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Ethiopia: Donald Payne: A Farewell to a Human Rights Champion
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
How does one say farewell to a great friend of Ethiopia and Africa? Representative Donald Payne, the dean of New Jersey's House delegation and the first black congressman elected to represent New Jersey, died at age 77 from colon cancer on Tuesday. He was elected to 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and served on various committees including Education and Workforce and Foreign Affairs committees. He chaired the Subcommittee on Africa for a number of years. His passing marks a great loss for the cause of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia and Africa.
Rep. Payne’s commitment to Africa was legendary. In 2008 he played a central role in the Congressional authorization of up to $48 billion over 5 years to fight HIV/AIDS, a substantial portion of it going to Africa. In 2005, he successfully led the effort to enact the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act aimed at imposing sanctions against perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, Sudan. In 2002, he played a key role in the passage of the Sudan Peace Act, which helped to end the war in Sudan and peacefully transition South Sudan into nationhood. Rep. Payne was one of champions of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (2000) which promotes African economic development and trade with the US. He has sponsored or co-sponsored dozens of bills to help African countries get debt relief, increased peacekeeping support, expanded agriculture programs and better access to safe drinking water and educational opportunities for millions of children.
Rep. Payne travelled to the most conflict–ridden parts of Africa to visit refugees, victims of genocide and terrorism at some risk to his personal safety. In April 2009, Rep. Payne’s plane was attacked at Mogadishu airport as he prepared to leave the country. The extremist group al-Shabaab took responsibility. Republican and democratic presidents have tapped his expertise in international affairs. President George W. Bush appointed Rep. Payne as one of two congressional delegates to the United Nations in 2003 and 2005. Rep. Payne led a delegation to Rwanda to help resolve some of the critical political and humanitarian crises facing that country. President Bill Clinton invited Rep. Payne as one of five members of Congress to accompany him on his historic six-nation tour of Africa.
Rep. Payne was a pain in the neck of many of Africa’s dictators. According to Wikileaks, in June 2009, at a meeting in Harare, Rep. Payne challenged Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe on a variety of human rights issues and pointedly charged that Mugabe’s “government now allows police to beat black women who dare protest.” According to the report, “As Payne confronted him, Mugabe sank into the couch and appeared expressionless and somewhat stunned.” But Rep. Payne did not relent: “Payne continued by commenting that citizens have a right to agitate and governments have a duty to protect them. He noted that Mugabe started as a civil agitator and spent 11 years in prison for it. ‘I was a civil agitator, too. I wouldn't be in congress if I hadn't been a civil agitator.’”
In December 2011, Payne expressed outrage over a decision by the U.S. Treasury Department to issue a license to a DC lobbyist to represent the Republic of Sudan in legal matters. He fumed:
It is absolutely unacceptable that the U.S. has allowed a murderer like Omar Hassan Bashir to hire a Washington emissary to do his bidding. Bashir is an internationally indicted war criminal for the atrocities he perpetrated in Darfur. In the months following South Sudan's independence this July, Bashir and his thugs have attacked the border regions of Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei… Bashir has blocked humanitarian organizations from accessing the region to provide lifesaving food and health services to his victims… The $20,000 per month that Bashir is spending on a Washington lobbyist could be better spent on providing humanitarian support to the people of Darfur, Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile, and on promoting democracy and human rights throughout Sudan.
When Laurent Gbagbo plunged his country into anarchy last year following his loss in the elections, and the African
Union twiddled its thumbs, Rep. Payne demanded action:
Gbagbo and his regime and its supporters are waging a continuing campaign of terror against large numbers of Ivoirians… Gbagbo is clearly willing to push his country and its neighbors into a state of political anarchy and economic disarray in order to maintain his grasp on political power… Ivoirians are fighting—and dying, just as citizens in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya—to protect these rights. The world must not turn a blind eye to their struggles or wait until the country plunges into civil war to respond to this crisis.
Donald Payne and Ethiopia
Rep. Payne was a very special friend of Ethiopia. He strove for years to help improve the human rights situation in that poor country. He was the chief architect of H.R. 2003: Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007. The Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan research arm of the U.S. Congress summarized H.R. 2003’s five policy objectives in Ethiopia as follows: (1) support the advancement of human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, peacekeeping capacity building, and economic development; (2) the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia; foster stability, democracy, and economic development in the Horn region; (4) support humanitarian assistance efforts, especially in the Ogaden region; (5) promote U.S.-Ethiopia collaboration in the Global War on Terror; and (6) generally strengthen Ethio-America relations.
