Open letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee from former Eritrean ambassador

The Nobel Committee leader Berit Reiss-Andersen (left) and Deputy Henrik Syse (right) applaud the Prime Minister of Ethiopia after the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 2019. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / AFP / NTB

Source: Bistands

[Note: Computer translation]

OPINIONS: I understand that the Nobel Foundation has never before withdrawn a prize it has awarded. But it is always a first time with everything, writes the article author who is a former ambassador for Eritrea to the Scandinavian countries. She is shocked by Prime Minister and Peace Prize winner Abyi Ahmed’s handling of the brutal war in the Tigray region.

When Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2019, my first question was: How does the Nobel Committee decide who will receive the prize each year?

After some research, I learned that Alfred Nobel in his will had decided that the return on his fortune should be divided equally among five prizes.

One of the five prizes was to go to “… the one who has worked most or best for the fraternization of the peoples and the abolition or reduction of standing armies as well as the formation and dissemination of peace congresses.”

The question then is: Why was Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – without having a track record of contributing to peace in Ethiopia or the region?

Boasted of the old regime

During Abyi Ahmed’s inauguration ceremony on April 2, 2018, he concluded as follows: “I thank you with the utmost respect and love for my organization, the EPRDF (the former four-party governing coalition, editor’s note), and my people who elected me and gave me the responsibility to lead. ”

A little later, in his speech in Mekele on April 13, 2018, he praised Tigray, the Tigray People and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). He said that Tigray is the cradle of Ethiopian civilization, the source of Ethiopian identity and the roots of philosophers such as Yared and Zerayacob.

He listed the names of ten TPLF martyrs, among them Meles Zenawi (former president 1991-95 and prime minister 1995-2012, editor’s note), and said many thousands of others could also be praised for his admirable courage and said they had paid for it. highest award for justice, equality and development in Ethiopia.

But within a few months of Abyi coming to power, there were clear signals about who he really was. He gradually began to paint a picture of the 27 years of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in power as 27 years of darkness and oppression.

This happened despite the fact that Abyi himself had been part of the military establishment, the security apparatus and the EPRDF’s coalition government. He served in the military with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he was appointed head of the Information Network Security Agency in 2007, the Ethiopian government’s organization for electronic surveillance and cyber security.

Abyi was elected as a representative to the Federal National Assembly as a member of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which was part of the EPRDF’s governing coalition. Abiy was appointed Minister of Science and Technology in the Federal Government, but left the post to serve as Vice President of the Oromia Regional Government. In 2017, Abiy was elected head of the secretariat of the OPDO party.

Cannot be released from liability

With all this as a background, I believe he can not be absolved of responsibility for mistakes made by the EPRDF, because he himself was part of the governing coalition, and not least he was among the leaders of the apparatus that monitored the Ethiopian people.

One of the most important peace steps taken by Prime Minister Abiy was the peace agreement with Eritrea. But the so-called peace agreement was never made public, neither for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea nor for the rest of the world. Today, it can be stated that the agreement was a war pact rather than a peace agreement.

Now Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Peace Prize winner, along with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, appear as leaders responsible for barbaric atrocities and crimes against humanity committed in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Abiy and the Eritrean despot have waged a genocidal war against the people of Tigray, which they planned together to create as much suffering as possible and destroy food supplies, infrastructure, financial institutions, communications, transport and cultural heritage.


Two leaders, both with big dreams

Both Abiy and Isaiah both have imperial dreams: Abiy strives to establish a unitary state, as opposed to a federal state, and to become king of Ethiopia, as he has repeatedly stated,  and Isaiah has always had ambitions to dominate the region.

Both Abiy and Isaias know that they can only achieve this if the leadership of Tigray’s regional government is removed and Tigray’s people are crushed economically, psychologically, historically and culturally. Abiy, Isaias and their supporters want to completely obliterate the Tigray people from the map of Ethiopia, if they can. Abiy has managed to destroy a people in just 8 months. Isaias has achieved something similar in 30 years in Eritrea.

The methods they have used have been the same: total blackout, economic stagnation, hunger as a weapon in war, imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, rape, destruction of culture, social network and identity. At the same time, humanitarian aid is being deliberately hindered.

