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Statement by National Council of Eritrean Americans (NCEA)

On behalf of a terrorist Ethiopian group

             Congressman should stop dragging the US into another intervention in Africa

The Council of Eritrean Americans (NCEA) strongly condemns California’s 30th congressional district Representative Brad Sherman’s unfounded accusations and smear campaign against Eritrea. His misrepresentation and distortion of facts unfolding in Ethiopia and the Greater Horn of Africa is deplorable, to say the least. He has repeatedly been calling for US military intervention in the Horn of Africa on behalf of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a group declared terrorist by the Ethiopian parliament. To give the TPLF an upper hand in the regional conflict, Sherman has chosen to recklessly target Eritrea. Here are some of his comments from the US House of Representatives hearings in the past six months:

  • May 17, 2022 the Eritrean government let’s nothing in. … two [Ethiopian & Eritrean] governments are deliberately starving hundreds of thousands of civilians to death. … I suggested to pressure the Eritrean government which has the ports that could be used particularly by interrupting sea traffic.”
  • December 2, 2021: “Maybe somewhere in the high seas, a ship bound for [Eritrea] may be asked to turn around by a U.S. Naval ship? The fact that Eritrea would use its military to intervene in order to commit a genocide on the Tigrayan people and what’s obvious to all is to blockade a starving people, … To say that Eritrea should be able to carry out open trade with all the countries in the world while participating in this genocide in blockading those that are dying of starvation strikes me as unfair.
  • October 10, 2021: “The American navy could interrupt Eritrea’s commerce on the high seas at any time and it would be just to do so; as long as Eritrea blockades humanitarian aid to the people of Tigray…”

Representative Sherman’s statements are not grounded in fact. It is a matter of record that Eritrea had never used and didn’t it ever believe in using food as a weapon of war even at the bleakest point in its thirty-year struggle for independence:

  1. After liberating the port of Massawa in 1990, Eritrea was magnanimous enough to allow food aid to pass through its liberated areas to northern Ethiopia that were under the total control of the Ethiopian military regime.
  1. Eritrea is also known for its humane treatment of over a hundred thousand Ethiopian POWs when the International Society of the Red Cross, for fear of offending the brutal communist Government of Ethiopia at the time, had refused to acknowledge their existence. Not only did the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) that is now the Government of Eritrea, took care of POWs taking away food and medicine from the little its own freedom fighters had, it chose to provide them with classroom education in its liberated areas taking away from its meager resources.
  1. When Tigrean-dominated Ethiopia declared war on Eritrea in May of 1998, out of ill will, the TPLF regime chose to boycott Eritrean ports and in its zero-sum mentality, its late prime minister, Meles Zenawi, boasted that their boycott of Eritrean ports was intended to turn them into “waterholes for camels.” Ever since Ethiopia hasn’t used Eritrean ports which is twenty-four years ago this May.
  1. When the TPLF-led Ethiopian government deported nearly 100,000 Ethiopians of Eritrean origin, in what legal experts of international and humanitarian law called ethnic cleansing, Eritrea didn’t choose to retaliate in kind. Eritrea’s response what that, “conflicts come and go but neighborliness is forever, and Ethiopians should feel free to live in Eritrea and no one should disturb them.” At the same time, unlike the disturbing hatemongering that has been continuously coming out of TPLF leaders’ mouths for nearly twenty-five years, there has not been a single message of hate coming out of Eritrea. This is a fact anyone can check.
  1. In 2002, when the current TPLF leaders were in control of Ethiopia, and when nearly 14 million Ethiopians were “facing food shortages due to a prolonged drought in the region,” Eritrea “announced it will allow the use of its Red Sea ports of Massawa and Assab for the delivery of emergency food aid to Ethiopia.” Eritrea “‘conscious of its humanitarian obligations in the midst of a humanitarian crisis of huge proportions and because it has no desire to penalize destitute populations in Ethiopia for the wrongs done by their government” had expressed “its goodwill to facilitate the international effort to assist the famine victims in Ethiopia by providing the services of its ports for expeditious delivery of humanitarian assistance.” True to their nature TPLF leaders rejected Eritrea’s humanitarian offer of allowing food aid through Eritrean ports.
  1. Eritrea’s legacy of humanitarian compassion is still continuous; as was it was publicly stated through its Embassy in Washington, DC on December 3, 2021, Eritrea stated that: “To set the record straight, Eritrea has never blocked humanitarian aid, nor has it become a hindrance to the flow of humanitarian aid into Ethiopia. The supply routes in operation have nothing to do with Eritrea. But more pointedly as a matter of conviction, Eritrea firmly upholds the fundamental principle on the obligation of all States to ensure the provision and facilitation of humanitarian aid to needy populations in times of natural or man-made calamities and irrespective of the prevailing political/conflict situations.” At the time, Brad Sherman had confirmed, through his Twitter response, Eritrea’s offer, and he knows well no one has approached Eritrea about using its ports for food aid.
  1. Brad Sherman also knows well that TPLF leaders rather see the Tigrayan people starve to death rather than see Eritrea’s ports being used for humanitarian access to help the poor people of Tigray. Yes, such is the zero-sum mentality of the TPLF. That’s why TPLF commandeered thousands of WFP food aid trucks for its war efforts rather than sending them back to bring more food aid for the needy. Sean Jones of USAID Ethiopia is also on the record saying: “The TPLF, every town they have gone into they have looted the warehouses, looted the trucks, they have caused a great deal of destruction of the villages they visited, and it’s of great concern for humanitarians. Humanitarians have fled for their lives. I do believe that TPLF has been very opportunistic. Maybe they have been stealing from citizens, we don’t have proof of this of course. What we do have proof of is that several of our warehouses have been looted and completely emptied in the areas, particularly Amhara, where the TPLF soldiers have gone into. Yes, we know that that is a fact.”

