Open Letter to President Barack Obama By Shiferaw Gesesse, Ph.D

Open Letter to President Barack Obama

Stop TPLF Genocide against the Ethiopian People before it’s too late! 

Dear Mr. President: Since your first campaign for the Presidency, I have been supporting you and your policies. I volunteered at the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns by making phone calls to voters in Virginia and also door to door campaigning encouraging voters to vote for you. I also was one of the 13,000 army of volunteers that tirelessly worked to make sure your historical first inauguration was successful. Like the two million people in attendance on January 20, 2009 at your inauguration, I was filled with hope and was convinced that your election would bring about change in the United States and abroad, especially in Africa.

President Obama, Ethiopians like all Africans had full hope that you would support Africans’ efforts to be able to conduct free and fair elections so that they can elect their own leaders. I am happy in supporting you especially on your domestic policy and some foreign policy big accomplishments, however during your historic visit to Ethiopia  instead of using the unique opportunity to have a frank dialogue with the opposition political parties, civil societies and the TPLF regime regarding the situation in Ethiopia and find solution to have a fair and free election; you made a very disappointing statement that the Ethiopian government led by the TPLF fascist regime had been democratically elected. As you may know, before the 2015 election the TPLF regime dismantled the two main opposition parties that had a potential to win the election had the election been free and fair. I am talking about The Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) Party and All Ethiopian Unity Party (AUEP). TPLF also created a huge roadblock to the remaining parties such us the Blue party and Oromo Federalist Congress. You knew that it was declared that the regime had won 100% of the vote which was a laughable matter and it was clear that the election was a joke. Your statement gave the TPLF some kind of moral support in their actions which is terrorizing the Ethiopian people with brutality. The TPLF used your statement for their propaganda and they showed it on the national TV over and over again.

Mr. President: On October 6, 2016 I sent you a one page version of this letter through the designated White House Website.

On August 30th, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn ordered the army and security forces to use deadly force against peaceful demonstrators. Following his order there has been ruthless killings and atrocities by the regime security forces mainly against Amharas and Oromos. There is ample evidence that the regime is consistently and systematically terrorizing and killing protestors who are demonstrating against the regime land grabbing and for asking removal of this regime from power.

The October 2nd Bishouftu massacre where over 650 people were killed who were peacefully celebrating Irreechaa, the annual Oromo people festival and the August 7th Bhair Dar massacre where security forces killed over 100 demonstrators can show the level of atrocity and crackdown that is carried out by  the Ethiopian fascist regime special forces.

The reality, Mr. President, is that these massacres will continue unless America stands up on the side of the Ethiopian people immediately. Mr. President, your administration must ACT NOW to take bold and decisive ACTION against the atrocities led by the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF).

Since I sent you my letter the situation worsen with the current regime declaring state of emergency and practically taking away all human and civil rights and terrorizing people with more brutality. Internet, social media usage and even talking over the phone to overseas family and friends are outlawed. Security forces are breaking into people’s houses, bit them and rob their properties such as cash, jewelry and other valuables, in some instances even killed them. Last week, in Sebeta a small town, which is located around 17 miles away from Addis Ababa the TPLF regime arrested about 1600 people. The situation is very frightening, and dangerous. Even embassies and other international organizations work is severely affected by this draconian and outrageous act.

Therefore, I respectfully urge you and your administration to act urgently to do the following:

  • Send a strong message that request to lift of the state of emergency, stop brutal killings, mass arrest and torture.
  • Strongly condemn the October 2nd Bishoftu and August 7th Bahir Dar massacres.
  • Stop an ongoing genocide in Oromia and Amara regions and other areas such as konso.
  • Push for U.N. investigation of those tragedies and other TPLF atrocities.
  • Avert the planned large scale genocide by TPLF regime against the Amhara and Oromo people.
  • Stop financial, technical, security forces training, and advisory/diplomatic/moral support to the TPLF.
  • Stop providing lethal weapons to the regime that are used to terrorize the Ethiopian people.
  • Strongly support the popular demand of free all political prisoners.
  • Support relevant Ethiopian political and civic organizations in creating a transitional government, and at a later stage in drafting new constitution and preparing free and fair election.

Professor Mesifin Woldemariam, a prominent scholar and human rights defender in his recent paper called to end the TPLF rule and suggested to create a care taker government.

