Protesters remind Seattle that the Ethiopian government continues to starve Tigray – Slog

As all eyes watch as Russia continues to bomb Ukraine, the Seattle Tigray Network has noted a more forceful response from local governments to the conflict there than they have ever seen for Tigray. Seattle Tigray Network

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters marched from Yesler to Broadway, demanding swift action to prevent hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans from starving to death at the hands of the Ethiopian government. Despite more than a year of protests, many speakers at last weekend’s event said they felt virtually ignored by all levels of government, media and public discourse, particularly in relation to the recent wave of support for Ukraine.

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“We are happy that they are helping Ukraine – we actually had the Ukrainian flag in our protest – but the same attention is required for Tigray and we have not forgotten that,” said Maikele Mengesha, a Tigray woman who has lived in Seattle for 30 years. .

Mengesha and the Seattle Tigray Network (STN) began protesting the Tigray War in Ethiopia shortly after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on November 4, 2020. The government government imposed what the United Nations calls a “de facto blockade” in July 2021, which for months limited aid deliveries to 10% of what is needed in Tigray. In a strategy to starve the resistance , the Ethiopian government has pushed 80% of Tigray’s population into food insecurity, up from about 15% before the outbreak of the war, according to US officials. Recently, the Ethiopian government announced an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in Tigray to allow relief to flow into the region.

Yet on its Instagram, STN posted that half of the region’s population could starve next month without quick action. Equally concerned, the head of the World Health Organization said that “nowhere on earth” is the health of millions more at risk than in Tigray. (Although Yemen is certainly up there too.)

But as all eyes watch as Russia continues to bomb and kill Ukrainian civilians, STN noted a more forceful response to the conflict in Ukraine than it has ever seen for Tigray.

Even though Tigrayans are struggling on the other side of the world, Mengesha said war is a Seattle problem. After all, according to Seattle TimesSeattle is home to one of the largest Tigrayan populations in the country, and Tigrayans in Seattle have been unable to contact their families in the war-torn region for more than a year.

Both the city and the county showed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. The county flew the Ukrainian flag outside the county administration building. On April 4, the Mayor, County Executive and more than 30 King County mayors held a benefit concert to help raise funds for Ukrainian refugees in Europe, as well as King County refugees. I looked for such a brouhaha for the Tigray war, but, quite simply, I did not find it. I have written to city, county and state agencies to inquire about the local response to the war and will update if I have a response.

But the support — or lack thereof — is more material than a bunch of blue and yellow flags in Twitter’s bios. The United States spent approximately $660 million to aid the Tigray region throughout the 17-month war. Less than a month after Russia began attacking Ukraine, the United States has spent $1 billion to support Ukraine, for a total of $2 billion for the country since the beginning of the mandate of the President Joe Biden.

“Nancy Pelosi will send out emails asking for campaign donations – I think, ‘I won’t send you money when you leave the people of Tigray to starve,'” Mengesha said, adding that STN demanded that the Congress passes stabilization in Ethiopia. , Peace and Democracy Act.

This is not the first time that the world community has ignored the conflicts in Africa while helping the victims of war in Europe. In 1994, the United States left Rwandans to starve for more than a year, but later quickly organized to come to the aid of Kosovo. President Bill Clinton later apologized for selective interventionism, saying guilt over his inaction during the Rwandan genocide inspired Kosovo’s swift response.

“They apologize. They say ‘never again’, but we have been under siege for 17 months,” Mengesha said. “They ignore Africa. It’s chronic. »

Even as Seattle, the country, and the world watch Russia’s war in Ukraine with bated breath, STN will continue to fill the city’s streets with red and yellow until leaders take action to stop the Ethiopian government from destroying it. starve Tigray.

” We will continue. We have no other choice,” Mengesha said.

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