Middle East

How the Ethiopian War is spreading discord among U.S. immigrants 13,000 kilometers away

The US Ethiopian diaspora is divided between the government forces or the Tigrinya rebels, which side is fighting for good reason. This is the tension between communities where friendships are collapsing.

Washington DC / Virginia — Shawel Betru (47) knows that a large-scale sacrificial war will strike civilians. Because he saw it all. He survived in his hometown of Ethiopia and survived hell in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Ethiopian-Americans grew up in refugee camps after their father (a farmer drawn into the army), and two brothers were killed in the 1977 Ogaden War or the Ethiopian War.

But even now, the war, which lives in the United States far from the conflict zone, continues to cast a shadow not only on Bettle’s life, but also on other Ethiopians who have made the United States their hometown.

“I was only three years old when I was an orphan. I understand the tragedy. I experienced it. But Ethiopia has never faced the threat of existence that it faces today.” Bettle, an IT expert living in Virginia in the southeastern United States, said. TRT World..

“If rebels commit huge atrocities and get what they want, Ethiopia will collapse. Forget that rebels have no history of negotiated reconciliation. Don’t. It increases fear. “

read more:
A permanent legacy of protracted conflict in Ethiopia

For more than a year after Tigrayan rebels attacked a federal camp in the northern region of Tigray in November 2020, Ethiopian government forces were involved in a bloody conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (or TPLF). I am. State Borders-Thousands killed or injured, hundreds of thousands evacuated, Truth collapsed, towns and villages destroyed, violence snowballed, and with several Western countries, including Ethiopia and the United States. Between them, a full-scale diplomatic war broke out over what Addis Ababa was seeing. As “foreign interference” due to its internal problems.

But violence is no longer limited to the Horn of Africa. It slowly tears apart the Ethiopian immigrant community and even families about 13,000 kilometers away from the United States, where more than 300,000 Ethiopian-born immigrants live primarily in Maryland and Virginia, adjacent to the capital Washington, DC.

They have been protesting for and against the TPLF for months. They are divided into the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the United Nations, the role of the United States and its allies, and the Western media.

Discord has sneaked into churches, social gatherings, and even breakfast tables.

“We met every week after a church prayer,” said an Oromo Ethiopian taxi driver, speaking anonymously, about her Tigrayan friend.

“Now she hasn’t come to our church. She goes to a church where most worshipers are Tigrinya. We know that our politics are different, but the church I couldn’t believe it would change. “

Belekett Abbey, an Ethiopian immigrant with Tigray roots, has similar complaints to his non-Tigrinya friends.

“I’ve always been insulted and often ignored. It doesn’t make sense to keep such a friendship. What if you weren’t served in an Ethiopian restaurant because you’re a Tigrayan?” Asked Abbey.

read more:
United Nations: The Ethiopian government has arrested at least 1,000 people under a state of emergency

Ethiopian-American Shawel Betru states that the TPLF rebels have no history of negotiated reconciliation. (TRTWorld)

Marriage at risk

Ethiopian-American Maheder Ism was recently in Addis Ababa when reports of TPLF rebels approaching the capital. With increasing international vigilance, some Western nations have advised citizens to leave the capital of Ethiopia because of security concerns. Yismu said the warning was “unnecessary” and “expanded by hostile media.”

“I was in Addis at that time. I stayed there (for a while) more (for a while) and flew back to the United States, but nothing happened. False advertisements by some Western media. Nevertheless, Addis was alive and vibrant, always, “said pharmacist Ism. TRT World..

Ism continues to discuss the situation in his hometown with his Tigrinya friends in the United States. [has] Created tension. “

“I don’t think the TPLF represents everyone in the Tigray region. My family is friends in the Tigray region. We talk about conflicts. We may or may not agree. Most If we have a good discussion, regardless of our view, but we may avoid the topic to save friendship. “

The war also poisoned inter-ethnic marriages.

Mekdes Negash Ymesel, an Ethiopian-American of the Tigrinya people, said the conflict was in conflict with her husband, Amharic and church singer Cherner S Beley. Ethiopians have been married to children aged 9 and 10 for 14 years. The conflict in Ethiopia put a wedge in their relationship, she said.

“For months I didn’t know where my mother and brother were. Ethiopia cut off all communications with Tigray,” said Imesel, who works in a cafeteria in Washington, DC. TRT World..

“Seven months later I learned that they had moved to Addis Ababa. They are safe, but my brother and brother-in-law were arrested just because they were Tigrayans.” She insisted.

She said the Amharic Bailey was the parent Prime Minister Abby and went to Ethiopia “quoting church worship.”

“It’s been four months. Last time, he returned to the United States after spending seven months in Ethiopia,” she said.

The couple fought at the breakfast table the last time they met.

“he [Beley] When there was a reality that genocide was happening to the Tigrinyas, they told our children that they were killing the Amharics. Ethiopians are brothers, but they are brothers who kill them. It’s Fratricide. “

“If I hurt the Amharic, I think I’m hitting my children, and if he hurt the Tigrayans, I think he’s hurt my children,” Imesel said. Said while sobbing.

