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Minnesota Congressional Leaders Call on President to Prioritize Human Rights on Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia July 23, 2015

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???????????Representing Minnesota

Minnesota Congressional Leaders Call on President to Prioritize Human Rights on Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia

 July 23, 2015

Keith Ellison

Press Release

WASHINGTON—Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN), and Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Tim Walz (D-MN) sent a letter today calling on President Barack Obama to prioritize human rights during his upcoming trip to Kenya and Ethiopia.

The text of the letter is below and a signed copy can be found here.

Dear President Obama,

We write to urge you to prioritize human rights during your upcoming visit to Kenya and Ethiopia. Minnesota is home to a large Ethiopian and Somali diaspora that adds rich cultural diversity to our state. We are proud to represent them and ask that when you visit Africa you address issues of concern for our Ethiopian and Somali communities. Specifically, we ask that you urge the Kenyan government to prevent discrimination against Somalis and call on the Ethiopian government to address reports of troubling human rights abuses.

After nearly two decades of violence and famine, Somalia is making steady progress towards stability. A provisional constitution and the political will for progress have helped Somalia reestablish a central government. The United States has provided critical assistance, enabling Somalia to make security gains against the terrorist group al-Shabaab. Despite important progress, recent terrorist attacks in Mogadishu and Garissa, Kenya remind us that Somalia still faces enormous challenges. Kenya has been deeply impacted by the instability in Somalia; Kenya is home to more than 350,000 Somali refugees, and al-Shabaab continues to pose a security threat to the region.

As the Kenyan government continues to battle the threat of terrorism, Somali refugees in Kenya are often targeted for detention or deportation, and Somali neighborhoods are frequently raided by Kenyan military and police forces. Recently, Kenya temporarily suspended the licenses of 13 Somali money remittance firms. While the licenses have been restored, the threat of disruption in remittance services remains. Cutting off remittance services compounds the humanitarian crisis being face by Somalis in their home country.  This could reverse the limited gains that the Somali government and the international community have made against al Shabaab and lead to increased terrorist activity in Somalia and the greater Horn of Africa.  We ask that you raise these issues during your visit.

In Ethiopia, we ask that you urge Prime Minister Desalegn take stronger action to improve human rights. Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights have documented the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on freedom of the press, arbitrary arrests, politically-motivated prosecutions, and the use of excessive force by security forces. While we are happy to hear that the Ethiopian government has released five journalists from detention, legislation restricting nongovernmental activity remains in place and is contrary to international standards. We also urge you to address the very serious concerns that have been brought to us by Ogaden and Oromo groups. As the first U.S. President to visit Ethiopia, this is a historic opportunity for you to press for meaningful and long-lasting change.

We urge you to use your time in Kenya and Ethiopia to persuade policy makers to prevent discrimination and prioritize human rights. Thank you for your commitment to improving economic growth and security in Africa.


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The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA): An Open Letter to President Barak Obama on his Ethiopia Visit. Liigiin Mirga Ilmaan namaa kan gaanfa Afrikaa, Daawwii Obaamaa balaaleeffate. July 19, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Oromia, US-Africa Summit.
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???????????Human rights League of the Horn of Africa

July 18, 2015

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama on his Ethiopia Visit

Dear Mr. President Obama,

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa wants to express its deep concern about what it regards as the wrong decision made by you and your staff in making a formal visit to Ethiopia in late July 2015. This will make you the first US leader to break the US promise not to reward dictators. History teaches us that the American constitution of 1787 is the world’s first democratic constitution, a landmark document of the Western World which protects the rights of all citizens in the USA. The following examples show America’s great support of human rights: During the First World War, America entered the war against Germany in 1917 to protect the world- as President Woodrow Wilson put it, “Making the World Safe for Democracy”. Later, Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Roosevelt and a human rightschampion, drafted in 1948 an internationally accepted human rights bill, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These and other democratic activities have made America a champion of democracy all over the world that all Americans should be proud of.