In October 2007, days following the passage of H.R. 2003 in the House, former Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Vicki Huddleston, in an article title, “Ethiopia: Voting for HR 2003 was Wrong”, backhandedly lambasted Rep. Payne for his leadership on HR 2003 while ferociously defending Zenawi’s regime:
The Ethiopian government will reject H.R. 2003 as a naive and unhelpful interference in its internal affairs. They will rightly complain that it fails to recognize the considerable progress they have made in growing political space and opening the economy. They will correctly point out that H.R. 2003 is not evenhanded because it sides with leaders of Ethiopia’s opposition, whom the government recently pardoned and released from prison at the behest of the international community. Worse, H.R. 2003 will be used by Ethiopia’s enemies to fan intolerance in this nation of 77 million Christians and Muslims who until recently lived together peacefully.
But two weeks prior to House passage of the that bill, Rep. Payne had offered an olive branch to Zenawi’s regime and demonstrated his good will to work with them in improving human rights:
We are urging the [Ethiopian] government to release political prisoners… We are hoping that this legislation [HR 2003] will assist in as many things as are positive for Ethiopia in health care, democracy building, judicial reform… and we would like for them [Zenawi’s regime] to be our allies but we can’t have people who disregard human rights… So I think it is a good day for America and a good day for Ethiopia [to get the bill enacted].
In September 2008, Zenawi’s regime accused Rep. Payne of “tarnish[ing] Ethiopia’s image and damag[ing] the good relations between Ethiopia and the United States.” The regime claimed that by focusing on Ethiopia and ignoring other neighboring countries with poor human rights record, Rep. Payne showed that he is driven less by “any concern for human rights than by his own personal anti-Ethiopian agenda.” Rep. Payne avoided personal attacks and always focused on the critical issues of human rights and democracy and finding a middle ground. In 2009, Rep. Payne struck a conciliatory tone with Zenawi’s regime while insisting on basic principles:
Ethiopia is a very important country. We should attempt to have good relations with them. However, I would hope the current administration would tell Prime Minister Meles [Zenawi] that for good relations [with the United States] you have to stop the dictatorial policies. You can't arrest people without cause. You can't have the corruption that goes on… You can't have courts that are unjust, and Meles Zenawi should stop military attacks on the unarmed civilians of the Ogaden region.”
Rep. Payne was able to impact African policy so effectively because he had the support of many knowledgeable staffers and experts. One Africa expert who has been at Rep. Payne’s side over the years providing valuable technical assistance is Teodros “Ted” Dagne, an Ethiopian. Ted played a critical role in the formulation and ultimate passage of HR 2003 in the House.
Rep. Payne was a reasonable man. He was dignified man with steely resolve about human rights and helping Africa’s poor. He was quiet force of accountability, reconciliation and progress in Africa. He promoted open dialogue and peaceful change. He communicated a clear message to Africa’s dictators that the U.S. is looking for engagement and cooperation to help Africa become more democratic, respectful of human rights and achieve sustained economic development. He hoped for a “new day and for more dialogue” in Africa to resolve the range of challenging issues facing the continent.
Let Us Celebrate Donald Payne!
The passing of Donald Payne marks a bad day for America, a bad day for Ethiopia and a bad day for Africa! To lose a champion of Africa’s poor and starving masses is unbearable. We mourn a great loss to the cause of democracy and human rights in Africa, but we shall seek to overcome that loss with a celebration of a great life of accomplishment, compassion and caring. In celebrating Donald Payne's accomplishments, President Obama said, “He made it his mission to fight for working families, increase the minimum wage, ensure worker safety, guarantee affordable health care and improve the educational system. He was a leader in U.S.-Africa policy, making enormous contributions towards helping restore democracy and human rights across the continent. Don will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.” All Ethiopians and Africans who have been inspired by Donald Payne shall miss him dearly. We shall keep his memory alive by defending and spreading his legacy of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.
