An anti-US rally was held in Ethiopia, in the capital city of Addis Ababa last week. It was attended by over 10,000 protestors who spoke against President Biden’s policy on the Tigray conflict, i.e. the northern region of the country.
The Tigray conflict began in November when the Prime Minister – Abiy Ahmed – ordered an armed attack on the forces inclined towards the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the former ruling party. The party had overrun federal army bases leading to the attack. Thousands of people, mostly civilians, lost their lives in the conflict and nearly two million people were displaced. Ahmed declared an end to the fighting ‘on paper’ when Mek’ele was captured. Despite this, half a year later, Ethiopian forces are still fighting against the TPLF forces in the region. With the escalation of the conflict, both sides involved have been blamed for violation of human rights with continued reports of mass killing and sexual assault.
As recently as last week, Biden demanded an immediate end to this violent abuse of human rights and warned of a possible famine that might affect the region severely. He stated that he was “deeply concerned by the escalating violence and the hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia”. The US State Department also went on to impose restrictions on economic transactions and security assistance which served to anger the government of Ethiopia. The Foreign Ministry said that the decision was ‘regrettable’ and is likely to undermine US-Ethiopia relations in the future.
The anti-US rally in Ethiopia was staged by the Ethiopian Youth Ministry and attended by people who are in favor of Prime Minister Ahmed. The protesters held posters with slogans written in Amharic, the most widely spoken language of the country alongside English and Arabic. Some of the posters read ‘Ethiopia doesn’t need a guardian.’ Several other banners could be seen supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi, the leader of China. These posters were a direct hit at the United States’ interference, pointing towards the strong allyship of Ethiopia.
Several other parts of the country saw rallies being held denouncing the US policy regarding the nation. This included cities like Diredawa, Harar and Gambella, which also saw demonstrators protesting against the decision of the US.
The situation remains contentious and while it is yet to be seen what happens in the future, civilian lives continue to remain at threat. It is essential that a quick and concrete step is taken to bring peace to the lives of hundreds of people who find themselves in an unsecured situation.