#SanctionEthiopianGov and #ReroutRemittence
Frequently Asked Question on Ethiopian Diaspora’s Campaign
#SanctionEthiopianGov and #ReroutRemittence
1. What is the objective of your Campaign?
Our campaign has four distinct features. First, it is peaceful and all inclusive. Second, its aim is not a regime change but an effort to pressure the PM to respect the nation’s constitutional order. Third, it calls for accountability. Fourth, it does not include humanitarian aids, which are essential for the poor.
2. What Impact Does the Diaspora Has in Terms of Influencing Government Policies?
In terms of generating foreign currency, remittance generates far more than the Ethiopia’s export revenue. In any one year, remittance generates $4.5 billion to $5.2 Billion. Rerouting remittance through informal channels will deny the government substantial amount of foreign exchange earnings. In addition, we are encouraging the diaspora to stop visiting Ethiopia unless for family emergency purposes. This further denies the government billions in foreign exchange earnings.
If well organized, the diaspora will also have more influence than the IMF/WB. The $5 billion loan that the government is currently seeking from the IMF and WB is for multiple years. That means Remittance and diaspora travel to the motherland constitute the most important source of the government’s foreign currency earnings.
Ethiopians at home have no voice in opposing the PM’s illegal and criminal actions. Those who dare report the government’s criminal actions are hunted not only in Ethiopia but also abroad and brought back to Ethiopia and thrown in jail. Some are tortured and even killed. We at the diaspora have freedom to air our dissent. Most importantly, we have the means to take action to starve the beast of foreign currencies.
The PM is desperate for foreign currency, and we believe we have the leverage to make a difference by combining our sanction and remittance campaigns.
3. Why start an international campaign? The government challenges you to establish a political party and compete with ideas rather than starting an international campaign? Why not leave the local politics for the people at home?
This is laughable. First, the government has denied opposition parties freedom of assembly and freedom of expressing views on matters critical to the survival of the nation. It should be noted that the National Election Board is no the record flagging: “Illegal detention, intimidation, and harassment of members and leaders of political parties.” How can the people establish a party and offer the nation alternative choices when the PM is terrorizing opposition leaders?
Second, not long ago, the government was calling members of the diaspora to be an international voice against TPLF’s aggression. His current complaint about the diaspora’s involvement in Ethiopian politics is meaningless. The diaspora has the right and indeed the call of duty to speak up and create international pressure for change. So, the idea that the diaspora should leave the local politics for locals is ridiculous.
4. Some of the organizers of the #SanctionEthiopianGov and #InternationalInvestigation were organizers of the #NoMore campaign that opposed international intervention. What Changed?
Campaigns are a function of time and circumstances. During the #NoMore movement, we believed the government had the right to enforce law and order in Ethiopia and the international community’s intervention was biased toward TPLF. In addition, the Ethiopia government was unable to compete with TPLF’s lobbying power and public diplomacy to counter the international pressure that favored the TPLF. The Prime Minister himself and Ethiopian Ambassadors to the US and to several European countries called upon the diaspora to be a voice for Ethiopia. The diaspora responded positively. We believe that was the right decision at the time.
Time and circumstances have changed. Today, the danger to Ethiopia’s survival is caused by the Prime Minister. The PM is threatening his opponents with violence, stating his wrath will be deadlier than the Red Terror. Hi senior advisor, Addisu Arega, is on the record, stating: “Today’s Ethiopia is at a juncture similar to that of Rwanda when it found itself at the dawn of genocide.”
We believe Ethiopia has never encountered such a calamitous time. The international community shares our concerns about the existential threat for the survival of Ethiopia. Under the current situation, our campaign is the right campaign. It is also the most effective campaign in the short term. This does not mean the locals should not fight back. In that regard, we stand ready to support them.
5. The government’s #SanctionKills hashtag is the same hashtag that the Diaspora used during the #NoMore movement. How do you explain that?
There are many factors that determine the nature and impact of a campaign. No one would campaign for sanction under normal circumstances. Sanctions have different forms, and their impacts vary. Indeed, some sanctions can kill. For example, sanction on humanitarian aid will have impact on the poor and can kill. That is why we excluded humanitarian aid from our sanction campaign.
Our campaign is not to harm the nation in any way. It is to stop the reckless Prime Minister from pushing the nation over the cliff. The swirling crisis is one spark away from plunging the country into a cascading collapse. Our decision to launch a campaign for international sanction was made after we assessed the cost of action in the form of sanction against the cost of inaction. We believe the cost of inaction in the face of a looming existential crisis that the PM causes represent a far worse scenario. The calculus of sanction or no-sanction was different during the #NoMore movement.
If the PM believes sanction kills, the ball is on his court. Our conditions are reasonable and no government that pretends to honor and protect the rule of law will find them difficult to meet.
6: What Makes Your Campaign Different from Other Diaspora Campaigns?
Our objective is to force the lawless Prime Minister to honor and respect the Constitution of the land. As the head of the nation’s commander in chief and the boss of the Minister of Justice, the PM is supposed to enforce the nation’s law and order. For example, his decision to build a palace ecosystem at an astronomical cost of $15.3 billion outside of the oversight authority of the Parliament is a blatant violation of the Constitution. This amounts to 14 percent of the nation’s GDP. Our campaign is aimed at forcing the PM to abide by the law of the land.
