Letter to European Parliament

December 14, 2020
Honourable David Sassoli,
President of European Parliament
Rue Wiertz 60
1047 Bruxelles

Re: European Parliament Resolution on the Situation in Ethiopia (2020/2881/RSP)

Your Honour,

We are naturalised European citizens of Ethiopian origin, founders and representatives of Civic
Organisations registered in Europe.

We are aware of the track record of the European Parliament on social justice, democracy,
peace, peacebuilding, as well as humanitrain and development assistance to Ethiopia and its
people, for which we are grateful.

As you are aware, the incumbent government led by PM Abiy Ahmed has done a tremendous
amount over the last two years to democratise Ethiopia, despite the challenges the country has
faced in different aspects. The EU Parliament has supported and accompanied these
democratisation processes. However, we were taken by shock listening to the debate in the
European Parliament on 26 November 2020 regarding the law enforcement operation in Tigray
and subsequent Resolution (2020/2881(RSP). As people of Ethiopian origin, neither the debate
nor the resolution concurs to the realities on the ground, even worse the long history of Ethiopia.
It is public knowledge that Ethiopia has never been colonised; rather defeated an aggressor that
came to colonise during the Second World War, although a parliamentarian presented Ethiopia
as a colony of an EU member state. We believe that the resolution will have a negative
consequence on the people of Ethiopia of which Tigray is one. Even worse, it will affect longstanding cooperation between the EU and Ethiopia.

The reality on the ground is that the operation is a law enforcement rather than an attack on the
people of Tigray. The law enforcement operation in Tigray was intended and targeted to bring
into justice the leadership of the TPLF which used heavy hands during the last 30 years over the
people of Ethiopia. Though theTPLF claimed that they stand for the people of Tigray, the people
of Tigray are still dependent on humanitarian assistance while members of the leadership hoard
money and fortunes and enjoyed luxurious lifestyles.

  1. We welcome the concern of the European Parliament on the security situation in Ethiopia, the
    wellbeing of its citizens and its call for national dialogue. Ethiopia has well established systems
    and structures that foster relationship and mechanism for dialogue. Thus, during the last two
    years, there have been several official and unofficial attempts to facilitate dialogue between the
    Federal and the Tigray Regional government. Some of the official homegrown attempts included:
  2. Inter Religious Council of Ethiopia (IRCE): members include the Ethiopian Orthodox
    Church, Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the Ethiopian Catholic Church, The
    Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia, The Ethiopian Seventh Day Adventist Church,
    The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, and Ethiopian Kale Hiwot Churches)
  3. A delegation of elders
  4. Mothers’ Peace Ambassador: Women Leaders who represent women groups from all the
    Regions National Reconciliation Commission – a commission established by parliamentary decree.

These attempts were declined by the leadership of the TPLF on the assumption that they do not
have any business or issue with an illegitimate Federal government. The TPLF leadership were
in an illusion under the pretext of a false narrative, undermining the legitimacy of the Federal
Government, a government which is legitimate, works harmoniously with the remaining Regions
and is recognised and accepted by international communities.

The illegitimacy narrative of the TPLF is associated to the 6th General Elections in Ethiopia which
were supposed to take place in 2020. The government was forced to postpone the elections due
to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Election Board of Ethiopia, which is constitutionally
mandated to implement elections, suggested for the election to be postponed as it will be
difficult to run fair, free and democratic elections during a pandemic. The recommendation was
debated in the House of Peoples’ Representatives, the House assigned the President of Federal
Supreme Court to verify if the recommendation of the National Election Board of Ethiopia is
consistent to that of the Federal Constitution. Thus, the President put on motion participatory
processes where Constitutional Lawyers, Legal experts Political Parties and civil society
participated. The groups discussed, deliberated, and held public debated on the media and
passed their recommendations to the House of Peoples’ Representatives. Based on the
recommendations, the House of Federation and House of the Peoples’ Representatives decided
to defer the elections, to extend the time in office of the Federal and Regional lawmakers and
the executive branch of the government for a maximum of 12 months.
However, on 9th September2020 Tigray regional state (one of the 10 regional states in Ethiopia),
in defiance of the decisions of the two Houses, held its regional election in violation of Article
9(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Rightly so the Federal
Government did not accept the election and its results. The House of Federation also expressed
its concern on the violation of the Constitution and instructed the government to take the correct
measure However, the Federal government did not enter into confrontation.
As a result, the relationship between the Federal and the Regional government of Tigray
deteriorated. The intensity increased as the Tigray Regional government continued to undermine
the authority of the Federal government. It led to a confrontation when theTigray Regional
government attacked the Headquarters of the Ethiopian National Defence Force based in
Mekelle on 4th November 2020. The Federal Government was then forced to mobilise and deploy
law enforcement operations to protect members of its Defence Force and restore law and order
in Tigray.

