We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the board of ESFNA reconsider its decision to decline the request by Prime Minister Abiy to engage Ethiopians at the 2018 ESFNA event in Dallas. In light of Prime Minister Abiy’s genuine efforts to change our civic and political discourse, this petition is also our direct message to the Prime Minister that a majority of Ethiopians, wherever they may live, support his messages of unity, reconciliation, and his ongoing efforts to transform our national dialog.
Dear ESFNA board members,
It has been the deepest held aspiration of all Ethiopians to see Ethiopia as a country where everyone is treated justly under the law. The art of a peaceful dialog is a first step in moving our nation into permanent reconciliation. Prime Minister Abiy has brought the country so far in this direction in such a very short time.
The Prime Minister has also taken concrete and successful steps to prepare the ground work for such a dialog with all Ethiopians, especially the diaspora: he has released political prisoners, brought the country back from the brink through his language of brotherhood and unity, worked to restore our dignity by bringing home Ethiopian prisoners from Kenya, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. He has also invited opposition parties and media to join him in this important work. We do not underestimate the challenges and obstacles the Prime Minister has had to overcome to achieve this much. A dialog requires willing participants and one must be courageous enough to be the first to extend the hand of friendship. We appreciate that the Prime Minister has come halfway with his humble request for a conversation.
That is why we find it very distressing that the ESFNA board has chosen to shut the door to this important discussion. We believe ESFNA can and should find a solution to the concerns it listed in its announcement and create a space for this much-needed debate between diaspora Ethiopians and Prime Minister Abiy. In this watershed moment in Ethiopia’s history, we need ESFNA to stand strong and show leadership and do its part in bringing a lasting change to the national conversation. Some have been vocal in their objections to the Prime Minister’s request by stating that he must do more to earn the trust of diaspora Ethiopians who have been time and again deceived by past governments. While we respect this view, we believe that it does not recognize the transformational time we Ethiopians find ourselves in. This view puts the task of transforming Ethiopia solely at the feet of the Prime Minister while it leaves the rest of us, including the ESFNA, as bystanders without a part to play in our own future. We all have equal responsibilities to create a better Ethiopia. Let us take the responsibility to hold the Prime Minister accountable, let us challenge him, and let us become his fiercest critics, if need be. But, we cannot do this if do not meet him halfway for a conversation.
We hope that the 2018 ESFNA event will be a successful one. We hope to see many more successful years, both for the ESFNA and for Prime Minister Abiy.
Show your support to Prime Minister of Ethiopia Dr. Abiy Ahmed on his request to attend #ESFNA Dallas 2018