate that “The central market in Addis Ababa is home to the largest collection of brothels in Africa.”

Mr. President,

You will agree with us that no country will prosper if its youth is subjected to repression and oppression, to lack of opportunities at home and to under-reported instability. The vast majority of Ethiopians, many born after the current government took power in 1991, are robbed of their dignity in two ways: they are not free to demand justice or to find employment at home; and they face uncertain and degrading conditions when they leave their homes in search of opportunities abroad. The beheading and wholesale massacre of 30 Ethiopian Christians by ISIS/Libya because of their faith and nationality attests to debilitating poverty and repression at home. Petrol bombing of Ethiopians and other killings in South Africa reinforce the primary reason why they are compelled to leave Ethiopia in the first place. According to Yemeni government sources and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) one million Ethiopian refugees are trapped in war torn Yemen. Many have been killed and a large number have been wounded. In November 2013, the Government of Saudi Arabia expelled 163,000 Ethiopians. Clearly huge aid has done little and will do little to accommodate the needs of the poor. This is among the numerous bad governance reasons why millions of Ethiopians fear their leaders and question the legitimacy of their own government accusing it that it is hopelessly corrupt and does not defend their rights and denies them freedom, justice and opportunities. The government’s response to protests and dissent is to murder selectively, arrest, jail and evict citizens. As the Department of State documents year after year, the Ethiopian government considers any peaceful dissent, criticism of the government and protest for justice and accountability, the rule of law and democracy as a form of “terrorism.” Ethiopia has one of the highest populations of political prisoners in the world.

Mr. President,

Ethiopians “are shackled by debilitating poverty “and mal-distribution of incomes and wealth as well as by draconian laws that keep them trapped. There is no single independent institution left to speak on their behalf. In “Journalism is not a crime” January 22, 2015, Human Rights Watch had reported as follows. “The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media has created a bleak landscape for free expression ahead of the May 2015 general elections. In the past year, six privately owned publications closed after government harassment; at least 22 journalists, bloggers and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country in fear of being arrested under repressive laws.” This is the reason why independent media and civil society did not play any role in the May elections. Large amounts of money from aid, remittances and export earnings are stolen and taken out of the country each year; and there is no single institution to expose the bleeding. You will agree with us that sustainable and equitable development will not be attainable if the bleeding from corruption and illicit outflow continues and if political reform does not take place soon.

The U.S. Department of State “criticized the Ethiopian high court’s decision in January this year to proceed with the trial of journalists and Bloggers saying that it “undermines a free and open media environment.” Their case illustrates the enormous hurdles the new generation of Ethiopians face in demanding respect for their rights and freedoms that the U.S. and other Western democracies say are essential in lifting people out of poverty and oppression. The Ethiopian government continues to refuse to practice provisions of human rights contained in its own constitution. “Ethiopia is a multi-party democracy on paper” only. Having “won 100 percent of the votes” again, the ruling party will dominate parliament for the next five years. The façade of “free, fair and credible” last May did absolutely nothing to change single party preponderance and to move the country towards genuine democracy.

Mr. President,

You had said over and over again during your visits to Africa, North Africa and Asia that the United States is committed to the fundamental principle that advancement of human freedom enshrined in the rule of law is critical for durable peace, stability, sustainable and equitable development; and that free, independent and prosperous people are more likely to defend themselves and their countries against terrorism than people who are oppressed and marginalized by their own governments. We agree with these principles. However, Ethiopia’s federal police and judicial system is heavily politicized. The party and its endowments, a selected few individuals and the state dominate the national economy. The World Economic Forum rated Ethiopia 2.7 out of “a best possible score of 7” of its judicial system. This rating converges with other low scores including Freedom House’s latest rating of Ethiopia as among the “least free in the world.” The Ethiopian government dismisses these ratings as unacceptable. “The Ethiopian government has rejected criticism from Western governments, including the Department of State and human rights groups about the handling of the Bloggers” and other cases including massive displacements of indigenous people from their ancestral lands. We feel strongly that exclusion on the basis of ethnicity, religion and political affiliation and massive displacement of citizens from their lands contribute to instability, civil unrest and terrorism. Criminalization of independent media and civil society is detrimental to Ethiopia’s democratization. The crowding out of Ethiopia’s nascent private sector diminishes productivity and increased  employment. These are real.

