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Let’s Give HR 5680 the Support it Deserves

By Fikru Helebo

I was having a conversation last night with a friend about the fate of HR 5680, the legislation that is currently making its way in the United States House of Representatives, which is designed to advance the cause of Human Rights and democracy in Ethiopia, and my friend asked me what are the chances of the bill getting passed in the House. I commented to my friend, with no hesitation I might add, that the bill has a pretty good chance of passing in the House with the required two thirds of the votes and that, if the bill faces trouble, it may be in the US Senate where the rules are more stringent and allow for a single senator to hold and kill a legislation.

And then I got up this morning and saw this article on Ethiomedia which stated that HR 5680 is in danger being killed in the House of Representatives because the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, is not allowing it to come to the floor of the House for a vote as a result of a lobbying effort by the Meles regime. So much for my prognostication and I apologize for misleading my friend! I guess this means that we all need to work very hard to make this bill a reality. If we do not work hard and/or the Addis Ababa regime succeeds in killing the bill despite our efforts, that will not be the end of the world for the advancement of democracy in Ethiopia but it will sure make it more difficult. So, compatriots, let’s roll and give HR 5680 the support it deserves and let the chips fall where they may. Let’s not disappoint those who are paying a heavy price in the cause of freedom and democracy in Ethiopia.

Let’s us all contact our representatives in the US House and tell them that this bill will not only help advance forward the cause of freedom and democracy in Ethiopia, but it will also put the United States’ interest in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region on a much more solid footing. So far the US has been mainly giving lip service to the advancement of freedom and democracy in Ethiopia and it is about time for a change. Passage of HR 5680 will herald a clear shift in US policy in the region and will express, in no uncertain terms, that the United States government is on the side of the people of Ethiopia who are still yearning for a representative form of government.

Here is how to contact your representatives in Congress. All you need to do is enter your state and your zip code and the web site tells you who your represetative is. And after that just enter the required fields and click on the “continue” button and write your representative. You may want to follow up your email with a phone call a few days later. You can find the phone number to call your representative by locating his/her name here.

If you are a registered voter in your district, please remind your representative that whom you vote for in this election cycle will depend on what happens to HR 5680 in the next few weeks. I am not a proponent of a single-issue voter, but there are times when a single issue is so important to voters that they must set aside ideological or party affiliations once in a while and give their votes for the candidate that supports their cause. For the Ethiopian-American voter this single issue is the support for Human Rights and democracy in our country of birth and what our respective representatives in the United States Congress do to help pass HR 5680 should determine whether we vote for or against our representatives in the coming mid-term elections in November.

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