An Open Letter to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, on the illegal border deal of the Ethiopian Ruling Tribal Junta ( Woyanne ) and the Sudan –

August 21st, 2009 Print Print Email Email

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Secretary-General

1st Avenue, 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

August 21, 2009

Your Excellency:

We, the representatives of various Ethiopian professional, civic, political, and cultural organizations, have the honor to bring to your attention a grave situation that is developing all along the border between Ethiopia and the Sudan. Recently, the Sudanese government has been engaged in an all-out effort to seize control of Ethiopian territory illegally. Toward that end, it has sent elements of its army to forcibly evict Ethiopian farmers from their lands, and has killed some and detained others in Sudanese jails. The Sudanese government has taken these brazen actions in total disregard of Ethiopia’s sovereignty and in violation of the fundamental rights of the aggrieved persons under applicable rules of international law.
The boundary between the two countries has been the subject of numerous negotiations since colonial times. But it is only in the last decade and half that the Sudan has felt emboldened to resort to the use of force to settle its boundary dispute with Ethiopia. The Sudanese government apparently believes that it has arrived at an opportune moment in history to drive a hard bargain and to fulfill its territorial ambitions. The dictatorship in Ethiopia headed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is so weak and so obsessed with hanging on to power at all costs that it regards these territorial claims as a ”small price” to pay for securing Sudan’s cooperation in crushing Ethiopian resistance movements with bases in the border region.
Negotiations between the leaders of the two regimes have been ongoing since the beginning of the 1990s. They recently culminated in an official meeting in Addis Ababa from April 21 to April 22, 2009 where Prime Minister Zenawi and General Al-Beshir of the Sudan signed off on a deal that covered a variety of bilateral matters including—crucially– the recognition of Sudan’s claims to Ethiopian territory. We have learned to our utter shock and dismay that under the just-concluded deal, huge swathes of our ancestral lands have been ceded to the Sudan with a stroke of the Ethiopian dictator’s pen.

We wish your Excellency to take note that we reject absolutely and condemn vehemently this nefarious deal between the two dictators. We wish to let it be known that we will never allow this deal to stand, for it deprives thousands of our people of their farms and holds for naught the enormous sacrifices our forefathers have made so valiantly to preserve these lands as an integral part of Ethiopia’s territorial identity and sovereignty. We would like to remind the world community of the fact that Emperor Tewodros II ( 1818 – 1868 ) cut his teeth on defending these very lands from Egyptian and Sudanese encroachments in the 19th century. Those who seek to deprive us of these lands would also do well to remember that Emperor Yohannes IV ( 1831 – 1889 ) gave his life and immortalized his name in the defense of these same territories from similarly motivated forces. In short, so hallowed is the history associated with these lands and so deep-seated the passions it evokes among Ethiopians of every generation, it is foolhardy to expect the Ethiopian people to acquiesce in Zenawi’s treasonous act and to take Sudan’s land grab lying down. Let this note serve as a warning that we pledge to vindicate our national rights and honor by all necessary means. For a nefarious deal concluded by an illegitimate and quisling government deserves only to be honored by its breach.

Your Excellency should know that the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia has no authority- legal or moral- to enter international agreements that cede Ethiopian territories. To the contrary, a fundamental and venerable principle which Ethiopians have repeatedly affirmed in the course of their history is that which denies to their rulers – even to those who claimed to rule by divine grace- the authority to voluntarily cede territory to foreign powers. As recently as the time of the late Emperor Haile Selassie I ( 1892 – 1975 ) binding international boundary settlements had to obtain the imprimatur of the people’s representatives. Meles Zenawi too will be hard pressed to point to anything in the constitution of the country or its traditions which allow him to override this immutable principle against voluntary territorial cessions without the participation and consent of the Ethiopian people as expressed through its chosen representatives. There is no more vivid or better demonstration of the tenacity with which this principle is upheld in Ethiopia than the ill-fated rulings of The Hague Boundary Commission which conferred Eritrean sovereignty over lands that have historically belonged to Ethiopia. As you know, these rulings ultimately proved a dead letter for no other reason than that the Ethiopian people found them to be at war with this time-honored principle. And not because Meles Zenawi was unwilling to oblige, give in or give up. He was. But for the Ethiopian people, neither the Commission’s international standing nor Meles Zenawi’s too clever- by- half ramblings urging acceptance of the Commission’s rulings were of any consequence. The Ethiopian people know like the back of their hands where Ethiopia’s territory ends and foreign territory begins. They will not seek what is not theirs; but they will not willingly give up what they know to be theirs, even when those at the helm of state power are willing to betray the national interest in the service of selfish and shortsighted personal or group ambitions. In short, we wish it to be understood that territorial cessions or concessions that have been made by the Prime Minister (and his cohorts) behind the back of the Ethiopian people– and contrary to their wishes and interests– will only last as long as the life of the regime; not a day longer.

Of course, we are not surprised that Sudan’s leaders have acted with transparent opportunism in seeking to extract territorial gains from a weak and insecure regime that they intimately know to be wracked by internal dissent and a serious deficit of democratic legitimacy. We are not unmindful of the usual proclivity of governments to seek to promote their perceived national interests. Nevertheless, we believe in this case that the government of General Al- Beshir has unwittingly planted the seeds of an inevitable future conflict and instability and thereby jeopardized his country’s long term interests by seeking to secure territorial gains at Ethiopia’s expense courtesy of a leader who he knows to have no qualms about putting “his” country’s interests on the auction block so long as doing so prolongs his rule.

The Sudan should also understand that there is no historical, legal, or demographic justification to its claims over any of the Ethiopian territories in question. The only slender reed on which it bases its claim is a colonial-era treaty between Ethiopia and Great Britain which does no more than purport to define the territorial limits of Ethiopia and the Sudan. (Sudan is, of course, a successor state of Great Britain under international law and would stand in the shoes of its erstwhile colonial ruler as far as its treaty rights are concerned.) But the treaty is devoid of anything that favors Sudan’s position. To begin with, since the circumstances of the making of the treaty during the heyday of British colonialism were so murky, the legal validity of the treaty is open to question. Legal validity aside, however, it is worth noting that the treaty merely delimits the boundary between the two countries in very general terms, expressly leaving the task of actual boundary demarcation to a later date. That date, however, never arrived and, as a result, the demarcation of the common boundary has proved elusive from the day the treaty was inked. To be sure, Sudan has at various times claimed that the boundary between the two countries has in fact been demarcated. The claim, however, has no support in historical fact or law. A legally binding demarcation requires the cooperation, participation, and consent of both sides. Indeed, the 1902 treaty itself explicitly calls for both sides to set up a joint demarcation body. This, however, never materialized. Instead, a certain Major Gwynn of the British colonial office seems to have singlehandedly sought to demarcate the entire Western length of the border between the two countries soon after the treaty was allegedly signed. But this unilateral and self-serving act cannot be held to determine Ethiopia’s rights or foreclose her rightful claims. A valid and binding demarcation takes the consent of both sides. This principle is too well known and too established under international law to even require mention were it not for the contrary pretensions of the Sudanese government and Zenawi’s complicit acquiescence. Moreover, a legitimate demarcation requires the participation and the cooperation of the denizens of the borderlands. The importance of such a procedure too is obvious and does not need elaboration. Yet, this too has not happened to date.

It is against this backdrop that in April, 2008, elements of the regular army of the Sudan entered Ethiopian territory and forcibly evicted our citizens from their farms, destroying in the process their crops, flour mills, tractors and other farm equipment. Twenty-four settlements were razed to the ground. The natural vegetation and wild animals that grace this region were not spared from wanton destruction. Following these unlawful acts, we addressed a letter dated June 2, 2008, to President Al-Beshir decrying these misdeeds and putting the Government of the Sudan on notice of its responsibility for its actions. Unfortunately, we have seen no evidence that the Sudan government is willing to change course and to desist from its unlawful and arrogant behavior. On the contrary, just recently, the Sudanese army once again went on the offensive and murdered seven more of our citizens while they were tending their farms. We strongly condemn these actions.

Despite the brutalities and indignities our citizens continue to suffer at the hands of the Sudanese army, their “own” government has not cared to seek legal redress for these transgressions. On the contrary, Prime Minister Zenawi had the audacity to extend an official invitation to Al- Beshir to visit Ethiopia from April 21 to April 22, 2009 in the teeth of the International Criminal Court’s indictment against him for a variety of international crimes. For now, our citizens seem to have no legal wherewithal in the face of the obstacles placed in their path by the two dictators. Nevertheless, we the undersigned consider it our duty and responsibility to register with your Excellency our protest and condemnation of these unlawful actions.

We would also like to go on record as asserting our inalienable rights to self-defense, to our sovereignty as a people, and to our territorial integrity as a member of the United Nations. We reserve the right not to honor any boundary agreements that the regime of Meles Zenawi has signed with the Government of the Sudan without the knowledge and full consent of the people of Ethiopia.

Finally, we demand that the government of the Sudan immediately withdraw its army from Ethiopian soil and maintain scrupulous respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and pay adequate compensation to the victims of its actions and their survivors, and for the loss and destruction of their property.

Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration.

1. Ethiopian Border Affairs Committee;
2. United Ethiopian Democratic Forces;
3. Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (Democratic);
4. All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement;
5. Ethiopian Democratic Hibrehizb Unity Movement;
6. Ethiopian Medhin Democratic Party;
7. Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy;
8. Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front;
9. Ethiopian National United Front;
10. Crown Council of Ethiopia;
11. All-Amhara People’s Organization;
12. Gambella People’s United Democratic Front;
13. Oromo People’s Liberation Organization;
14. Tigrean Alliance for Democracy;
15. Ethiopian National Congress;
16. Tatek Ethiopian Democratic Unity Force;
17. Anuak Justice Council;
18. Gasha for Ethiopians;
19. Ethiopian Women for Peace and Development;
20. The Legitimate Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Exile;
21. Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia;
22. Mahdere Andinet Ethiopian Association;
23. Ethiopian Veterans Association;
24. Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum;
25. Ethiopian Dialogue for Peace and Common Ground

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  1. Guest
    | #1

    This is a good effort. It is important to let it be known at this time. But the focus should remain on Woyane because that is the number one enemy at this time. Meles is trying to make us new enemies beyond Ethiopia, so that we will be smothered and crashed in the middle of big enemies like the Sudan government. Therefore, the deal is illegal done between the most rogue government on the planet, so it will not be accepted. But it is wise to take our enemies one at a time.

  2. yikerbelen
    | #2

    Abbay Media‘The Ethiopian Information Bank’

    Home The visible signs of Nile’s Water WarsPosted in August 21st, 2009 by Editor in Nile

    Egypt media accuses Israel of zooming in on its water sources

    By Zvi Bar’el

    “One day, Anwar Sadat asked me to publish a fictitious report,” the journalist Anis Mansour, who was a close friend of the late Egyptian president, wrote two months ago. “He explained that in any case it would be impossible to do what the report said, because international agreements prohibited it. He wanted me to write that president Sadat was dreaming of the day the water of the Nile would reach Jerusalem, so that the Muslims could cleanse themselves with it before praying in Al-Aqsa. What an uproar there was in Egypt after the report appeared! ‘Egypt breaks international agreements and gives water to the enemy,’ his critics screamed.”

    Mansour went on to relate that, “After the report, Sadat asked me to go to Israel to hear its reaction, and there I was told, ‘We don’t want Nile water because we don’t want bilharzia [a tropical disease].’ Sadat laughed and said, ‘They’ll want the Nile water, even with the bilharzia.’”

    It was not by chance that the 84-year-old Mansour recalled this peculiar story. From time to time, the claim is heard in Egypt that the government, in its search for additional sources of revenue, wants to sell water to Israel. Another contention stated by opponents of improved relations with Israel is that the latter is working with friends in Ethiopia to interfere with the sources of Egypt’s water. “We do not intend to sell water to Israel,” Ethiopian minister of water resources Asfaw Dingamo reassured the Egyptians at a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart late last month. “After all, water doesn’t have wings and it can’t fly to Israel.”

    An Egyptian research institute has estimated that in 2017 the country will not have enough water to supply the needs of its growing population. By then it will need 86 billion cubic meters a year, but its resources will produce only 71 billion cubic meters. Furthermore, the institute predicted that the Nile Basin states – including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania the Democratic Republic of Congo – will also need more water, to handle their own growing populations. Accordingly, the institute estimated a decline in the amount of water that will be at the disposal of the downriver states of Sudan and Egypt.

    The water ministers of the Nile Basin states met in Alexandria in late July to discuss the setting of new usage quotas in light of the developments of recent decades. The quotas would replace those set in 1929 in an agreement between Egypt and Britain, which was representing its colonies in the region. That agreement, and another signed in 1959, gave Egypt 88 percent, and Sudan the remainder, of the water reaching those two countries. It also gave Egypt veto power over any project in any other upriver state that might impinge on its own allocation.

    The demands for increased allocations are not new. It was against this background that a dispute flared in 1964 between Egypt and Tanzania, whose president, Julius Nyerere, declared that any agreement signed before his country’s independence was null and void, including those covering the Nile waters.

