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Humanity before Ethnicity

SMNE Articles and Opinions - 2009

Mr. Obang Metho is the primary author of these articles, but many are also written with the collaboration of other members of the SMNE team.

December 25 , 2009
Christmas and Holiday Greetings from the SMNE
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) wishes all Ethiopians a wonderful and blessed Christmas and holiday season. As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, or as Muslims end their gathering at Mecca or as Jews celebrate Hanukkah, it is a time for peace, love and compassion between people of differing faiths, different ethnicities, different languages and different socio-economic backgrounds.   read...

December 13 , 2009
Remembering the Anuak Massacre of December 13, 2003 - Do Not Rest Until Justice Comes to Ethiopia

March for Freedom

On December 13-15, 2009, it will be six years since the massacre of 424 Anuak in Gambella, Ethiopia followed by nearly two more years of widespread extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, imprisonment, disappearances and destruction. By the end of this time, another 1500 Anuak from this very tiny ethnic group, numbering less than 100,000 worldwide and less than .01% of the Ethiopian population, were killed.

Wondering what thoughts were on the minds of the Anuak in Gambella at this anniversary of their darkest of days or what changes they might have seen during these years, we in the Anuak Justice Council contacted some of the Anuak to ask this question. One Anuak man said, “Thank you for asking me what has changed in the six years. The answer is not a lot. We still do not know where the bones of our people are, not one single killer has been brought to justice and we still are not free.”  read...
Listen to VOA radio broadcast. (Amharic)

December 4, 2009
The Horn of Africa Peace Forum - Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
In Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa we have become people separated by ethnicity, region, village and clan. If this is not enough, we are also sub-divided by political view, language, religion and skin color. We have isolated ourselves into hostile groups who are competing for power and resources. We are either hated or ignored. When tragedy or hardship strikes one group, no one else seems to care about their pain and suffering.  read..

November 30, 2009
Open Letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
We are writing this on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia due to serious concerns we have with your regime. With all due respect, we must confront you with the truth—you and your supporters have put the lives and national interests of the Ethiopian people in great and urgent jeopardy.  read..   read in Amharic..

November 15, 2009
Open Letter to Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
As an esteemed member of the Senate, as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as an advocate for human rights and democracy, we in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and on behalf of many like-minded Ethiopians, want to call into question the current United States partnership with one of the most repressive dictators and violators of human rights in Africa—Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.    read..

November 6, 2009
Open Letter to the UK Secretary of State and Donor Countries to Ethiopia
As Ethiopians who care about the future of the people of Ethiopia, we want to share with you the “untold story” about hunger in Ethiopia as you examine strategies to intervene in the current food crisis in the country... Many Ethiopians face certain starvation without such aid; however, unless the root reasons are examined and long-term solutions sought, Ethiopia will remain a country in constant crisis.    read..

October 23, 2009
A Message to the International Criminal Court: “It’s Time to Hold Meles Zenawi Accountable for His Crimes!”
It is time for Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to be held accountable for the many crimes he has committed against the people of Ethiopia and Somalia! He and others in his government should be the next targets of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The “free pass” extended to this criminal administration, one that has allowed them to avoid having to face up to the consequences of their crimes, should have expired long ago.    read.. 

October 6, 2009
Thanks to Ethiopians Who Refuse to be Bystanders! Where in the World are the Rest of You Ethiopians?
The last several months have been extraordinarily busy for those who have been involved with the March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa. Immediately following the march, I traveled to Europe, where I saw other dedicated Ethiopians working very hard in their region for our struggle for freedom and justice in Ethiopia. I have much to say about this for none of these events would have taken place without the commitment of a few great Ethiopians who were willing to do something tangible to make real their dream for a better Ethiopia. My hope is that many more Ethiopians will be inspired by their example.   read.. 

