This is in support of Professor Alex de Waal who is on the faculty of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the director of World Peace Foundation at Tufts University. Prof de Waal is a world-renown scholar whose work focuses, in part, on the complex political issues of the Horn of Africa. Of particular note is his contributions to understanding the complex politics of Ethiopia. Prof de Waal deserves to be recognized for his steadfast stand against human rights violations and for his relentless effort to research and publicize the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
In the last few days, we have learned with alarm that Prof. Alex de Waal has become a target of a campaign by a certain Ethiopian group that subscribes to a particular interpretation of Ethiopian history (the so-called “Ethiopianist” camp). This group is trying to silence Prof.Alex de Waal not because his work lacks scholarly rigor but because he has been a trenchant critic of the policies of the current political leadership in Ethiopia. He has refused to condone the policies of hate and division espoused by supporters of the current regime in Addis Ababa led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Instead, he has insisted on standing, true to his academic conviction, for truth and justice.
Supporters of Mr. Abiy Ahmed’s policies have been masquerading as proponents of Pan Africanism and asked your institution to remove Prof. de Waal from his post. Their objections are not based on the lack of academic rigor in de Waal’s work. Rather, it is because they do not consider his research, lectures, and publications on the current political crisis in Ethiopia are aligned with theirs and that of the Abiy Ahmed regime.
We know their attacks are not based on any intellectual argument because they are carrying out similar ad hominem attacks against other scholars. For example, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia they are
harassing academicians based on their political thinking. Universities in Ethiopia are now required to implement a resolution passed by the government last week that categorically states that academics at all universities will have their degrees revoked if they are deemed to be supporters of the TPLF. In fact, Gondar University in Ethiopia just“revoked” an honorary degree bestowed to a prominent Economist, Dr Eleni Gebremedhin (a graduate of Stanford University school of economics) just because she attended a meeting organized by a peace group where views that are not aligned with current Ethiopian government policy were discussed.
What reasonable people are asking is for peace to prevail in Ethiopia. Peace can be achieved, as Professor Alex de Waal posits in his writings and lectures, through negotiations. World leaders and
scholars around the word are calling for the same; that warring parties come to the table in good faith and negotiation. Therefore, the call for the removal of Prof. de Waal from his position at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University is nothing more than a tactic by those wishing to silence a critic on the ongoing crimes in Ethiopia.
Tufts University should not give any credence to the baseless accusations by these critics against Prof. de Waal. The university should protect the respected scholar from the smear campaign these people practice all the time in Ethiopia and elsewhere. Such attacks have no place in and around a world-class university such as Tufts. Prof. de Waal’s critics, who claim to be Pan-Africans, are just extremists who are on a relentless mission to annihilate everything associated with the region of Tigray. It is unfortunate they are fomenting hate on the campus of Tufts. We are confident Tufts University will reject their call.
Prof de Waal deserves to be recognized for his steadfast stand against human rights violations and for his relentless effort to research and publicize the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.