Mr. President,

Close to your heart, we feel deeply that the criminalization of freedom of the press, civil society and political pluralism is against the long-term interests of the Ethiopian and American people and should not be given a stamp of approval for short term gains. Our organization reiterates in the strongest terms possible that it recognizes, acknowledges and supports the notion that terrorism in the Horn of Africa poses an existential threat to countries in the region, the U.S. and the World; and should be stopped.  We respectfully disagree that the way to deter terrorism is by a governing elite and state machinery that is bolstered by massive foreign aid to terrorize innocent people. It is tragic for us to witness this unexpected and dangerous convergence between a self-serving ethnic elite and globalization.

Mr. President,

As a President who cares deeply about the wellbeing of young people, especially girls, we wish to flag to you the plight of young people who face a dim future in their country and continue to leave in droves. This condition is facilitated by degrading human trafficking enterprises with government license and by illegal traffickers that sustain unprecedented level of human exodus of young girls and boys who leave Ethiopia at a rate unheard of in the country’s history. The Ethiopian government estimates that each day 1,500 young Ethiopians leave the country legally and another 3,500 through human smuggling. The mathematics of this many young people fleeing from Ethiopia depicts poor, exclusionary and oppressive governance. Clearly,  the benefits of Ethiopia’s growth have not been distributed fairly and justly. We can tell you with full confidence that Ethiopia’s youth see no hope in their own country’s future where a few elites at the top amass incomes and wealth that is best described as shameful and slanderous. The government of Ethiopia has done practically nothing to address this social crisis. By comparison, all countries that are genuine democracies make every effort to meet the aspirations and hopes of their people. They create jobs and other opportunities so that the country does not hemorrhage from the loss of its human capital. Don’t you agree with us that Ethiopia’s youth deserve to know your views and America’s commitment to sustainable and equitable growth whose social anchor are Ethiopia’s citizens, especially its youth?

Mr. President,

SHENGO wishes to highlight the fundamental and enduring principle that relations between the American and Ethiopian people span more than 100 years; and will endure for hundreds of years regardless of regime change. Accordingly, we urge you as leader and the government of the United States to stand firm on the side of the Ethiopian people by being more forthcoming on the need to respect freedom and human rights, justice, equality, the rule of law and democracy for all of the Ethiopian people. We feel strongly that America’s enduring contribution to Ethiopia and the rest of Africa is not to give aid that is most often stolen or wasted or to support and bankroll self-serving elites and dictators who provide services for money and serve short term interests. Rather, it is to demonstrate unbridled commitment in promoting America’s core values of good governance, the rule of law, equitable access to social and economic opportunities, advancement of civil society, independent and free media and political pluralism. In this connection, we urge you to use America’s enormous leverage and consider the following specific areas of opportunity for reform and action by the Ethiopian government:

1.            Immediate release of political prisoners, journalists and Bloggers.

2.            Rescind the draconian Anti-Terrorism and CSO Proclamations and

3.            Condition future U.S. intelligence, military, humanitarian and development assistance to Ethiopian government commitment to respect human rights, political, civil and religious freedom and free and independent media, the rule of law and democratization.

We are confident that when free from repression and oppression by their own government, the people of Ethiopia will do all in their power to defend themselves against terrorism.

We thank you for your understanding and attention to this urgent matter. Respectfull

Taye Zegeye, PhD Chairperson

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በዋሽንግተን ዲሲ የጋራ ኮንፈረንስ ሊደረግ ነው

የኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ የሽግግር ምክር ቤት፣ የኢትዮ ጵያ  ሕዝብ የጋራ ትግል ሸንጎ ፣ የኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ ወጣቶች ንቅናቄና የኢትዮጵያ ሙስሊሞች ሰላማዊ ንቅናቄ ደጋፊዎች የጋራ ኮንፈረንስ በመጪው ሀምሌ  July 2 ዋሽንግተን ዲሲ ላይ እንደሚያደርጉ ታወቀ። ለዝርዝሩ ይህን ይጫኑ