The Ethiopian people have identified its enemy-it is TPLF, not the Tigray people as TPLF tries to confuse the Tigray people and the international community. The Ethiopian people are determined to remove the TPLF’s apartheid regime from power and create a fertile ground for building the process of creating a transitional government which would stabilize the situation and mandated to draft the constitution and prepare the first free and fair election.

As an Ethiopian-American along with the Ethiopian diaspora, demand that TPLF must be removed from power immediately. Real power in Ethiopia is concentrated in the hands of TPLF and parties which are part of the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) including the Prime Minster have no meaningful power. They are not decision makers. TPLF controls the army, security, police, parliament, judiciary, communication, transportation, trade, banks, foreign policy, the land, the economy and enjoys absolute power. TPLF will continue to kill, destroy and loot the country and its natural resources only to line their pockets financially through secretive offshore accounts.

Mr. President, failure to act will lead to a much dreadful situation than the genocide which took place in Rwanda. It will also lead to the destabilization of the Horn of Africa and beyond.  Also failure to do so will a moral obligation that will be etched in the United States foreign policy’s history and your presidential legacy.

Let me expand on the information widely reported by the US and international media regarding the TPLF atrocities against the Ethiopian people. On September 10th, two top TPLF officials, Seyoum Mesfin (former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Abaye Tsehaye (Minster of Federal Affairs) both founders of TPLF, in a televised interview, warned the Ethiopian people that if the people of Ethiopia try to remove TPLF from power, then the consequences will be similar to that of Rwanda, but in the Ethiopian case the result of the genocide will be on a much larger proportion.

My worst fear was echoed by 34 politicians and community leaders of Tigrayan descent who expressed their worries that TPLF has made a clear warning of genocide so they have called for a united action to remove TPLF from power. This is a very serious threat which asks for an immediate action.

TPLF and its evil ethnic based ideology cannot and should not be reformed and the best solution is to remove it from power. TPLF ethnic based federalism has failed and needs to be replaced with a workable system of government which can be acceptable by majority of the Ethiopian people. Any attempt to keep TPLF in power with some cosmetic changes will not solve anything and it will further destabilize the country and the entire region.

As a U.S. citizen, I strongly believe that to support the Ethiopian people’s struggle to remove TPLF -the tyrannical regime for 25 years in power – is in the U.S. national and foreign policy interest. A democratically elected government that have support from the majority of the Ethiopian people will have a strong and fundamental relationship with the U.S. and will be a strong U.S. ally in the fight against terrorists and extremists in the region and beyond.

President Obama: Ethiopian-Americans overwhelmingly supported you in both 2008 and 2012. Also in this election year it cannot be undermined the role of Ethiopian-Americans that live in swing states such as: Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida to support the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

There is no time to waste. It is time to act before it is too late.

I would love to have a meeting with an official from your administration to deeply expand on this urgent matter. Thank you for your time and consideration to take action now.


Shiferaw Gesesse, Ph.D in international law, I can be reach at

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Posted by on November 1, 2016. Filed under COMMENTARY,VIEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to Open Letter to President Barack Obama By Shiferaw Gesesse, Ph.D

  1. Alem

    November 3, 2016 at 8:04 AM

    Shiferaw Gesesse, What is next after removal of EPRDF or TPLF. You simply Dream for removal of TPLF or EPRDF. I think you are one of the hatred persons who are attempting to single-out members of one Ethnic society, Disguising political outlook, and you must know that governing a heterogeneous country is not as easy as you are dreaming. there is one proverb both in Amharic and Tigrigna – Kebro siyayut hamral siyzut yadengral and also in Tigrigna – Nbkofus semay kereba. So please try to clean your mind from clone based ideology.

  2. Shiferaw Gesesse

    November 9, 2016 at 6:46 PM

    Hello Alem: Thank you for taking time to read my open letter to President Obama and for your comments.

    Please find my responses to your comments.

    Your first question, “What is next after the removal of EPRDF or TPLF?” Ethiopians are aware that the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is simply a mask when in reality it is the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) which controls all political, military and economic power in Ethiopia, so my point of reference is the TPLF. After the TPLF is removed, a transitional government can be tasked to stabilize the country and create a conducive environment for writing a constitution which takes into account the welfare of the Ethiopian people. In addition, a transitional government must work to prepare a free and fair elections whereby the people can elect representatives who can ensure the welfare of their constituents.

