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The President of the United States of America
The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20501
Dear President Obama:
I am writing this to you on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a grassroots social justice movement whose mission is to mobilize Ethiopians in the Diaspora and within Ethiopia to unite across ethnic, regional, political and religious lines to confront the current system of injustice, repression and human rights abuses being carried out by the dictatorial regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and to bring about a more open, free and reconciled society in Ethiopia.
Our foundational principles are “putting humanity before ethnicity,” or any other distinctions-- valuing all humankind—and standing up for the universal values of freedom, justice and respect for the human rights of others for “no one will be free until all are free.”
The looming crisis in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa can no longer be ignored or addressed through “behind-closed-doors” quiet diplomacy. Such diplomacy has essentially covered up the evil actions of one of the most repressive and brutal regimes in Africa. Peace and stability in the Horn will be impossible while he is in power even while millions are spent in its pursuit.
Meles is an “African strongman” and deserves, at least, the same approach as Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The preferential treatment being given to this dictator, while condemning others for doing the same thing, is wrong. It will only further alienate the Ethiopian people and become a repeat of the mistakes of the past administrations.
The “dreams of our fathers” were for Africans to live in peace, harmony and with better opportunity; but unfortunately, American and Western foreign policies are now blocking Ethiopians from realizing these dreams by propping up this regime through huge amounts of financial and military aid as well as by protecting this regime’s “image” by not exposing their real nature. We do not expect your administration to do the work for us, but we do ask that free countries in the West stop being an obstacle to the democratic struggle of the people of Ethiopia.
Mr. President, you must choose between investing in the people or aligning with a so-called “US partner in our War on Terror” who is stirring up deep problems within Ethiopia. The damage being done by this regime within Ethiopia and the antagonism that most Ethiopians feel towards it and its supporters, may come back to undermine longer-term American national interests in the region.
Will your administration speak out loudly and clearly about the lack of democratic process in Ethiopia, about the pervasive politicization of justice and opportunity or about the gross violations of human rights that led to the referral of the case of Ethiopia to the International Criminal Court for investigation into multiple charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes? Will your administration call PM Meles Zenawi exactly what he is, a dictator who is terrorizing and repressing Ethiopia?
There is a short window of opportunity where such open support would make a dramatic difference to future relationships with the people of Ethiopia and that is now, within the next five months leading up to the Ethiopian National election. This is an opportunity to avert a possible crisis in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa by taking concrete steps to support the spread of freedom in the Horn of Africa, one of the most conflicted regions of the world. A free Ethiopia will make as much difference in bringing peace to this inter-related region as a brutal and conniving dictator has brought unrest to the region through fomenting division, conflict, violence and the radicalization of future terrorists.
Thus far, your administration’s policies, the same as during the Bush administration, have not shown support to this democratic movement of the Ethiopian people; nor has it helped to build democratic institutions like done in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia and other places where the US empowered and funded them in the past. Even funding decisions made by the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC, which are influenced by the US State Department, along with other funders of democracy building, have either ignored Ethiopia or have given their funds to mostly Meles controlled look-alike organizations rather than to genuine democracy building non-governmental organizations and institutions who are truly committed to democratic principles. At the same time, many in the West have justified their alliance with a dictator as resulting from the lack of any other more viable alternative; however, Meles is determined to destroy any such alternatives and the West is unwilling to either condemn him for doing it or to invest in building up any such alternatives.
Instead, we only see a passive approach by your administration and this is the reason we are sending this letter to you. We know you must represent American national interests, but is it not possible to establish a relationship based on mutual respect that does not exploit the freedom, assets or lives of the other? We care about the future of Ethiopian citizens just like you care about the national interests of Americans. Can there not be some kind of mutually beneficial partnerships?
