President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
October 5, 2021
Re: Executive Order on Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons With Respect to the Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia
Dear Mr. President: On behalf of a group of grassroots organizations of Eritreans for democratic change and rule of law in Eritrea, we applaud your Executive Order establishing sanctions related to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Similar crimes and abuses have also been systematically carried out for years against the Eritrean people in Eritrea by the dictatorial regime of President Isaias Afwerki. We thus whole heartedly support the action you and your government have taken against the serious crimes and abuses not only in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia but also Eritrea as well. The Horn of Africa has been destabilized by a few ruthless dictators, chief among them Isaias Afwerki, the President of the State of Eritrea. We hope the US will broaden its sanctions on the Eritrean regime to help the Eritrean people bring about badly needed democratic change in the country.
We, representatives of the four Eritrean organizations listed below, support and applaud the Executive Order in its entirety for the following reasons:
It can curb the crimes being committed against civilians in Eritrea and the Tigray region and other parts of Ethiopia;
It contributes to curb impunity in the future not only in Eritrea and Ethiopia but also in the whole region;
Such action would also contribute to bring peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.
We would also like to bring to your attention that we will be mobilizing our members within the European Union (EU) countries to encourage the EU as an institution, and EU member states individually, to follow the footsteps of the United States to take similar action to that of the US and hold the dangerous regimes in the Horn accountable for the serious human rights crimes and abuses they have committed and continue to commit in Eritrea and Tigray Region of Ethiopia.
As you well know, Eritrea is ruled by a ruthless and highly authoritarian regime under the total control of President Isaias Afwerki. The People‘s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) headed by President Isaias is the sole political party. There have been no elections in the country since Eritrea‘s independence in 1993, and Eritrea is still a country that has no constitution. Commonly referred to as the North Korea of Africa, Isaias‘ regime continues to commit gross human rights violations including arbitrary and extra-judicial killings and torture, sudden disappearances, indefinite detention of political prisoners and other citizens in harsh life-threatening conditions without due process, forced labor, indefinite national service, and severe restrictions on freedom of press, freedom of movement, peaceful assembly, and religion. These are established facts well documented by the US Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices, the UN Human Right Commission as well as various human rights organizations.
Currently, President Isaias Afeworki of Eritrea and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia are involved in a genocidal war against the people of Tigray. By all accounts, this war, which has been orchestrated by President Isaias Afwerki, has already created a humanitarian crisis in Tigray, which has spilled over to the rest of Ethiopia and has the potential to destabilize not only Ethiopia but also the whole horn of Africa.
We believe your Executive Order is the right action in the right direction, but we strongly believe more effort is needed to bring about a lasting solution in the region. We thus humbly urge your good office to:
Demand and ensure mechanisms for independent investigation on the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed against the peoples of Tigray, Eritrea and other areas in Ethiopia by the Eritrean despotic regime, the Ethiopian government and all other armed forces in the area;
Intensify the pressure on all sides involved in this conflict to come to the table and solve their political problems peacefully;
Recognize the border delimited by the Eritrea-Ethiopia border commission, a legal international instrument and process brokered by the United States and Algeria, so no excuse exists for President Isaias to drag Eritrean youth into war in Ethiopia;
Take the initiative of democratization in the Horn of Africa in general and Eritrea in particular in order to bring about a lasting solution to the root cause of cyclical conflicts in the region.
We trust that you will seriously consider our humble request.
Your Excellency, please accept our highest consideration.
1. Awet Tsehaye, for the Global Yiakl Movement, www.eriyiakl.com
2. Dr. Habteab Feseha, for the Eritrean Research Institute for Policy & Strategy (ERIPS), www.erips.org
3. Habte Hagos, for the Eritrea Focus, www.eritrea-focus.org
4. Sengal Woldetensae, for the Sinit Eritrawyan, firstname.lastname@example.org