Anthony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Dear Secretary Blinken,
As the Executive Chairman of the American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC), I write to urge public condemnation and concrete action regarding the abhorrent use of child soldiers by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia.
Images of the TPLF providing arms and weapons training to children have been widely distributed on social media channels and reported in Ethiopian press outlets. Then, this week, the photojournalist Finbarr O’Reilly was in Ethiopia reporting for the New York Times. His images have confirmed this horrific story.
On his Instagram page he posted:
“On multiple occasions, I saw Tigrayan children carrying weapons. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, conscripting or enlisting children into armed forces or groups constitutes a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts.”
I have included a copy of the images that accompanied his post.
Together with our thirteen partner organizations, AEPAC represents a great percentage of the Ethiopian diaspora in the United States, totaling approximately 1.2 million. Collectively, we make three urgent requests:
• That the Biden administration immediately condemn the TPLF by name for the use of child soldiers, acknowledging that it constitutes an international war crime.
• That the U.S. impose sanctions on the TPLF’s leadership to compel the rebel group to end its practice of arming children.
• And that the U.S. demand that the TPLF and all combatants also adopt an unconditional ceasefire similar to the Ethiopian government as the necessary first step to stem the humanitarian crisis and create a path toward political dialogue.
These images of the most vulnerable in Ethiopia being exploited for war demand condemnation and action. We urge you to lead.