If US support of this TPLF regime is about AFRICOM being built in Ethiopia, the people of Ethiopia need to know. If your administration does this behind the backs of the people and the people are suffering as a result, the foundation will be on sand. If your administration is supporting Meles to root out terrorists while we are victims of internal terrorism, you are in the wrong and such a policy will eventually backfire. You should instead engage the people in this struggle; for we also yearn for peace in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa. It is our home and it matters more to us than to anyone that terrorism be stopped.
How can you hope that the Ethiopian regime you are supporting can actually bring about peace to America and the West through someone like Meles? Is Somalia or the Ogaden in southeastern Ethiopia going to be more free of terrorists or will it end up becoming more radicalized because of the tactics used—the alleged killing of some 20,000 or more civilians, the widespread starvation and displacement of the people, the burning of homes and crops, the widespread rape of women, the killing of livestock and the poisoning of their wells?
How does this build a better future for any of us? Meles’ actions, were they to occur here in the United States, could even radicalize farmers in Bismarck, North Dakota, teachers in Chicago, business owners in Dallas, scientists in Nebraska and stay- at- home moms in Oregon.
Our foreign policies in Ethiopia do not reflect the values of most Americans who may end up experiencing more anti-west sentiment because of them; however, few know the real story about what is going on because the press has been mostly silent. Why? Will your administration make a change we can believe in?
The Horn is full of life and people who are extending their hands to you and your administration. Will you reach outward to clasp their hands in yours? If your administration really wants an alliance with partners who can work with you for the improvement of sustainable peace in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, it has to be with the people.
We are speaking as Ethiopian Americans, who desire the same kinds of values, democracy, freedom and rule of law in Ethiopia that many of us have sought by coming to America and other western countries. We want to find peace, safety and security like anyone else and want to be part of the solution of ending terrorism in Ethiopia and the Horn. Most of us want this through peaceful means; using the ballot rather than the bullet; however, our efforts are being sabotaged.
In May of 2005, over a million Ethiopians came out in Addis Ababa to rally for “this change they could believe in.” It was one of the most peaceful rallies in Africa; no one was killed and no windows were broken. When the election took place, 26 millions came out to vote, but the election was stolen by Meles. When the people protested for their God-given rights and universal principles of justice, Meles’ security forces shot and killed 193 unarmed protesters. Over 50,000 protesters were arrested and detained. Opposition leaders were later imprisoned. All of this hardly made the news in America and the previous administration failed to make any public statement condemning the government’s actions. The silence acted as an endorsement, legitimizing and strengthening the unelected prime minister and his TPLF party.
Right now, the first woman to lead a major Ethiopian political party and also one of the most popular opposition leaders in Ethiopia, Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, is a prisoner of conscience. Other opposition leaders are being intimidated and harassed and the media is totally closed to anyone but the government. No one expects this coming election to be free and fair; yet, if Ethiopians are faced with another five years of tyranny, the already simmering anger and tensions may erupt into widespread violence, destabilizing Ethiopia and possibly the entire Horn.
Will your administration or others in the West support a democratic movement in Ethiopia or not? Truthfully, we are not hopeful, as history shows that the strongest countries of this world have repeatedly abused Africa; where they have economically flourished by working through African dictators to secure African resources even if it means trampling on the rights or selling out on the lives and futures of Africans. Some, who believe in the God-given inherent worth of all people, including Africans, have stood against the slavery of the past, but how about new variations of the same?
These are the greatest moral issues of our time. If we use the highest ideals in our rhetoric; yet, in the realpolitik of action, we betray the weaker in our global society simply because we are economically and militarily more powerful and can get away with it, history will judge us. In respect to Ethiopia, this has happened before.
In 1935, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations to take mandated action against Mussolini’s Italy for military aggression carried out against Ethiopians in an obscure desert region of southeastern Ethiopia.
Ironically, both Ethiopia and Italy were members of the League, formed with the explicit mission of protecting its membership against such aggression; first with sanctions and then with military intervention; however, at the first challenge, the League caved in to its ideals, showing that the interests of the most powerful came first. 