Tigrinya immigrant Mekdes Negash Imesel says the war broke relations with her husband, the Amhara ethnic group of the parent government.

Tigrinya immigrant Mekdes Negash Imesel says the war broke relations with her husband, the Amhara ethnic group of the parent government. (TRTWorld)

Current escalation roots

TPLF politicians ruled the national coalition that came into power in 1991, and in 2018 a major anti-TPLF protest took control of Abby, ending nearly 30 years of control over Tigrayan power. .. Abby quickly undertook a radical democratic reform and won the Nobel Peace Prize for peace with neighboring Eritrea in 2019, about 20 years after the rival’s first border conflict.

At the heart of the current escalation is the victory in the TPLF landslide election in the Tigre region in September 2018. This is a vote that has been illegal by federal authorities. The TPLF pushed the vote with a direct challenge to Addis Ababa, who postponed elections in all regions and countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In November 2020, the TPLF fired the first bullet in the current war by launching an attack on a federal military base in the region. The Government of Addis Ababa has since quoted deadly attacks on Dansha barracks and other military facilities to justify the attacks in the Tigray region.

Eritrean troops and pro-government militias from the Amhara region of Ethiopia were soon involved in the war and fought alongside Abby’s troops. So did ordinary civilians in all aspects that had nothing to do with war.

The TPLF withdrew in a month of combat and has since begun guerrilla warfare against federal troops, gaining or losing territory in the process. Initially, the TPLF regained Tigre’s main city of Mek’ele and expanded its fighting into the neighboring Amharic and Afar regions. However, in recent weeks, Ethiopian troops have liberated some areas and the TPLF has announced its withdrawal to its center, Tigray.

Although it is premature to predict a permanent ceasefire, the Ethiopian diaspora remains separate from media coverage and the role of the Western government in the ongoing war.

“For months, I felt that the TPLF was being backed by several media organizations. The victims were projected as invaders, the invaders were projected as victims. Then we said,” No more. The Ethiopian-American Development Council said, TRT World..

Under the banner of the “No More” movement, Ethiopian activists demanded an objective report, demanding that Western nations “stop interfering” with Ethiopian issues, and how many together for several months. We held a rally in that country.

“Biased media and foreign intervention have destroyed Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. If we don’t act now, Ethiopia will be next,” said Asfor, “a democratically elected government. If it fails, Ethiopia will collapse and be confused. ” More than 110 million Bible ratios will create a huge humanitarian crisis. “

read more: The United States hopes that Tigray’s withdrawal will open a “door to broader diplomacy” in Ethiopia

Ethiopian-American Maheder Ism is critical of Western media coverage of the war in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian-American Maheder Ism is critical of Western media coverage of the war in Ethiopia. (TRTWorld)

U.S. sanctions and protest votes

Pro-Abby Ethiopians are tracking lobbyists in the United States and are reaching out to Senators in hopes of stopping strict sanctions. So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has announced a number of steps, including September 17 sanctions on all sides to participate in the civil war.

On November 2, the United States suspended Ethiopia from the African Growth Opportunity Act (or AGOA) on the grounds of “a serious violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

Ten days later, the US government sanctioned several Eritrean entities and individuals for “contributing to crises and conflicts” and “impairing the stability and integrity of the Ethiopian state.”

Many Ethiopians, along with the Eritreans, say they have responded to sanctions “by protest.”

African immigrants voted for Democrat Biden in the 2020 presidential election, but were overwhelmed by Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in a recent governor’s election because of dissatisfaction with the US’wrong’policy towards Ethiopia. Voted for.

But for TPLF supporters, US sanctions are “important,” and Western media have succeeded in providing a rare window for war and the region to withstand severe communications blockages.

“I don’t get much contact from my relatives and friends. [in Ethiopia]”It is the international media that keeps our perceptions and hopes alive,” said Abbey, a Tigrinya.

read more: US Special Envoy to Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Turkey to seek support for the Ethiopian conflict

International forces, including the United States and the African Union in the regional block, have repeatedly attempted ceasefire negotiations to allow humanitarian aid to Tigray, but both refused until certain conditions were met. This week, the TPLF said it will open up two important Ethiopian regions that increase the likelihood of a ceasefire, but sees Prime Minister Abbey’s government as having an advantage. The military has stated that it has wiped out rebels, dismissing the TPLF’s allegations that they voluntarily withdrew. For now, government forces have decided not to cross the Tigray region.

“The war in Ethiopia is affecting our collective consciousness,” Bettle said, calling on the Ethiopian government to respect the rights of all, including the Tigrinyas.

“In the end, this mayhem should end with a national dialogue of all Ethiopians, but first the security of the country should be a solid foundation. The monopoly on violence leaves priority to other groups as well. You will never be driven by a group. “

read more: In the photo: War has a huge impact on Ethiopia’s cultural heritage

Source: TRT World

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/how-ethiopia-war-is-sowing-discord-13-000-km-away-among-us-immigrants-52986?utm_source=other&utm_medium=rss How the Ethiopian War is spreading discord among U.S. immigrants 13,000 kilometers away

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