OEA Calls on President Obama to lift 5-year old Unjust Sanctions

December 23, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As members of the Organization of Eritrean Americans (OEA), we would like to call upon your administration to lift the two UN Security Council Resolutions 1907 (2009) and 2023 (2011) that the US helped impose sanctions on the innocent people of Eritrea. It is time to do the right thing.

These two resolutions were politically motivated; they were based on naked lies and fabricated stories that came out of Ethiopia, Eritrea’s archenemy. A year ago, former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and veteran Ambassador Herman Cohen with many years of experience and intimate knowledge of the region, said it well: “Those of us who know Eritrea well, understand that the Eritrean leadership fears Islamic militancy as much as any other country in the Horn of Africa region.”

Eritrea, as a nation that has faced its fair share of destabilization attempts by foreign religious extremists, is the most reliable partner we have for peace and security in the Horn of Africa. It deserves our help and positive engagement, definitely not sanctions based on lies. There was no, and there is no “intelligence, real or fabricated”, that links Eritrea to Al Shabab or any form of extremism in the region other than that what the Ethiopians told us. Surely, as a superpower, and a nation that takes pride in fairness and justice, we should never punish nations and people based on what we know too well to be fabrications. Thus, it is time that we take a lead in the UN Security Council to terminate these illegal sanctions against the hard working people of Eritrea and we know your leadership can play a positive role.

There was no rational justification to impose the sanctions in the first place, and there is even less rational explanation to maintain them now. The fact that the SEMG (Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group) has come out in the open and admitted that there is no credible evidence that links Eritrea to Somalia in its past three reports is another reason to do away with them. Thus we feel the immediate and unconditional lifting of these sanctions is long over due.

In addition, the US, as one of the guarantors of the Algiers Agreement, has an obligation to demand that Ethiopia immediately and unconditionally vacate the sovereign Eritrean territories it is illegally occupying, including the town of Badme. No nation, large or small, should be allowed to get away with breaking international law. The US government’s action in the past, as Congressman Dana Rohrabacher lamented recently, “was disgraceful, and has undermined our ability to arbitrate other disputes”. In essence we are eroding our own credibility when we let Ethiopian leaders “off the hook” .

Furthermore, the OEA is convinced that a long-term and fruitful relationship between Eritrea and the US is essential for maintaining peace and security, and fighting off poverty and extremism in the Horn of Africa. Therefore, we ask your administration to do what is moral and ethical and constructively engage Eritrea and the Eritrean people. As Americans of Eritrean origin we are ready to contribute to a future of engagement, cooperation and better relations between our two countries.