Fearing they would antagonize the Italian dictator when they felt they needed his support against Hitler, they sacrificed Ethiopia; only making superficial and toothless attempts to stop Italy. Their betrayal of the League of Nation’s expressed ideals emboldened Hitler to advance against them.
While the international community lost their political will to intervene in Ethiopia, in a Times magazine article from July 22, 1935 , it was reported that many African-Americans joined in the fight against Mussolini; even boycotting Italian gin in the cities of America, connecting “…every shorty [nip] of gin bought from Italian saloon-keepers” with “bullets bought by Mussolini to slaughter our brothers in Africa!”As the League of Nations chose their own national interests over their commitment to collective security of each other, they lifted even the very weak sanctions from Italy.
In response to this betrayal, Emperor Haile Selassie spoke these words;
“I pray to Almighty God that he shall spare to the nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people…It is international morality that is at stake…should it happen that a strong government finds that it may with impunity destroy a small people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment…I must still hold on until my tardy allies appear. If they never come, then I say prophetically and without bitterness: “the West will perish.”
Mr. President, the “fierce urgency of the now” is a moral crisis which will define the identity of who America is; not only in 2010, but in the future. Ethiopia is one of the arenas where this moral struggle is being played out. Will the US choose to follow the ideals upon which America and the West were founded or will America and the West desert its moral convictions, emboldening new terrorists as the entire world loses some of its strongest proponents for humankind? Weakened convictions make for weakened moral resolve and such resolve is the glue that holds in place a more secure global future.
The betrayal of Ethiopia in 1936 may not have seemed significant at the time, but it helped weaken the forces of good, forces that needed all their strength to face the onslaught of the coming years. Which side will your administration and others in the West choose—dictators or the people? What it at stake now may be more than we realize!
We look forward to your response and hope that we Ethiopians can build a true partnership based on mutual values, trust and respect.
Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia
PO Box 50561
Arlington, VA 22205
Phone: (202) 725-1616
Thank you for the letter. You might not have noticed it . Second to the last paragraph, you have typo. Hope it is corrected. The other thing is that, is there a way to set up meetings with the president, Clinton or Rice? Can’t the opposition leaders here in the states meet with him really tell him what is going one? We also have to becareful being a bit harsh in our discussion when telling the U.S. What we should say is to convince them how a democratic Ethiopia will fight terrorism, wants the democratic system following the U.S and Europe. We have to show more solidarity as supposed to criticism. Meles is bending down and is now saying yes to anything they say but rather than offering the land to the West he is offering to non West. This also shows how Meles is really anti West because the West will speak out against the injustice unlike these corrupt multinational Asians and middle eastern corporations. What is more how he is separating the Tigrayans and the rest of Ethiopians trying to bring ethnic apartheid and causing ethnic hatred.
We ethiopians have to act more because it is crucial. What are we waiting for, until our people is completely annhilated?
Get down from the cross. They need the wood, as Arthur Miller once wrote.
ethiopia is very complicated than mr. obang made it to look.
ONLF fights for liberating ogaden from ethiopia.
OLF fights to liberate oromia.
the other fight against the ethnic based federal system and the seseccion of eritrea yet they are befriended with OLF and ONLF and even eritrea and add this to these the poverty, backwardness etc and you have one gigantic problem in ethiopia where if it explode it could mean the lives of millions of people.
I hope this powerful message will sink in Presedent’s mind and pay attetion to what’s going on in Ethiopia’s goverment. Let God help the people who REALY stand for Ethiopia’s people and her well being, not another self centered and corupted leader.
Is this Al mariam In other name?
What is the difference between Nazret (kissers), China, Goodgle and YO mafians in total control???
Google’s today’s stuff is nuisance and covered up foolishness for this analyser. Hackers know how to do it.
