Guest Commentary: Ethiopian diaspora response to the crisis in Ethiopia

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2021

By Ojoye Akane

Silence is not an option anymore if we want to stop the country of Ethiopia from collapsing.  Ethiopians need to do something!

Ethiopia is a country on the Horn of Africa bordering Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and other countries in East Africa. The capital is Addis Ababa. Ethiopia was among the first independent nations to sign the Charter of the United Nations and gave great support in the fight to decolonize Africa. It was also very instrumental in the inception and growth of Pan-Africanism ideology in Africa and is now home to the African Union, International, and multinational organizations.

Ethiopia is currently in turmoil, which is orchestrated by the rebellion Tigray but enabled by our very country’s inability to stop it. However, I submit that the Ethiopian government and Ethiopian people will never again go back to the regime that has tortured them for almost two decades.

Therefore, to prevent the past bloodshed that will never be forgotten, the U.S. and Europe, should find an alternative solution instead of a regime change attitude. It works back in the early 90s because of the competing ideologies between East and West, especially the U.S. and Russia. But it will never work this time.

Why? Because 99% of Ethiopian, both diaspora and in-land want nothing to do with former TPLF anymore because, after 27 long years, Ethiopia finally felt a breath of fresh air when the new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, introduced reforms in the country to get ride-off the corruptions, ethnic divisions, ethnic cleansing and reunite the country once more.

While this change has not yet been realized by many regions especially, underdeveloped regions such as Gambella, Benishangul, Somali, and Afar, he achieved more in a couple of years than what has been done for 27 years.

He went as far as welcoming the leaders of the opposition, some from the U.S. and other western countries to join him in rebuilding the country. He put an end to the war with the neighboring country, Eritrea, and reestablished normalcy within the region. His work was soon recognized by the world and was awarded the Noble Peace Prize just like President Barak Obama, Nelson Mandela of South African, Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

So, overthrowing the current government of Ethiopia will not work this time because TPLF has made the whole country, it’s enemy. To most Ethiopians and the rest of the world, it is common knowledge that the former administration, Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) led government, ruled the country with an iron fist, turning ethnic against ethnic, but to me and millions more Ethiopians, it is personal.

I have been very reserved and afraid of overwhelming people with my past and present, but I felt like I need to tell my story about what the government we were supporting had done to my family.

In the mid-90s as a teenager, understanding the bleak times and gloom future, I escape to Kenya for safety. However, just a few months later my older brother was killed on his way back to Gambella from the gold mines in Dimma. He was killed while my younger brother was present and later my younger brother suffered from traumatic ulcers and eventually died a couple of years later.

A few years after that, in 2002, my nephew (my older sister’s son) was shot and killed while eating lunch at home for no reason and no investigations were conducted to determine why the soldiers shot him to death. I still mourn their deaths today, especially, when I feel the pain of loneliness of being in the USA while carrying the burdens and duties of the rest of the family, and I pray that many people shouldn’t go through what I am going through. Even though I appreciate the success and the blessings I received when I came to the USA, I truly know that thousands upon thousands can say the same thing when/if they are given an opportunity.

Dec. 13, 2003 was a horror for the families of over 424 ethnic Anywaak elites massacred in Gambella, Ethiopia just because of their race and in the daylight, carried out for two consecutive days by our own Ethiopian defense forces, supported by mobs from the highland. Thousands of deaths of men, women, and children followed suit and the world was silent but the best our country can do was to send special forces to airlift its few citizens living in Gambella, Ethiopia at the time of the massacre. No threats of discontinuing funding to the Zenawi Regime were ever heard from the liberals of our officials, our state department. No calls for an independent investigation of the massacre. The Anywaa were left to fend for themselves.

But this time, we need to rally behind the government by opposing our governments’ intervention in this indirect war against our country. As a taxpayer, I don’t want my tax money to pay for the regime that has destroyed my family and God knows what it will do if emboldened by the support of the USA and Europe.

I beg every Ethiopian diaspora, and those back in Ethiopia to plan a global protest against overthrowing the Ethiopian government by foreign actors. We should not be silent when the country is collapsing in front of our own eyes.

To our fellow Tigray ethnic groups, I implore you to stay with the government. It’s true that up until last year, your region was far ahead of all other regions until those who were hungry to stay in power destroyed it all. But Ethiopia can rebuild its broken pieces.

Don’t allow these hand full of leaders to turn you against the whole of Ethiopia, they refuse to face justice.

Don’t allow them to bring you down with them. Together we can rebuild the country back again. Join us in Minneapolis, Sydney, London, New York, DC, Dallas, and let us together advocate for peace. Let us join the peaceful protesters in Ethiopia and go call our respective officials, congressmen, and women before we witness our country’s collapse.