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Members of U.S. Congress write to Secretary of State Kerry on #OromoProtests in Ethiopia December 24, 2015

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Stop killing Oromo StudentsAgazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

Members of U.S. Congress write to Secretary of State Kerry on Oromo Protests in Ethiopia

 #‎OromoProtests‬ US Congress Members Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum & Tom Emmer write letter to U.S. Department of State. Page1#‎OromoProtests‬ US Congress Members Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum & Tom Emmer write letter to U.S. Department of State

The following is a letter written by members of the U.S. Congress: Reps. Keith Ellison (MN), Betty McCollum (MN) and Tom Emmer (MN), to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.


December 24th, 2015

Ellison, McCollum, Emmer Send Letter to Secretary of State Kerry Regarding Protests in Ethiopia

WASHINGTON DC – Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, and Tom Emmer sent the following letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the student protests in the Oromia region of Ethiopia calling for stronger action against human rights violations:

December 23, 2015

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We are writing in regards to the recent student protests in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that have erupted in response to the Ethiopian government’s Master Plan to expand Addis Ababa into surrounding farmland. Minnesota is home to the largest Oromo population in the United States and we have been contacted by hundreds of constituents concerned about the violence and intimidation these protesters have faced from government security forces. We would like to commend you for condemning the recent killings and violence against peaceful Oromo protesters. However, our constituents feel that stronger action is required to address the deteriorating human rights situation in the region.

The United States and Ethiopia have shared a long, fruitful relationship and are partners on a number of issues important to the region. This ongoing relationship, coupled with the extensive foreign assistance that the United States provides Ethiopia each year, should be used to leverage the United States’ position that inclusive democracy be practiced in Ethiopia.

Numerous reports from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Committee on the Protection of Journalists have revealed the growing practice of government security forces using arbitrary arrests and prosecution to silence journalists and Ethiopian citizens who are simply exercising freedom of expression—a fundamental right and the cornerstone of a democratic society. These individuals are often charged under the draconian 2009 anti-terrorism proclamation. The continued mistreatment and displacement of the Oromo ethnic group in the Oromia region is especially troubling. Furthermore, the Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO law), enacted in 2009, has made it nearly impossible for non-profits to operate in Ethiopia.

Similar protests last year left dozens of Oromos dead and hundreds arrested. This year, there have already been five officially recorded deaths, although constituents close to the issue have informed us the true number of deaths is much higher with a death toll of at least 75. Recently, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that authorities “will take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.” This aggressive approach to peaceful protesters is cause for major concern by the United States and we therefore urge you to engage the Ethiopian leadership in a serious dialogue in order to prevent further loss of life and to ensure that Ethiopia is adhering to democratic principles.

The United States Congress has already sent a strong message regarding Ethiopia’s response to protests. The 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill has provisions to ensure that the U.S. funding to Ethiopia cannot be used to support forced evictions in the country. Furthermore, the bill requires U.S. assistance to be used to support local community initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods and be subject to prior consultation with affected populations. The bill also opposes U.S. funding to international financial institutions such as the World Bank for programs that could lead to forced evictions in Ethiopia.

We respectfully ask you to conduct a full, thorough review of this ongoing situation. We cannot look the other way when our allies are violating the human rights of their citizens. If during your investigation you find violations of the Leahy Law, we ask that you respond by taking appropriate action. Thank you for your attention to this important human rights matter.


Keith Ellison
Member of Congress

Betty McCollum
Member of Congress

Tom Emmer
Member of Congress

Cc: Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, White House
Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to United Nations
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee, United States House of Representatives
Congressman Elliot Engel, Ranking member of Foreign Affairs Committee, United States House of Representatives