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Supervisor Dean Preston and Bay Area Tigray Community announce Resolution Condemning Human Rights Violations and violence against the people of Tigray

Supervisor Dean Preston and Bay Area Tigray Community announce Resolution Condemning Human Rights Violations and violence against the people of Tigray

February 23, 2021


Today, Supervisor Dean Preston, whose office has worked closely with the Bay Area Tigray Community, announced a resolution condemning human rights violations and violence against the people of Tigray and urging the U.S. Congress and the United Nations to take action to address atrocities that have been occurring for months.

Supervisor Preston’s district, District 5, is home to a large number of the Ethiopian residents and many well-known Ethiopian owned businesses including Axum Cafe (Lower Haight), Club Waziema (Divisadero), Bruno’s (Fillmore),Fillmore Street Cafe, and many others. The Ethiopian-American community has long been an important part of San Francisco’s black community, and as Black History Month enters its final week, Supervisor Preston pushed to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Tigray that has not received the attention it deserves.

“We must condemn the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Tigray and stand in solidarity with the people of Tigray and with the Ethiopian immigrant and refugee community around the world and in particular here in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Dean Preston. “The Ethiopian community is a huge part of San Francisco culture, and our residents need to know we have their backs and will speak out.”

Through the resolution, Supervisor Preston and Tigray advocates hopes to amplify the grave concern for the human suffering, sexual violence, and displacement impacting the people of Tigray, and encourage Congress to introduce and pass a resolution at the national levelcalling for peace and respect for human rights. Congress previously introduced Senate Resolution 798 in 2020 calling for peace and respect for human rights in Tigray, but the Resolution died for lack of action before being put to a vote.

“Since November 4th, 2020, it has been extremely difficult to comprehend what has been going on in Tigray, Ethiopia. The mass killings of men, women, children, sexual violence, and destruction of public and private property is unbelievable,” said Henock Woldu of Bay Area Tigray Community. “Our Bay Area community is devastated. Members of our community have lost family members and many have no clue where most of their family members are. Most, if not all, of Tigray is without electricity, internet, banking, and telecommunication. It's been three and half months and we still cannot believe this is happening.” 

“The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has declared an ethnic based large scale war, in Tigray, that resembles what happened in Rwanda in 1994. My family members have been victims of sexual violence. As a result, our families have been forced to flee their homes and head to the mountains to avoid being killed. It’s been 3 months and we still don’t know whether or not our family members are dead or alive,” said Remhai Menelik from the Bay Area Tigray Community.

The resolution is part of a series of events to bring public awareness to this crisis and the need for international humanitarian action.  On February 4th, 2020, Supervisor Preston’s Office joined over a hundred members of the Tigray community from across the Bay Area in a rally at the Federal Building in San Francisco. Following today’s resolution, in order to bring further awareness to this struggle, Supervisor Preston and the Bay Area Tigray Community are hosting a virtual teach-in this Thursday for the media and the public to learn about what is happening in Tigray and find out how they can help. The teach-in will be at 2pm this Thursday, February 25. You can join the Zoom by registering here:

Tigray regional state is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, the Amhara regional state to the south, and the Afar regional state to the east, and has almost 7 million people, many dependent on international safety net assistance. The population has been almost entirely without any form of communication or humanitarian access ever since early November, and recent reports coming from the region have painted an incredibly grim and terrifying picture of the conflict-ridden area. Though Ethiopian Prime minister Abiy Ahmed, agreed to sign and implement the peace accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea, on November 4th 2020 (US Election Day) he declared war on Tigray and directed domestic and foreign forces to attack them, and ordered a complete shutdown of travel to and from Tigray, electricity, banking, internet, telephone service, waterline, food supply, and no journalist or independent external organization has been allowed to enter and report from Tigray region until last week. Over 52,000 civilian deaths have been reported to date, and 4.5 million people need emergency food aid.

United Nations Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect and the Acting Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide have expressed deep concern over “reports of incidents of ethnically and religiously motivated hate speech, incitement of violence and serious human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, killings, displacement of populations and destruction of property in various parts of the country,” stressing that the ethnically motivated attacks and reported ethnic profiling of citizens constitute “a dangerous trajectory” that heightens the risk of atrocities.

The United Nations Special Representative Pramila Patten expressed great concern over the “serious allegations of sexual violence and accounts of individuals being forced to rape family members or to have sex with members of the military in exchange for basic goods” and doctors at Mekelle’s main hospital, Ayder Referral Hospital, report rape survivors as young as 12 years old are turning up injured and in tears as they seek counseling, treatment, and safety from Ethiopian and Eritrean troops and Amhara Region militia.

Supervisor Preston believes that we cannot wait another minute without calling out these atrocities. “We know people in the U.S. and across the globe are facing a lot of struggles right now in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the kind of extreme abuse of human rights we are seeing in Tigray can never be ignored. These are human beings, some the family members of our community members, and we need to stand in solidarity in the strongest possible way.”

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