Mr. President,

Your decision to visit human rights perpetrators in Ethiopia contradicts your country’s democratic tradition. It also disrespects the Ethiopian nations and nationalities who are under the subjugation of the EPRDF/TPLF government.

Mr. President,

We can witness today the government of Ethiopia making a lot of noise about the flourishing of democracy in that country. The reality on the ground shows that the undemocratic behavior of the regime has been overshadowed by the apparently “democratic” and anti-terrorism façade that the regime has demonstrated for the past twenty-four years. During those years, thousands were killed, abducted, kidnaped, and imprisoned by this government because they simply tried to exercise their fundamental rights, such as free speech and expression, freedom of association and religion. University students, journalists, human rights activists, opposition political party members and their supporters, and farmers have been the major victims in Ethiopia.

When the EPRDF/TPLF Government took power in 1991 in Ethiopia, there were high expectations from both local and international communities that there would be an improvement in the human rights situation in Ethiopia from previous regimes. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, however, human rights abuses in Ethiopia worsened. The human rights violations in Ethiopia has been widely reported by local, regional and international human rights organizations as well as some Western governmental agencies including the US State Department’s yearly human rights reports.

Today, in Ethiopia political extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances, mass arrests and imprisonments- without warrants- in horrible prison conditions, extended imprisonment without trials, torture, denials and delaying of justice, discrimination in resource allocations and implementations, biased educational and development policies, denials of employment and job promotion opportunities and/or the misuse of coercive political tools are rampant. Social crises in Ethiopia are becoming deeper and deeper, while the socioeconomic gap between the favored (the politically affiliated groups and individuals) and the disfavored is getting wider and wider. For the majority of Ethiopians, life has become unbearable. It has even become very difficult for civil servants, the middle class, to support their families.

Mr. President,

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa strictly opposes your visit to Ethiopia. As the president of the country where democracy emerged and respect for human rights was first realized, we believe it would be immoral of you to reward human rights violators. We urge that you withdraw from your decision to visit Ethiopia.

HRLHA is a non-political organization (with the UN Economic and Social Council – (ECOSOC) Consultative Status) which attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa.

Liigiin Mirga Ilmaan namaa kan gaanfa Afrikaa,Daawwii Obaamaa balaaleeffate .


(OMN:Oduu Adol.19, 2015): Daawwannaa Pirezidaantiin Ameerikaa Itoophiyaatti gochuuf karoorfatan, liigiin mirga ilmaan namaa kan gaanfa Afrikaa cimsee akka mormu, Xalayayaa kaleessa liigiin kun Prezidaanti Obaamaaf ergeen beekiseera.
Imala dawwannaa Pirezidaantiin Ameerikaa Itoophiyaa dhaquuf jedhame ilaalchise, liigiin mirga ilmaan namaa kan gaanfa Afrikaa mata duree, “Pirezidaanti Obaamaan daawwanna isaan Itoophiya dhaqanii ilaaluuf deeman, damboobaa Dimookiraasii Ameerikaatiif qaaniifi Arrabsoodha” jedhuun Pireezidaantichaaf erguun, imala Obamaan gara Itoophiyaatti fuullefate balaaleffateera.
Liigiin mirga ilmaan namaa kan damee ganfa Afrikaa kun xalayaa Pirezidaanti Obaamaaf kaleessa barreesseen akka jedhetti, murtee Obaamaafi waa’iloonni hojii isaa, akka Obaamaan Itoophiyaa daawwatan muteeffame sun dogongoraafi akka Liigi mirga ilmaan namaa gaddisiisee himeera. Liingiin mirga ilmaan namaa kan gaafa Afrikaa kun itti dabaluun xalayaa Obaamaaf barreesseen akka jedhetti, waadaa Ameerikaan duraan abbootii irree akka hin gargaarreef seentee turte, pireezidaantii Ameerikaa ta’uun yeroo jalqabaatiif kan cabse Obaamaadha jedheera.
Bara 1787 Ameerikaan seera dimokiraatawa tumattee mirga lammii isii ittiin kabachiisuufi biyyoota lixaatiifille fakkeenna guddaa akka taate turte osoo beekamu, gochi Obaamaan amma raawwatuuf deemu kun aadaa dimookiraasii Ameerikaa kan faallessu akka ta’e, liigiin mirga ilmaan namaa kun xalayaa Obaamaaf ergeen himeera.
Liigiin mirga ilmaan namaa kan gaafa Afrikaa kun dabalee xalayaa bareesseen waan jedhe, daawwannaan Obaamaan Itoophiyatti fuulleffate kun, seeraafi danboobaa dimookiraasii Ameerikaa kan faallessu qofa osoo hin taane, sabaafi sab-lammoota Itoophiyaa hacuuccaa TPLF-Woyyaanee jala jiraniif akka tuffiitti ilaalama jedheera.
Woyyaaneen Itoophiyaa biyya dimimokiraatawa fakkeessuuf irra dibaa jiraatulle, haqani jiru garuu, lammiileen hidhamaa, ajjeefama, butamaa, biyyaa baafamaafi ukkaamfamaa akka jiranii Liigiin kun himee, keessumattu miidhaan hamaan baratoonni yuniversiitii, gaazexeessitoota, dura bu’oota amataalee, dhaabbileefi namoota mirga ilmaan namaatiif dubbatan, dhaabbilee siyaasaa mormituufi miseensotaafi deergatoota isaanii, akkasuma qonnaan bultoonni yeroo ammaa bulchiinsa mootummaa Woyyaaneetiin dararamaa akka jiran Xalayaa mormii Liigiin kun Obaamaaf bareesserraa hubachuun danda’ameera.
Daani’eel Bariisoo Areeriitu gabaase.


