Why H​.​R​.​6600 Bill is Dangerous to Ethiopians and Why We Need to Reject It

Why H​.​R​.​6600 Bill is Dangerous to Ethiopians and Why We Need to Reject It

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H.R 6600[1], drafted by Congressman Mr. Malinowski of New Jersey, undermines the current peace effort by the Ethiopians and Ethiopian government by threatening to impose sanctions on Ethiopia as follows:
 
1.     Security: suspension of security assistance which weakens Ethiopia and further establishes instability in the Horn of Africa.  
2.     Finance: revoking economical developmental opportunities through loans, financial gains, and technical assistance. Bill H.R. 6600 further insists on organizing other allies and nations for this financial blockade, which will limit or restrict aid in Ethiopia.
3.     Investment: prohibiting Ethiopia from the United States International Development Finance Corporations hereby preventing the United States investments and currency exchanges in Ethiopia.
4.     Basic right: the bill intends to deny basic Ethiopian American mobility to invest and penalize the Ethiopian diaspora and allies of Ethiopia for supporting the people of Ethiopia, whether it is supporting financially or subject matter experts keen to share knowledge and expertise. 
5.     Immigration: the bill enforces immigration restrictions on Ethiopians, which includes rescinding existing visa applicants and future diversity visa applications in addition to sanctions and withholding of assets to any foreign person or entity accused of supporting the conflict.
 
Background
TPLF ruled Ethiopia with iron fist committing various human rights violation between 1991 and 2018. Ethiopians had enough of the tyrannical regime and the TPLF was removed from power in 2018. TPLF (Tigrayan forces) started a war in Ethiopia by attacking the Ethiopian military on November 3, 2020. In June 2021, the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire after months of defending the country from insurrectionist TPLF. Despite the unilateral ceasefire by the Ethiopian government, TPLF launched attacks outside of Tigray and invaded Amhara and Afar regions. Between June 2021 and December 2021, TPLF killed, raped, and looted[2] the Amhara and Afar people and created a major security issue, humanitarian crisis, and used hunger as a weapon of war[3]. Ethiopians and the Ethiopian government (elected in Aug 2021) fought back and TPLF was pushed back to the Tigray region in December 2021.
 
Subsequently, the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire (again), released political prisoners, and took the initiative to conduct an inclusive national dialogue[5]. TPLF have rejected multiple peace deals and have launched new attacks outside Tigray, in Afar and Amhara regions. Since the recent unilateral ceasefire, within one month period (December 2021 - January 2022), TPLF forces had launched more than 22 attacks in Afar and Amhara regions to weaponize hunger by blocking major humanitarian aid supply routes to Tigray and other conflict regions. Ethiopians, across the board, are currently working tirelessly to rebuild and recover from the devastation caused by TPLF despite TPLF’s continuous attack.
 
Response to H.R. 6600 

United States end goal is to instill peace in the horn of Africa but H.R. 6600 does not have the best interest of Ethiopians nor the United States. The bill does not understand the complicated problems in Ethiopia and fails to recognize the facts on the ground but instead focuses on alienating a democratically elected government, punish innocent Ethiopians, exacerbate existing problem, create power vacuum, and drive Ethiopian American relationship in the wrong direction.
 
H.R 6600 is drafted without the consideration of current progress in Ethiopia and the consultation of the majority Ethiopian voice and those of Ethiopian-Americans. This heavy-handed and one-sided bill would alienate Ethiopia by further punishing a democratically elected Ethiopian government through ever more punitive sanctions. While Ethiopians have been the victim of TPLF brutality for the past 30 years, this bill places much of the blame on the new Ethiopian government instead of TPLF insurrectionists who started the conflict and remain the main aggressors. This bill does not try to hold TPLF accountable for previous or current aggression and human right violations that is escalating the humanitarian crisis in Northern Ethiopia. Policies and/or congressional actions that fail to recognize the truth on the ground are dangerous and embolden TPLF to continue its aggression and invasion to gain power by force. This kind of partial approach will destabilize the broader region, risking the lives of thousands, and contributing to the humanitarian challenges.
 
Recommendation
United States end goal is to instill peace in Ethiopia and the horn of Africa for United States national security. These kinds of one-sided bills stand against United States goal and further create instability in Ethiopia and the horn of Africa. As such, instead of alienating a democratically elected Ethiopian government, it is recommended to
●      Closely work with broader Ethiopian Americans, Ethiopians and the Ethiopian government to understand the facts on the ground
●      Closely work with broader Ethiopian Americans, Ethiopians and the Ethiopian government towards peace, democracy, and instability
●      Not treat a democratically elected Ethiopian government as equal to an insurrectionist group that has committed gross human rights violation on Ethiopians for the past 30 years
●      Positively contribute towards the Ethiopian government initiated all-inclusive dialogue and ceasefire

References 

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/6600
[2] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/11/ethiopia-survivors-of-tplf-attack-in-amhara-describe-gang-rape-looting-and-physical-assaults/
[3] https://www.getfactet.org/post/humanitarian-blockade-by-the-tplf-as-a-weapons-of-war
[4] https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/ethiopia-releases-opposition-party-leader-2022-01-07/
[5] https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/1/27/ethiopias-new-national-dialogue-can-unify-a-divided-nation

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