Guide for Congressional Office Visit

Meeting with The Honorable [ Senator’s FIRST and LAST name] or Staffer/Aide whom you will meet [name, title, email & phone] If others attend, ask for business cards & write date on them]

Date

First Section: Introductions

List and briefly identify all people attending the meeting. Give your business cards if available.

  • [Name and identifying info for all who attend] For example: Bonnie K Holcomb, Anthropologist specializing in the Oromo, Senior Research Associate, ICPS, The George Washington University, Founding Member of Oromo Studies Association
  • [Address, important to confirm which visitors are constituents of the Senator and which are advisors] 5407 Ridgefield Road, Bethesda, MD 20816
  • Note in writing how the appointment was made, by whom and with whom (ex., email from Abalu, dated March xy, 2016 to xyz, confirmed by phone March xyz by name of staffer)
  • Some of us are constituents born in Oromia, the largest of 9 regional states in Ethiopia. The Oromo number 40 million persons, the vast majority of the population of Ethiopia.  We have direct and intimate knowledge of how the situation affects farmers and townspeople at the local and national levels.

_____________________________________________

Second Section: Purpose of the meeting

Start with THE “ASK.” State clearly what it is you want the Senator to DO.

The purpose of the meeting is to request that [or urge] the Senator vote in favor of the Senate Resolution ___ which calls for “Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia.”

____________________________________________

Third Section: Summary and Supporting Arguments

Bi-Partisan sponsorship for the Resolution is strong.  [Name the Senators who have signed on]

The resolution is compelling, with two robust components that we firmly support:

  • First, it acknowledges a situation of human and civil rights abuse by the Ethiopian regime which reveals a deepening catastrophe in that country that has gone unnoticed and unaddressed by the US Senate.
    • It brings to light, for the first time in the US Senate, specific conditions of horrific brutality and abuse by Ethiopian security forces against the majority Oromo and other people who oppose the on-going confiscation of their land.
    • It affirms the United States commitment to protecting human rights universally and particularly in states with whom the United States has established deep and ongoing partnerships and for encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia.
    • It recognizes the peaceful nature of the protests conducted by Oromo, Konso and other people whose lands are targeted for large scale transfer to private investment without consultation, compensation or any form of redress.
    • It condemns the lethal response of the Ethiopian security forces to suppress the protests citing
      • the illegal use of 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation to label any form of resistance as “terrorism,” to conduct aggressive surveillance and to quash dissent by taking lethal action against peaceful protesters and those who help
      • the killings of at least 200 students, farmers and supporters since November 12, 2016,
      • forcible and widespread capture and unlimited detention in the thousands – without charge or bogus charges – of anyone suspected of supporting resistance to government policy,
    • It decries the virtual elimination of democratic space, and harsh limits on constitutional right to peaceful assembly in a country that is a strong US ally

 

  • Second, the resolution takes a constructive, proactive stand toward addressing a crisis of governance. For the first time in Senate history, it calls for specific remedies:
    • Immediate halt to use of excessive force by regime forces (including outright killings, arbitrary detention and torture of innocents), investigation into abuses, public accountability of security forces for wrongdoing, release of those wrongly detained for exercising rights, redress options for the dispossessed
    • Specific constructive measures to open democratic space where it has been closed absolutely, i.e., respect for right of assembly, upholding freedom of the press, repeal of misused legislation and consultation on development programs with those affected.
    • Secretary of State to review US security assistance to Ethiopia in light of these developments, and Administrator of USAID to design a comprehensive strategy for supporting democracy and governance in Ethiopia.

 

We wish to underscore the following points as you consider your vote:

  • We are deeply disturbed that shocking violation of human and civil rights by the Ethiopian government, and that the deepening catastrophe of governance have gone unnoticed by the US Senate until now. The resolution recognizes a crisis situation.
  • The large-scale land transfers of Oromo’s ancestral farming and grazing lands are officially conducted or facilitated by the Ethiopian government without consultation. And the violent response to peaceful dissenters is initiated by Prime Minister HaileMariam Desalegn’s government.  This government is an active diplomatic and economic partner of the United States.    This resolution starts a process of the United States exercising its considerable influence in Ethiopia.   It supports US leadership in building strong democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and participatory, accountable governance as crucial elements for improving peoples’ lives.
  • Although Oromo hold different views of the future of the region, the Oromo culture that we honor and share champions peace. We are united in believing that opening democratic space in Ethiopia is an important move toward peace and toward reversing conditions of instability. These conditions were brought on by Ethiopian government policies and violent acts against peoples whose only “offense” is an attempt to exercise constitutional rights to have a say in shaping their own future.

We urge you to vote in favor of this Resolution.  It is the first to support respect for Oromo and other people’s yearning for vital rights like the freedom of assembly and expression in Ethiopia.  It also reverses the current trajectory toward regional instability by providing an essential first step in creating a road map to peace and effective governance for all peoples there.

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