 

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ውጤቱ ምን ሊሆን እንደሚችል ከወዲሁ የሚታወቀው የህወሓት/ኢህአዴግ የምርጫ ድራማን አስመልክቶ የተሰጠ የጋራ መግለጫ

የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ነጻነቱን ተነፍጎ ባገር በቀሉ የወያኔ አፓርታይድ አገዛዝ ስረ ወድቆ ፍዳውን እያየ ነው። ስርአቱ ላለፉት 24 አመታት በሃገራችን ውሰጥ በፈጠራቸው ፖለቲካዊ፤ ማህበራዊ፤ ኢኮኖሚያዊና ስነልቦናዊ ቀውሶች ምክንያት ተተኪው ወጣት ትውልድ ባስደንጋጭ ሁኔታ በየጊዜው አገሩን ጥሎ ሲወጣ በባህር ውስጥ በመስመጥና፤ ከዛም የተረፈው በአፍሪካና በአረብ አገሮች እጅግ አሰቃቂ ለሆኑ ውርደት ስቃይና ግድያ ተጋልጧል።

ከምርጫ ሂደት ጋር በተያያዘ፤ ምርጫውን ተከትሎ ሊፈጠር የሚችለውን የህዝብ አመጽ አስቀድሞ ለማምከን በሚል ስልት በሀገር ውስጥ የሚገኙ ወጣቶችን ወጣት በመሆናቸው ምክንያት ብቻ በሺዎች የሚቆጠሩ በመታፈስና ወደ ተለያዩ እስር ቤቶች በመታጎር ላይ ናቸው። በመላው አገሪቱ ውስጥ የፖለቲካ አመራር አካላትም ይሁኑ አባላት በእስርና ወከባ ላይ ይገኛሉ። በአጠቃላይ የምርጫ ምህዳሩ ዝግ መሆኑ እየተገለጸ በሚገኝበት ሂደት ውስጥ ያለነጻነት ነጻና ፍትሃዊ ምርጫ ማድረግ ስለማይቻል ህዝባችንን ወደ ፍትሃዊና ዲሞክራሲዊ ስርአት የሚያሸጋግረው ውጤት ይገኛል ብለን አናምንም።

በማንኛውም አገር በሚደረጉ የምርጫ ሂደት ላይ የጎላ ሚና ሊጫወቱ የሚችሉ ተቋማትና ድርጅታዊ እንቅስቃሴዎች ምን አህል እንደታፈኑ በአጭሩ በማስረጃ ለማስደገፍ ያህል፤ በርካታ የህዝብ ወገንተኛና የተቃዋሚ ድርጅት መሪዎች፤ አባላትና ደጋፊዎቻቸው፤ ጋዜጠኞች ጦማሪያን በግፍ ታስረው በድቅድቅ ጨለማ በእስር ቤት ውስጥ ባስቸጋሪ ሁኔታ ላይ ይገኛሉ። ኢትዮጵያውያን ሙስሊሞች ከውጭ የመጣ መንግሥታዊ ሃይማኖት ሊጫንብን አይገባም በማለታቸው ብቻ መሪዎቻቸው በአሸባሪነት ተፈርጀው በእስር ቤት እየተሰቃዩ ነው። ህወሓት ከጥንስሱ፤ የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን፤ የኢትዮጵያ አንድነት መሰረት ነው ከሚል መነሻ፤ በዋና ጠላትነት በመፈረጅ መንበረ ስልጣኑን ከመቆጣጠሩ በፊትና በሗላ በካህናት፤ ምእመናንና በታሪክ ላይ ተከታታይና ከፍተኛ ወንጀል በመፈጸም ላይ ነው። የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች እንዲፈርሱ ሆነዋል። ተቃዋሚውን የሚደግፉ ዜጎች ሥራ አያገኙም፤ ከሥራም ይባረራሉ። እጩነት በእጣ ሆኗል። የምርጫ ቦርዱ በአገዛዙ ቁጥጥር ሥር ነው። ተቃዋሚዎች በነፃነት ተንቀሳቅሰው ማደራጀት አይችሉም። ዓለም አቀፍ የምርጫ ታዛቢዎች የሉም። መገናኛ ብዙሃንን አገዛዙ ተቆጣጥሮታል። ጋዜጠኞች ተሰደዋል። ነፃ የፍትኅ ተቋም የለም። ሰብዓዊ መብትን እያፈነ ሽብርተኝነትን እዋጋለሁ በሚል ሰበብ ከምዕራቡ ዓለም በሚያገኘው ዕርዳታ ተቃዋሚውን ያፍናል፤ ምዕራባውያንን ያሞኛል። እነኚህን መሰረታዊ ችግሮች በመረዳት ለመጀመሪያ ጊዜ የአውሮፓ የጋራ ማህበር በምርጫው አንደማይሳተፍ ይፋ አድርጓል።

