A coalition of activists from the Ethiopian American and Eritrean American communities affiliated with @HornofAfricaHub coordinated local actions across the United States and around the world on Nov. 21 to demand an end to U.S. meddling in the Horn of Africa. Many in the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora believe that the U.S. government is not respecting their country’s sovereignty because of the United States’ one-sided support for the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which launched an insurrection against the Ethiopian government last year and has attacked Eritrea as well. The ANSWER Coalition and the Black Alliance for Peace co-sponsored the demonstrations called by Horn of Africa Hub that took place across more than 20 U.S. cities. Liberation News was on the ground at many of these actions.
Unity to defend independence
The true nature of the conflict in Ethiopia is completely distorted in the U.S.-based corporate media. In reality, this is not the case of a central government waging a “genocidal” war against an ethnic minority. The TPLF launched its insurgency against the central government after having finally been dislodged from its dominant position in the country’s politics. For nearly 30 years, the TPLF held sway over the country’s institutions of government and much of the top leadership of the armed forces.
TPLF head Meles Zenawi became the leader of the country and ruled for 21 years, forming a close relationship with the United States. In 2006, the TPLF-led Ethiopian government invaded Somalia, a move strongly backed by the United States.
During the rule of the TPLF, the U.S. government didn’t lift a finger to support Ethiopians protesting for democratic and civil rights, but has now appointed itself the supposed guardian of human rights in the country. Today, the Biden administration is also sanctioning the Eritrean government while they help Ethiopia fight the TPLF insurgency.
After three decades of TPLF rule, Abiy Ahmed emerged as prime minister in 2018, promising to overcome long-standing internal conflicts in Ethiopia and the broader region in order to unleash the country’s economic development potential. This included a historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea at the end of 2018, putting an end to decades of war. These social gains are at serious risk should the TPLF prevail in this civil war, and Washington’s backing of the insurgency in this conflict is meant to recapture control of the Ethiopian government. This civil war has neocolonial designs.
New York City
As hundreds of people gathered, Eugene Puryear of the ANSWER Coalition addressed the crowd: “What is the crime of Ethiopia? The crime is to seek unity in the Horn of Africa, and to seek unity on the African continent. U.S. policy has been very consistent for the last 40 years when it comes to the Horn of Africa — keep them divided. … Doesn’t matter if you like the U.S., doesn’t matter if you hate the U.S. But anyone who wants to act independently is a problem and it must be prevented.”
On Nov. 21, over 1,000 rally attendees took over one of the busiest intersections in Hollywood for a rally organized by Horn of Africa Hub, ANSWER Los Angeles, the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Network West Coast, the Party for Socialism and Liberation of Los Angeles, and Black Alliance for Peace.
Emcee Binyam Kitaw told the crowd: “We’re here to protest for the rights and freedom of Ethiopia, for the rights and freedom of Eritrea, for the rights and freedom of Somalia, for the rights and freedom of Africa. … We protest today because the Biden administration is supporting ethnic terrorists called the TPLF in Ethiopia. The TPLF are attacking and murdering Ethiopians, and now they’ve announced in Washington, D.C., that they’re going to work together with the American government and the American media to destroy our beloved Ethiopia. We say #NoMore to that!”
ANSWER LA organizer Kameron Hurt explained in his speech: “We’re here today to tell Biden, to tell Congress, to tell the Pentagon: ‘The U.S. military is not welcome in Africa!’ These politicians don’t want to make things better in Ethiopia. They just want to profit from destruction and war. The U.S. has never invaded a country to make a situation better for the everyday people of that country. The U.S. never sanctions a country to help people. Sanctions are war because they make basic necessities almost impossible to get.”
One of the largest demonstrations took place in Seattle, where thousands of Ethiopians and Eritreans gathered at Powell Barnett Park for speeches and then marched through the community.
Around 800 people, mostly from the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora communities in Denver and Aurora, Colo., marched on the Aurora Municipal Center. Speakers championed African unity and self-determination, called on the U.S. to stop all interference in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and denounced false narratives dominating U.S. media. One protester memorably chanted to the crowd: “No more intervention! We have seen how you helped Libya! We have seen how you helped Afghanistan! Hands off Ethiopia! Hands off Eritrea! Hands off the Horn of Africa!”
In Cambridge, Mass., 400 Ethiopian and Eritrean Americans gathered at 99 Sherman St. and called for unity in opposing U.S.-support for the TPLF, a sectarian group that ran the country for 30 years.
When asked about the sanctions, Eritrean attendee Yohannes Daniel told Liberation News: “The U.S. is using Eritrea as a first scapegoat — warning Abiy that he is next.”
Mainstream media paves the way for wars
Mahderekal Regassa said, “I know what is what. On the news they flip it; it’s the exact opposite. Abiy Ahmad freed us from 30 years of tyranny under TPLF and is working towards a true democracy. TPLF is hindering that and is destroying our country and killing so many innocent lives with the aid of the U.S.!”
Seble Tefera, an attendee of Oromo and Amhara ethnicity, expressed concern that if the TPLF takes control again, non-Tigrayan Ethiopians will be essentially “stateless” and face ethnic discrimination, adding, “Nobody wants the TPLF anymore.”
Another protester, Yoftahe Gebru stated in a speech, “CNN is making wars! They don’t come right out and say it, but they’re making wars! We know your game!” He went on to express that he had originally believed CNN when they reported on Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, but now he sees it for what it is. “I’m sorry for Afghanistan, I’m sorry for Libya, I’m sorry for Iraq!”
Fourteen-year-old Abenezer Asmare told the crowd:
“Ethiopia can protect itself and it has no need for interference from any other western country. … We are Ethiopian; without Amhara there is no Ethiopia; without Oromo there is no Ethiopia; without Tigray there is no Ethiopia, because we are one family, one group of people. … These names were given to us by the last government to systematically divide us, but with Abiy in power we shall say #NoMore to this. … These are Ethiopia’s problems and they will be solved with Ethiopia’s solutions — LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!”