With the sudden death of Congressman
Payne the Crime Minister and his
African Tyrant colleagues hope that they would
be spared from public critics and International pressures for all the crimes they are comitting against the peoples .Even Mr Payne’s gone the
fight shall never stop ,it will continue more than ever .If evil African Despots as Gbagbo ,Ben Ali
and Mubarak ,even having at that time
full supports from the State Department and some evil lobbyist groups ,have finally steped down .It
was also by the determination of Human Right Heroes as Mr Payne .By the past six years since the 2005 election stolen by the crime minister
and the Agazi bandits ,TPLF Thugs and
Aderby Kersam Diasporas have published many insanities against Mr
Payne .Even on this website a Shabyan
ass hole treated him as a “SLAVE” .And the Aderby Pig Ben published on his website surely advised by his “Adgiforum.com"masters
that Mr Payne is lobbying the Eritrean Tyrant .For all these evil
guys the killing of more than two hundred youth by Agazi Bandits has less importance and denouncing the crimes comitted by their Leba master
is simply interfering in the internal affairs of the country .Pig Ben dared to compare HR 2003 as the
Wutshale Whule on one of his stupid commentary .Whatever the level of the dream and the hope of these parasites with the death of Mr Payne.
One thing they might understand that
the True Ethiopians whether inside the country or in the Diasporas shall
never give up the FIGHT ,and the struggle shall continue more intensified against the crime minister ,the SS Agazis the Tigre Mafiosis and the kersam bandas !!!!
ETERNAL GLORY TO Mr PAYNE !!!!
VIVA THE TRUE ETHIOPIANS !!!
MOTE LE LEBA WOYANE KENE BANDAWOTCHU !!!!!
He was trying to be more than he really was or capable of.While blacks are suffering injustice in the hands of blacks .When there are more blacks in jails than colleges .When the unemployment rates for blacks is more than 25% way more than the national average ,He wants to be a champion for the plight of africans.If he is truly stands for democracy he won’t flirt with the most autocratic leader the world has ever seen i.e. isayas afeworki.
Please make note of the fact that alemariam never ever mentioned or wrote about isaysas while he wrote and belittle his other fellow africans in his endless diatribe .If he also stands as he claims to be the champion of african democracy he should be critical of eriterian regime with the same fervor and intensity as he does with the ethiopian regime But you and me knows he will never do that because that is going to be a tactical mistake .What he stands for is not democracy but hate and scoring points for the loss of an amhara clout which his ancestors coming from .You might deceive others about your bla bla about democracy but it is all about bringing amhara dominance to the ethiopian politics which is gone some 20 years ago and it will never come back .Ethiopia is now a a country where every ethnic group is respected and exercises its own rights ,language and etc.it is nor more the prisons for multiple ethinc groups as the saying goes .
ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….. melkam leqso to Al Mariam, now you’re left by yourself. Keep your leqso…. mad man!
Fluflu ,stupid shabyan ass hole kerfafa banda .Where the hell have you seen in a country where an evil
Tyrant Couple your leba master and his looter wife are owning every economic activities ,where the security and the arm forces are controlled by ethno milicia bandits from the same region (Tigrai) .Where
whole economic sectors are offered
to the Tigre Mafiosis .It’s not just because some moron bandas did accept
as dying dogs the rest of your meals
that the right of multi ethnic system
has prevailed !!!!IGNORANT LEKAMI DEDEB BANDA !!!!!
We have lost a human right Champion in the late Congressman Donald Payne. He was a true ally for our motherland people and the “Hayenas from TPLF” are “celebrating” with his death. His record speak a volume in his effort to work with the Ethiopian citizens.
Although Mr. Payen will be missed by all of us he had left a remarkable chapter in the history of Ethiopians in the struggle for democracy.
We will always remember the good man Donald Payne for his sincerity and great work. He fought for the poor and repressed, and destitute. Although it was much easier, he never wine and dined with blood drinker Meles Satanawi.
This man is in heaven now. Rest in Peace.
with the foul brain,
Congress mad Donald Payne was more than what you can imagine. His great work is not confined or limited to one place. He has done a great deal of work in the US and around the world. He also helped Africans from African tyrants who kill their own people such as Meles Satatanwi. Some one with great generosity has to go and help Ethiopia when its own TPLF persons turned into enemies.
He is not like you with narrowly formed brain with mental incapability.
His thoughts and ability is beyond your imagination.
You are trapped in TPLF ethnic hate and crime. Learn how civilized and intelligent people can go beyond their comfort zone from America to Africa. Yet you TPLF chimp is confined in hate and division in a small country that feeds you.
Well said friend.
