S.Res.168 Introduced

Senate Resolution 168 was introduced on May 17, 2017. To see the full text of the resolution and the current list of co-sponsors, click the following link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-resolution/168/text

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House Resolution #128 (H.Res. 128) on “Supporting Human Rights and Encouraging Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia” has been introduced

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.

Update on Senate Resolution 432

The Senate Resolution S432 will be marked up this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If successful it will then pass to the Senate floor for a vote.

Therefore, it is time for Oromos and friends of the Oromo in all states to reach out to their senators reminding them to vote for the resolution. It is a critical time to intensify our collective efforts to pass the resolution. Organizers from each state should aim to have at least 25 people calling into the offices of their respective senators everyday using the call guides previously posted on our blog-post and Facebook pages. The link to these guides can be found here.

Senate Resolution 432 Call Drive Directions for Community Leaders

In addition to the phone calls, each constituent should also send emails to their senators using an updated sample letter provided here.

Updated Sample Letter to Senators to Support (Co-sponsor) Resolution 432 on Ethiopia

 

Updated Sample Letter to Senators to Support (Co-sponsor) Resolution 432 on Ethiopia

Date _

The Honorable [ Senator’s FIRST and LAST name]

Office Address [Senator’s Washington DC office]

United States Senate

City, State Zip

Dear Senator ___________

I am writing to urge you to vote in favor of a breakthrough Senate Resolution on the situation in Ethiopia that affects the Oromo and other people in that country who are protesting large-scale government sanctioned takeover of their ancestral lands.  Nonviolent protesters are being labelled “terrorists” by the government and attacked in the thousands, with hundreds of innocents killed outright since November 2015.

These Oromo farmers and their educated children are exercising constitutional rights of assembly and expression when they chant and sing “Land is Life,” and similar slogans, calling for an end to dispossession of Oromo and others from their land.  Yet Ethiopian security forces have responded with such a violent crackdown that according to a Human Rights Watch report of June 15, 2016, heavily armed forces of the Ethiopian government have killed more than 500 demonstrators using lethal force such as firing live ammunition into large crowds of unarmed demonstrators, throwing grenades at university students, arbitrarily rounding up and detaining tens of thousands of Oromo to sites unknown. In addition many women were raped, students were tortured and some were forcefully disappeared.

This Senate Resolution is strong in two ways.  First it brings attention to the extent of the ongoing abuse of civil and human rights and second, it offers remedies that provide steps toward inclusive governance in Oromia and Ethiopia.

In addition to condemning these serious human rights violations, the Resolution enumerates other abuses including:

  • Limits on constitutional right to peaceful assembly and narrowing of democratic space
  • Abuse of its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to squash dissent, limit freedom of press and persecute bloggers and independent journalists

This resolution demands accountability from the Ethiopian government and calls for the Secretary of State and other US agencies to review their current levels of support to Ethiopia with the aim of devising a comprehensive strategy to democracy and participatory governance.

As a constituent born in the Oromia region (Oromo number 40 million in Ethiopia), I am deeply disturbed by the shocking violation of human and civil rights of the Oromo people by the Ethiopian government and the abysmal state of governance there.  The regime of Prime Minister HaileMariam Desalegn remains an active diplomatic and economic partner of the United States. It is my hope that action by the US Senate will carry some influence.

Thank you for your support of this very important resolution by voting in favor!

Your name

Your title

Your Address, phone number, email

City, State, Zip

Cardin Resolution Phone Drive Volunteer Call List

Organizer’s Name:  ______________________________                       State_________________   

Caller Name

Phone  Number Call Completed (Circle)
1.   Yes                            No
2.   Yes                            No
3.   Yes                            No
4.   Yes                            No
5.   Yes                            No
6.   Yes                            No
7.   Yes                            No
8.   Yes                            No
9.   Yes                            No
10.   Yes                            No
11.   Yes                            No
12.   Yes                            No
13.   Yes                            No
14.   Yes                            No
15.   Yes                            No
16.   Yes                            No
17.   Yes                            No
18.   Yes                            No
19.   Yes                            No
20.   Yes                            No
21.   Yes                            No
22.   Yes                            No
23.   Yes                            No
24.   Yes                            No
25.   Yes                            No

Notes:

‘Thank you’ letters to Senators and Representatives

Dear Oromo Constituents,

Thank you for the critical work you are doing in reaching out to your senators and representatives to ensure that the Oromo voice is heard and that the sacrifices of many brave Oromos are brought to light and translated into action.

