Ethiopians protest US sanctions over Tigray conflict in East African nation
Thousands of Ethiopians have gathered in the capital Addis Ababa on Sunday to protest the US government’s imposed restrictions on aid to the East African nation over the Tigray conflict.
Washington has imposed restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia over the ongoing atrocities in the northern region, including a ban on travel visas to current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials.
Media reports said more than 10,000 demonstrators took part in the mass rally on Sunday.
The pro-government demonstrators carried placards written in English, Arabic and Amharic, urging Washington not to meddle in the country's affairs.
“Hands off Ethiopia”, “USA show us your neutrality”, and “Ethiopia doesn't need a caretaker,” were among the protesters’ demands as reflected in some of the banners.
“I came here to show my support ... to denounce the restrictions put on Ethiopia by America,” said Nejash Sheba, a 23-year old Addis Ababa trader and member of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Prosperity Party.
Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abebe told demonstrators present at the Sunday rally that the nation will never give in to Washington's illegitimate demands.
“We will never kneel down. The preconditions and travel restrictions by the US and its allies are completely unacceptable. It needs to be corrected,” he said in an address to the rally organized by the Ministry of Youth.
Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea sent troops into Tigray in November after accusing the once-dominant regional ruling party, TPLF, of launching attacks on Ethiopian federal army troops based in the region.
Rights groups and aid organizations who made their way into Tigray reported that the troops had committed violations and massacres in the region.
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned last week that Tigray was facing a horrifying situation with people dying of hunger and poor health.
“The situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, is, if I use one word, horrific. Very horrific,” Ghebreyesus, who himself hails from the region said at a press conference. “Many people have started dying actually because of hunger, and severe and acute malnutrition is becoming rampant,” he said.