OGF letter to Project Syndicate objecting the inclusion of an undeserving speaker, Abiy Ahmed, as a speaker at The Green Recovery virtual event, 16-17 September 2020
P.O. Box 670
NY 117 54, USA
Telephone: +420 607 887 761;
+420 602 633 1050
Dear Sir or Madam,
RE: Undeserving speaker at The Green Recovery virtual event, 16-17 September 2020
We, the undersigned member organizations of the Global Oromia Forum, consisting of 41 Oromo Civic, Human Rights, and Religious organizations, wish to congratulate and support the Project Syndicate for organizing this timely event focusing on the most important theme impacting the continued survival of our planet.
Climate change is no longer science fiction but the most consequential human activity-caused episode challenging our very existence. If we fail to take drastic actions today to decelerate or reverse the deteriorating trend, it is no longer if, but when the continued survival of life on earth as we know it will cease to exist. We believe the Green Recovery initiative is a step in the right direction to this end, the reason why we believe the planned virtual event is both critical and timely.
We also note the list of distinguished luminaries and global leaders lined up to share their wisdom and experience as keynote speakers, but with one particular caveat. The caveat, in our humble opinion supported by hard facts and figures detailed below, is the inclusion of an undeserving speaker, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. We strongly believe that his participation will bring unwanted scrutiny to the conference because of his records on gross human rights violations.
Yes, the prime minister is a Nobel laureate, one of the criteria we understand the Project Syndicate considered to invite him as a keynote speaker at this event. However, there are so much compelling evidence that, in hindsight, suggests the most undeserving person got the most coveted prize in the first place. Don’t take our words on this, just ask the Nobel Peace Prize Committee if they would have bestowed the prestigious prize on Dr. Abiy had they known what they know today. They still are answering for the decision they made and have to defend it. He should not be honored once again by featuring him at this global event along with so many deserving and distinguished speakers.
In our view, here is why Dr. Abiy should not be rewarded with the honor of sharing the stage with these renowned world leaders and professionals with impeccable characters for, as we shall show below, he has reneged on his promise of transitioning Ethiopia to democracy, he is a shameless plagiarizer, and he is known to have changed his biography so often to fit what he believes his audiences would like to hear.
Dr. Abiy served as a senior member of the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated regime that terrorized Ethiopians for 27+years, with a record of hundreds of thousands of people killed, maimed, and disappeared during his tenure as Head of the Security Intelligence arm of the regime. In 2018, when the TPLF members of the regime were forced to retreat to Tigray, following sustained Oromo youth-led popular uprising for over 4+years, Mr. Abiy and his team came to power promising to transition the country into a genuine functional democracy, has officially apologized for the destruction of so many lives and squandering the wealth of the country.
During the first year, he was indeed a trailblazer; signed a peace agreement with Eritrea, lifted so many draconian laws that stifled human rights and free speech, invited exiled opposition parties and leaders to return home and participate in a peaceful democratic process, promised to hold free and fair elections, open up the economy to allow increased private sector participation and the list goes on; actions that earned him unequivocal domestic and international support and a Nobel Prize for Peace and accolade of praises. Many believed that the Nobel Prize was a down payment for peace.
No sooner than he received the prize, however, Prime Minster realized that Ethiopians, especially Oromos he claimed to have represented as a blood relative resulting in his appointment as Prime Minister, unequivocally prefer opposition parties as their true leaders. With that realization, the Prime Minister and his team instantly halted in its tracks the so-called change they introduced and reneged on his promise to transition Ethiopia to democracy. They immediately launched a vicious war on unarmed individuals, organizations, and the grassroots that deposed the previous regime and paved the way for the Prime Minister and his team to come to power.
His supporters assassinated a prominent Oromo artist, Hachaaluu Hundessa, who inspired and mobilized millions of Oromo youth against the previous tyrannical regime. During Oromia wide demonstrations that followed Hachaaluu’s assassination, the state security forces killed hundreds of demonstrators, jailed most opposition party leaders and activists, closed or destroyed opposition parties’ offices and properties, carried out extrajudicial killings of the Oromo public suspected of being supporters of the opposition, closed Oromo media houses, jailed their staff and management, and looted their properties.
