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Ethiopia: Washington Update

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05/23/12

  12:40:44 am, by admin, 853 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Washington Update

Ethiopia: Washington Update

Ethiopia: Washington Update

By Mesfin Mekonen

We have had recent discussions here in Washington with senior State Department officials with knowledge of the current situation in Ethiopia. At the urging of many members of the Ethiopian-American community we discussed with them the rationale behind the invitation offered to Meles Zenawi to come to the United States during the G-8 Summit at Camp David in Maryland and the World Trade Center (Reagan building) in Washington.

We were told that Meles Zenawi came as the designee of the African Union to speak for Africa on the food crisis in particular and economic development in general.

The State Department did not see this meeting as one involving human rights issues. As such the record of the dictator of Ethiopia was not discussed.

As we know the human rights story in Ethiopia is not a good one and its economic story for the general population is also not a good one, we are left questioning what he was really here for.

The food question in Ethiopia is a human rights questions as agriculture needs land and all the land is controlled by the regime. No attempt to improve conditions without a land reform that empowers the average Ethiopian farmer will succeed.

Regarding the Human Rights problems in Ethiopia we met with Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa. Congressman Smith is a longtime friend of Ethiopia and in his position has historically been very skeptical about the statements emanating from the regime on this topic. Please see his comments below.

Presence of Ethiopia Contradicts Goal of G-8 Talks by Rep. Christopher H. Smith
Washington, DC — Friday the G-8 leaders will begin a summit at Camp David, MD, with discussions focusing on the global economic recovery and food security in the developing world, with President Obama having invited the leaders of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania to discuss food security, but the presence of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is causing growing concern because of the land grab issue in his country and unaddressedhuman rights abuses there.
“Several years ago, I introduced legislation to sanction the Ethiopian government for the killing of peaceful protesters in 2005 and its broader violations ofhuman rights,” said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. “Not only do human rights violations continue in Ethiopia, but the government has now added the element of displacing their own people in favor of foreign interests farming Ethiopian land instead of their own citizens. Having Ethiopia at the table to discuss food security is counter-productive based on their land policies.
“The only way the inclusion of Ethiopia at the G-8 summit makes sense is if this forum provides an occasion to have a serious discussion with Meles about his unacceptable treatment of Ethiopian citizens, including policies that have made more of his people’s food insecure,” Smith said.
According to recent human rights reports, the Ethiopian government is forcibly relocating 70,000 people from the Gambella region in the southwestern part of the country to make land available for foreign investment in agriculture. Those displaced Ethiopians now face a lack of food, new farmland or available health and education services for their families. An estimated 5,000 Anuak people has been forced to flee to Kenya and 8,000 Anuak are now refugees in South Sudan.
Previous State Department human rights reports have consistently cited Ethiopia for such human rights violations as unlawful killings, torture and other abuse of detainees, arbitrary arrest and detention, illegal searches and the use of excessive force by security services in counterinsurgency operations. The new State Department human rights report will be released shortly and is not expected to indicate a reduction of human rights violations in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Federal High Court on January 19, 2012, convicted three Ethiopian journalists, an opposition leader, and a fifth person under an anti-terrorism law that one human rights organization claims violates free expression and due process rights. The ruling comes one month after two Swedish journalists were sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of “rendering support to terrorism,” based on their having illegally entered Ethiopia to investigate and report on abuses in the country’s Ogaden area.
You can contact Rep. Christopher H. Smith with the following addresses.
2373 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
p 202-225-3765
f 202-225-7768
Web Site: http://chrissmith.house.gov/

Representative Smith will be speaking at the National Press Club next month; stay tuned for more information.

Recently there have been several Ethiopian-American demonstations against the visit of Meles. One was Friday May 18th in front of the Reagan building in Washington, DC. Another was up near Camp David where the meetings of President Obama with the G-8 leaders took place. It was covered by CBS local affiliate Channel 9. Let’s thank those who shared their opinions on the regime in Ethiopia with the world leaders.

A new report by the All Ethiopian Unity Party has documented the current tragedies in human rights in Ethiopia perpetrated by the regime. The opposition’s leaders and supporters are being harassed and even killed by the regime. According to the report significant intimidation continues.

Mesfin Mekonen

6 comments

Comment from: kul [Visitor]
kul

@Mesfin Mekonen

Your so called Washington Update always makes me laugh. Everytime you come up with your update you tell us nothing new. If I were you, I wouldn’t call this an update. In a 24/7 media world, your update that comes every now and then is irrelevant.

05/23/12 @ 10:51
Comment from: Loongalee [Visitor]
Loongalee

Mesfin Mekonen,

You are nothing but a trumpet with no substance but only cry for power. You could be a descendant of the royal family that claimed to be from the tribe of Judea or a member of the EPRP that was kicked out by Derg and Maeson. Now you are using race to return to power. Since when your family stood for Gambella, Sidama, Dorzee, Kambata, Wolayita, Oromo and others. You may have been educated by 5.5 billion dollars that Haile Sellassie has been accused for stealling and keeping in Europe. You have been calling these people slaves and sold legally to the Arabs for centuries. Now you are calling their names to return to power. Meles or without Meles you will never come back.

There are poblems in Ethiopia but not the ones you are talking about. There are problems in Greece, US and other countries. Why don’t you go home and fight the problems instead of barking here?

05/23/12 @ 16:55
Comment from: germognal [Visitor]
germognal

Mr. Mesfin Mekonnen!

I also agree with the previous comments. After you became Mr. Hailu Shawel’s spokesperson, you have lost your effectiveness.

Everytime, you come up with the so-called “Washington Update,” you are not really saying anything new. In other words, for the past several years, you have accomplished absolutely NOTHING! I am tired of that!

05/23/12 @ 23:20
Comment from: teshome [Visitor]
teshome

Idiot

05/24/12 @ 05:19
Comment from: Samuel Tefera [Visitor]
Samuel Tefera

I don’t know why Nazret gives Mesfin Mekonen such a forum. He just needs attention and has no substance at all. My office is three blocks from where he works. He is the last person among Ethiopians I want to hear from. He has no creditial to claim that he met this person from the State Department or Congress. He wants to impress people who don’t know him.
Since I know him very well, he always makes me sick to my stomach when he brags. Can anybody advise him to GET LOST.

Thanks

05/24/12 @ 08:30
Comment from: john john [Visitor]
john john

There is nothing left for DC chef over cooked old out dated idea you better dope this junk out of you trunk.

05/25/12 @ 01:08

rebtel

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