Foreign Policy: ARGUMENT: Obama Should Stay Away from Ethiopia July 8, 2015

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???????????OromoProtests against genocidal TPLF Ethiopia3. 19 June 2015Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Make Their Armies Readily Available to Participate in International PeacekeepingTPLF in electoral fraud, 24 May 2015Thousand Oromos detained in 2014 protests

Obama Should Stay Away from Ethiopia



Obama Should Stay Away from Ethiopia

Later this month, President Barack Obama will become the first sitting United States president to ever visit Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, and a nation viewed by many as a bastion of stability in a region otherwise beset with civil strife. The trip — which will also include a stopover in Kenya — is being billed as part of the Obama administration’s regional efforts “to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security.”

These are indeed laudable goals and should be actively pursued by the U.S. government. But the timing and tenor of the visit to Addis Ababa sends a worrying signal that Washington’s priorities — not only in Ethiopia, but on the entire continent — are actually at odds with the president’s oft-repeatedrhetoric about advancing human rights and strengthening African democracy and institutions.

Let’s be clear: Ethiopia is not a model of democracy that should be rewarded with a presidential visit.

Let’s be clear: Ethiopia is not a model of democracy that should be rewarded with a presidential visit. The long-ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), now in power for 25 years, claimed a landslide victory inlegislative polls held in May, winning all 547 parliamentary seats, which places it among the ranks of North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Iraq in terms of the sheer efficiency of its electoral sweep. The results should not have come as a surprise: theEPRDF swept the last four elections, including in 2010,in which it took a whopping 99.6 percent of the vote. This time around, Washington and the European Union did not even bother sending election observers, knowing full well that anEPRDF victory was a foregone conclusion.The lead up to the May 24 vote saw a widespread crackdown on journalists, human rights activists, and opposition supporters. What’s worse, Obama’s trip was announced on June 19, the same week it was revealed that threeopposition party members were murdered in the country, all under highly suspicious circumstances.

So why is President Obama visiting a country where democracy is in such a sorry state and where human rights violations remain systemic and widespread? Because, despite the obvious lack of political rights and civil liberties in Ethiopia, and its status as one of the top jailers of journalists in the world, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is palatable to Washington and other Western donors precisely because of who he is not: a retrograde dictator in the mold of his regional counterparts, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea or Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. The brutal and oft heavy-handed oppression exhibited by the latter two regimes is brazen, whereas Desalegn and the EPRDF work within the (regime-controlled) judicial system, giving their repression a veneer of legality.