October 2, 2009
Joint Press Release: East African Human Rights Coalition & Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia Call on US and Canadian Authorities to Deny Visit by Ogaden Genocide Perpetrator
Da’ud Mohamed Ali, governor of the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia, is heading up a delegation that is expected to tour North America, which includes a planned visit to Minnesota this weekend and on to Canada next week. Why Minnesota? Minnesota is now home to more Somali Ogadens than anywhere else outside of Ethiopia.  read.. (pdf)

September 15, 2009
March in Washington DC Launches New Campaign for Change!

March for Freedom

On Sunday, September 13, 2009, many Ethiopians and others gathered in front of the US Capitol building to bring attention to the ongoing genocide and other human rights crimes being perpetrated against the people of Ethiopia by the repressive authoritarian government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The event was a success and we believe it will lead to many new opportunities.  read..

September 10, 2009
March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa Gaining Momentum
The momentum is gathering in anticipation for the March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa, now only a few days away. A warm, sunny day is in the forecast so it should be perfect for the march! Banners are being prepared and publicity is going out. Sponsors are being added. Those organizations, which still have not joined as sponsors, can still do so in order for your name to be included on the March for Freedom Day.  read... 

September 7, 2009
Open Letter to the Ethiopian Religious Community

In Germany

I am coming to you with a plea for your help and I must raise my genuine concerns out of love and fear for the people of Ethiopia. I am not perfect, but I must sound an alarm for Ethiopia: Our people need our religious leaders more than ever—for we are stumbling downward towards destruction.   read... 

September 4, 2009
We Need Your Help! Update on the March for Freedom!
It is only one week before the “March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa” that will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, September 13, 2009.  Ethiopians, Africans and their friends will gather in front of the US Capitol building in Washington DC to shout with one voice, “We have had enough genocide and dictatorship in Ethiopia and Africa!”   read... 
"" listen   (podcast)

August 20, 2009
Let Your Conscience Be Your Invitation
With only three weeks left before the March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa, we want to remind people to clear their schedules and to make arrangements to come. Let your consciences stir you to put everything else aside for this one afternoon where the millions of silenced voices of those living under African dictators can finally be heard in a huge resounding shout saying, “We have had ENOUGH!”   read... 

August 14, 2009
German Ethiopians Protest, part two

In Germany

In this second part, I will share with Ethiopians what I have learned after our meeting with high level German government officials. I will also share with you, similar responses from my follow-up with American, Canadian and British elected officials who have already acknowledged a commitment to helping Ethiopians in their pursuit of freedom, justice and the respect of human rights.   read... 

August 12, 2009
German Ethiopians Protest the Authoritarian Meles Regime!

Demonstration in Germany
Protesting in Berlin

In this first part, I want to share aspects of my journey from Frankfurt to Berlin, of the protest in front of the German parliament and in part two, I will share with you, our meeting with high officials in the German government at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and similar responses from Canadian, American and British elected officials who have already acknowledged a commitment to helping Ethiopians in their pursuit of freedom, justice and the respect of human rights.   read... 

August 8, 2009
Interview with Obang Metho about Berlin's Ethiopian protest
Radio station Deutsche Welle in Berlin, Germany
"" listen   (in Amharic)

August 3, 2009
Open Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
I am contacting you to urge your government to take swift and urgent action regarding the recent sentencing of Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, a Canadian citizen, to life imprisonment by the Ethiopian government.  read... 

August 1, 2009
Summary of SMNE Forum
On July 26, 2009 the SMNE held a forum in Washington D.C. on the topic: Breaking the Silence on Genocide, Tyranny and Dictatorship in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia today, the people have been silenced by the government, but the atrocities, the repression and the harsh authoritarian rule continue despite the many efforts of Ethiopians in the Diaspora. We Ethiopians in the Diaspora have not been as effective as we could be in collaborating with each other, but the problem is worsened due to the foreign policies of some western countries who have aligned themselves with “our” dictator rather than with “our” people. Additionally, the media has not covered this story as closely as similar cases in other countries who are “out of favor” like Zimbabwe, Iran and Venezuela.    read... 

