ESMART_Press-Release_04_10_2012.pdf440.45 KB

APRIL 10, 2012 

For Immediate Release


Under the banner “Stop Ethiopian Occupation and Aggression”, Eritrean-Americans across the U.S. have been conducting a 13-day campaign (April 1-13, 2012). This campaign is designed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruling of April 13, 2002; a ruling that Eritrea had accepted but Ethiopia, 10 years after the final and binding decision, is yet to accept. In this campaign Eritrean Americans are writing letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their members of Congress, and members of the UN Security Council urging them to bear down on Ethiopia to vacate sovereign Eritrean territories it is occupying in defiance of the ruling and to stop its latest warmongering.

Eritrean-American communities across the U.S. are also urging Washington and the UN to impel Ethiopia to implement the 2002 ruling by an independent international boundary commission immediately and without any preconditions. In one of such letters the Organization of Eritrean Americans wrote: “We are urging that our government stop appeasing Ethiopia and develop a clear, swift and fair policy that supports international rule of law without any preconditions.
The OEA letter added “As an author, guarantor and witness of the 2000 Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia that created the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the U.S. has the moral responsibility and if it wants is capable of bringing a peaceful closure to the decade-old border conflict.”

Tension on the border between the two countries is on the rise because of Ethiopia’s continued occupation of internationally-recognized Eritrean territory and its recent public admission to making several reckless incursions deep into Eritrean territory. In the recently leaked US cables the Ethiopian Prime Minister is quoted to have told a visiting US diplomat that Ethiopia is directly supporting armed groups the US doesn’t like. Ethiopia is currently hosting a host of groups that have repeatedly committed acts of terrorism against Eritrean civilians. This provocative and aggressive Ethiopian act should be unequivocally condemned.

Attached below is the full text of the OEA letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton:

April 10, 2012

The Honourable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary, U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington,
D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are writing you once again to ask you to stop another potential bloodbath between Eritrea and Ethiopia before it is too late by enforcing the rule of international law. Not only does the U.S. have an obligation and responsibility to do so, but it is also the only power capable of bringing Ethiopia to its senses. As you remember well the US under President Clinton’s leadership had played a constructive role in bringing the 1998-2000 war by serving as a facilitator between the two countries and later on authoring the 2000 Algiers Agreement.

We are Eritrean-Americans who care about the long-term interests of our adopted country, the US, and about the delivery of international justice to our country of origin, Eritrea. If one examines the history of the Horn of Africa it is easy to see a pattern of systematic and repeated betrayals by the West. The justification for such a checkered history seems to lie on some ill-conceived, narrow-minded and misguided policies that serve some short-term interest of the West but ultimately perpetuate injustice and create cycles of conflict and war. In the long run, the interests of the US
are harmed.

A case in point is the flawed geopolitical calculations that favored and privileged successive Ethiopian rulers over its smaller neighbor Eritrea. The actions or lack thereof by the US and the UN have defined the turmoil that has filled the better half of the 20th century. Had the US supported the aspirations of the Eritrean people, a destructive 30-year war that destroyed Eritrea and impoverished Ethiopia may
have been averted. Had the US not bought every Ethiopian lie about Somalia the Horn of Africa would have been a better place now.

Over the years, internal Ethiopian political dynamics have historically used Eritrea as a scapegoat and a rallying issue to create domestic coherence. The US has repeatedly allowed itself to be used in this game of victimizing Eritrea in an attempt to keep a tattered Ethiopian empire together. The 2009 and 2011 sanctions against Eritrea that the US pushed through the UN Security Council are other cases in point. The US must learn from the mistakes of such misguided policies that seem to benefit neither the US nor the region.

Under the sponsorship of the US, the UN, EU and the AU, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed the Algiers Agreement in 2000. There was hope that this was to usher a new era of peace and tranquility for the region and the beginning of a healthy partnership for the US. All of this has been shattered due to the refusal of Ethiopia to abide by the final and binding EEBC ruling for ten long years. It is evident that Ethiopia's refusal to abide by the rule of law was hatched and nurtured in large part due to the acquiescence, tacit encouragement and passive neutrality of the United States. This was true with former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer’s desire to reopen the 2002 EEBC decision, which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia” and now with Ambassador Susan Rice who is wishing to bypass the final and binding ruling of the EEBC. She is quoted by one of the leaked cables advising “Ethiopia to forge a new border demarcation plan” and “that a third party could offer some legitimacy to the demarcation project.” This bias and reckless taking sides with Ethiopia is not only harmful, but it is also illegal. It must be stopped. As an author and guarantor/witness of the 2000 Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia that created the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the U.S. has the moral responsibility and if it wants is capable of bringing a peaceful closure to the now decade and half old border conflict.

As the only super power, the US can make things happen. When the US takes a clear, decisive and principled stand it can make a positive difference. We are urging that our government stop appeasing Ethiopia and develop a clear, swift and fair policy that supports international rule of law without any preconditions. In this way, the US will work for peace in the region while protecting its long-term interests and its prestige as a super power.

We also call on the US to work to lift the unjust sanctions that have been imposed on Eritrea based on lies fabricated by Ethiopia. As
the March Ethiopian aggression show these sanctions are giving Ethiopia a green light to make reckless incursions into Eritrea and to openly brag about them. This is precisely why Ethiopian authorities as they told journalists after their March 15 incursions that they think
"The Eritrean defense force is not in a position to launch an attack against Ethiopia and were they try to do so, the results would be disastrous." Eritrea must be lauded for not retaliating in kind; however, Eritrea’s patience should not be tested. If Eritrea decides to return fire with fire there could be another cycle of a bloodletting like the world witnessed in 1998-2000. Definitely the US would like to see this happen again while having the power to stop it. It is time the sanctions against Eritrea, which to begin with were based on blatant lies, are lifted and the US should send Ethiopia a clear and strong signal that its warmongering and destructive posture towards its neighbors, be it Eritrea or Somalia, will not be tolerated.

We look forward to hearing from you.


The Organization of Eritrean Americans