7. Will You Stop Your Campaign if the PM Secures the Support of the Parliament for the Palace?
The campaign is not a one issue campaign. In and of itself, the palace issue has two layers of concerns. First, the PM is in violation of the Constitution. Second, the matter of economic priority is important. Can Ethiopia afford a $15.3 billion palace when 20 million Ethiopians depend on international food aid? Is it time for such a vanity project when 4.8 million people are displaced and are living without shelter? We believe saving lives and rebuilding war-torn regions must take precedence over a palace.
The campaign also seeks to create international pressure on the PM to stop fostering ethnic conflicts that can lead to another devastating civil war. We also oppose the ongoing effort to divide the Ethiopia Orthodox Church along ethnic lines. The PM has proven to be both reckless and dangerous. His threat to slaughter over 100,000 people overnight and unleash a wrath that is worse than the Red-Terror cannot be ignored. The only way to stop the impending humanitarian catastrophe is establishing accountability. That is why #InternationalInvestigation is part of our campaign.
8. You say your campaign is conditional. What are the conditions?
- Demanding full disclosure of the Prime Minister’s and the First Lady’s financing sources for their flagship projects and ensuring that in the future they will be fully transparent and comply with the law of the land.
- Resolving conflicts in the Amhara region peacefully. We believe there is no justification for the government’s use of force in the Amhara region while seeking peaceful resolution in the Oromo and Tigray regions.
- Respecting the rule of law and stopping unlawful arrests and the harassment and intimidation of opposition leaders.
- Identifying and bringing to justice those who are running private prisons and terrorizing the people of Addis Ababa.
- Investigating high-profile corruption cases, including (1) The Purchase of 200 Chinese buses, (2) the 40 million Birr that was deposited in the private account of the Addis Ababa mayor, (3) the 59% drop in gold export, and (4) criminal land transfers. Such investigations must be transparent and time bound.
- Freezing illegal evictions and land leasing in Addis Ababa and all major cities, until a full investigation of evictions and land distribution practices is undertaken, and a system of check and balance is established for the future. A case in point is the recent takeover of the Bole sub city; woreda 17 & 23 community centers. The demolished community centers must be rebuilt and returned to the community.
9. Why Does the IC Care About Ethiopia to Respond to Your Campaign?
More than 10 percent of global trade and 40 % of Asia’s trade with Europe pass through the Red Sea. In total $3 trillion worth trade passes through the red Sea. The IC sees Ethiopia as the anchor nation for the stability of the Horn of Africa and safe navigation through the Red Sea. This is how Alexander Rondos, the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa put it. “Ethiopia is a country that so important that if it collapses all the discussions about the Horn of Africa are moot. This is as simple as that. This is not Yugoslavia which imploded. Ethiopia straddles every other country around it. That is a core strategic question.”
The IC i is worried about the instability of Ethiopia. The US and EU leaders regard the PM as a destabilizing force. He has lost the respect of international leaders. The recent debacle when the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, visited Ethiopia is a case in point. The Chancellor came to Addis Ababa for a two-day visit with German corporate CEOs and government policy makers.
For reasons only the PM knows, he humiliated the German Chancellor by sending a low-level state minister to receive him at the Airport. Three weeks before, when the Italian Prime Minister came to Addis the PM himself received her at the airport. The Chancellor left within hours after he met the PM. In Kenya, he had a different visit that included discussion about regional issues. He gave a joint press briefing with the President of Kenya where he announced his support for German chancellor supports permanent UNSC seat for Africa and 250,000 jobs for Kenyans in Germany.
The IC has many reasons to respond to our campaign. First, as Ethiopian-Americans, we have every right to raise our voice when our tax money is given to a government that spends $15.3 billion on a palace while in the meantime asking for US and EU taxpayers to give him $28 billion for the reconstruction of war-torn areas. Second, the IC understands, if left unchecked, the PM will plunge the country in another war in the Amhara region and destabilize the entire horn region.
10. What About the Government’s #SanctionKills Counter Campaigns?
The fact that the government and its supporters have started a countercampaign before our campaign began in full earnest shows how much they are worried. Our campaign will not spend much time responding to the government’s countercampaign that includes defaming organizers of the campaign.
Our focus will be US and EU lawmakers, US and EU policy makers, US and EU taxpayers, and IMF/WB officials. We have framed, narrated, and curated the campaign in a way that shows any additional loan from the IMF/WB will violate the two institutions fiduciary responsibility to US and EU taxpayers. Therefore, our focus is on our campaign, not on the government’s coteries of cadres who are launching personal attacks. It shows the sorry state of the nation under the current PM.
11. What About the Government’s #StopRemittenceKills Counter Campaigns?
Remittance has two components. First is supporting family members. The second element is generating exchange rates for the government. The campaign does not affect the family aspect. Its aim is starving the beast by denying the PM from using diaspora funds for weapons that he uses to threaten and kill our people. That is why we have #BloodMoney as part of our campaign.
The campaign does not encourage the diaspora to stop supporting their families. As #RerouteRemittance suggests using informal non-governmental venues. The impact is neither on the economy nor on our families. Our families will continue receiving remittance through different channels. They will spend the money in domestic market. This means the impact on the domestic economy is significantly mitigated.
12. What is Next After the Titter Campaign?
The campaign is not limited to social media campaign. Ethiopian Americans who are associated with the Republican Party will launch a lobbying campaign in their respective voting districts. Those associated with the Democratic Party will do the same. Preparation for fundraising and media outreach is underway. It will be a full-blown campaign. The response so far is encouraging. People have reached out to us to inform us that they have canceled their family’s scheduled summer visit.
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