July 3, 2009
UK Parliamentarians’ Advice Regarding Ethiopia, Part 2
In this second part, I will share with Ethiopians what I learned from British parliamentarians and members of the Third World Solidarity. In addition to that, I will also share with you similar responses from my follow-up with Canadian and American elected officials who have already acknowledged a commitment to helping Ethiopians in their pursuit of freedom, justice and the respect of human rights. Their advice is worthy of passing on, but the most important purpose of this advice is to act on it!    read...

July 1, 2009
UK Parliamentarians’ Advice Regarding Ethiopia
On June 16, 2009 something significant happened. For the first time, the Parliament of the United Kingdom opened up the doors to the House of Commons and gave the stage to Ethiopians in order to learn more from them about the grave human rights violations, including genocide, the pervasive injustice and the rampant corruption going on in Ethiopia under the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.   read...

June 28, 2009
Washington DC March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa
We are calling for thousands of freedom-loving people of the world to come out to march in order to bring world attention to the gross human rights abuses, tyranny and oppression of Ethiopians under the current brutal government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as well as in other countries in Africa where similar conditions exist.   read...

June 16, 2009
Testimony to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in Collaboration with the Third World Solidarity regarding Ethiopia

UK House of Commons
Ms. Sabra Mohammed, Mr. Mushtaq Lasharie
and Mr.Obang Metho

It is an honor to speak in the House of Commons, to law makers who represent one of the greatest countries in the world.  Your love of freedom, justice and democratic rights has made your country a beacon of hope for many in the world, including Ethiopians who are seeking the same dignity of life for Ethiopia that is found and treasured here in the United Kingdom.   read...

June 11, 2009
An Open Letter to my fellow Tigrayan brothers and sisters who are supporting the TPLF
I want to address those Ethiopians who are Tigrayans, especially focusing on those who are benefiting from this regime at the expense of the majority of other Ethiopians. I am accountable for the following words that I will be saying to you. With that in mind, I am not speaking as an expert or as someone who is perfect because I am neither, but I am doing this because I care about you and you need to hear the truth, at least, as I see it. Take what you agree with from this message and discard the rest. I am hoping you will find something of benefit to you.   read...

June 9, 2009
"Fighting for a Country”:
A Summary of Obang’s Talk in Dallas (Part Two)

In part one, I talked about how we Ethiopians have essentially fought against the evils and injustices of the current regime by separating into disjointed, divided, alienated and non-cohesive “self-interest groups.” I used the term “village” to depict the way these groups then often work at odds with each other, only for their own interests, rather than for a “country.” I use the word “country” to describe how I believe we must work together as a whole for larger, more inclusive goals—united by principles and as Ethiopians who seek an Ethiopia where humanity comes before “ethnicity” and where we collaborate for the betterment of all Ethiopians, because “no one is free until we all are free.”   read...

June 3, 2009
Finding New Tools to Fight Genocide, Dictatorship and Corruption in Ethiopia: A Summary of Obang’s Talk in Dallas (Part One)
Why are you and I here today? Is it because of what is going on within the borders of Ethiopia? Is it because of one or more of the following: genocide, massacres, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, systematic rapes, destruction or confiscation of property and livelihood, arbitrary arrests, politicized courts, thousands of political prisoners, land “give- aways” to outsiders (Sudan, Djibouti, etc) while grabbing land from indigenous Ethiopians, the exploitation of natural resources, widespread governmental corruption, oppression and injustice, environmental destruction or one-party control of every sector of society—government, military, communications...  read...

May 23, 2009
In Recognition of My Fellow Ethiopians:
We are Becoming the People of a New Ethiopia

Thankfully, in May of 2009, we Ethiopians are not the same as we were in December of 2003. One of the lowest points in my own life was on December 13, 2003 after learning of the brutal massacre of relatives, friends, work colleagues, former classmates and other Anuak in Gambella, Ethiopia. Despite the wailing and the tears from the Anuak, the silence that followed in Ethiopia and in the international community was overwhelming.   read...

