March 6, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Amhara Association of America (AAA) announces its support for a newly introduced, bipartisan Senate resolution on the ongoing Tigray Conflict. The full text of the resolution can be read here.
Introduced on March 5 by Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the resolution calls on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Government of Ethiopia to protect the human rights of all Ethiopians and allow full humanitarian access to the Tigray Region. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Todd Young (R-IN) are also original cosponsors of the resolution.
Importantly for the Amhara community, the resolution calls out the November 9 in Mai Kadra, during which TPLF-aligned forces were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Amhara civilians, as reported by Amnesty International, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, and the Ethiopian Human Rights Council. In addition, the resolution acknowledges that the Tigray Conflict is occurring alongside other crises in Ethiopia. This includes the ongoing ethnic-based massacres in Benishangul–Gumuz and Oromia, during which Amharas, Agaws, and Shinasas have been targeted.
The resolution chronicles the escalatory provocations leading up to the conflict, such as the TPLF holding regional elections in defiance of the federal government’s postponement due to COVID-19. It also acknowledges the TPLF’s confessed attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) in the early hours of November 4.
AAA takes note of the resolution’s call to bring an end to hostilities as soon as possible. We will continue to explain our stance to Congress that this burden mainly lies with the TPLF, given its attack on the ENDF and in light of its history of decades of authoritarian rule in Ethiopia. Therefore, we welcome the resolution’s call to the Ethiopian government to conduct any apprehension of TPLF leaders with the least possible use of force, as well as the request for a national dialogue among all representatives of nonviolent political parties, ethnic communities, religious groups, and civil society organizations.
The resolution also calls out the continued detention of political opposition leaders and the ruling Prosperity Party’s interference in the freedom for opposition movements to assemble. It requests that the Ethiopian Government release all politically detained opposition leaders and to respect the rights of all Ethiopians to free expression and political participation. These demands are critical in light of events such as the ongoing detention of Eskinder Nega and other Balderas Leaders and last month’s threatening language against the National Movement of Amhara. Among its many calls to the United States Government, Ethiopia, and the TPLF, the resolution asks for both sides to ensure full access to humanitarian assistance for affected civilians. The resolution also implores the Ethiopian Government to allow for independent and transparent investigations into all alleged human rights abuses committed during the conflict. For example, this will allow the perpetrators of the Mai Kadra Massacre to be held accountable by the international community.
“On behalf of the Amhara diaspora in the U.S, I thank Ranking Member Risch, Senator Cardin, and the other original cosponsors for introducing this balanced, factual resolution” said Tewodrose (Ted) Tirfe, Chairman of AAA. “We look forward to helping get more bipartisan cosponsors, with the goal of passing the resolution in the SFRC and then the full Senate. We will also advocate for updates to the text to make sure it reflects the latest developments on the ground regarding increased access to Tigray.”
Tirfe continued: “As an Amhara born in Welkait with relatives still in the area, this unfortunate but predictable war between the TPLF and Ethiopia is a deeply personal issue. While we are happy to see the TPLF toppled after attacking the ENDF and years of persecuting Amharas in Welkait and Raya, that does not excuse the growing humanitarian crisis across Tigray nor the bad conduct of Ethiopian, Eritrean, and TPLF forces that is mentioned in the resolution. In addition, we are grateful for the acknowledgement that the war in Tigray is one of multiple emergencies across Ethiopia, including the repeated massacres of Amharas in Metekel and Wollega and the growing political repression by the government and Prosperity Party.
“We also support the request for all parties to the conflict to allow full humanitarian and media access and permit swift, impartial investigations of alleged human rights atrocities by outside bodies.
Finally, we echo the resolution’s call for a comprehensive national dialogue among Ethiopians to begin a true transitional justice process, rather than trying to force Prime Minister Abiy into negotiations with the remnants of the TPLF.”
Tewodrose (Ted) Tirfe, Chairman, Amhara Association of America firstname.lastname@example.org