Your Honour,

What happened on the 4th of November 2020 was unprecedented! TPLF loyalists brazenly
attacked the Northern Command of Ethiopia’s National Defence Forces (ENDF)
(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-55215431). During the attack, TPLF Special
Commandos, and members of the militia mostly underage children, looted ENDF military depots
and controlled strategic military sites and resources. They killed their compatriots who have been
in the Region for more than 20 years, deployed along the Ethiopia – Eritrea border to protect the
people of Tigray and Ethiopia. They were killed in a cold blood; many were injured and about
seven thousand soldiers and officers taken hostage. This was an act of mutiny and coup d’état
against the Federal government, and a national threat. The African Union also condemn any
unconstitutional change of governments. As a result of this outrage, the Federal Government
deployed a law enforcement operation to bring the culprits and those behind this treasonous act
to justice, and to defend and uphold law and order. This action is in compliance with the
Constitution and the mandate of the Federal Government.

On the night of 9th November 2020, more than 600 ordinary civilians, largely of the Amhara
ethnicity, were massacred in the town of Maikadra. Similar incidents had taken place earlier in
two Regions: Benishangul-Gumuz and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. Thse
killings took place before the Federal troops reached the town of Maikadra, and this has been
captured in the Amnesty International report of 12 November, 2020:

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, an independent human rights organisation, deployed
its own investigators and, in its report, confirmed that the massacre was a coordinated and
premeditated mass killing, “[t]he overall conduct and the results thereof, all point to the fact that
the Maikadra attack is not a simple criminal act but is rather a premeditated and carefully
coordinated grave violation of human rights…” On 9 December 2020, a BBC report confirmed
how a TPLF organised youth group committed the atrocities.

Therefore, any form of support for the TPLF leadership who orchestrated the massacre of the
people of Ethiopia is tantamount to endorsing and encouraging their atrocious acts. It would also
send a wrong signal to other Regions that are compliant to the rule of law and the decision-
making mechanisms including that of the House of the Federation. This wrong signal may even
influence those who are involved in criminal acts globally.

The TPLF claim that they stand for the rights of Tigrayan people which is more theoretical than
practical. This is evidenced by the atrocities and criminal activities committed against the very
people that they claim they stand for. The majority of Tigrayans have been dependent on hand
outs for the last thirty years of TPLF leadership. However, some of the leaders have been
siphoning the resources allocated for the people and hoarding it for their own good.

In this context, any form of dialogue with the TPLF which has massacred members of the defence
forces in cold blood, abducted soldiers and army officers and launched rocket attacks on Bahir
Dar (Amhara Regional Capital) and Gondar is not justifiable. As indicated earlier, the Federal
government was determined to hold a dialogue even though the Regional government refused
as their determination and choice was for a military confrontation. Their preparedness for
military confrontation was clear, as indicated by several signals including mass- forced
recruitment of under-age children to join the militia, military parades and shows in the town of
Mekelle and at the main the Stadium.

The law enforcement operation had the popular support of Ethiopians across the country
including those in Tigray and the diaspora. It was carried out with utmost care and attention to
protect civilians in areas covered by the operation. An attempt by the TPLF to turn the law
enforcement operation into a regional conflict by launching rockets to the Eritrean capital
Asmara a couple of times did not materialise. Despite attempts by TPLF, the conflict remained,
and is still contained in small pockets in Tigray.