May 12, 2009
Obang’s Reflections on “Free Makhtal” Town Hall Meeting

Tilahun Gessesse

On Sunday, May 10, 2009, I was privileged to attend the town hall meeting in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, organized by the Free Makhtal-Working Coalition. Makhtal is a Canadian citizen, originally from the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, who was illegally detained by the Kenyan government in 2006 and then transferred to an Ethiopian military prison where he has been held for two years.  He was never given any legal protections until earlier this year when outside pressure succeeded in convincing the Ethiopian government to give him a court hearing; however, he still remains in custody.   read...

May 10, 2009
Free-Makhtal Working coalition Town Hall Meeting
Free Makhtal-Working Coalition, a coalition of citizens, Human right, Civic Organization and residents of Canada, is holding a town hall meeting to raise awareness about the plight of Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian Citizen who has been held in an Ethiopian prison for almost three years.  
Press release       Agenda

May 5, 2009
Former Ethiopian President Negasso Gidada discusses human rights issues with Oromo American citizens.
""  view

April 27, 2009
SMNE Press Release on Recent Arrests in Ethiopia
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia calls on the International Red Cross, Amnesty International and concerned members of human rights organizations to urgent action on behalf of 35 new prisoners, arrested on April 25, 2009 in Ethiopia for their alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow the Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi.   read...   read in Amharic...

April 25, 2009
Tilahun’s songs challenged us to become more human and to reach out in love to others.

Tilahun Gessesse
Tilahun Gessesse

This week Ethiopia lost part of itself when one truly great Ethiopian, Ato Tilahun Gessesse, died suddenly from a heart attack. He will be greatly missed by millions of Ethiopians, including me, who truly loved his music and who will mourn his passing. Yet, Tilahun was remarkable in many ways. He was not only an extremely talented musician who was gifted with a beautiful voice, he was also a hero, a teacher, a mentor, a devout Christian believer and a great human being who lifted us up to become better people through his music, his lyrics, his ideals and the way he lived
his life.  read...   read in Amharic...   Amharic tribute poem


April 22, 2009
An Open Letter to Dr. Greg Stanton, the President of Genocide Watch

Dr. Gregory Stanton and Obang Metho

As the new executive director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, I would like to speak on behalf of our organization in expressing our deep appreciation for your organization strong commitment to stopping genocide and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. The people of Ethiopia are among millions of others throughout the world who are greatly indebted to you for your hard work, your courageous stand and your unswerving dedication to truth, justice and human rights.  read...


April 15, 2009
Is Rock Throwing Punishable by Death in Ethiopia?
New Draft of Ethiopian “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” Revealed


What next? Will rock throwing now become punishable by death? The same EPRDF government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that recently passed the draconian Society and Charity Proclamation law, that severely restricts worthwhile activities within Ethiopian civic society, is hard at work again. This time the focus is on anti-terrorism.      read...

April 7 , 2009
Conviction of Former Peruvian President Fujimori for Human Rights Violations Inspires Ethiopians

Alberto Fujimori

Washington D.C – The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, ...joins with the people of Peru and other justice-loving organizations and people throughout the world in celebrating a victory for humanity and a defeat for human rights abusers who think they can escape culpability. This week, the rule of law took its rightful place in Peru, triumphing over a decade-long culture of impunity, put in place by its former president, Alberto Fujimori.     read...



April 6 , 2009
It is time to end Canadian aid for tyranny in Ethiopia
The events of this past week in London, gave Meles an unpleasant foretaste of the accountability he might have to face in the future for any criminal actions he has taken against the people of Ethiopia. 

We thank Greg Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch, for taking a courageous stand against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ethiopia when he called for an investigation by the UN Human Rights Commission into the ongoing massive human rights atrocities being carried out in Ethiopia under the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. We also thank the hundreds of faithful Ethiopians who staged a very effective and eye-opening rally in a prime location, which could be viewed by leaders of the G-20 countries as they left their meeting.    read...