    Your second point, “Simply dream for the removal of TPLF or EPRDF”. Let me state this is not a dream, but a reality based on the realities taking place now in the country, which is widely reported by credible news organizations like the New York Times, Washington Post and other media outlets.
    Two of largest ethnic groups constituting to two thirds of the population in the country have categorically stated their interest in no longer wanting dominated and ruled by the TPLF regime. This is the case if you take a close look at the situation in Oromia, Amhara, the Southern region (Konso), Benishangul Gumz, and other parts of the country. The state of emergency was declared solely by the TPLF because they were unable to suppress and govern through their intimidation and terror. The Ethiopian people have had enough and are determined to remove TPLF from its 25 years of absolute power using various strategies. Furthermore TPLF is losing the unconditional support from key international allies. The international community has clearly understood the true nature of TPLF and will no longer provide their unconditional support to TPLF survival in power. Added to this scenario, the Ethiopian diaspora is coming together to support the struggle to remove TPLF from power.

    You also stated, I “single-out members of one Ethnic society”. My letter clearly addresses the TPLF genocide and other atrocities. TPLF is not an ethnic group, it is a liberation front. . Plain and simple – the TPLF is the enemy of the Ethiopian people and their 25-year reign of terror must be stopped. There are some which say the TPLF has terrorized Ethiopia for 42 years (adding the 17 years) before it took power. The Tigray people are not and cannot be the enemy of the Ethiopian people. The Tigray people are part of 100 million Ethiopians that are subjected to TPLF tyrannical rule. Again, my point is solely directed at the TPLF and not to the Tigray people.

    You also stated I “must know governing a heterogeneous country is not an easy task.”
    I absolutely agree with your point governing the Ethiopian society with its ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious differences, various regional interests, strategic location with regional and international implications is not an easy task. To properly govern Ethiopia, , one should clearly understand the Ethiopian history, its people interdependence , the country’s geo-strategic location and global players related to Ethiopia, and the country’s current dynamics. One also should have the wisdom, political clout and leadership stamina to govern. I strongly believe the TPLF hasn’t shown any aspects of these points, which is why after 25 years of absolute power the Ethiopian people are determined to remove TPLF from power and create a government that will govern in the interests of the Ethiopian people at large.

    About the proverb in Amharic “Kebro siyayut hamral siyzut yadengral”,
    I think you are saying to have power is tempting, but once you have the power it is not easy to govern as one may think.
    This is a true proverb for TPLF. They fought for 17 years and took power 25 years ago. The fact is for the last 25 years the TPLF has been killing, arresting, and torturing the Ethiopian people. It is not easy to come up with an accurate number of people that were killed by TPLF from the time they took power in 1991.Having said that it is crucial that forces that will be involved with setting up a transitional government shouldn’t be power mongers, but be ready to serve the Ethiopian people. They should have a stature of statesman and with an excellent knowledge of the Ethiopian people and understanding of its diverse regional interests, and be selfless, ready to promote the peoples interest first.

    Regarding your statement as if I am one of the “hatred persons”, I don’t hate any one. I even don’t like the word hate. Writing about TPLF genocide and atrocity is not hate it is simply stating the facts.

    I don’t speak Tigrigna and cannot comment the proverb that you wrote in Tigrigna. I assume that is the same proverb that you write in Amharic
    Finally your last statement regarding “clone ideology”, which I don’t understand, so I won’t comment on it.

    Thank you for the comment,

    Shiferaw Gesesse

  3. mf

    November 12, 2016 at 5:03 AM

    Dear Dr Shiferaw,

    Thank for your concern and courage to write US president the ills of our beloved country and pointing out the way forward to heal the wound inflicted by TPLF. I’m Also satisfied with your response to Alem, I’m sure you are aware such people are either beneficiaries of the system or with poor intellect and integrity often barking on any comment against the current regime for that matter they may not be necessarily Tigrians. Our country is big enough to accommodate all Ehtiopians provided we have clear conscious in that we are equal as citizens in the eye of the law. As you stated the country needs unifying not dividing, not breeding hatred between people but bridge harmony. Unfortunately TPLF chose divide and rule therefore created the ethnic apartheid in the name of ethnic federalism to suit them. Please note it has been said time and time again ‘United we stand divided we fall’. your vision is achievable and may not be far. Ethiopia owes people like you for bring the matter to the attention people of power such as Obama but regardless as the kingdom of God will never fail.