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Open letter to Senator Jeff Merkley  (AAO)

Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Jeff Merkley (from his website)

August 16, 2023 

The Honorable Senator Jeff Merkley 
Member of Senate Foreign Relations 
531 Hart Senate Office Building 
Washington, DC 20510 

Dear Honorable Senator Merkely, 

The Amhara Association of Oregon (AAO) and many Oregonians of Ethiopian decent are greatly concerned with the ongoing genocide of the Amhara people, human rights violation by the Ethiopian government, and  the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian military in the Amhara region in Ethiopia. The purpose of this  letter is to inform your office of the recent development plaguing the country, which brings great concern  to many of your constituents throughout Oregon. 

The persecution of the Amhara people started during the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) in the  early 1980’s, which continued unabated since P.M. Abiy Ahmed administration came to power five years  ago. Over the course of the past five years, hate, crime, and debauchery having taken hold of the civility of  Ethiopia through exploiting and frustrating the diverse ethnic makeup of the country. The ruling Prosperity  Party, led by P.M. Abiy Ahmed, has been exploiting ethnic divisions in the country to strengthen its grip  on power. This has resulted in the relentless massacre and displacement of millions of ethnic Amharas from  Oromia and Bengshan Gumuz regions, imprisonment of Amhara journalists and political activists, targeted  demolition of houses in Addis Ababa and its environs, and the restriction of freedom of movement for  residents of the Amhara region to the capital city.  

The government has now deployed its army in the Amhara region causing immense suffering to the Amhara  people still reeling from a devastating war between the TPLF and the federal army. These unjust and  reckless actions by the government seriously threaten the stability of the country and the wider horn of  Africa, and undermine US interest in the region. We wish for you to hear our concerns and seek any  intervention of the U.S. government, the U.S. Senate, and current administration.  

Here are some of the events happening on the ground since in chronological order: 

Prime Minister illegally deployed the army in the Amhara region at the beginning of April 2023, following  widespread protests and violent clashes against his decision to dissolve the regional force and deploy the  federal army to enforce the integration of regional forces into the federal army and police. 

On August 14, 2023 the Ethiopian Parliament passed the State of Emergency by two-third vote, which  brings the Amhara Regional State under military rule. The emergency rule gives the military to make mass  arrest without court order, giving full power to the military to detain and kill innocent people without any  court order.  

Both the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the African Union have expressed their grave  concerns over the on-going fighting between Ethiopia’s national army and armed militia group Fano, in  Amhara. Fighting broke out after the government decided to disband regional forces FANO are people who are civilians during peace time, 

they work as farmers, merchants, students, teachers, and are patriotic solders who defended their country  during war time. FANO comprises respected individuals who fight not for glory but to defend their people  from genocide. They encapsulate the Amhara spirit and function as  protectors. 

Ethiopia is at a dangerous crossroads due to the recent military attack on the Amhara people by the  Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF). This has caused the death and arrest of thousands of people in  the Amhara region. The ENDF has used heavy military artilleries and drone to kill innocent civilians. For  example over 70 people have been killed in Finote Selam by drone in one of the Amhara cities. Over 10,000  people of Amhara origin have been arrested in the capital Addis Ababa. High ranking military officials  have been arrested from ENDF who have Amhara ethnic origin. Lawyers and witnesses say Ethiopian  police have arrested hundreds during state of emergency – Washington Times 


Abiy Ahmed reckless ethnic based leadership has pushed all in the dangerous divisive buttons and that  cumulatively are driving Ethiopia towards an implosion. The Amhara Association of Oregon and the  Amhara’s in the rest of the world are in fear of the nightmarish situation that can lead to a fully blown civil  war in Ethiopia. 

On Mar 11, 2023 Molly Phee, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said about change in  Ethiopia after the two year war “To put that relationship in a forward trajectory, we will continue to need  steps by Ethiopia to help break the cycle of ethnic political violence that has set the country back for so  many decades,” To repeat the dire situation already stated, the cycle of ethnic political violence could  escalate in Ethiopia leading to more death and displacements possibly to an unknown scale in the region  given the complexity of ethno-political conflicts encouraged by TPLF for 27 years and nurtured by Abiy  Ahmed ruling party at present. There is considerable unrest in several regions. Freedom of movement  curtailed in various regions and location even close to the capital Addis Ababa. 

Amhara Association of Oregon urges the United States government, the Senate and the House of  Representatives to take a firm stand against the Ethiopian regime’s reckless behavior that is leading the  country into a dark path that could trigger a possible civil war and help save Ethiopia from going to another  cycle of ethnic violence this time perpetrated by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. In the interest  of peace, which is much needed in the farmland of the Amhara, the irresponsible military adventure must  be stopped as former Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of Amhara region Gedu  Andargachew articulated during a speech in parliament opposing the declaration of State of Emergency in  Amhara region. Ethiopia needs peace, rule of law and freedom from the dreadful ethnic violence.  

The United States, the United Nations, EU and AU should come in one voice to condemn Abiy Ahmed and  his administration and should sanction the military generals to stop the attack and killing of innocent  civilians in the Amhara region. ENDF should leave the Amhara region immediately, and all stakeholders  should come together and talk for a peaceful solution.  


Sileshi W Rufael 

President, Amhara Association of Oregon

16929 SW Cashew Way,  
Beaverton, OR 97006,  
United States of America 
Portland, OR

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of  


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