Senate Resolution 97 and the Long-standing Cooperative Relationship Between Ethiopia and the United States
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Ethiopian Embassy expressed its disappointment over passage of S. Res. 97 by the U.S. Senate on May 19, 2021 and stressed the critical importance of strengthening the bilateral security collaboration to combat terrorism in the Horn of Africa. For over 120 years, Ethiopia and the United States have worked as strong partners and allies in ensuring and enhancing stability and security in the Horn of Africa, a relationship that can serve as a model for the rest of Africa.
Ethiopia continues to lead the humanitarian effort in the Tigray region and appreciates the generous support it has received from the U.S. and other partners and allies in the public and private sectors. In its call for greater attention and action to humanitarian needs in Tigray region, the Resolution creates a misplaced equivalency between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in calling for a ceasefire and negotiations with an organization that has been listed as a terrorist in the Global Terrorism Database and by the Ethiopian Parliament. On November 3, 2020, the TPLF launched a massive and deadly attack on the Ethiopian Northern Command resulting in substantial loss of life and destruction of property. This attack represents the gravest terrorist threat in the Horn region since Ethiopia and the U.S. joined forces to combat terrorism over the past decade and half.
The Resolution’s assertion of “lack of humanitarian access” in the Tigray region is contrary to fact. For the past months, aid agencies and humanitarian organizations have had free access throughout the region and have been working in collaboration with the Ethiopian Government which continues to provide over 70 percent of the humanitarian assistance.
The Resolution’s call for “the swift and complete restoration of electricity, banking, telephone, and internet services throughout the Tigray Region” overlooks the fact that the infrastructure for these services was deliberately destroyed by the TPLF forces and that the Ethiopian Government has moved swiftly to restore such services at great cost. These services today are widely available in the Tigray region.
The Resolution calls for “release of all opposition leaders, supporters, activists, and journalists detained on the basis of their political activity.” There are no such detainees in Ethiopia. In contrast, tens of thousands of citizens held in detention by the TPLF regime because of their political views were released by the PM Abiy Ahmed Administration. The Resolution regrettably intrudes on matters that are under consideration by the Ethiopian judiciary.
The Resolution’s call for national dialogue and reconciliation mirrors the effort launched following enactment of Proclamation 1102/2018 in February 2019. The Reconciliation Commission and its 41 members, including prominent members of opposition parties, former high level political leaders, diverse religious figures, intellectuals, philanthropists, and others, continues its work today.
The Resolution’s call for an “independent and transparent investigations of alleged human rights abuses” is currently well underway jointly between the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. The evidence gathered in the investigation shall be used to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice. The Ethiopian Government is aggressively pursuing human rights violators and has convicted three soldiers and charged 28 others suspected of killing civilians in Tigray region.
The Resolution’s call for special treatment of TPLF forces overlooks the fact that the Ethiopian Government has made a number of offers to TPLF leaders and combatants to surrender and litigate their cases in court and accorded due process of law. As a result, a number of top TPLF leaders have surrendered and are litigating their cases in court. A general amnesty was also offered to TPLF combatants to surrender and return to their homes without legal penalty.
Ethiopia stands firmly with the United States in its call to provide humanitarian assistance and uphold international human rights conventions. Ethiopia is committed to investigate and prosecute all persons suspected of human rights violations. Ethiopia is fully committed to working with USAID and other humanitarian aid organizations from around the globe to bring much needed aid to Tigray region and restore normal life to the region.
Ambassador Fitsum Arega said, “Ethiopia and the U.S. have a long and strong relationship that has withstood the test of time. President Biden said, ‘America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and key partners.” We share this view and believe diplomacy, rather than punitive legislation, can best serve our long-term bilateral interest.” #Ethiopia #FullPicture #EthiopianUnity #ProtectEthiopians #EthiopiaCares