The Honorable Congressman Cedric Richmond
413 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20003
September 4, 2017
Re: H.R. 128. “Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia”
The New York and New Jersey Ethiopian Task Force is a community group representing hundreds of Ethiopian Americans residing in the area. We are writing you this letter to express our grave concern regarding the current situation in Ethiopia, and to ask that you support H.R. 128, which was sponsored by congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. H.R 128 passed the house foreign affairs committee with overwhelming support and the backing of sixty co-sponsors. The resolution will be voted on the floor of the house of representatives within a few weeks.
Ethiopia is an ancient African country considered as a cradle of mankind. A country that taught the world the meaning of religious tolerance by accepting the prophet Mohammed and his followers while Christianity had the strong hold in the nation. Its people have fought and defeated the well-armed modern colonial power of Italy, demonstrating the resilience and patriotism of Africans becoming the steward of future hopes for the emancipation of other nations subjected to colonialist rules. Even though Ethiopia was never colonized, over several decades its people have been victims of instability, corruption and the cold war. Over decades, we have witnessed extreme human sufferings, including unnecessary wars that caused the deaths of thousands, preventable hunger that have shown us the extreme sufferings of children and the elderly and preventable mass migrations. All these are mainly due to mismanagement and extreme corruption by its leaders.
The past twenty-six years, the TPLF regime in Ethiopia has been perpetrating crimes against humanity, including:
– killings of more than eight hundred peaceful demonstrators in 2016 alone
– mass imprisonments
– extreme torture of opposition leaders and opposition members and bloggers
– forced displacement of thousands of indigenous people from their native lands
– widespread murder, rape, torture and massacre of members of the Anuak, Oromo, and Amhara ethnic groups
– misuse of foreign aid for a sinister purpose, helping only those that are politically affiliated to the ruling party
This regime is well known for stifling dissent and journalistic freedom. These behaviors are well documented by respected human right organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as well as the US Department of State. While human rights organizations and the UN Secretary General have called for independent investigations on the killings of peaceful demonstrators in 2016, the government has refused the request several times.
In addition to the killing and torturing of its people for the soul purpose of prolonging its brutal rule, the ruling party is involved in a lot of illegal businesses tunneling all the country’s resources to a few individuals that rule the country more like a mafia-type organization than a legitimate governing body. As it is completely despised and rejected by the Ethiopian majority, it is intentionally encouraging ethnic cleansing to facilitate and prolong its divide and rule days.
Recently, the government has paid an SGR lobbying group in the US 1.6 million dollars of blood money to defend its position and continue its killing, tortures and extremely corrupt rule. The fact that the Ethiopian government is paying a lobbying firm in the US that much money while millions of children are starving is a good indication of where its priorities are. We respectfully ask you no to budge to the pressure of SGR, and to carefully study the human rights abuses and the killings and tortures reported by the state department and other human rights organizations.
And we ask you to support H.R. 128 and Stand up for human rights in Ethiopia
NY/NJ Ethiopian Task Force