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Breaking News: Senate Resolution 168 has been introduced.
SENATE RESOLUTION 168–SUPPORTING RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENCOURAGING INCLUSIVE GOVERNANCE IN ETHIOPIA
Please see the “Resources for Advocacy” tab of this website for sample letters that can be used to contact your senators about an upcoming resolution on Ethiopia.
Please see sample letters that can be modified and sent to your local representatives to gain co-sponsorship of H. Res. 128.
Please see the OAA statement that was entered into the official record of the H.Res. 128 Subcommittee Hearing.
Congressional Talking Points or Topics of Discussion
Oromo Advocacy Alliance
Introduction: Refer to H. Res. 128
2016 marked an escalation of Human Rights crisis in Ethiopia. We came today to express our deep concerns about the Ethiopian government’s disregard for the respect of human rights. In addition, it is important that we shed light on the lack of democratic protections that currently characterize the repressive social and political climate.
We ask our Congressional Representative to cosponsor House Res.128 as a means to pressure Ethiopia to loosen its stranglehold on dissent and allow space for the democratic process. If Ethiopia continues on its current track, the region could rapidly descend into instability, which would hinder our national security interests in the Horn of Africa.
Human Rights Abuses:
· We are extremely alarmed and disturbed by the violent and inhumane crackdown by the Ethiopian government on largely peaceful protesters in the Oromia and Amhara regions and by unprovoked attacks on civilians by “liyu police” forces in the East.
· In November of 2015, demonstrations against large-scale land confiscation from farmers broke out in the Oromia and later in the Amhara regions.
· Human Rights Watch and, most recently the U.S. State Department, have reported Ethiopian security forces using excessive force against protesters, killing hundreds.
· In addition, tens of thousands of others have either disappeared or been detained without due process. Peaceful protesters and political opponents continue to be arrested arbitrarily, uncharged; when finally charged, they’re often denied a fair trial.
· Prisoners are frequently tortured and subject to inhumane treatment. There have been reports of severe beatings, hangings, genital mutilation, electric shock, and rape.
· The abuse in known detention centers like Maekelawi and Qilinto and other secret detention centers located around the country, severe torture is taking place. On September 3, 2016, there was a prison fire in the Qilinto prison that was likely started by government agents. Many of the detained were injured and a number of prisoners perished in the fire.
Lack of Free Press and Right to Assemble:
· Freedom of speech and the press are strictly limited in Ethiopia. Starting in October of 2016, the government issued a six-month State of Emergency that gave it even greater latitude to stem the tide of dissent in the country.
· Freedom of assembly is not respected in the country, though it is supported in the constitution. On August of 2016 security forces reportedly killed approximately 100 persons in response to demonstrations in major cities and towns across the Oromia and Amhara regions. Later, October 2, dozens were killed when panic was created at government instigation during a sacred religious celebration known as Irreecha.
· Ethiopia’s land-leasing development strategy has been destructive and has led to forced eviction and migration of minorities from the regions of Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, the Southern Nations, Oromia, and Somali.
Oromo Advocacy Alliance Presents
Congressional Office Visit Guide
Keys to a successful office visit (Congressional Edition)
Dress professionally (Note: casual wear, such as jeans, even cultural clothing will not make a proper first impression on the Hill. If you want people to take you seriously, honor the professional dress code. Appearance is 70% of making an impression).
Be on time (This is important if you have scheduled an appointment. No matter how small the office is; they still have many people to serve so utilize the opportunity. 15% of a good impression).
Stay on topic (The remaining 15% of making a good impression is all about knowing your case/making your ask. If you stay on topic and use the guides provided, it should be easy).
Be polite (Congressional staff is happy to help, it’s their job and you pay them! The nicer you are, the more willing they are to accommodate you.)
When you enter the office, be confident and introduce yourself clearly. Please remember to minimize noise and don’t pack the office. No more than 3 people should enter one office. Space is limited!
Introduce yourself right away and state the purpose of your visit to the office.
Hi my name is ________________________, I am in Washington to raise awareness of the conditions in Ethiopia and to support House Resolution #128.
If possible I would like to speak with a Legislative Correspondent (LC) or a Legislative Assistant (LA) that handles foreign affairs in your office.
If yes, to meeting with an LC or an LA, please introduce yourself to the person you meet with, where you came from (the state you live in, city and your zip code), why you are here, and what the office can do to assist.
In this case, ask the office to consider being a cosponsor on the resolution that will be up for consideration in the Foreign Affairs Committee.
If no, clearly state that you would like the office to consider being a cosponsor and that you would like a response from an LA or an LC after they have seen the House Resolution 128. Let them know you will follow up regarding the response.
Don’t forget to leave the office a fact sheet or a summary page. Also, remember to get contact information (business card) of the person you spoke with for your records and follow up purposes. Then email back to thank them for the visit.
Update: On 2/15/17, Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced House Resolution 128 “Supporting Human Rights and Encouraging Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia” to the 155th Congress.
House Resolution 128 will be a valuable tool for advocacy and expanding the discourse on issues that impact the Oromo and other peoples who suffer in Ethiopia. It calls for the immediate lift of the State of Emergency, special investigations into Qilinto Fire, Irreecha massacre and atrocities carried out by the Liyu Police (referred to as federal and regional police), the release prominent political prisoners by name and other strong measures.