It is sad that the late reaction of the international community allows Abiy and Isaiah to continue their planned genocide. The world will one day wake up to a terrible tragedy.

The capital must be destroyed

Today, as I write this open letter, perhaps the brutal atrocities and crimes against humanity have subsided somewhat, since the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) have recaptured most of the Tigray region. But the situation is still very unstable.

The Ethiopian government has declared a unilateral ceasefire, allegedly for humanitarian reasons. But they have dismantled UNICEF’s satellite communications equipment and confiscated internet equipment from several UN agencies on their way out, to hamper humanitarian work.

Earlier, Abiy praised Tigray as the cradle of Ethiopian civilization, but at a press conference in Addis Ababa on June 29 this year, the same Abiy boasted that he would reduce the regional capital of Mekele from a powerhouse to the same status as the small village of Beshasha, Abiy Ahmed’s birthplace in Oromia region.

Promises to fight back hard

Contrary to the declaration of unilateral ceasefire, Abiy Ahmed warned on Wednesday, July 14, that his forces will strike back hard at his enemies. According to local and state media, reinforcements are now being mobilized in Oromia, Sidama and other regions, which could lead to more bloodshed.

The Eritrean forces have withdrawn to areas near the border with Eritrea, but continue to forcibly recruit Eritreans in Eritrea, including child soldiers as young as 15 and 16, and send them to war without proper training.

The Nobel Committee  was obviously in good faith when it awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, because they thought he was contributing to peace in Eritrea and Ethiopia, and perhaps also in the region. But the question that then arises is why the Nobel Committee does not have the opportunity to reconsider its decision – and consider withdrawing the award to Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed? Does not this special award help to tarnish the reputation of the Peace Prize?

I understand that the Nobel Foundation has never before withdrawn a prize it has awarded, and that there is no mechanism for making such a decision.  But it is always a first time with everything, and mechanisms can be created.

If the Nobel Institutions think it is completely impossible to withdraw the award, then they can at least publicly condemn the horrific, brutal atrocities and crimes against humanity that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has committed against Tigray’s innocent people and against Eritrean refugees in Tigray.

Brings shame over the Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Center’s Peace Prize exhibition for 2020 was about this year’s peace prize winner; The UN Food Program, as well as a digital exhibition on how food and hunger are used as a means of power in wars and conflicts.

In an exhibition on how food is used as a weapon in earlier times of war, how can the Nobel Center remain silent about the simultaneous use of food as a weapon in the Tigray region of Ethiopia? (By an irony of fate, the photo artist behind important parts of the exhibition is Ethiopian Aïda Mulluneh, and the exhibition opened on December 10, at the same time as the war raged in the Tigray region and where food was used as a weapon.)

That the Nobel Peace Prize should remain in the possession of a genocide is an ugly stain on the history of the Peace Prize. I would add that it is a shame for such a highly regarded award to have to honor someone responsible for genocide.

As a former ambassador for Eritrea to the Scandinavian countries and an admirer of Scandinavian social democracy, I appeal to the Norwegian Nobel Committee to consider withdrawing the peace prize awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, even though the award was made in good faith and to encourage a young leader.

Today it is very clear that he is a war criminal, blinded by imperial ambitions, and he has not earned the award. I would also like to emphasize the fact that he is in the process of tearing apart the Ethiopia that has historically been an ally with Scandinavia, and especially with Sweden, the country of origin of the Peace Prize.

I myself may be a little fluffy in world politics, but I feel a strong obligation as a world citizen to promote this appeal and make you, and the people in general, aware of the crimes a Peace Prize winner commits against the innocent people of Tigray and Eritrean refugees in Tigray.


The peace agreement was never announced, neither for the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea nor for the rest of the world. Today, it can be stated that the agreement was a war pact rather than a peace agreement.



  1. Dear ambassador;
    The details of the article tries to convince the committee, but the noble peace prize was given for the resolution made peacefully with the Eritrea. Of course, it helps the winner to keep peace with the neighboring countries and within the country too. But, peace can not come with the effort made by a single party.

    1. First, it was not true that peace was made between Ethiopia and Eritrea – the borders were closed in just a few weeks(Link to what border communities felt towards the peace treaty and mentioning that is was closed soon after: ).

      And for your closing argument.

