AEPAC Press Release May 24, 2021: The Situation in Ethiopia Needs a Constructive U.S. Approach

The American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC) and its worldwide supporter networks have called on the United States to take a more constructive stance in relation to the situation in Ethiopia.

The comments are aimed at President Biden’s White House and the United States Congress following the adoption of Senate resolution 97 on 19th May, which was severely critical of the Government of Ethiopia, and the announcement on 23rd May of visa restrictions by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

The recent violence in Ethiopia was initiated on November 3, 2020 when the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked five Ethiopian Federal Defense Force bases stationed in the Tigray region. Dozens of Ethiopian Armed Forces personnel were killed. The Government then undertook a series of operations to restore law and order in the region.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has pledged to tackle any atrocities that were committed during the conflict. Just last week Ethiopia’s military prosecutors convicted three soldiers of rape and pressed charges against 28 others suspected of killing civilians.

Furthermore, in March the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) agreed to conduct a joint investigation into the alleged human rights violations and abuses, committed by all parties during conflict. They will report later this year.

AEPAC have warned that the United States’ one-sided approach will risk damaging the two countries’ relationship and measures such as visa restrictions or sanctions would not only be disproportionate but could further destabilize the country, a key ally in the Horn of Africa.

The Chairman of AEPAC, Mesfin Tegenu, commented:
“These actions will regretfully damage the century-long, mutually beneficial, and close bilateral relations that our two countries have enjoyed. We respectfully request the United States review its current approach and take a more constructive stance.

“Secretary Blinken previously called for a human rights investigation, access for aid and to address any crimes committed during the conflict. All those steps have been taken.

“As ever, in a time of conflict there is a vast amount of misinformation. We ask the U.S. to not assume what is said by the TPLF and unsubstantiated/unbalanced media reports to be true, but to analyze the situation and work with the Government of Ethiopia to address any areas of concern.

“Ethiopia has come so far in recent years, working together with the international community the economy has grown substantially and peace with Eritrea has strengthened the region as a whole. That is the journey the country must stay on and that should be the collective focus of decision makers in the U.S.”

As an independent and bi-partisan organization, AEPAC will work with all branches of the US government to advance American’s interest in the Horn of Africa, by maintaining and expanding the strong bilateral relations between the United States and Ethiopia, as well as promoting the common interests of the people of the two nations.

AEPAC Executive Committee – Delaware May 24, 2021