Recent US visa sanctions imposed on Ethiopia over atrocities in the Tigray region have been protested in Addis Ababa, with thousands gathering in the African country’s capital recently. Protestors at the rally criticized the United States and others in the international community who are voicing concerns over the violence in Tigray.
Ethiopian forces are currently hunting down the Tigray region’s ousted and now fugitive leaders, with troops from neighboring Eritrea joining forces with Ethiopia’s government, ignoring calls from world leaders to withdraw.
Protestors in Addis Ababa held aloft placards saying: “Ethiopian young people denounce the western intervention,” while others said that Ethiopia’s sovereignty was at stake.
US visas restricted
Workpermit.com recently reported that Ethiopia had been hit with US visa sanctions amid events in Tigray, with government and military officials of both Ethiopia and Eritrea affected. US officials have said that sanctions have been imposed on those seen to be undermining efforts to resolve the violence in Tigray.
The region is home to an estimated six million of Ethiopia’s 110 million people. In addition to US visa restrictions, Washington has imposed sanctions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia.
Some of the reported atrocities occurring in Tigray include brutal gang rapes, extrajudicial killings and evictions. Victims, witnesses and local authorities claim that thousands of people have died amid the violence.
The sanctions imposed by the United States have been described by the Ethiopian government as ‘misguided’ and ‘regrettable’.
In a Twitter post, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Ethiopian government will not be deterred by this unfortunate decision of the US administration.”
In an official statement, the ministry said: “If such a resolve to meddle in our internal affairs and undermining the century-old bilateral ties continues unabated, the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will be forced to reassess its relations with the United States. This might have implications beyond our bilateral relationship.”
The situation in Tigray has been raging on for more than six months, having erupted in November 2020 after Ethiopia accused former leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, of ordering an attack on an Ethiopian army base in the region.
Troops sent by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Ebiy Ahmed, quickly ejected the TPLF from major cities and towns, but guerrilla fighting continues across the Tigray region. An estimated two million people have been displaced by the war.
Commenting on the sanctions imposed, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said: “Despite significant diplomatic engagement, the parties to the conflict in Tigray have taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities or pursue a peaceful resolution of the political crisis.”
“Without an immediate cessation of hostilities and a rapid expansion of humanitarian access, current and significant food insecurity could lead to famine,” Blinken added.
Meanwhile, the US Senate recently passed a resolution condemning all violence against civilians in Tigray while also urging Eritrean troops to withdraw from the region.
The US government is now urging the Ethiopian government to meet public commitments to hold accountable all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, to protect civilians, and to ensure unhindered humanitarian access.
Blinken said: “The United States reiterates its calls for a durable, political solution to the crisis.”
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