Chatham House, a respected policy institute based in London, is hosting an event on elections in Ethiopia this coming Wednesday (Feb 3rd), called “Ethiopia’s Elections: Context, Challenges and Prospects for Pluralism” (https://www.chathamhouse.org/events/all/research-event/ethiopias-elections-context-challenges-and-prospects-pluralism).
However the problem is, the panel on the event is made up entirely of government employees and supporters, with no representation of dissenting voices or political/ideological diversity. How can there be any discussion on “prospects for pluralism”? We want to use this opportunity to let Chatham House know, and get the Oromo perspective represented on a world renowned international affairs platform. We’ve put together a few tweets and an email template calling for the event to include more voices.
Click the tweets below to tweet them. Please feel free to create your own tweets as well. Use the hashtag #DiversifyPanel and include @ChathamHouse
(1) The @ChathamHouse panel on “Ethiopia’s Elections: Context, Challenges & Prospects for Pluralism” doesn’t represent 🇪🇹’s political spectrum & thus can’t genuinely address this issue. The make-up of the panel silences dissent & legitimises a dictatorial regime. #DiversifyPanel <– CLICK TO TWEET
(2) Mass imprisonment of opposition party leaders is more than a “challenge”, & civil war in Tigray is beyond a “difficult backdrop”. Supporting a narrative that free & fair elections are possible in this context is reckless. #DiversifyPanel @ChathamHouse <– CLICK TO TWEET
(3) Every panelist represents a regime that is intolerant to diverse political ideologies. This panel renders @ChathamHouse a government mouthpiece. For real dialogue, make space for voices that represent Ethiopia’s full political landscape. #DiversifyPanel <– CLICK TO TWEET
(4) Voices that speak for thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopia, who are unacknowledged in the event description, must be present on the panel in order to genuinely discuss election prospects, or the lack thereof. @ChathamHouse #DiversifyPanel <– CLICK TO TWEET
(5) The prospect of democracy is under attack in Ethiopia. The trusted dialogues @ChathamHouse is renowned for facilitating are needed more than ever. To genuinely support democracy, host a truly representative panel for inclusive dialogue. #DiversifyPanel <– CLICK TO TWEET
The emails will go to Chatham House’s general contact address, and we will reach out to organising individuals separately to liaise with them about including Oromo representatives on the panel. Please take a couple of moments to shoot off an email and a few tweets, and this could potentially lead to our narrative being heard in a forum that shapes international policy.
SEND EMAIL TO: <[email protected]>
EMAIL SUBJECT LINE (COPY & PASTE): URGENT: Re-evaluate Panelists for Feb. 3rd Event on Ethiopia’s Elections
TEXT OF LETTER (COPY & PASTE INTO EMAIL)
Dear Chatham House,
The Chatham House is a world renowned and respected institution that provides a stage for genuine debate and dialogue. Unfortunately, an upcoming event on elections in Ethiopia will fall short of that objective because of the chosen slate of panelists and the glaring omissions in representation.
There are tens of thousands of political prisoners currently languishing in Ethiopian jails. Dawud Ibsa, the chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), is under house arrest, while thousands of OLF political candidates are in prison. Top leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) party, Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, and numerous OFC political candidates are also in jail. The description of the February 3rd panel does not mention this reality of mass political imprisonment of opposition party supporters, members and leaders, nor do any of the panelists represent these voices.
Then there is the ongoing civil war in Tigray and the overthrow of Tigray’s regional government after they had run their own regional elections last year. This is not simply a “difficult backdrop”, as the description of the event puts it, but a context in which a legitimate election has been overturned by an arguably illegitimate government (since it has overstayed its constitutional mandate). This is a large-scale humanitarian crisis that, so far, the world has turned a blind eye to.
Where will these perspectives be on Chatham House’s panel on February 3rd? Who will be representing them? As it stands, the event exclusively hosts a panel of government employees and supporters, so to prevent the answer from being nobody, there is an urgent need to diversify the panel and make space for voices that represent Ethiopia’s diverse political landscape. Only then can the full reality of the context, challenges and prospects for pluralism be discussed in earnest.
Democracy is under ferocious threat in Ethiopia, and it is in times like these that the thought leadership and trusted dialogue that is facilitated by institutions such as Chatham House is needed the most. I therefore implore you to not make the irremediable mistake of exclusion in this crucial moment, and cause a stain on the legacy and credibility of your institution in the eyes of the Ethiopian people.
Chatham House Contact
Let them know they need to #DiversifyPanel via any of these platforms: