The Security and Justice for Tigrayans (SJT) Expresses Disappointment with African Union Chairperson’s Statement

Mekelle:  29 April 2024 (Tigray Herald)

The Security and Justice for Tigrayans (SJT) Expresses Disappointment with African Union Chairperson’s Statement

The Security and Justice for Tigrayans (SJT), a global advocacy organization representing the Tigrayan diaspora, along with the cosigning organizations listed below, write this letter to express their profound disappointment regarding your statement issued on April 25, 2024, “… H.E. Moussa Faki Mahmamat is following with deep concern the escalating tensions between local communities in the contested areas of northern Ethiopia, including Raya Alamata, Zata and Ofla….”

We found your statement to be alarmingly and grossly dangerous, misleading, and erroneous. Instead of advocating for the immediate implementation of the CoHA and offering advice and support to de-escalate the situation and provocative statements from officials of the Federal Government, you issued a statement that undermines the ongoing peace initiative. Your statement has no value other than exacerbating tension and instability in the already fragile region.

While we expect your office to place significant emphasis on acknowledging genuine efforts towards fostering peace and progress, your statement lacks an accurate understanding of the realities and has given rise to deep disappointment and grave concerns among those closely monitoring the dire situation.

Most importantly, it is utterly disturbing to witness AU overstepping its bounds of authority by blatantly aligning with a particular government instead of upholding its fundamental principles of impartiality and non-interference. This AU’s flagrant departure from its core values severely erodes the trust and credibility upon which it is obligated to depend. The AU is not merely expected but duty-bound to stand as an unwavering beacon of impartiality, fiercely championing peace, and stability across all member states, without even a whisper of favoritism or bias. Anything less than this commitment tarnishes the very integrity of the organization and imperils its vital role in safeguarding the safety and security of all people under its jurisdiction.

Your Excellency,

The Ethiopian federal Constitution unequivocally delineates regional territories and administrative arrangements and stipulates the process by and through which border disputes are handled and remediated should they arise. The areas you mentioned in your statement- Raya Alamata, Zata and Ofla-are indisputably and constitutionally recognized as part of Tigray. Therefore, unless you are intentionally siding with the aggressors baseless claims, there should be no room for contention. Furthermore, the Pretoria CoHA mandates the restoration of unlawfully and forcefully invaded areas to their pre-genocidal war status.

It is imperative that the AU reassess its approach to situations like the one in Ethiopia vs Tigray, ensuring that it

operates within the framework of its mandate and respects the internal administrative arrangements and constitutional rights

of all parties involved. Only by doing so can the AU fulfill its duty to protect the rights and safety of the people it serves and

regain the trust of those who rely on its impartiality and integrity.

Relevant to mention is that this is not the first time you’ve made such deeply appalling and regrettable statements. Right from the outset, you aligned yourself with Mr. Abiy Ahmed’s government. You openly lent your support when he declared the genocidal war in November 2020, under the guise of a ” Law and Order Operation.” By dubbing this premeditated war as a “Law and Order Operation,” you deliberately downplayed the grave atrocities committed, sparking significant skepticism and grave doubts about the AU’s true commitment to addressing the conflict and upholding principles of justice,peace, and truth. While your office is expected to mediate conflicts as a neutral entity, the standpoint you reflected throughoutthe war in Tigray puts you in a prejudicial andinvidious position. You consistently threw your weight behind Mr. AbiyAhmed’s government, by issuing prejudiced statements, one after another. Consistently throwing your weight behind Mr. AbiyAhmed’s government. You fell short of demonstrating the necessary resolve to condemn the actions of Mr. Abiy Ahmedhis egregious genocidal war. Instead, you openly and fully concur with his claim that “this is our internal matter,refrainfrom interference,” while orchestrating mass atrocities against the very people he is supposed to safeguard by inviting foreignentities like Eritrea, UAE, Somalia, and others to participate in the slaughter of millions of civilian Tigrayans.