It is very important that you follow up your April 19th meeting with your senator and or representative with a thank you letter. Below are sample thank you letters you can use.

Please pay very close attention to the title for each sample letter and select the appropriate one for you. Be sure to carefully review the letter to make sure you have filled in all the appropriate blanks and deleted any statements that may not apply to your meeting.

SENATE Letter 1: sample thank you letter to a Senator who has not yet signed on or co-sponsored the resolution.

Dear Senator _________________,

The Oromo community in ________ [Enter community organization name or state]   would like to express our appreciation for the opportunity to meet with your staff [give the names of the persons on the Senator’s staff who met with you — refer to the card that you collected at the meeting i.e. Ms. XXX and Mr. XX] on April 19, 2016 in Washington, DC.   We know that this office is very busy and we are grateful that you made time to schedule a meeting with us about the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on dissent in the country and the human rights challenges facing the Oromo and other people in Ethiopia.  We appreciate your willingness to work with us to discuss ways to influence Ethiopia in a more democratic direction.

We strongly urge you to cosponsor the Cardin Resolution [Senate Resolution #432] on “supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia.”  We are pleased that the resolution was introduced and referred to Committee on April 20.  See this link for the Resolution Text https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-resolution/432/text and this link for the Press Release http://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/ranking/release/cardin-rubio-colleagues-condemn-ethiopias-crackdown-on-civil-society-

Since our meeting, we learned that the Ethiopian government disregarded its constitution, the appeal of its citizens, and the international community in charging a number of detained protesters as terrorists.  These charges include Bekele Gerba, a prominent opposition member and Deputy Chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress, who is himself a strong advocate of nonviolence. We urge you to call for their immediate and unconditional release. Please note that Human Rights Watch’s report from April 12, 2016 details the Ethiopian government’s continued use of violence against peaceful dissenters and its execution of a total media blackout which prevents any reporting on it own repressive tactics  (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/12/deafening-silence-ethiopia).

We look forward to continuing this conversation as events unfold and to future meetings with the Senator and the dedicated staff concerning civil liberties in Ethiopia for the Oromo and others. In the meantime, if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

First Last Name

Title and Organization (if applicable)

Address, email, phone number

 

 ———————————————————————–

SENATE Letter 2: for Senators who are Co-Sponsors

On behalf of the Oromo Community of ______ we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for signing on as a cosponsor of the Cardin Resolution ‘on supporting respect for human rights and inclusive governance in Ethiopia.”  We are very pleased that the Resolution was referred to the Senate on April 20, 2016 (http://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/ranking/release/cardin-rubio-colleagues-condemn-ethiopias-crackdown-on-civil-society-).

Without your recognition and support, the plight of thousands of Oromo student and displaced farmers would go unnoticed. By enlisting your help, we ensure the steady growth of awareness of the human right crisis taking place in Ethiopia. We must strive to continually ensure that Ethiopia respects the human and civil rights of all of its citizens.  It is only when Ethiopia is pressed to institute true democratic reforms will there be peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.

Oromo constituents in your state and across the nation have watched the breakdown of democracy in Ethiopia and have been in contact with your office in search of assistance to end Ethiopia’s violent reaction to peaceful dissent. On their behalf, we thank you again for supporting the respect of human rights and democratic reform in Ethiopia.

Since our meeting, we learned that the Ethiopian government has disregarded its own constitution, the appeal of its citizens, and the international community to charge a number of detained protesters as “terrorists”  This includes Bekele Gerba, a prominent opposition member and Deputy Chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress and advocate of nonviolence. We urge you to call for their immediate and unconditional release. Please note that Human Rights Watch’s report from April 12,  2016 details the Ethiopian government’s continued use of violence against dissenters and its execution of a total media blackout which prevents reporting on the government’s own repressive tactics (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/12/deafening-silence-ethiopia).

Thank you again for joining us to address the conditions in Ethiopia

Sincerely,

First Last Name

Title and Organization (if applicable)

Address, email, phone number

 

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 HOUSE Letter 1: Thank you letter for House of Representative Member

Dear Representative _________________,

I would like to express my appreciation for the opportunity to meet with [Insert staffer’s name i.e Mr. xxx and Ms.xx] while I was in Washington, DC. I know your staff is very busy, and I was pleased that we were able to meet and discuss issues that are important to the Oromo and other communities from Ethiopia.

