The Ethiopian American Council
Christopher “Chris” Smith Representative for New Jersey’s 4th congressional district Republican
The House is set to vote next week on HR 128 (2017), a resolution supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia. We, the Ethiopian American Council, would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey for authoring this critical resolution. We also would like to thank the 68 co-sponsors.
The Ethiopian government is heavily lobbying Congressman Chris Smith to delay the vote on the resolution. The Ethiopian government claims that it is currently negotiating with the Ethiopian opposition groups and that HR 128 might impede that progress. The Ethiopian government’s position is bogus and designed to stall HR 128. If the Ethiopian government is sincere in its desire to start political negotiation with the opposition groups, it has to meet the following calls outlined in HR 128:
- end the use of excessive force by security forces;
- investigate the killings and excessive use of force that took place as a result of protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions;
- release dissidents, activists, and journalists who have been imprisoned for exercising their constitutional rights;
- respect the right to peaceful assembly and guarantee freedom of the press;
- engage in open consultations with citizens regarding its development strategy;
- allow a United Nations rapporteur to conduct an independent examination of the state of human rights in Ethiopia;
- address the grievances brought forward by representatives of registered opposition parties;
- hold accountable those responsible for killing, torturing, and detaining innocent civilians who exercised their constitutional rights; and
- investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding the September 3, 2016 shootings and fire at Qilinto Prison, the deaths of persons in attendance at the annual Irreecha festivities at Lake Hora near Bishoftu on October 2, 2016, and the ongoing killings of civilians over several years in the Somali Regional State by police.
The Ethiopian American Council calls on such government to repeal proclamations that:
- can be used to harass or prohibit funding for organizations that investigate human rights violations, engage in peaceful political dissent, or advocate for greater political freedoms;
- prohibit those displaced from their land from seeking judicial redress;
- permit the detention of peaceful protesters and political opponents who legally exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association; and
- Limit peaceful nonprofit operations in Ethiopia.
A genuine political negotiation between the government of Ethiopia and the opposition groups cannot take place under the current repressive political environment.
Ethiopian-Americans Must Help
Though House Resolution 128 is not a law, it would inform American politicians, the rest of the U.S. population, and the entire world, how the U.S. Congress perceives the plight of the Ethiopian people and the action it would recommend to correct the present human rights and inclusive government shortcomings.
All Ethiopian-American who are registered to vote are urged to contact their congressional representatives and strongly suggest that they support this significant house resolution.
The passage of HR 128 will send a clear message to the Ethiopian government that the United States Congress wants to see real political reforms in Ethiopia. Therefore, we urge all Ethiopian Americans to call your congressional representative to vote yes on HR 128.
The Ethiopian American Council