Currently the Ethiopian government is working to restore public order, essential services, and
repair the infrastructure destroyed by the TPLF. Thus, services such as telecommunication,
electricity, public transport, etc are restored in Southern and Western Tigray and have become
operational. The government has singed an agreement with UN agencies, and donor
governments so that humanitarian assistance can reach to the needy and the first government
consignment of humanitarian assistance has already been deployed to Tigray. Furthermore,
there is a discussion with the UN agencies to facilitate the return of displaced citizens back to
their homes.

During the recent visit of Vice-President Josep Borrell to Addis Ababa, the Federal government
has confirmed its commitment to restore peace, to provide access to humanitarian assistance
for the needy and to receive back citizens who are sheltering in neighbouring Sudan. The Vice
President, in his statement in Brussels, on 02/11/2020 – 16:39, UNIQUE ID: 201102_18 said, “[t]he
European Union is firmly committed to supporting reforms in Ethiopia and reiterates that the
only way to ensure the success of this endeavour is to uphold the rule of law while respecting
human rights. This will also guarantee the possibility of free, fair and credible elections in 2021.”
As stressed by theEU Vice President and the UN General Secretary, we also believe “upholding
rule of law and free, fair and credible elections” are paramount for peace and stability of Ethiopia
which is home to over 110 million people and the second largest population in Africa. EU member
states will benefit from the dividend of peace in Ethiopia as it will curb the flow of migration to
Europe. Therefore, we kindly request the European Parliament, European Commission and
European Council:
1. To understand that the law enforcement operation was not intended to target the people
of Tigray but the leadership of the TPLF who authorised the attack on the Headquarters
of the ENDF, looted military hardware depots, massacred their own compatriots, and took
hostage of over seven thousand military personnel, this was an inhuman act.
2. To support the Federal government in its reconstruction efforts, delivery of humanitarian
assistance which has already started arriving in different places in Tigray, as well as the
rehabilitation and repatriation of refugees and internally displaced people.
3. To put the record straight, as there was discrepancy and misinformation especially during
the EP hearings where allegations made by some members of the parliament were not
based on concrete evidence and does not concur to Ethiopia’s history.
4. To use credible sources of information rather than social media platforms which are more
sensational, fake, and not objective.

Yours sincerely,

Association of Ethiopians, Scotland
Democratic Change in Ethiopia Support organisation in Norway (DCESON), Norway
Duetsch Ethiopich Music und kultur Zentrum e.V (DP entertainment Ethio-Bridge E.V.
Stuttgart, Germany
Eshet Friendship Association, London, United Kingdom
Ethiopian Association in the United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Ethiopian Community Association in Italia, Italy
Ethiopian community in Sweden, Sweden
Ethiopian Democracy and Human rights Taskforce in Switzerland, Switzerland
Ethiopian Diaspora Association in Belgium and Luxembourg, Belgium
Ethiopian History Society, United Kingdom
Ethiopian International Professional Support for Abay, United Kingdom
Ethiopian National Arts Council e.v (ENAC), Mainz Germany
Ethiopian Oromo community in United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Ethiopians for Ethiopians, United Kingdom
Europe Taskforce for Human Rights and Justice in Ethiopia, Pan European
Frankfurt Duetsch Land (Germany), Germany
Institute eco-Global partnership, Slovenia
South West Ethiopian Community, United Kingdom
The Association of the Club of International friendship (KMP), Slovenia
The European Network Against Slovenia – (ENAR-SLO), Slovenia
The Institute for African studies – IAS, Slovenia
United Ethiopians for Peace and Reconciliation, United Kingdom
Honourable Roberta Metsola, First Vice-President of European Parliament,
Honourable David McAllister, Chair for Committee on Foreign Affairs
Honourable Tomas Tobé, Chair for Committee on Development
H. E. Charles Michel, President of the European Council
H. E. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission
H. E. Josep Borrell Fontelles, HR/VP of EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

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