ከላይ በጥቂቱ የተዘረዘሩትን ኩነቶች ስንገነዘብ የምርጫው ውጤት አስቀድሞ መታወቁን ለማወቅ አዳጋች አይሆንም። አምባገነኑ የወያኔ አገዛዝ ይህንን ምርጫ ለይስሙላ ዲሞክራሲ ለውጭ መንግስታት ገጸ በረከት ለማቅረብና ዓለም አቀፍ እውቅና በማግኘት ለቀጣይ ተመሳሳይ አስርተ ዓመታት ሀገሪቷን በመግዛት የስልጣን ጥሙን ሊያረካበት የተዘጋጀ መሆኑን በግልጽ እንረዳለን።

ህዝባችን ላለፉት 24 አመታት ያለነጻነት በወያኔ የግፍ አገዛዝ ስር ፍዳውን በሚያይበት በዚህ ወሳኝ ወቀት ስርአቱን ለማስወገድ ህዝብን መሰረት ያደረገ ባንድ ማከል የሚንቀሳቀስ ሁሉን አቀፍ ያማራጭ አካል በማቋቋም የህዝባችንን እምቢተኝነት በተማከለ ሁኔታ ለመምራት የተቃዋሚው ኃይል በሙሉ ባስቸኳይ ተሰባስቦ አማራጭ ኃይል ሆኖ መቅረብ የወቅቱ ጥያቄ መሆኑን በመረዳት የእንሰባሰብ ጥሪያችንን እናቀርባለን።

ቀጥለው የተዘረዘሩት ድርጅቶች፤ ከላይ የተገለፁትን ችግሮች የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ለነፃነቱ የሚያካሂደው ትግል ላይ የሚያስከትሉትን አስከፊ አደጋዎች ከወዲሁ በመረዳት፤ በዋነኝነት ደግሞ ብሄራዊና ወቅታዊ ጉዳዮችን በማስቀደም፤ የአማራጭ ሃይል ባስቸኳይ የሚቋቋምበትን ሁኔታዎች ለማመቻቸት ከፍተኛ ጥረት በማድረግ ላይ መሆናቸውን እየገለፅን፤ ሁሉም የፓለቲካ ድርጅቶች የጉዳዩን አሳሳቢነት በመረዳት የጋራ አቋም ላይ እንዲደርሱ ጥሪያችንን በአክብሮት እናቀርባለን።

በዚህ አጋጣሚ ነጻነት ናፋቂ ለሆነው ወገናችን ለማሳሰብ የምንወደው፤ ይህ መሰረታዊ ጉዳይ የፖለቲካ ድርጅቶች ሀላፊነት ብቻ አለመሆኑን ተገንዝቦ አገርና ህዝብን ለነጻነት ለማብቃት አስፈላጊውን ተሳትፎ እንዲያደርግ አገራዊ ጥሪያችንን በአክብሮት እናስተላልፋለን።

ይህን አደገኛ የቁልቁለት ጉዞ እንዲገታ በጋራ እንቁም!

የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ የጋራ ትግል ሸንጎ (SHENGO)

የኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ የሽግግር ምክር ቤት (ENTC)

የኢትዮጵያ ሙስሊሞች ሰላማዊ ንቅናቄ ደጋፊዎች ህብረት (UEM-PMSG)

የኢትዮጵያ ወጣቶች ብሄራዊ ንቅናቄ (EYNM)

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Joint Letter To President Obama

 

May 5, 2015

To: President Barack Obama, President of the United States

From: Concerned Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans

Subject: Stamp of Approval to Single-Party Dictatorship in Ethiopia

“If the dignity of the individual is upheld across Africa, then I believe Americans will be more free as well, because I believe that none of us are fully free when others in the human family remain shackled by poverty or disease or oppression…Governments that respect the rights of their citizens and abide by the rule of law do better, grow faster.”

                                                                               President Obama, South Africa, June 30, 2013

Dear Mr. President,

It is with sheer dismay, deep disappointment and disbelief that millions of Ethiopians within and outside Ethiopia heard Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman has given a stamp of approval to one of the most oppressive governments on the planet during an official visit to Addis Ababa, April 16, 2015. Her statement that “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair, credible, open and inclusive in ways that Ethiopia has moved forward in strengthening its democracy” is utterly baseless and untrue. At least 30 opposition parties have boycotted the May 2015 Parliamentary Elections. Multiethnic parties have been crushed and replaced by parties that are loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the minority ethnic group that dominates the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In effect, the ruling party is running against itself.

All fair minded and objective human rights groups such as Amnesty International, U.S.A, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Freedom Now, Ethiopian Human Rights Project, International Rivers and others provide a plethora of evidence that Ethiopia’s political, social and religious climate has deteriorated over the past five years.

We agree with the statement six of the above seven organizations cosigned and sent to Secretary of State John Kerry on April 17, 2015. “We are deeply troubled over the comments made by Under Secretary Wendy Sherman recently in Addis Ababa. The Under Secretary’s unfortunate statement calling Ethiopia a democracy puts the United States government on record as endorsing a government that systematically suppresses the fundamental rights of its citizens. Political pluralism and the ability of Ethiopians to freely express themselves, associate, and participate in peaceful assembly is far more restricted today than ten years ago under the same government, reflecting a dramatic deterioration in the government’s respect for fundamental civil and political rights. Since 2005, the ruling party’s dominance of the political landscape, repression of political opposition parties and restrictions on media and civil society have only increased.

Under Secretary Sherman’s comments are baffling to any observer of developments in Ethiopia and contradict the assessments of human rights organizations and even other governments. Her statements also undermine the courageous work of those pushing for a freer Ethiopia, many of whom are now imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights.”

From its inception, the TPLF dominated government was determined to rule Ethiopia by manipulating one group against another. For example, in its early days, it encouraged Muslims to demean and fight  Christians. It bifurcated the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and politicized its spiritual leadership: we now have two synods, one in Ethiopia and another abroad. The government instigated the burning of more than 30 Churches. In one case, a local church hosting Sunday Church services was burned to the ground while people were praying. Over the past three years, the Ethiopian government began an all-out assault on members and leaders of the Muslim faith. More specifically, Ethiopian members of the Muslim faith have been persecuted, beaten, harassed and several of them killed by government security forces only for demanding the realization of their fundamental and constitutional rights of religious freedom and for voicing against the imposition of an 'Islamic' sect on their community imported from outside. Their leaders who initially represented them in the negotiations with the Ethiopian government have been languishing in jail without justice for the past three years. Spiritual leaders and members of this two major faiths wish to coexist with one another as they have done for 1,400 years. The Ethiopian government has a constitutional obligation on non-interference in the affairs of both religions.

On April 21, 2015, CPJ reported that “Eritrea and Ethiopia are the most censored nations in the world.” Last year, CPJ reported “A state crackdown on independent publications and bloggers in Ethiopia this year more than doubled the number of journalists imprisoned to 17, from seven the previous year, and prompted several journalists to flee into exile.” In 2014, the U.S. Department of State reported that Ethiopia is a  source and destination for men, women and children “subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.” Ethiopian girls as young as 8 years of age are subjected to “domestic servitude throughout the Middle East, as well as in the Sudan and South Sudan.” This and other reports indicate that “The central market in Addis Ababa is home to the largest collection of brothels in Africa.”

