Here’s what you missed at the State Department’s Ethiopia briefing

Here’s the transcript of the briefing: QUESTION: Thank you, Jaya. You were talking about the road map as it concerned the security forces, human rights, military reform. What if anyone is responsible for the…

Here’s what you missed at the State Department’s Ethiopia briefing

Here’s the transcript of the briefing:

QUESTION: Thank you, Jaya. You were talking about the road map as it concerned the security forces, human rights, military reform. What if anyone is responsible for the chaos that has been taking place as the Ethiopian military has moved to the fore since the September attacks and will try to solve all of the unrest? What do you think needs to be done, particularly as it concerns the weakness of the judiciary in this? Thank you.

SECRETARY KAMALA: I think the problem that we have seen on the ground in Ethiopia is not a problem of the security forces and the government. It is a very bad combination. When we are dealing with crimes against humanity in a situation like that, we say the Government of Ethiopia and the police have to arrest every person and bring them to court. And the State Council, in particular, has to live up to its responsibility of ensuring the rule of law. The human rights situation in Ethiopia, it is not that we are aware that it is perfectly secure. It is certainly improving. But again, it is not because of the military intervention. We are aware that people are taking advantage of an environment that is already extremely difficult and polarized. It is difficult.

So what we are seeing is in fact a road map to destruction, and we are very concerned about that. And my agenda this week, which I announced earlier, is for the leaders of the government to see this obviously clear-cut and that there must be some measure that they have to take to ensure stability and security for all of the people, for all of the people.

But it is still very difficult. And you know that in the context of the fact that since 1991, and not only since the 2017, there have been 30 years of…not only under the rule of the Ethiopian government, there have been the previous opposition movements, the old opposition movements that are back, and all of them organized by people who know they are not going to be allowed to be there. So that it’s a very difficult situation that must be solved.

QUESTION: Have the leaders of the government been receptive to you and Ambassador Shepherd about this initiative that you’re trying to pursue? And do you think that there is a chance that it will improve the situation and help to address some of the issue that have been occurring as the security forces, the military go into the streets to contain the violence and rioting?

SECRETARY KAMALA: I think it is very difficult for the government to understand the reality of where we are. It has been more than a year now that we have been saying to everybody, including the government, that we have a clear agenda here and we have to mobilize our people and our voices as well as the international community’s voice, because we don’t see how you can even remotely address the challenge of the ongoing violence, and which has gone on for the last year and a half, and you can’t just expect that they will just walk in and act and then everybody will go back to normalcy because of that kind of heavy-handed and heavy-handed intervention.

So I think what we’re now saying is that we need to mobilize forces; we need the people to be the voice; we need the regional leaders to be the voice. We need the global community, the European Community, and others to be the voice, and we’re trying to mobilize people. And for the first time in over 30 years, the people have their own voice and that voice is coming from the PEN America foundation, and where we are going to mobilize on the international level also, so the Ethiopian people will be at the forefront of the efforts.

QUESTION: In the past, there has been a disconnect between the Central Government, the military, and the people. Do you think that has changed?

SECRETARY KAMALA: Well, I think that there is a frustration. People are saying that, you know, you are the law of the land. You are the State Council, you are the leader of the people, the head of the Government of Ethiopia. And how can you be running around the country and killing these innocent people when you are supposed to be enforcing the rule of law and you are supposed to be law makers, not law violators? The image that this is putting out is actually another reason for you to realize that it is time for you to make a change.

So I think that you have to put in the efforts. People are becoming more and more angry. We are very clear about that and the people are growing more frustrated by the actions of you.

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