Meto, take care of yo mafia and it’s evil doer leader from central Virginia.
just bang your head with the wall Mr…O-bang
“I am writing this to you on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a grassroots social justice movement whose mission is to mobilize Ethiopians in the Diaspora and within Ethiopia to unite across ethnic, regional, political and religious lines to confront the current system of injustice, repression and human rights abuses being carried out by the dictatorial regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and to bring about a more open, free and reconciled society in Ethiopia.”
You started your letter by attacking a great leader to most of us Ethiopians and Africans and trust me even Obama knows that Meles good. If I was in Obama’s place, I would probably say NEG BENIE and trash you article.
YOU NEED TO GROW UP.
when will we start to walk the walk……rather than to talk the talk.
OBANG: Let alone Obama, Naftanga will laugh or scream with anger for what is wrong in their world that you have the audacity to write to the president. Boy, it is Menelik’s children you befriended he was black as they come but, mixed black of the Caribbean asked him for some ammunition aid, he had the audacity to answer: “We are for slavery every one in my service has a couple of t hem and are to be found all around my Empire. You are so foolish you buy the lies, deceit of the emperors great grand children or grand children, you must be ashamed of your self. GET LOST to copy Menelik’s order. The truth hearts, it is better when it does to the victimizer than the victim. You are an ‘UNCLE TOM’ even if you don’t live in a cabin physically but you reside there mentally. I don’t know what the EPRDF did wrong by you, other than not, divide the Gambela nation as the Somali clan that lives in anarchy for a couple of decade today.
Mr. Metho is one of the new voices of Ethiopia, a person of the South who harbors no hatred for Northerners that have massacered his people, but wants Ethiopia to be a peaceful nation where all Ethnic groups can live peacefuly.
Much love and peace to you Mr. Metho from this Oromo woman.
What is this ‘what are we waiting for’ thing?
What’s in your mind?sanjaw sew bela? Ki…ki…ki
You have no idea what you are talking about.
Le dispora semai kirbu new.
What’s with this guy? I think all of a sudden he’s trying to have a stable Ethiopia, which in case he doesn’t know doesn’t need Ogaden to separate from the rest of the country. Please act as an ehtiopian before you ask for change to happen in Ethiopia. Maybe you should join Birtukan’s party like Seye Abraham or Negasso Gidada, then we may start to respect you, as far as we know Ogaden people doesn’t even know you.
Whatt a waste of time and energy to write this long & monotonous monogue.
Also Obama has his plate full with all kind of internal and expternal problem and for the time being Ethiopia is not his priority or subject of interest. There is Meles who is dooing all kind of proxy job for the USA so why interupt that relationship.
Instead the author should challenge himself to write down what he can do to improve so many thing inside the country
This is a very well thought out letter, but it falls on deaf ears! The West and Meles aren’t going to stop sleeping togather because of this letter.From the western perspective, they see the situation as a little more complicated than what this letter addresses.The west is obvious more concerned about the war on terror in the horn, than ousting Meles and his cronies. If they get rid of Meles, who will do there bidding? The opposition? To many uncertainties to consider, so the west is going to keep ignoring the oppression and keep making concession as long as there interest is being satisfied. I’m afraid obama will’nt save your asses or turn the tide, he can’t do shit for his own people right here in America.Just because the head is african, the body is still controlled by white america, so help will have to come from within, than they might join the band wagon.
At a meeting in Minosota, at the Oromo Libration Gathering…
Mr. Obang said,
“I was very aware that like the Anuak in the Gambella region, our Oromo neighbors, whose land nearly surrounds us, have suffered so greatly that many Oromos have formed a liberation front and have sought for their independence from Ethiopia in self-protection and in a desire for self-determination. Even though I personally believe in a non-violent solution to the crisis we face, I also would have been very willing to come if the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) had been the ones to invite me to speak as I understand how committed they are in working for the betterment of the Oromo after suffering so greatly and for so many years—first under Haille Selassie, then Mengistu and now under Meles Zenawi!”
Which is it Mr. Obang. Ethiopia United or the OLF/ONLF thing you said whose fight you support?
