Global Ethiopian Scholars Initiative (GESI)
Dr. Ronald L. (Ron) Wasserstein
American Statistical Association (ASA)
732 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1943
Dear Dr. Wasserstein,
We, the Board members of the Global Ethiopian Scholars Initiative (GESI), are writing to express our concern over your recent statement in reference to the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
GESI is a non-profit organization registered in the US state of New York, with a mission to generate evidence relating to developments concerning Ethiopia, with particular reference to external public opinion and internal policy initiatives.
On June 21 2021, you twitted @Ron_Wasserstein: “The violence being done to Tigrayan people must end… .”
While we fully appreciate your concern about the citizens of Ethiopia, the Board of GESI strongly believes that your statement appears to lack perspectives about the current situation in that country, which has been experiencing one of the most difficult and traumatic challenges in her long history.
We all condemn any human rights violations, let alone the perpetration of atrocities, in a region of conflict such as the one that has followed the treasonous attack, by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces in November of 2020.
We also believe that all crimes must be fully investigated by independent groups, as is evidently being done, and that the perpetrators be prosecuted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
We would like to assure you that no genuine Ethiopian would wish harm to our compatriots in the Tigray region, which is the birth place of our cherished civilization, the cradle of the widely embraced Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith, and once the seat of the kingdom where Muhammad’s first followers sought refuge from persecution by the rulers of Mecca.
However, we categorically reject any attempt to insinuate any parallelism between the terrorist group, TPLF, and the great people of Tigray.
As you may know, the TPLF had once been labelled as a “Tier III terrorist organization under 2 INA section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III) on the basis of its violent activities before it became part of the ruling coalition and the government of Ethiopia in May 1991. For the subsequent three decades, the TPLF ruled the country ruthlessly until it was ejected from power through a popular uprising in 2018. The crimes committed by the TPLF while in power have been extensively documented by humanitarian organizations, including the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the US State Department Country Reports. Following its defeat in the recent counterattack launched by the Ethiopian government to restore law and order, the TPLF, which has now been officially declared as a terrorist group, has been waging a campaign of disinformation to befuddle world opinion, with the strong patronage of certain Western media institutions and governments. It may be noted that while in power, the TPLF had embezzled billions of dollars of aid money that is now being used to finance this campaign.
As a leader of one of the most respected professions, which values evidence-based decision making, your remarks, without proper context, are likely to further create antagonism and ethnic hatred in the troubled African country, as efforts are made by us all to build bridges and bring reconciliation among the brotherly people who have lived in harmony for millennia.
Given the gravity and repercussions of your assertion, we are, therefore, requesting you to revise your statement:
- making a clear distinction between the TPLF and the people of Tigray, and
- expressing support only to non-TPLF members of your profession whose wellbeing may have been adversely impacted by the conflict initiated by the terrorist group.
We look forward to receiving your response at the earliest possible time.
The Board of Directors, GESI
June 23, 2021