    But as long as the agreements exist, Egypt and Sudan will fight any proposed changes vociferously. The Alexandria talks ended only with a decision to reconvene in six months to try to reach an accord.

    Notwithstanding these attempts, the Nile Basin states are working to set up a joint water administration in order to establish a protocol that would in effect bypass Egyptian and Sudanese objections. Egypt fears such an arrangement; the government realizes that, 1929 accord aside, its opposition to changing the allocations will not stand up to any examination that balances Egypt’s water requirements against those of the other states for electricity production and other development needs.

    Egypt is not standing idly by on the matter. This week, soon after it was reported that Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is planning to visit certain Nile Basin states, Egyptian media outlets reported that their country’s prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, would visit the same states in mid-October. And President Husni Mubarak, who has not been to Ethiopia since the attempt on his life in Addis Ababa 14 years ago, is believed likely to go there in the near future. The goal is to try to persuade Ethiopia and the other Nile Basin states not to reduce the amount of water reaching Egypt by selling water to Israel or by launching projects that would use Nile River water.

    Meanwhile, the Egyptian press is still saying that Israel might cause a water shortage in the country, recalling Lieberman’s anti-Egypt comments and his suggestion to strike the Aswan Dam. “The water wars have begun, and our wicked neighbors are busy destroying Egypt’s relations with the states of the Nile Basin,” wrote Jabar Ramadan in Al-Masry Al-Youm.

    The Egyptian journalist and scholar Amru Mohammed, writing in Akhbar Al-Bashir, recalled that in 1903 Theodor Herzl submitted to the British a plan for diverting the waters of the Nile, and that years later Israel attempted to persuade Egypt to give it water from the river. The arguments were marshaled in order to warn of an ostensible threat of war. “The signs of the water war are already visible and the crisis will come against the background of the [water] agreements that are being signed between Israel and Ethiopia,” Mohammed wrote. “Israel’s meddling with the Nile’s waters and its cooperation with the Nile Basin states signal a disaster, a water disaster.”

    Source; Haaretz

    … I have some questions for egyptian’s ignorant leaders and it’s scholars.1. Are the nile basines countries [ states] the free nations or under egypt’s colony? ,2. DO all the nile basin states any right to share sudan’s and egypt’s oil and gas resources? ,3. Do the nile basin states have un limited right to use oil from sudan and egypt freely and at the same time do they have any right to controll the egypt’s and the sudan’s oil in come? 4Do the nile basin states have any right to tell for egypt’s and sudan’s governement what to do in their countries? If their answer will yes, all the other nile basin states have un limited right to share sudan’s and egypt’s natural resources free of charge like oil , then sudan and egypt do have the same right to use nile freely, but still they do not have any legitimate right to declare war aganist the owners of nile river not to use their God gifted natural resources. IF the egypt ignorant leaders and scholars resond will be no for the aboved mentioned questions, so egypt and sudan do not have any ligitimate right to tell what to do all other nile basin states in ntheir own countries around blue nile rivers. That is God Gifted natural resources. As God gave oil and gas natural resources to egypt, gave other countries blue nile.The way how egypt and sudan react aganist other nile basin states are an insulting. there should not be any discussion about the right of the nile basin states to use nile for different pruposes. If there should be any discussion among them selves, the discussion should focus how to use the water together for common goal with out any restriction . As sudan and egypt have a right to sell their oil, ethiopia has un limited right to sell their water resources with in it’s teritory. Concerned the agreement between nile basin states and israel is a good start. It should be. Israel can not buy water from nile basin states , because water can not fly as the egyptian’s ignorants think, but Israel and the nile basin states can join what they have and use nile for common goal. Israel can bring it’s technology and produce hidero eletric power and can export even untill europe on one hand and on the other hand, israel can use the water for billions of hetars of farm land and as a result israel can export different agricultural productes all over the world even for egypt.So Israel has taken the right way to deal with nile basin states rather than dealing egypt and sudan, but at the end of the day arabs are an enemies of Israel historically. Finally the signed agreement between britian and egypt had already and nulled after britian lost the war aganist all the nile basin countries.Their agreement has nothing to do with the current nile basin countries.. Finally my advace to the nile basin states, Ethiopia after the down fall of TPLF, kenya, tanzania, uganda, burndi, congo, rwanda,southren sudan after it will become the free state in 2011, eritrea and angola must form one strong blue nile defence forces under one centeral command, the forces should include , air force, air born, ground force and sea force.. this is the way to go. you do not need to sit million times to discuss with arabs on your own rights. God bless ethiopia. amen

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