And what is the meaning of your “Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia” if you are in support of those who kill Ethiopians in the name of ethnic separation? Which are you siding with, Ethiopia or OLF/ONLF?
Is there no one out there whose main concern is reunification of the Ethiopian people and the elimination of ethnic federalism? Anyone?
Long live Ethiopia/ns UNITED….!
Thank you Obang
The so called elections is coming to Ethiopia in may of this year 2010. I would like to encourage every Ethiopian Citizen to stand up what’s right for the people and country. There is no need a dictator to rule the Federation of Ethiopia forever. Is he a king?? is he Haile Selassie?? No he is not. He has to go .
The dire situation in the Ogaden and Ethiopia is devastating and need an urgent foreign entervene. therefore I will call the international community and major powers; US, UK, France, Canada, Germany to send an immediate UN PEACE KEEPERS to Ogaden.
R Somal is a Somali-Canadian Student and Activist who’s advocating for Peace, Justice, Equality and Democracy for the somali speaking Ogaden in Ethiopia
I would like to use this opportunity to discuss with you guys about skin color. As you all remember,Michael Jackson was suffering from skin disease called vitiligo(skin depigmentation)and the opposite of vitiligo is hyper-pigmentation(too dark skin) e.g Obang. My question is “Do you think Obang`s skin color is a disease"?.By the way I have to tell you that I am not a racist. I just use Obang as an example because he is a kind of Ethiopian celebrity and almost every one knows him.Let`s discuss this scientific issue in a civilized way.
for your information ethiopia is not portrica or some america colony you have something to say say it to ethiopians america acts on its own national interest the same for the rest, you are too idealist presidential speeches and policies are not the same grow up
Well done Mr.Obang.I hope your letter would change the mind and ttitude of Mr.Obama towards the Ethiopian leaders.So far he thought that the current regime of Ethiopia stands for peace and democracy,but after reading your letter that has exposed the ethnic based regime,Obama and the other US officials will take a sound measure against Weyane regime.This letter is a headache for the weyane cliques because their evil deed that has been covered with honey is unveiled.I know Dr.Obang a bout a couple years ago when he was coming to Zurich ,Switzerland.I do not forget his speech how he impressed the public in the meeting.Believe me if he were selfish ,Weyane would give him a top position in it’s government,however ,he is a valliant freedom fighter who always keep exposing the saboters.From Mr.Obang we should learn to write ,especially scolars,to the international community and show the true picture of the blood sucker weyanes.I think 18 years is quite a long time to stay in power,enough is enough.
Thankyou Obang Metho
“It is Our task and responsibility, as it is of Our Government, to transform these objectives into coherent, acceptable and realistic legislative and financial programmes and to see to their accomplishment, If this is done, the duty owed to the Ethiopian nation and people will be discharged. To succeed will require the single-minded, tenacious and unselfish dedication of each one of us…..” Negus Haile Selassie, Long Live the Constitutional Monarchy!, long Live the Kebra Negast!, Fire burn down the witchcraft star of secession, Rise with the Lion of Judah!, Long Live Independent Ethiopia!
All the injustices are in the figment of your bigoted imagination caused by the injustice perpetrated upon you by the Ethiopian people by choosing a PM you loath due to his ethnicity. Sad, Sad … Aye dedeb, zeregna Abesha … Thank God most Ethiopians are not like u, the so-called “educated” Ethiopians in the Diaspora. You guys are a disgrace to all Ethiopians, for that matter, to the human race.
Thomas H ,what the hell are you talking moron racist banda .Days and nights you and all your thuggy
bros are complaining that you have
been insult by the patriot diaspora
whom you used to treat as neftegnias .Just because you can challenge any longer ato Metho you
have no ways than spreading your usual insanities on this website .Once again you unmask yourself by your silly and baseless
LONG LIVE THE TRUE ETHIOPIANS !!!
MOTE LE LEBA WOYANE KENE BANDAWOTCHU !!!!