The Professors we know dedicate their lives digging out the truth. On the contrary, this one wastes his life manufacturing lies and propagating them week in week out. I don’t mind him calling Meles a dictator because he made it plain that he hates his what Meles and the EPRDF stand for. I know hate is not enough evidence to call someone a dictator. But I will let him off on this one. But what is beyond excuse is his deliberate omission of Isayas from the list of African leaders he brands dictators. The other obvious omission is Mengistu. What is education for if it doesn’t let you see the reality on the ground?
Mr. Payne died achieving nothing. Newark was bad then and Newark is bad now. Maybe he was busy going after supposed African dictators minus Isayas,trying hard to teach them the fruits of democracy via the achievement of blacks in Newark. Mr Almariam is nothing but a publicity seeking bum. He has the alphabet soup infront of his name to give him cover to the rubbish he spews day in day out. Maybe in& his world succes is measured in terms of how Mr Payne changed Newark for the better and made it the envy of all other American cities. let his soul rest in peace, but he was a mediocre self serving inept man. Almariams role model.
Above all it is a shocking news for Eritrea highlanders (Hamassiens) and the boys of “Man of the year” (Editors of ER: Al, Elias and Yilma)
Gemech(Adgi Banda) you ‘re just laughing on yourself by posting such
garbages on this website .Of course your leba master is one of the worst Tyrant in the continent comitting Human Right Violations and Genocide
against the Ethiopian Peoples .Prof
Al never omitted to site the Eri Tyrant from the list of the African Tyrants .This is your own lucubration
of “Adgiforum.com” and Pig Ben stupid
propagandas .He never considered the
Junta Mengistu as better than your leba master .Your other childish lies in the hope to spread suspecion
on the True Ethiopians .SHABYAN ASS HOLE KERFAFA BANDA !!!!!
Almariam T’natun yistih. We are waiting for you to be the next person to be mourned. Next, TEDDY adgi and third, Mesfin B. the clown (by the way Yihe mesfin yemibal sew yemognoch dereja mideba qutir 1). Just read what he writes
….HUMAN RIGHTS CHAMPION ??? MY A..!!! …he used to loby for whoever or whatever cause that pays more.
I am not surprised to see the nincampoop opposition leaders pausin for a picture with their master. The difference between the present day bandas and that of the Italian is the language they use.The present day bandas like Alemayehu lace their poisons message with a sweet word of democracy. They don’t say we are using you to sit on power. These are the people who are dealing the ethiopian people sovereignity for minisicule benefits and are attempting to sell our freedom for the highest bidder.So i wouldn’t be surprised if they are mourning his death, because he was in their service and echoing their empty insinuation. Dear opposition whose office are you going to knock now. There is nothing like watching your every move and exposing you anti ethiopian nature. LAST, Inever thought the congressman as champion of democracy but a bitter person who was set to dictate his unrealistic ideas on the people of africa.If he realy cared about people he could have faced the question of economic disparity that is sending fifty percent of the able bodied blacks to prison.
Almariam aka alharem what happens to HR2003 now that Mr Payne is in haven?
Here we go again! The known funeral DJ is back in business. His thesis lacks some LIKSO dictums (poems).
Strickingly all the crazy guys like Birhanu Nega, AlMariam (aka Arr Maria) are all captured in the picture above. When is their turn to pass away so that we don’t hear their crazy cries for nothing?
Thanks but no thanks.Teddy Ahyawn inji dawlawn alfelgim.
It is sad he died but the dude is not smart. He could have wisely used his time in this world and in the US congress advocating for the miserable American blacks when one in ten of his black brothers live in US jails. But he rather chose to interfere in the affairs of poor African nations to perpetuate neocolonialism.I don’t get it if any black American politician advocate about anything other than his own misery at home.
Molatchaw Mogniu (Adgi Banda) wonder if you are really mentally normal person .The patriots around Mr
Payne shown on the pictures are the Patriotic True Ethiopians who never surrendered to your leba master ,never sell their soul and life for a power offered generously by your leba master in exchange to
spread lies and propagandas for his own sake .But on the contrary stand
with the Ethiopian Peoples denouncing
and fighting the crimes comitted by the TPLF bandits and the Tigre Mafiosis .Soon LIKSO ,MUSHO ,shall be
your daily entertainments once the TPLF bandits ,the Tigre Mafiosis and
kersam bandas shall eradicated .IGNORANT LEKAMI KERFEFE BANDA !!!!
I read the same article in Eritrean news media. This man, Al-mariam must be a paid banda working for Issayas Afeworki. The hell with him.
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