[Staffer’s Name] and I had a productive conversation about the Ethiopian government’s treatment of dissent, its human rights violations, and its restriction on civil society in Ethiopia.  We documented Ethiopia’s particularly harsh crackdown on the peaceful expression of dissent by students and farmers protesting large scale land confiscation.

Since our meeting, we learned that the Ethiopian government disregarded its constitution, the appeal of its citizens, and the international community and charged a number of detained protesters as terrorists.  This includes Bekele Gerba, a prominent opposition member and Deputy Chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress and advocate of nonviolence. We urge you to call for their immediate and unconditional release.  Please note that Human Rights Watch’s report from April 12, 2016 details the Ethiopian government’s continued use of violence against peaceful dissenters and its execution of a total media blackout which prevents reporting on the government’s own repressive tactics (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/12/deafening-silence-ethiopia).

We ask that the Representative call for a full Hearing on the human rights and governance situation in Ethiopia before either the Lantos Commission on Human Rights or the House Subcommittee on Africa, Human Rights and International Organizations.

We look forward to continuing this conversation with your office concerning civil liberties in Ethiopia for the Oromo and others in Ethiopia.  In the meantime, if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Sincerely,

First Last Name

Title and Organization (if applicable)

Address, email, phone number

 

 

Senate Resolution 432 Call Drive Directions for Community Leaders

 Dear Oromo Community Representatives,

Thank you for your long term commitment to the Oromo cause.   Your participation in the meetings, briefing, and rally on April 19, 2016 led to the introduction of the Senate Resolution 432 (Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia) into committee on April 20, 2016.  It was only through your meetings, phone calls, and letters that the Oromo communities in North America were able to cooperate to achieve progress.  However, the fight to make the United States take a firm stance on Ethiopia has only just begun.   We need to continue our efforts to ensure that the Senate Resolution 432 is passed and that a hearing about the human rights situation in Ethiopia takes place.  To this end, we are organizing a call drive to make sure that we continue to keep the Oromo issue on the minds of our elected officials.  If we do not continue to call and write to our Senators, we will not make progress and the Senate Resolution 432 will not pass.

We need your help!  We are asking that Oromo community organization coordinate a call drive to get S. Res. 432 passed.

Step 1:   Identify constituents in your city/state to commit to call their Senator about either co-sponsoring or supporting Senate Resolution 432 sponsored by Senator Cardin.

Step 2:  Do not call at the same time, divide the group of volunteers and assign each a certain day to call (for instance, if 25 volunteers sign up, have 5 different people call each day).

Step 3:  Forward each caller the attached script which details how to call their Senator.

Step 4:  Follow-up at the end of each day to ensure that all of the volunteers have made their calls. If the calls were not made or the line was busy, encourage the volunteer to call the next day.

Step 5:  Thank each volunteer for their assistance.

Step 6:  Repeat with new callers the following week.

Step 7:  Publicize the call drive with your members via email and circulate the information about the call drive on social media.

Note:  Please print the the sheet in this link to track the number of calls made.  See the attached script to be utilized during Senate phone calls. Do not just call on one day, call over a period of weeks so as to keep the Oromo in the hearts and minds of our elected officials.

 

Script for Calling your Senator about Senate Resolution 432: Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia

Your call should be short and focused. Call as frequently as possible in order to get your voice heard. Every call will be logged; as a result, be sure mentioning the Senate Resolution number (432).

Step 1. Dial the Capitol Switch Board at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Senator’s Washington, D.C. office.

You will be directed to an operator at the Capitol Switchboard. This switchboard can direct you to both Senators as well as members of the House of Representatives.

Step 2. Speak to your Senator or his/her representative as follows:

Hello, my name is ____________________. I am a constituent of Senator ___________.

I live in _____ (City/Town) in ___________(State).

I am calling about Senate Resolution 432 introduced by Senator Ben Cardin.

Can I speak to the legislative or foreign affairs staff member please? (Once connected, ask)

May I have your name?

I am calling to urge Senator _________________ to cosponsor or support Senate Resolution 432 entitled Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin.

Step 3. Tell them why you want your senator to support this resolution.