De la manchu (Delalaw Wuchetu) when
you treat Obang Metho as an uncle Tom ,you’re just talking about yourself ,your thuggy bros and your leba master .Not only once but
many times at different occasion enslaved by Shabya ,kaddafi ,El Beshir and actually by the state department .As said our great artist Telahun “..Sew Hoye sema sema ,ye rassihun satawk lelawn atema..”
As all Ethiopian,we really have a deep problems.We should all of us try first to understand our internal problems and think carefully how to resolve and overcome in peacefulness.The article is good and true,the all problems were existed in years which are the major and fundamental obstacles that held Ethiopia to be behind the world and that causing Ethiopia the continues conflicts and wars btw her ethnics.thus,all
Ethiopian leaders including the current one,instead of thinking how to develop the country they always getting stuck the fights of all kinds fights,liberation fronts,famines and starvation’s.And each of the leaders before,even reached of one solutions was ending his terms.The new was also facing a new different problems and none of them never used the talks and a negotiations but used all of them the a same model of military power.
But we knew that military never resolved of any conflicts but that we knew that it inflames the situation and makes the region of the horn a more wary and unstable chaos region.
Therefore,Obang Metho was really well said but my friend is that missed Obama can’t resolving our local conflicts until we seek solutions for ourselves and that peacefully sit and reach some compromises instead of challenging into one another and escalating wars among Ethiopians and even the wars that have against our nighboers.
Mr Obang Metho,thank you for your efforts of the letter to the presidents.
Ethiopia that shall be recovering and that one day Ethiopia will overcome of all her outstanding problems and the will be that a strong peaceful and prosperous country.
Insha’allah, the great Ethiopia will survive and will remain a peaceful & a powerful country.
thomas you are a the issue was politcs not a skin colour. You lost the plot. AS FAR AS oBAN IS CONCERN he will not be intimidated by person like you. Your in different league. you do not know the difference between ass and mouth!
Why should Ethiopia gave people like you? I wonder!
Thomas H: According to your bible man evolved from Apes. I am fully persuaded man is created by God and as you see in the creation of God, there are many creations of many colors. Black is scientifically the presence of too much ink or color as white is colorless. Albino is a skin disease. Therefore it is the white not black with the disease.
Is the zebra black on white or is it the other way around? Is it a disease to be a zebra? America is the nation that will be majority zebra in the next twenty years. Latinos, Africans, Arabs, Indians, other Asians.
THNAK U MR. OBANG,
we need patriots like this man regardless of being the main stream ethiopians like amharic speaking light skinned geez orthodox bla bla bla…..i am from this group but i know it does not justify ethiopia no more so i am a fan of obang for new Ethiopia where every human kind is equal regardless of his up bringing or tribe…..
ONCE AGAIN THANK U LET US WORK FOR ONE ETHIOPIA…….
Mr.Obang metho greetings in the name of the.
King of kings rastafari I love your letter you did
What many has feared to do talk the truth with open athority
There are many in the west that seek to come
Home to ethiopia especially the rastas we know the west will perish
Acording to prophecy and is because of haile selassie opening the
Eyes of many worldwide especially black people taking many out of
Slavery fhysically mentally and spiritually we know ethiopia is the cradle
Of life and the only way for ethiopia to flow with love is teocracy law which is the government
Of the creator of heaven and earth which haile selassie 1 already set
and after all these generations the ethiopian kings have defendid ethiopia from democracy demon government
Now after all that meles want to turn democracy most of the attacks by the enemy on ethiopia was to colonialise it for the protection
Of ethiopia ethiopians at home and abroad need to support the restoration of TEOCRACY and the flag with lion of judah
For the lion of judah have prevailed so mr obang your letter is a great inspiration to the many rastafarians worldwide who seek repatriation
To ethiopia especially in the caribbean under slavery we master all the skills of the world and we need to come home and help so mr obang keep
The fire burning
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