Mr. President,

The vast majority of Ethiopians, most born after the current government took power in 1991 are robbed of their dignity in two ways: they are not free to demand justice or to find employment at home; and they  face uncertain and degrading conditions when they leave their homes in search of opportunities abroad.

The beheading and wholesale massacre of 30 Ethiopian Christians by ISIS/Libya because of their faith and nationality attests to debilitating poverty and repression at home. Petrol bombing of Ethiopians and other killings in South Africa reinforce the primary reason why they leave Ethiopia in the first place. According to Yemeni government sources and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) one million Ethiopian refugees are trapped in war torn Yemen. Many have been killed and a large number have been wounded. In November 2013, the Government of Saudi Arabia expelled 163,000 Ethiopians.

In the aftermath of the slayings in Libya, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians across the globe mourned and prayed for the dead and questioned the legitimacy of their own government accusing it that it does not

defend their rights and denies them freedom, justice and opportunities. Protesters lamented on their slogans, “Do we have a government that cares? Where is it and what does it stand for?” The Minister of Foreign Affairs acknowledged that among the culprits were Ethiopian “human traffickers” who make millions. “You (traffickers) have blood in your hands.” There was no acknowledgement that the government itself is the primary driver of the injustice. His rhetorical question, “Haven’t you had enough? Don’t you  have feelings for your fellow brothers and sisters?” begs the question if Ethiopians do not deserve a change in government and leadership now. Contrary to Ms. Sherman’s assertions, the government responded to expression of dissent by arresting hundreds of protestors who belong to the Blue Party under the pretext of inciting unrest.

During the peaceful demonstrations, the Ethiopian government instructed federal police and security agents to beat up and club peaceful protestors grieving for the dead and demanding answers and accountability. Beyond the symbolic rhetoric and call for three days of national mourning, the governing                           party shows no sign of letting up its repressive deeds against peaceful protestors. Even at a time of national humiliation and mourning the Ethiopian government considers any peaceful dissent, criticism of the government and protest for justice and accountability, the rule of law and democracy as a form of “terrorism.” Ethiopia has one of the highest populations of political prisoners in the world. The draconian 2009 Anti-Terrorism and Charities and Societies Proclamations, that the U.S. Department of State had identified as blunt instruments to suppress dissent are still intact.

Mr. President,

Ethiopians “are shackled by debilitating poverty “and mal-distribution of incomes and wealth as well as by draconian laws that keep them trapped. There is no single independent institution left to speak on their behalf. In “Journalism is not a crime” January 22, 2015, Human Rights Watch reported as follows. “The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media has created a bleak landscape for free expression ahead of the May 2015 general elections. In the past year, six privately owned publications closed after government harassment; at least 22 journalists, bloggers and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country in fear of being arrested under repressive laws.” Clearly, they can’t play any role in the May elections, in defending human rights or in reporting about the massive corruption and illicit outflow of funds that are bleeding the country.

“In Ethiopia, a Chilling Message” April 21, 2015, the Washington Post highlighted the plight of the Zone 9 bloggers arrested during Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Ethiopia last year. The U.S. Department of State “criticized the Ethiopian high court’s decision in January to proceed with the trial saying that it “undermines a free and open media environment.” Their case illustrates the enormous hurdles the new generation of Ethiopians face in demanding their rights and freedoms that the U.S. and other Western democracies say are essential in lifting people out of poverty and oppression. The Ethiopian government continues to refuse to practice provisions of human rights contained in its own constitution. “Ethiopia is a multiparty democracy on paper” only. Currently, the “ruling party controls all but one seat in Parliament.” The façade of “free, fair and credible” multiparty elections this coming May won’t change this preponderance. The ruling party has preselected numerous parties to compete to give the one-party state a false sense of “multiparty-democracy.” Perhaps, it will win less than 99 percent of the votes against a higher percentage in the last election.