I am concerned about the human rights violations currently being committed by the Ethiopian government against peaceful protesters in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The violent treatment of those who practice legitimate forms of resistance indicates a general breakdown of governance in Ethiopia. Without a strong rebuke from the U.S. government, Ethiopia will continue kill and forcefully detain peaceful protesters and dissenting voices in the country.

Step 4. Tell them what you want your senator to do.

I ask that Senator ________________ support Senate Resolution 432.  

Thank you for your time.

Step 5. Repeat.

Cardin, Rubio, Colleagues Condemn Ethiopia’s Crackdown on Civil Society

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced a resolution with 11 other Senators today condemning the lethal violence used by the government of Ethiopia against protestors, journalists, and others in civil society for exercising their rights under Ethiopia’s constitution.

The resolution calls for the Secretary of State to conduct a review of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia in light of allegations that Ethiopian security forces have killed civilians.  It also calls upon the government of Ethiopia to halt violent crackdowns, conduct a credible investigation into the killing of protesters, and hold perpetrators of such violence accountable.

“I am shocked by the brutal actions of the Ethiopian security forces, and offer condolences to the families of those who have been killed.  The Ethiopian constitution affords its citizens the right to peaceful assembly and such actions by Ethiopian government forces are unacceptable,”  .  “The government’s heavy-handed tactics against journalists and use of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism and Charities and Societies Proclamations to stifle free speech and legitimate political dissent demonstrate a troubling lack of respect for democratic freedoms and human rights.

“Peaceful protesters and activists have been arrested, tortured and killed in Ethiopia for simply exercising their basic rights,” . “I condemn these abuses and the Ethiopian government’s stunning disregard for the fundamental rights of the Ethiopian people. I urge the Obama Administration to prioritize respect for human rights and political reforms in the U.S. relationship with Ethiopia.”

Joining Cardin and Rubio as cosponsors of the resolution are Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

The United States works closely with Ethiopia on signature Administration initiatives including Feed the Future and the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership. It also provides funding for Ethiopia’s participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia.

“Given the challenges posed by the devastating drought and border insecurity, it is more important than ever that the government take actions to unify rather than alienate its people. It is critical that the government of Ethiopia respect fundamental human rights if it is to meet those challenges,”

Source: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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.

Oromo Advocacy Group’s Tips on Calling your Senator about the Cardin Resolution 432

Your call should be short and focused.  Phone calls can be left after business hours.  Both messages and live calls will be logged, tallied, and made a part of a record that senators use to determine what issue their constituents think are important. Call as frequently as possible in order to get your voice heard.

Step 1.  Dial the Capitol Switch Board at 202-224-3121 to be connected with your senator’s office.

You will be directed to an operator at the Capitol Switchboard. This switchboard can direct you to both senators as well as representatives. Once the operator answers, ask to be connected to whomever you are trying to reach. They will send you to your senator’s or representative’s office line, and a legislative assistant will answer the phone.

Step 2.    Speak to your senator or his/her representative as follows:

Hello, my name is ____________________.
I am a constituent of Senator ___________.
I live in _____ (City/Town) in ___________( State).

I am calling about Senate Resolution_______.

Can I speak to the staff handing this resolution?

(once connected to staff handling the resolution ask  )

May I have your name?

 

I am calling to urge Senator _________________ to cosponsor the Cardin Resolution 432 called Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia sponsored by the Maryland Senator Ben Cardin.

Step 3.  Tell them why you want your senator to cosponsor this resolution.

I am concerned about the human rights violations currently being committed by the Ethiopian government against students and protesters in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.  Since November of 2015, the Ethiopian government has killed hundreds of Oromo protesters and jailed thousands of others for peacefully resisting its plan to confiscate and displace thousands of Oromo farmers.  The violent treatment of those who practice legitimate forms of resistance indicates a general breakdown of governance in Ethiopia.  This crisis should be a concern of everyone who wants to see stability in Ethiopia and in the region.   Without a strong rebuke from the U.S. government, Ethiopia will continue kill and forcefully detain peaceful protesters and dissenting voices in the country.

Step 4.  Tell them what you want your senator to do.

I ask that Senator ________________ cosponsor the Cardin Resolution 432 to pressure the Ethiopian government to: allow peaceful protests in the Oromia region, to release jailed protesters, and to institute democratic reforms in a country.

Thank you for your time.

Step 5.   Repeat