Did Representative Sherman, or Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, or US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, or USAID czar Samantha Powers, condemn these egregious and appalling TPLF crimes? Not at all, not even a word.

This means, regrettably, Representative Brad Sherman by blaming Eritrea is barking up the wrong tree. He is accusing Eritrea of acts it has never been part of. His repeated statements from the US House of Representatives Hearings are not designed to help the people of Tigray, but in his own words: “to ask and have them [Eritreans] say ‘no, we would like to have blood in our hands, we want to see as many Tigrayans as possible die from famine; we will not allow our ports to be used.’ Just to put it on the record.”

The people of Tigray are not in need of people like Sherman who shed insincere tears but in need of good and genuine people who could help them bring about peace; living in peace with their neighbors is what the people of Tigray have been yearning for the half a century they have been under the TPLF’s firm grip.

We also don’t think Mr. Sherman cares about asking how much of the food aid that is getting to Tigray is reaching those in need. Had he asked he will find out that the TPLF commandeering food and medicine and possibly armed with weapons smuggled under the cover of humanitarian aid, is again beating war drums. To this end TPLF leaders are forcing every Tigrayan household to contribute one more child to the 3rd round of war it is preparing to launch any time now. These leaders are shouting war chants while their children are living in luxury in the USA thanks to the billions they stole from the Ethiopian people and the identities they stole from Eritrean refugees. As if the more than 300,000 soldiers, many of them underage children, that the TPLF acknowledged of losing in the two wars it waged against the central government of Ethiopia is not enough, it is once more now boasting that it is ready to go to war to breakup Ethiopia and annex Eritrea as part of its “Republic of Tigray” agenda. So it is neither the Eritrean government nor the Ethiopian government starving Tigrayans but the TPLF.

We thus urge Mr. Sherman to be sober, act responsibly as a legislator, and refrain from further straining US-Eritrea relations by punishing Eritrea on trumped-up charges that is coming out of the terrorist TPLF camp and its lobbyists wanting to drag America into another unjustified intervention. Instead, we urge him to call upon his TPLF terrorist friends to stop the war, disavow their ambition to declare “The Greater Republic of Tigray” that it openly stated is designed to incorporate historical territories of their Amhara and Afar neighbors in Ethiopia, and across an international boundary incorporating sovereign Eritrean territories.

Finally, Mr. Brad Sherman should also stop accusing Eritrea of committing “genocide” without an iota of evidence. If he cares for human lives, he should publicly acknowledge and condemn what TPLF did in the Humera, Afar, and Amhara regions it tried to occupy.

The National Council of Eritrean Americans (NCEA)

May 18, 2022

 

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