For instance, you stated, “…the federal government took bold steps [the war] to preserve the unity, stability, andrespect for the constitutional order of the country….” Despite numerous credible international media outlets including CNN,New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Reuters, the Economist, the Guardian; and human rights advocates such as AmnestyInternational and Human Rights Watch, painstakingly reporting and documenting horrifying crimes of mass atrocities andbarbaric sexual violations, you callously turned a blind eye, displaying a shocking lack of empathy and disregardthesuffering people of Tigray. Now again, you have put out another ominous statement showing your stand against the aggrievedpeople of Tigray.

We find it hard to accept that you are unaware of the glaring fact that substantial components of the CoHA have notbeen implemented. The pledge to promptly facilitate the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remains nothing but anempty promise. These vulnerable Tigrayansstill subjected to deplorable conditions and languish in temporary shelters.Without doubt, you have firsthand information that the Eritrean forces and Amhara Militia continue to occupy Tigray’s.territories, committing cruel crimes with impunity.

The Tigray forces, on the other hand, have indeed surrendered their heavy weapons, a fact verified by the AfricanUnion’s Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM). It is of utmost importance to underscore that thedisarmament of the Tigray forces was explicitly contingent upon the simultaneous withdrawal of non-ENDF entities includingthe foreign forces of Eritrea and Amhara militia from Tigray. Unfortunately, this pivotal condition has regrettably goneunfulfilled, casting a dark shadow of suspicion over the commitment to the Pretoria agreement and the broader peace process.

Therefore, youron both sides to urgently halt hostilities and ensure the safety of civilians to end the reneweddisplacement of the local population, and your appeals for the respect and full implementation of the Agreement for LastingPeace Through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities (CoHA), signed between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia(FDRE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 2 November 2022, in Pretoria, South Africa, lacks a balance andconveys an inaccurate message to the international community and those engaged in the Pretoria CoHA process.

You are very well aware that the Tigray Interim Government has unequivocally shown its commitment to cooperatingwith the Federal governmentimplementing the CoHA. You are also very well informed that this progress has beencontinually undermined by the reprehensible actions of other stakeholders, notably the Amhara Regional Government and theEritrean Government, that recklessly engage themselves in the disseminationmisinformation and disinformation since thestart of the genocidal war and never stopped even after the signing of the Pretoria CoHA. Such a deliberate manipulation offacts serves to perpetuate a distorted narrative aimed at vilifying the TPLF, thereby intensifying tensions and exacerbatinginstability. By shamelessly fabricating data and falsely attributing recent displacement to the TPLF, they not only obstruct the

path to peace but also callously endanger the lives and well-being of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Such recklessbehavior must be unequivocally condemned, and those responsible must be held accountable for their reprehensible actions.

Your Excellency,

It is crucial for AU to avoid the creation of misleading narratives that may inadvertently or intentionally downplaythe significant challenges and ongoing human suffering in Tigray. Misinforming statements undermine the trust of thoseaffected by the conflict and concerned citizens around the world who hope for a just and lasting resolution.

In this regard, your call should have focused on addressing the practical challenges effectively by demanding allaparties involved to engage in transparent and inclusive dialogue, guided by principles of truth, accountability, and mutualrespect. And such a dialogue should aimaddress the underlying grievances fueling the conflict and pave the way formeaningful reconciliation and sustainable peace.

Your call should have dedicated itself to appealing everyone to work towards a future where peace and prosperityprevail in Ethiopia and the broader Horn of Africa region. It is high time for you to cease the elusive approach but tackle theissue directly and decisively. By avoiding your genuine actions, you are prolonging the suffering and instability in the region.It’s imperative to hold those accountable for their actions and push for genuine progress towards peace and stability. Anything
less would be a disservice to the countless lives affected by this ongoing conflict. It’s time to stop tiptoeing around the issue

and confront it head-on.

We respectfully urge your excellency to reconsider your stance and engage in a more accurate, neutral, and balanced

representation of the situation. The path to lasting peace in the region must begin with a truthful assessment of the challengesthat remain.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We hope for a swift resolution to the ongoing crisis in Tigray and acommitment to the principles of justice, reconciliation, and the protection of all vulnerable populations.

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