A former academic, Desalegn’s elevation to the highest office in Ethiopia came courtesy of the sudden death in 2012 of Ethiopia’s strongman, Meles Zenawi, who had ruled the country for two decades. Zenawi was a favorite in Washington: Though he brutally crushed political opponents and implemented a series of draconian laws meant to muzzle the press and stifle dissent, he also managed to establish an image of Ethiopia as a stable and growing economy in the troubled Horn of Africa. Zenawi’s Western allies, particularly the United States, applauded the country’s modest economic growth and the regime’s willingness to endorse the so-called “War on Terror.” As a result, leaders in Washington routinely turned a blind eye to the EPRDF’s rampant human rights abuses and its ongoing suppression of civil society, the media, and political opposition.

Several key Obama advisers were close associates and personal friends of the late prime minister. Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor and former top diplomat at the United Nations, for instance, made no secret of her esteem for and friendship with Zenawi, whom she eulogized as “a servant leader.” Another top Obama aide, Gayle Smith — the current nominee to lead the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which provided Ethiopia nearly $500 million in 2013 — was also never shy about her admiration for Zenawi.

Desalegn, largely seen as a compromise candidate for the shaky, ethnicity-based EPRDF coalition, has continued to rule in the same mode — and Washington’s perverse need to embrace a dictator in technocrat’s clothing has continued. This March, two months before Ethiopia’s sham elections, U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman publicly praised Ethiopia’s “democracy” during a visit to the country, which a state department spokesperson further bolstered by saying “her statements fully reflect the U.S. Government’s positions.” Even a cursory glance at Ethiopia’s abysmal human rights record would turn this bogus claim on its head.

On June 25, the State Department released its annual human rights reporton Ethiopia, citing widespread “restrictions on freedom of expression,” “politically motivated trials,” “harassment and intimidation of opposition members and journalists,” “alleged arbitrary killings and torture,” “limits on citizens’ ability to change their government,” and restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement. Yet Ethiopia’s donors, including the United States, which provides nearly half of Ethiopia’s national budget, have continued to ignore these signs of trouble. The facade of economic growth and the West’s eagerness for a “development success story” to tout on the international stage has seemingly precluded genuine diplomatic pressure to reform.

To be sure, deeply afflicted countries surround Ethiopia. Despite recent progress, Somalia faces credible and ongoing threats from the al-Qaeda affiliated militant group, al-Shabab. South Sudan has devolved into an intractable civil war with no end in sight. Kenya has yet to fully overcome the ramifications of post-election violence in 2007–2008, not to mention its inability to ward off al-Shabab’s cross border attacks. Eritrea, dubbed by some as the North Korea of Africa, remains a highly repressive police state from which hundreds of thousands continue to flee. Further afield, Yemen is in a state of bloody lawlessness. By contrast, Ethiopia has remained largely stable.

Despite this outward veneer of stability and progress, Ethiopia’s current system is unsustainable. A one-time vocal opposition has been systematically weakened. Ethnic discontent is rife. Religious revival has been met with brutal state repression. Economic prosperity is not widely shared and inequality continues to rise. Nepotism and corruption plague an already bloated bureaucracy. Youth unemployment is a persistent and serious challenge. Independent media, the human rights community, and civil society writ large have been decimated. And countless citizens arebeing displaced from their ancestral lands under the guise of development. These factors, taken together, may ultimately sow the seeds of a tangled conflict that could reverberate across an already troubled and tense region.

In this context, Obama’s upcoming visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on Washington’s stated commitment to strengthening democratic institutions — not strongmen — in Africa. What is more, turning a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses for the sake of counterterrorism cooperation and so-called “regional stability” may prove to be a self-defeating strategy that is bad in the long term for the United States, as well as for citizens throughout the Horn of Africa.