      True, one can’t deal with a person, who is a friend to a leader who rules a country with the absolute LOWEST index of freedom in the world, has a Messiah complex and indicate poverty is good since it provides a ruler with a large supply of poor, illiterate youth for war. If you genuinely believe that he was the most fit for the prize – as do his hatred blinded followers and disconnected imbeciles who believe what they are told through state Television; then I must believe TPLF – despite not wanting to – in saying that Tigray is indeed surrounded by enemies who want nothing less than erasing Tigray from the map – as the contributor put it, and you sir, happen to be one of them.

    2. Dear Alex,
      Yes, peace cannot achieve by a single party. But if that single party has the ambitions of dominance and imperial hegemonic design it becomes more the source for misery and destruction instead of being instrumental for peace and regional stability. Abiy and Issayas satanic ambitions are the main source of destabilization for the Horn of Africa and its entire people.
      Ambassador Hebret Berhe put it the objective realities perfectly and eloquently well said to the point.

  2. Dear Ambassador,
    You may have blood relation with some of the TPLF leaders and also have had some benefits from them during their horrible administration which. You don’t want and may have no sense of humor for all the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea for the pains they we have been facing for about 3 decades due to their evil deeds, in getting families living detached to each other and all other associated problems.

  3. Dear Ambassador,

    I think you have it all wrong. The criminal gang, TPLF started the war when it attacked the Ethiopian Defense Force that was stationed in Tigray, a defense force that was helping the Tigran farmers and those in need beyond its call of duty. Even though you are trying now to preach peace and set the criterion for the Nobel Peace Prize, as a former combatant in the EPLF yourself, should understand the response from the Ethiopian Government was a legitimate law enforcement. I am sure you know the TPLF criminal gang committed the genocide in Mykadra. Who is killing the Eritrean refugees in Tigray right now? TPLF. Who is sending 15 and 16 years old child soldiers to the warfront, a war crime by itself? TPLF. I think it is hypocrisy to say the least to blame Prime Minister Abiy for the atrocities committed by your friends in the TPLF.

  4. I agree with the ambassador. There is first for everything and AbIy Ahmed deserves to be the first Nobel laureate whose Prize is rescinded. It really is a stain on the Nobel foundation and the committee to associate themselves with a world renowned criminal. They owe it to the thousands of Tigrayans murdered, multitudes of children and women of all ages raped and hundreds of thousands at the verge of death from starvation as a weapon of war under the watch of Abiy Ahmed Ali. The committee at least needs to announce to the world that Abiy Ahmed has fallen from grace and dissociate themselves from this war criminal.

  5. Thank you for writing this letter!
    We Tigrayans too believe that he should be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize clearly because he is anything but a promoter of PEACE!
    The part that has always hit our brains was this, which you have perfectly described:
    “One of the most important peace steps taken by Prime Minister Abiy was the peace agreement with Eritrea.”
    *****”But the so-called peace agreement was never made public, neither for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea nor for the rest of the world. Today, it can be stated that the agreement was a war pact rather than a peace agreement.”*****
    Incidentally, at the beginning, and again without consulting the residents of Badime, he attempted to give that town of Tigray to Eritrea. The people of Badime went to the streets screaming for their rights to remain where they’d lived many generations as Ethiopians and not as Eritreans.
    There were many situations that made no sense & we wondered what was going on, especially when he went back & forth to Eritrea…it simply made no sense!
    On November 4th, 2020 we stopped wondering!
    That was his plan from the beginning: to destroy Tigray & become the King he previously said his mom had told him he would be.
    The man is sick! Power sick & must be stopped!
    But if the World continues to *TALK* instead of taking *ACTION*, many more innocent Tigrayans as well as Amharas, Oromos, Eritreans will die for the sick dreams of a genocider. Is that okay with The Nobel Peace Committee?
    Please heed our cry! Stop this madman! Surely the removal of the Nobel Prize would lower his crest & might even help him to reconsider his criminal goals!
    Thank you:
    My name is:
    Lemlem Aregawi Tibebu, I am from Tigray: Erob & Wukro
    **GOD bless the countries we love** GOD bless you all who strive to bring peace in the world**

