No Dr. Abiy Ahmed for the Chatham House Prize 2019

No Dr. Abiy Ahmed for the Chatham House Prize 2019

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Alemu Ayele started this petition to The Chatham House

It was a great shock for us all to learn about Dr Abiy Ahmed's nomination for the Chatham House Prize. He does not deserve this prestigious nomination as there is the blood of thousands of Ethiopians on the hands of the brutal dictatorial regime that he leads. Dr. Abiy has been serving the brutal dictatorial regime of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) throughout his working life, in various capacities, including as Head of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) – a spy network that has terrorised citizens and dissidents and violated their basic civil and human rights.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) came to power in 1991 with direct support from Western, Middle East and Gulf countries. It is a one party system from Tigray, a region with less than 5 million people out of the total population of over 100 million people in the country. It built the EPRDF coalition of parties which it controlled through force and corruption, and claimed 100% victory at the last national elections in 2015, despite popular resistance all over the country against human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing, imprisonment of journalists, opposition political parties and human rights activists, land grabs, rape and torture. The annual Foreign Aid to Ethiopia has been over £3 billion. However, the number of people living below the poverty line is more than half of the total population due to the embezzlement of financial resources by government authorities, as well as diverting some of that aid money to inflict politically motivated murder and violence. Popular protests escalated against the regime. Dr Abiy Ahmed was put in power as a new Prime Minister to show as if there was a change. Many people wrongly believed that the TPLF-led EPRDF regime was learning from its mistakes and was ready to make sound changes. However, within a few months of coming to power, Dr. Abiy Ahmed went back to the old ways of EPRDF that he has always been part of. He is now directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians at the hands of his security forces and mobs. The much talked about peace with Eritrea did not last long: border crossings are closed again, and hopes of progress dashed.

Ethiopian people today continue to undergo shocking levels of violence at the hands of Dr. Abiy’s regime, as outlined below:

Even since last year alone (after Dr. Abiy became another unelected Prime Minister), about 3 million people have been violently displaced internally and hundreds more killed by ethnic mobs. Brutal killings, forced evictions, beatings, rape and similar atrocities took place in many parts of the Country, including Burayu, Gedeo, Shashemene, Legetafo, Attaye, Dembi Dolo and currently especially in Sidama Zone and Hawassa Town. The targets are non-Oromos, mostly Amharas.
Millions of Amharas, who live outside of their “Region”, have been constantly displaced and systematically relegated as 2nd and 3rd class citizens throughout the country. Although, according to the official census, Amharas are either the second or third largest ethnic groups in such areas as Oromia, Benishangul, Harrar, Dire Dawa and Gambella, they are not eligible to hold offices or have the political representation they deserve.

While a concerted and vigorous propaganda has been spread in earnest to convince the international community that change and reform has come to Ethiopia under Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the fact of the matter is that the hated and repressive system of the EPRDF has continued with vigour. A country with far too many anti-democratic laws and decrees, a country with more than 12 million people depending on food aid and starving, with more than three million people internally displaced, with a murderous ethnic cleansing in progress, etc can hardly be considered as a country in progress and development under Dr. Abiy’s continued EPRDF regime.

The only change is the shift of domination from the TPLF to the ODP and the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front). The rule of law, never in evidence, is now further compounded by the criminal rule of extremist ethnic militias and thugs sponsored by the regime itself on ethnic grounds. Thousands of political prisoners, including journalists are STILL NOW languishing in dark and cold prison cells.

The TPLF/EPRDF Constitution is STILL in place and ethnic discrimination ratcheted up under new ethnic supremacists; anti people decrees are still in place.

The popular demand for formation of a transitional government of national unity was sabotaged by Dr. Abiy Ahmed.

The recent assassination of senior Government and Army Officials is still suspicious. These include Dr. Ambachew Mekonnen, President of the Amhara Region; his colleagues Mr. Azez Wassie, Advisor to Mr. Ambachew Mekonnen; Mr. Migbaru Kebede, Attorney General; and General Asaminew Tsige, Head of Security (all of them members of the Executive Committee of the Amhara Democratic Party) and several soldiers in Bahir Dar, the seat of the Amhara Regional Government on 22 June 2019; as well as General Seare Mekonnen, Chief of Staff of Ethiopia’s Defence Forces and his friend, General Gezae Abera in Addis Ababa.