March 24 , 2009
Open Letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, and on behalf of the Ethiopian people, strongly urge you to reconsider the inclusion of Mr. Meles Zenawi as a guest at the upcoming G-20 meeting to be held in London. By inviting this man to represent the whole of Africa, allowing him to stand side by side with leaders from free countries who have been elected by their people, you are sending a disturbing message to oppressed people that brutal leaders can terrorize their people and still be rewarded with undeserved impunity in such circles of power.  read...

February 28, 2009
Address to the Ethiopian National Congress-
I knew that coming together in solidarity would require that we improved our relationships and our respect for each other. I knew that such relationships could transform our society into a new, more welcoming Ethiopia. This is the kind of Ethiopia for which I hope and dream!  read...
February 23, 2009
What Price for a Reconciled Ethiopia?

The responses we received to the last article by the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, “AigaForum versus Obang Metho: Is there Racism in Ethiopia?,” were overwhelming and it has become clear that this issue of racism is something that must continue to be addressed. The purpose of this article is to give the public information on the responses we received and to offer suggestions to help us to productively move forward in this discussion. One of our main goal is the reconciliation of Ethiopians.  read...

February 12, 2009
AigaForum versus Obang Metho: Is there Racism in Ethiopia?
On the morning of February 4 I learned that my picture was posted alongside the picture of Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) with the header over our pictures: “Window Dressing,” accompanied by a short article where it was claimed that we were both being “used” by our respective groups to falsely present the impression that minorities had a meaningful role within their power structures when in fact, such roles were only reserved for “insiders.” My phone has not stopped ringing ever since...  read...

February 10, 2009
Organizing a 100,000 person Ethiopian March for Freedom, Justice and Peace in Washington D.C.

PDF In Amharic   read...

January 26, 2009
Our Mutual Challenge: Silently Becoming Our Words through Our Actions
We are pleased to know that Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam, is now publicly endorsing so many of the ideas and principles of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, as demonstrated in his recent article, “Close Ranks, Open Hearts and Minds, Shake Hands and Get Busy.” We hope that these ideas and principles continue to spread to others because we are convinced that it will be on such a foundation that the “NEW ETHIOPIA” will be built.    read...

January 23, 2009
Solidarity Movement Calls for Names of All Political Prisoners

We must replace the ingredients that are poisoning our society—the tribalism, deceit, blaming, sabotage, destructive competition, victim mentality and moral weakness that results in our failing to stand together in joint opposition to systemic evil. Part of standing up against such evil requires that we expose the depth, height and breadth of political repression within Ethiopia. One way to do that is to gather better documentation on the names and circumstances of all our Ethiopian political prisoners.   read...

January 11, 2009
SMNE Endorses January 14th Rallies Throughout the World to Free Birtukan, Teddy Afro, Bekele Jirata and All Ethiopian Political Prisoners!
We are pleased with the very positive responses we have received from numerous diverse Ethiopian groups who indicate a willingness to sign a collective letter calling for an end to tyranny in Ethiopia. Such a letter would be addressed to policymakers in key donor countries, to the media and to other strategic leaders asking them to stand with the Ethiopian people against the oppressive policies of the current government of Meles Zenawi.    read...

January 7, 2009
Organizing a 100,000 person Ethiopian March for Freedom, Justice and Peace in Washington D.C.

PDF in Amharic   read...

January 4, 2009
Will 2009 Become the Year of Ethiopian Independence from Dictators?
Will 2009 be different from 2008—a year filled with increasing misery, repression and violence in Ethiopia and of apathy, disillusionment and division in the Diaspora? I say, yes, but only if we Ethiopians now demonstrate that we are prepared for new solidarity around shared goals, principles and values so we can speak with “one voice” that has been missing!

Injustice in Ethiopia is everywhere and it is an astounding testimony of EPRDF arrogance—how they seem to believe they can continue to operate as they please within their self-established “culture of impunity,” even boldly imprisoning leaders on absurd grounds such as Birtukan. Let 2009 be the year we say, “We have had enough!”    read...