Mr. President,

We take your word and the commitment of the United States that the advancement of human freedom enshrined in the rule of law is critical for durable peace, stability, sustainable and equitable development. Free, independent and prosperous people are more likely to defend themselves and their countries against terrorism than people who are oppressed and marginalized by their own governments. Ethiopia’s federal police and judicial system is heavily politicized. The World Economic Forum rated Ethiopia 2.7 out of “a best possible score of 7” of its judicial system. This rating converges with other low scores including Freedom House’s latest rating of Ethiopia as among the “least free in the world.” The Ethiopian government  dismisses these ratings as unacceptable. “The Ethiopian government has rejected criticism from Western governments and human rights groups about the handling of the Bloggers” and other cases including massive displacements of indigenous people from their ancestral lands.

Mr. President,

We feel deeply that the criminalization of freedom of the press, civil society and political pluralism is against the long-term interests of the Ethiopian and American people and should not be given a stamp of approval for short term gains. We recognize, acknowledge and support the notion that terrorism in the  Horn of Africa poses an existential threat to countries in the region, the U.S. and the World; and should be stopped. We respectfully disagree that the way to deter terrorism is by terrorizing innocent people by their own government. This is the case in Ethiopia.

Mr. President,

By declaring Ethiopia a democratic state, Ms. Sherman has given credence to Ethiopia’s oppressive government. Her statement and position on behalf of the U.S. government goes against documentary evidence of recurring and gross human rights violations, decimation of civil society and free press, suppression of religious freedom, complete closure of political and social space and unbearable socioeconomic life for the vast majority of the Ethiopian people, degrading human trafficking and an unprecedented level of human exodus of young girls and boys that leave Ethiopia at a rate unheard of in the country’s history. The Ethiopian government estimates that each day 1,500 young Ethiopians leave the country legally and another 3,500 through human smuggling. The mathematics of more than one million Ethiopian youth fleeing from Ethiopia depicts poor, exclusionary and oppressive governance. Ethiopia’s youth see no hope in their own country’s future. All countries that are genuine democracies make every effort to meet the aspirations and hopes of their people. They create jobs job and other opportunities so that the country does not hemorrhage from the loss of its human capital.

There is not a shred of evidence to support Ms. Sherman’s contention that “Ethiopia is a democracy and that the current election is free, fair and credible.” Her statement is not shared by the vast majority of the Ethiopian people. Nor do we believe that it is widely shared by the American people or the government of the United States. We do not know the basis of her contention that “Every time there is an election it gets better and better.” The statement demeans the Ethiopian people and harms America’s long-term interests not only in Ethiopia but also in the rest of Africa. Ethiopia’s conditions are worse today than they were five years ago. Furthermore, her boisterous approval of the government is contradicted by the Department of State that had reported on January 29, 2015 as follows: “In recent years, the Ethiopian government has taken steps to restrict political space for the opposition through intimidation and harassment, tighten its control over civil society, and curtail the activities of independent media.”

Mr. President,

Relations between the American and Ethiopian people span more than 100 years; and will endure for hundreds of years regardless of regime change. Accordingly, we urge you and the government of the United States that you lead to stand firm on the side of freedom, justice, equality, the rule of law and democracy for all of the Ethiopian people.

We genuinely believe that America’s lasting contribution to Ethiopia and the rest of Africa is its unbridled commitment to promote America’s core values of good governance, the rule of law, equitable access to social and economic opportunities, advancement of civil society, independent and free media and political pluralism; and not to shore-up, give accolades to, bankroll and give a stamp of approval to one the most repressive and oppressive governments in the world.

Accordingly, we urge you, Mr. President, to instruct the Secretary of State John Kerry to rescind MS. Sherman’s wrongful and harmful statement at the earliest opportunity.

On our part, we will work hard to advance the causes of peace, national reconciliation, freedom, the rule of law and democracy in our ancestral land. As Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans, we believe our voices should be heard.

We thank you for your understanding and attention to this urgent matter.

 

Ethiopian Border Affairs Committee (EBAC)

Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC)

Ethiopian People’s Congress for United Struggle (Shengo)

Ethiopian Youth National Movement (EYNM)

United Ethiopian Muslims Peaceful Movement Support Group (UEM-PMSG)

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