Dear Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton,
Thank you for the response. The following statement in your response is alarming for the reasons outlined below:
Your statement: "As you know, fighting broke out between the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in early November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused Tigray forces of attacking a military base in an effort to steal weapons."
- It has now been confirmed by the UN as well as the US Government that the conflict was initiated by the TPLF when they attacked Federal military bases of the Democratic Federal Government of Ethiopia. Therefore, your inability to recognize that and phrase it as an 'accusation' (vs a statement of fact) is very concerning.
Example statement by Senator Chris Coons on 11/30/21 : https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2021/11/30/amanpour-coons-ethiopia-somalia... (refer to 6:30min mark: "I recognize that the TPLF fired first. That they launched a war against federal bases.")
As you know, your response, statements made in the US congress, and ensuing press coverage, is void of any acknowledgment of the following facts:
1. TPLF was classified by the US as a “Tier III terrorist organization” until 1991 when it took power as part of the ruling party governing Ethiopia for 27 years.
During the 27 years the TPLF was part of the ruling party of Ethiopia (1991 - 2018): it committed countless violations of human rights, stoked ethnic division (to advance its "divide and conquer" agenda), and looted national funds. Examples below:
- "Violation of Freedom of Expression and Association in Ethiopia" - Human Rights Watch - March 2010 https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia0310webwcover.pdf
- "Ethiopia: Donor Aid Supports Repression - Human Rights Watch - October 2010 - https://www.hrw.org/report/2010/10/19/development-without-freedom/how-ai...
- "Ethiopia: 25 Years of Human Rights Violations" - Amnesty International - June 2016 https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr25/4178/2016/en/ (full report attached)
2. Ethiopians peacefully overturned the TPLF in 2018 and democratically elected a government that represents all Ethiopians and works for all Ethiopians. Only then did the TPLF barricade itself in the Tigray region, launched an attack on the democratically elected government, switched its narrative to one of being a victim and guardian of the Tigray people, and launched attacks on Eritrea to create international conflict.
This was Secretary of State Pompeo's statement at the time of TPLF's attack on Eritrea in an "attempt to internationalize the conflict": "We strongly condemn the attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front against Eritrea and the attempt to internationalize the conflict. We urge the TPLF and the Ethiopian authorities to take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, restore peace, and protect civilians." -10:29 AM · Nov 17, 2020
3. The human right violations committed by the TPLF in neighboring areas of the Tigray region over the past 1 year.
"Ethiopia: Survivors of TPLF attack in Amhara describe gang rape, looting and physical assaults" - November 2021
The inability of the current US administration to stand firmly with the democratically elected Government of Ethiopia and help dismantle the current information warfare is very alarming. It has raised concerns not just in the Ethiopian-American community, but also across all Americans of African descent, and friends of Ethiopia who have knowledge of the dynamics at play - the #nomore movement is rooted in these concerns. These concerns are around the US's recognition of democratically elected governments in Africa, the US's respect of African nations' sovereignty, and the US's absence of acknowledging critical truths, and complete inaction to denounce the misinformation campaigns against the Democratic Government of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people.
Ethiopian-Americans and Americans of African descent represent a significant ratio of the Democratic Party's base in your district, as well as nationally. However, since the start of the conflict initiated by the TPLF, we have been in shock with the Democratic Party's stance on this conflict. As such, we withheld from voting for any Democrat candidate in the 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial election.
We hope that you, the rest of the Democratic Party, and the current US administration come to do what is right: speak the truth, respect the sovereignty of Ethiopia, and stand with the people of Ethiopia and their democratically elected government who is defending its citizens against a power hungry internal rebel group.
The world is watching, your electoral base is watching, and history will undeniably report the truth.
On Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 11:08 AM Representative Jennifer Wexton wrote:
December 3, 2021
Thank you for your message about the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you know, fighting broke out between the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in early November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused Tigray forces of attacking a military base in an effort to steal weapons. While the fighting began in November 2020, the tension between the government and the TPLF has been steadily rising as a result of an ongoing power struggle and the TPLF’s decision to hold their own independent elections in September despite Prime Minister Ahmed postponing the national election due to COVID-19.
As the Ethiopian government and Tigray forces continue fighting, civilians are fleeing to neighboring Sudan and thousands of people have been killed. I am extremely concerned by the reports of human rights abuses and the overall worsening humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia as millions of individuals in the region are in need of urgent food, medical supplies, and shelter.
As you may know, in a July 2021 conversation with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire. The Biden administration also dispatched Senator Chris Coons to Addis Ababa to convey the United States’ deepening concerns with human rights abuses in Tigray. Additionally, the U.S. is providing nearly $52 million in additional humanitarian assistance to the region. I fully support the steps that have been taken to address pressing humanitarian needs in the region and urge the Ethiopian government to allow independent investigators in to monitor the situation on the ground. Please know that I will keep your concerns in mind as I continue to monitor this situation and should legislation regarding this matter come before the House of Representatives.
If you have any other questions or concerns or require assistance from my office, please do not hesitate to contact me again. For a guide on resources available to my constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit my website. To receive continuing updates from my office, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook or sign up for my email newsletter.
Member of Congress