If the United States wanted to help strengthen democratic institutions and stand in solidarity with Africans, who are now more than ever demanding democracy, then Nigeria would have been a much better alternative model. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest economy, held landmark elections this March, in which an opposition candidate ousted an incumbent who then graciously accepted defeat. In Ethiopia, this scenario remains a pipe dream for its 96 million citizens. The EPRDF is now set to lord over the country at least until 2020, allowing the party to further entrench its repressive machinery and to extend its dominance long beyond its current mandate.

It is unlikely that Obama and his handlers will change the itinerary of his upcoming trip. However, it is not too late for the president, and for the United States government, to speak honestly to the people of Ethiopia, making it clear that the historic visit is not intended to validate or otherwise endorse the EPRDF’s autocratic dominance. Rather, Obama should be clear with EPRDF leadership, both in private and most importantly, in public that the United States appreciates the complex challenges facing the country and that repression is not an acceptable means of addressing them.

Obama and his staff should also meet openly with Ethiopia’s political opposition and civic leaders, including those based in the country and abroad in Kenya, where many have been forced to relocate due to increasing oppression at home. Obama should additionally raise the issue of the recently murdered opposition members, as well as the many cases of journalists, activists, and political prisoners who have been wrongly jailed and arbitrarily detained under a raft of draconian laws that have criminalized dissent.

In the long-term, the U.S. government should redouble its commitment to Ethiopia’s beleaguered civil society. Obama’s 2016 budget request includes more than $400 million in assistance to the country, of which less than 1 percent is allocated for democracy and human rights programming — an actual improvement from last year, when zero was devoted to this vital sector, much of the spending going towards health and humanitarian aid. A robust, reenergized, and empowered Ethiopian civil society, in which human rights groups are free to operate, is central to deepening democratic principles, not only in Ethiopia, but also throughout the East and Horn of Africa.

Overall, Obama must firmly reiterate that stability and security, and respect for basic human rights and the legitimacy of civil society, are not mutually exclusive objectives in Ethiopia, or elsewhere. Rather, he should be unequivocal — in both rhetoric and in practice — that, together, these issues help form an unshakable and long-term pillar for U.S. engagement on the African continent.

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Africa: Obama’s Visit To Ethiopia Sparks Controversy, Concerns Nigeria Was Snubbed July 2, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Corruption in Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model.
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President of the United States Barack Obama

Activists and some media organizations have expressed concern that President of the United States, Barack Obama, will visit Ethiopia but not Nigeria during his Africa trip next month. Many have pointed out that Nigeria just experienced an historic democratic transfer of power while Ethiopia has a deplorable human rights record.

In addition to the recent democratic transfer of power Nigeria plays a crucial role in African security and is the US’s largest trading partner on the continent. The US also announced a 5 million dollar commitment to Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.

According to Nii Akuetteh, an independent Africa analyst, who spoke with SaharaReporters, people should not see President Obama’s decision as “a huge slap in the face to Nigeria.”

Mr. Akuetteh said that “planning a presidential trip abroad is extremely cumbersome” and “one month is too short notice to prep a major trip like this.” He also said that “many in Washington DC would not admit it but they are happy that [former President] Jonathan is no longer in power” and that Obama would not have planned for a trip to Nigeria if he was in power.

President Obama plans to visit Kenya, the country of his father’s birth, for a global entrepreneurship summit before flying to Ethiopia. It should also be noted that Kenya has an abysmal human rights record, with police death squads and ethnic discrimination against Somali communities routine.

Mr. Akuetteh stated that “as an activist I am not happy when the United States supports dictators or that President Obama is visiting the Ethiopian regime” however “my reading of the trip is that President Obama is going to meet with African Union leaders, which happens to be located in Addis Ababa.”

The White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said something similar that Obama “will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit by strengthening ties with our African partners and highlighting America’s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa.”

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, will visit President Obama in mid-July during his first official visit as President to the United States. It is expected that President Obama and President Buhari will discuss security, terrorism, and trade between the two countries.