As documented in multiple Amnesty International reports on Human rights status in Ethiopia (Amnesty International Report on Human Rights Violations, May 29, 2020; https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/ethiopia/report-ethiopia/), the Prime Minister and the state he is presiding over are waging state-sanctioned terror on Oromos and oppressed nations and nationalities in Ethiopia; the reason why he doesn’t deserve nor should he be rewarded with the honor of sharing a stage with globally recognized world leaders and professionals.
Moreover, Dr. Abiy is also intellectually dishonest, widely known as a prolific plagiarizer of other people’s works and speeches verbatim (https://somalilandchronicle.com/2018/08/26/dr-plagiarizer-ethiopian-prime-minister-plagiarizes-henry-kissinger/). He is an infamous impersonator, having repeatedly claimed varying versions of his parents’ ethnic background that seem to change depending on his audience’s prevalent ethnicity and his perception of what that audience wants to hear about his origin of ethnicity. According to BBC report published on October 11. 2019 (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43567007), he claimed his father is a Muslim Oromo and his mother is a Christian Amhara (also quoted in the Nobel Prize Institute’s biography of the Prime Minister). He has repeatedly confirmed this claim in multiple interviews he gave to various media platforms available on YouTube. He is also on record, claiming both his father and mother are Oromos in an interview he granted to the Oromo Broadcasting Network TV as recent as July 15, 2020 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZATZ5Q-EyE&ab_channel=OBNOromiyaa%5BOromiaBroadcastingNetwork%5D). In our opinion, allowing Dr. Abiy to speak at this event risks tarnishing the good name and image of Project Syndicate, diminishes that stature of the event, and possibly disseminate plagiarized messages on this very important topic. We thus kindly request Project Syndicate urgently to rescind the invitation to Dr. Abiy Ahmed to prevent any detraction from the real issue of the conference and also because this could be construed as unwittingly enabling a murderous tyrant who did not and is not valuing human life.
Allowing Dr. Abiy to appear on this world stage, to speak to the environment, is tantamount to ignoring the death of those children, the old and young people, and hundreds of thousands incarcerated in COVID-19 infested jails, and those young girls being raped daily by his soldiers as a deterrent. All this ongoing death and destruction is due to Abiy’s official shoot-to-kill policy to deter any kind of protest from his tyranny. One must also examine the inconsistencies of this man’s educational records to know what a master manipulator he has been throughout his life.
The fundamental question is this, what kind of wisdom about climate change can this despicable, intellectually bankrupt, and a profoundly flawed human being can offer at such a global forum? If this invitation stands, he will use it to polish his image that has been tarnished beyond any repair, regardless. We sincerely hope and passionately urge that in virtue of the above, Project Syndicate will reconsider its invitation and dissociate itself from a leader of one of the most murderous regimes the world has seen in recent years. If not for anything else, just to preserve the image and credibility of the organization. Attached is a graphic snapshot of the atrocities committed by Abiy’s security forces against innocent Oromo citizens.
Oromia Global Forum
2. Bilal Oromo Dawa Center
3. Canaan Oromo Evangelical Church
4. Charismatic International Fellowship Church
5. DMV Oromo Islamic Center
6. Gaadisa Sabboontottaa KP
7. Global Gumii Oromia
8. Global Oromo Advocacy Group
9. Global Waaqeffannaa Council
10. Horn of Africa Genocide Watch
11. Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa
12. International Oromo Lawyers Association
13. International Oromo Women’s Organization
14. International Qeerroo Support Group
15. Network of Oromo Studies
16. Mana Kiristaanaa Fayyisaa Addunyaa
17. Oromo Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
18. Oromo Communities’ Association of North America
19. Oromo Community of Bergen
20. Oromo Community of Oslo
21. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Los Angeles
22. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington DC Metropolitan Area
23. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society
24. Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organization
25. Oromo Legacy, Leadership and Advocacy Association
26. Oromo Lutheran Church of Baltimore
27. Oromo Relief Association in USA
28. Oromo Parliamentarians Council
29. Oromo Political Prisoners Association
30. Oromo Resurrection Evangelical Church
31. Oromo Scholars and Professinals
32. Oromia Support Group
33. Oromo Studies Association
34. Tawfiq Islamic Center
35. Tawhid Oromo Islamic Center in Minnesota
36. Union of Oromo Communities in Canada
37. United Oromo Chirstian Church in Australia
38. United Oromo Evangelical Church
39. Wabii Maccaa Association
40. Washington DC Metropolitan Oromo SDA Church