Meer: Letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Jun 24, 2021 | Articles

His Excellency Abiy Ahmed, PhD
Prime Minister
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Addis Ababa

This letter was signed and transmitted to Prime Minister Abiy by HE José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Timor-Leste.

Your Excellency, Prime Minister,

Through this letter, we appeal to your authority for immediate action to end the crisis in the Tigray region and remedy the terrible suffering inflicted on the local population.

We are deeply shocked by reports of serious violations and abuses committed in the Tigray region by the TPLF, Amhara Regional Force, Ethiopian Defense Forces and Eritrean Defense Forces.

According to United Nations and media reports, serious human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial executions, sexual violence, looting and destruction of property, mass executions, arbitrary arrests, rape, forced displacement populations, hate speech and stigma, including ethnic profiling of Tigrayan civilians. These attacks have caused tens of thousands of Tigrayan children and adults to flee their homes and now live as refugees in Sudan in extremely deplorable conditions.

As a result of this conflict, according to the United Nations, approximately 4.5 million of a population of 6 million people are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance. Between two and 2.5 million people in the region will experience severe food insecurity through September. Media around the world are also increasingly writing horrific stories of rape, torture and mass arrests.

Al Jazeera reported on April 21 in its article A Tigrayan Womb Should Never Give Birth: Rape in Tigray , that hundreds of women have reported horrific accounts of rape and gang rape since the conflict began in Tigray. The Associated Press reported on April 29 in its article, Clean Out Our Insides: Ethiopia Detains Tigrayans Amid War , that your government has sent thousands of Tigrayans to detention centers across the country, accused of being traitors, often holding them for months at no cost. These are just two of many examples of reports of widespread atrocities and human rights abuses that have shocked the world and sparked outcry for immediate action.

We know that you understand the need to take immediate action to resolve this crisis, regardless of the momentum of this ongoing disaster. We remember the powerful words of your Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech two years ago. As you have said so forcefully, there are those who have never seen war, but glorify and romanticize it. They didn’t see the fear. They didn’t see the fatigue. They did not see the destruction or the grief, nor did they feel the gloomy emptiness of war after the carnage.

We now recall those words and urge you to consider several important steps to quickly return to peace and alleviate the suffering of the Ethiopian people.

Specifically:

  • we urge Your Excellency to act now and quickly to save your country, to end the suffering of Ethiopians afflicted by the war in Tigray;
  • invite independent and credible investigations, in full cooperation with OHCHR, into human rights abuses and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all actors in Tigray. We encourage you to ensure that other human rights organizations have access to independent documentation of ongoing reports of human rights abuses and violations in Tigray;
  • consider establishing a hybrid tribunal empowered to hold Eritrean perpetrators of war crimes accountable;
  • cooperate fully with regional organizations and the international community to facilitate inclusive dialogue, reconciliation and healing, involving all political and civil society actors in Tigray with the aim of charting a consensual path for the future governance of the district ;
  • lead calls for a cessation of hostilities by all parties involved and encourage other parties to commit to an immediate end to fighting. Press for the immediate and verifiable withdrawal of regional Eritrean and Amhara forces from the Tigray region;
  • facilitate the work of international humanitarian personnel, including issuing long-term visas, expediting the process of importing and using satellite communications technology for humanitarian organizations, and requiring your military and allied forces to establish a civil-military coordination cell to facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations in the field;
  • issue orders to protect all civilians in Tigray and throughout Ethiopia, regardless of ethnicity, including refugees and internally displaced persons, and especially women in light of numerous reports reporting sexual and gender-based violence.

Excellency,

It is clear that like all wars, the political dispute that led to the Tigray crisis cannot be resolved by military means alone. The suffering inflicted on the people of the region is already too great. For the good of Ethiopia, and the good of the region and the world, we ask you to work towards a political solution as soon as possible. It is only through dialogue and negotiation that you can establish lasting peace and the healing for so many people can begin.

With our greatest respect,

HE Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Chairman of the World Leadership Alliance;
HE Danilo Turk, former President of Slovenia and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations;
HE Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland;
HE Lakhdar Brahimi, former UN and Arab League Special Envoy for Syria, member of Elders;
Dr. Gunnar Stålsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslo, former member of the Nobel Peace Committee and Co-Chair of Religions for Peace;
HE Adama Dieng, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide;
HE José Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste.

published in Meer Magazine