The Regime has still not set up an independent investigative commission. Instead, the Authorities jumped to the conclusion of claiming a “coup d’état” as the cause. To make things worse, following the horrific killings, the authorities compounded the tragedy further by using this as an excuse to arrest and incarcerate more than 1,000 Amhara youth, civic and human rights activists, journalists, military officers and business persons. Ethiopian people are still demanding a proper independent investigation.

There was a similar suspicious assassination of Engineer Simegnew Bekele, Head of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam last year. This case also remains suspicious and the Government failed to allow an independent investigation.

The OLF (Oromo Liberation Front)  is directly and indirectly  the major political power source for the Prime Minister and enjoys the highest political influence in the country. Its key members are publicly seen, heard and recorded while inciting violence by using hate speech, calling for genocide against Amharas, and other non-Oromo ethnic groups, all the while posing for photos with the Prime Minister and high level officials. This is amply documented in mainstream and social media, which we can present to you if you wish. 

Recent shocking and tragic acts in the Country include the disembowelling of a pregnant women and the torching of churches with people locked inside. The violence is getting worse day by day, especially in Sidama Zone and Hawassa Town. Video and picture proofs of this are readily available.

Dr Abiy Ahmed is ruling over a government that endorses all the agendas of OLF and radical Oromos. The capital city Addis Ababa is now claimed by the radical Oromo ethnic group thus endangering the livelihood of its diverse residents. As a result, the government has turned a blind eye to OLF's youth supporters who killed over 70 people, raped pregnant women and burned churches and other establishments. The prime minister's response was "I wasn’t informed." The government then proceeded to demolish houses occupied by non-Oromos in the suburbs of Addis Ababa while setting in motion to relocate over 300,000 Oromos to Addis Ababa, so that they can outvote Addis Ababa residents.

The world famous, award winning journalist and a former prisoner of EPRDF, Eskinder Nega, has been organizing peaceful meetings and lobbying to stop the madness but to no avail. Instead he has been threatened by government officials including the Prime Minister live on state Television. 

Few days ago, the country was bracing for another ethnic clash in Awassa after the Prime Minister's political party aggressively pushed for a regional hegemony of Sidama. Though imminent danger was evident, the Prime Minister left for Eritrea. While he was there, several protesters were gunned down by security forces and members of OLF. On 23 July 2019, 25 people have been killed, including an 80 year old man. By the 24th of July, the number of casualties is reported to be over 70. Churches and a tourist lodge have been set on fire. It has been Dr. Abiy’s way to run away from responsibility after inciting an ethnic clash during a time when the entire country was dealing with similar problems. 

Dr Abiy and his government have ignored these injustices and gross violations of human rights because they are being committed by members who belong to the Oromo tribe. There is also a conflict of interest as the majority of the prime minister’s cabinet and appointees are also Oromo. 

Ethiopia’s ethnic and language based federal structure has aggravated ethnic tensions and polarized Ethiopian society. Ethiopia is on the precipice of civil conflict, and perhaps civil war and possible genocide that are triggered and championed by ethnic elites, fundamentalists and their foreign sponsors.

We ask the government of the United Kingdom and international communities , including international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and others to quickly apply all their leverage on Dr. Abiy’s regime to refrain from assaults on human rights and selective persecution of Amhara and other ethnic groups. These act can never be in the best interest of the UK and the wider international community.

We should never encourage dictatorship and terror. We should reward individuals who achieve good things for humanity, not while they are conducting politically motivated murder and violence. As grossly concerned citizens, we beg you in the strongest way possible to exclude Dr Abiy from consideration for the Chatham Prize and to avoid Chatham House backing the leader of a brutal dictatorship which is well on the way to a Rwanda like genocide to ensure the elimination of non-Oromo people in Ethiopia.

References can be made to the following evidences, among others: Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners (SOCEPP), Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, The International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Medicine Without Borders, the Association of Human Rights in Ethiopia, Front Line Defenders and BBC reports.

With great anticipation

Yours faithfully

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