  6. Ambassador don’t judge Ethiopia and Eritrea government. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is a good leader as far as we Ethiopian and Eritrian people know.Hebret Berhe, former Eritrean ambassador is so wrong.YOU SO WRONG!!You even didn’t understand the ground situation of Ethiopia?!!If i tell you the Ethiopian True story hundred times you didn’t accept becouse your intention is different may you work with TPLF. The Truth God is always within true side.Let me ask you simple thing WHO START THIS WAR??? WHO DIDN’T STOP THE WAR???WHO LEAD ETHIOPIA FOR SEVERAL PAINFUL YEAR???.TPLF is very bad organization for Ethiopia and Eritrea people this is known fact.Finally for the sake of Ethiopia and Tigray people we may work for good future.I wish for Tigray people good peace and development.

  7. The ambassador wrote a substantive article and should be commended for it. There are many individuals and organizations that protested against the undeserved Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Abiy Ahmed Ali, a pathological liar, a war criminal, who promised to transition the country to a multi party democracy via a free & fair election, but opted for an imperial unitary state and carried out a sham election after jailing very prominent & influential politicians.The ambassador left out the extrajudicial killings, disappearances, massacres, genocide, rapes, that have been taking place all over the Empire State of Ethiopia. The war that we saw/see in Tigray is an extension of the war that was waged by Abiy’s ruling clique about 3 years ago on Oromia (Western, Southeastern and the all over Oromia).I hope the Nobel Peace Prize Committee could review its decision and withdraw the award or/and strongly condemns the crimes of Abiy Ahmed, who used the award to have legitimacy by the peoples of Ethiopia & IC. His domestic & international acceptance has already evaporated like a mist on a hot day.

  8. Thank you Ambassador Hebret for the eloquent open letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. I wish all former Eritrean Ambassadors could be as honest and humble as you. You are truly inspirational, my sister.

    Not only should Abiy be stripped off the Prize – which the Committee seems to be stone deaf to listen and act – but he along with Isaias should be brought to the ICC in handcuffs. The whole world knows these criminals have committed crimes against humanity. What is the international community waiting for? As the US Ambassador to the UN put it, don’t African lives matter? The world in the 90s rightly acted in unison to save European lives from famine and ethnic cleansing and brought the perpetrators to justice. We plead with the international community to do the same now before it’s too late and millions of lives perish in front of our eyes.

  9. I fully agree with the Ambassador that the agreement between Abiy Ahmed & Isaias Afwerki was not a peace agreement but a war pact as it is made clear to the entire world by their actions against mainly Tigray. As Eritrean army is now not only in Tigray but in various regions of Ethiopian Empire State (30k of them believed to be in Oromia as reported by @OLF & #OLA & others), it seems the pact included war not only Tigray but in other regions of Ethiopia. Abiy’s intention is formation of an imperial unitary state in which he aspires to be the 7th king, Isaias’s desires to have dominance in the HOA. Taking the Ambassador’s valuable suggestions & those of others into account, in honor of Nobel & the Nobel Peace Prize, I hope the Committee members withdraw the award given to Abiy Ahmed. He lied to UN Secretary General saying “there is no Eritrean army in Tigray.”His official (s) told to EU representative,Mr. Haavisto, their ill intentions against Tigray for the nect 100 years.

  10. H. Berhe. I understand why u wrote this open letter. We Ethiopian know, what Junta group wants. You are one Junta that cooperates with western lobbyists to devastate ma country.
    PM Abiy is capable enough to receive Nobel prize. He doing better for your country as well. But you may have a problem with the gov.t of Beloved Eritria. Shame on you.

  11. As Ethiopian I am not exactly sure what’s going on in our country all I know innocent people are died and children ,women still are dealing with hardship & but All I can say is everyone is suffering war in not going to solve our problem that been said now it looks like those old and arrogant narrow minded people has no problem making all about themselves and starting a war ! By attacking the military base just because they don’t want to be accountable if they are not in power there shall not be a country with peace everything close as family is living in western world have no remorse sacrificing the rest off Ethiopian live in there on country that junta/TPLF needs to be accountable and history will do that but now as Ethiopia need a strong support system don’t forget this been platted by TpLF #junta the last 2 decade so we can prevail ! That been said the Nobel prize is given to for the prim minster because making peace with Eritrea which is the reality that .

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