Near the White House on Friday, Serkalem Selassie and her 9-year-old son, Nafkot, protested President Obama’s upcoming trip to Ethiopia. As a journalist in her homeland, she was jailed, and Nafkot was born while she was in prison. She has political asylum now. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)
When Barack Obama entered the White House, many Ethiopian immigrants in the Washington area cheered. When he gave a speech in Ghana in 2009, vowing to promote democracy and human rights across Africa, they were thrilled. But now that Obama will soon visit Ethiopia, many members of the region’s largest African emigre group are up in arms.
Their concern is that his trip later this month — the first by a sitting American president — will send the wrong message and bolster a regime that has intimidated opponents, manipulated elections and sent dozens of journalists to prison.
Not only are Ethiopian elections a farce—reconfirmed by recent regime claims of a 100% victory in the May 24, 2015 national elections—but so is the independence of the judicial system. This mockery of justice was shown when police re-arrested four young members of the Semayawi opposition party [Blue Party} after they were released from court. This happened not once, but three times, despite the fact they had already been freed each time by the court. They remain in jail as of today.'
Weynishet Molla, Ermias Tsegaye, Daniel Tesfaye and Bethlehem Akalewerk had been arrested, jailed and beaten on April 22, 2015 after being charged with creating violence and disturbing the rally the EPRDF had called in response to the ISIS killing of 30 Ethiopians in Libya. Following their fourth arrest and jailing for the same incident, a security agent revealed that “someone at the top” of the ruling party
A young boy waiting in front of his tukul for' his mother as she arrives with a body of his 4-year old dead sister who died of malnutrition in Shashemene, Ethiopia: Source: NBC & Creeping famine-is-back-to-Ethiopia
July 2, 2015
As lame duck President, Obama is free to do anything he likes including wining and dining with any brutal dictators. He is slated to be in Ethiopia late July according to the State Department. Ethiopia like many of the African countries brings lots of baggage of crony capitalism, anti-Gay legislation, corruption, abuse of human rights, simply absolute lack of rule of law. The Washington Post called his visit to Ethiopia “Unfathomable” in its June 25th Editorial.
For example, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his party have been in power for the last 24 years, and their legacy is dreadful, as Ethiopia is ranked one of the poorest and sickest country in the world, where over 70% of the population goes hungry on daily basis. The primary reason for the dreadful situation is government control of the economy by unseasoned tribal cadres.
We Demand President Obama to Cancel his trip to Ethiopia, ruled by ethnic minority, dictatorial regime.
In the aftermath of flawed elections in which the authoritarian TPLF tyrants declared 100% victory after slaughtering civilians, incarcerating journalists and decimating any credible opposition, Obama’s planned trip to Ethiopia is a mockery of democracy, a blatant expression of contempt for the oppressed people of Ethiopia, and an affirmation of his administration’s hypocrisy and obscene lack of respect for the very principles upon which the US constitution are founded.
Author’s note: As I was archiving my commentaries from years past for public access on my website (almariam.com), I discovered commentaries and articles I had written on the print edition of Ethiopian Review Magazine (ERM) before that magazine went online in 2000.
I had vague recollection of various articles on Ethiopia and the politics of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) I had written for ERM as its senior editor in the 1990s. But I had no recollection of their content. ERM was in print publication from January 1991 to 2000 when it began delivering content online. I do not have all of the print issues of ERM for the nine year period. Luckily, with the help of attentive friends, we were able to track down a few of those articles recently; and we expect to find many more.
The US leadership through a wrong foreign policy is denying the over 90 million Ethiopian peoples for sake of a disguise “national interest of the USA”. It is supporting one of the most brutal regimes in the world. It is using tax payer’s money to fund the tyrant regime that stayed on power since 1991 by dominating all political parties illegally and with force and corruption. Democracy is nominally used while the journalists are jailed, killed or are forced to exile. It divided the people ethnically and putting them in constant conflict while exploiting them, evicting the people from their historical lands and birth places while selling land to foreign scavengers with low price for its benefits. While regime in Ethiopia is corrupt, brutal and dictatorial, it brands itself as fighter of terrorism while it leads a state of terror over Ethiopians.
President Obama, your plan to shake hands and dine with the Ethiopian dictators/TPLF rules confirms that you only support democracy in words, not in your actions. Many local and international institutions including your own government’s state department report confirm that Ethiopia is one of the worst countries when it comes to human rights. The TPLF regime is one of the highest jailer of journalists, the most fake election with 100% claims, corrupt and crony oligarchy system which deprives its citizens of economic opportunities, forces its people to migration and expose them for human trafficking, humanitarian disaster, and slavery, jails and murders opposition members and commits many more atrocities. To bless such a totalitarian regime with official state visit would be showing no regard to the values and principles you and the USA stand for, freedom and liberty of humanity.