The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) was created in response to the widespread violation of the human rights of Ethiopian citizens by the Ethiopian government. Isolation, tribalistic thinking, divide-and-conquer politics and ethnic alienation had prevented Ethiopians from coming together in the past. But all of this changed on Nov. 17, 2007, when diverse Ethiopians came together in Washington D.C. to listen to each other’s stories, to acknowledge the pain of others and to seek ways to work together to end abuses.
Present at this meeting were Ethiopians from most every region of the country: men and women, representatives from both mainstream groups and minority groups, and people of different religious belief—Muslims, Christians and others. We shared our experiences and acknowledged the pain, suffering and destruction inflicted on all Ethiopians, not only by the current regime, but also during the governments of Mengistu and Haile Selassie.
Our reflections led to the understanding that for us to succeed as a people and as a society, we must acknowledge our common humanity as taking precedence over any other differences. These core principles of “humanity before ethnicity” and “no one is free until all are free” began to shape the formation of this entire movement. We in the SMNE believe that if these core beliefs can be integrated into our everyday life and thinking throughout Ethiopia, that it will lead to the transformation of the entire landscape of the country.
We hold that God has created every human being in His image, equally endowing each person with intrinsic worth, dignity and certain inalienable rights. When these rights are violated, we should all care and see it as a threat to our own freedom, well-being and survival, for “no one is free until all are free.”
Ethnicity, culture, gender, nationality, skin color, class, religion, viewpoint, educational level, economic level, disability or any other distinctions do not affect the value and rights of any human being, for “humanity comes first
”—before any other distinction. In respect to Ethiopia, upholding the human rights of all Ethiopians, as well as of others in our global society, is of primary importance. However, unfortunately, this is currently not the case in Ethiopia and is a major part of the work of the SMNE.