Letter to The Speaker

September 19th, 2006

Please copy the following, print, sign and fax to 202/225-0697

The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker,
U.S. House of Representatives
The Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I am writing to respectfully ask you to allow H.R. 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006) to proceed to the House floor for a vote. This bill was recently passed unanimously by the House International Relations Committee and is designed to promote human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.
I am distressed by recent information suggesting that H.R. 5680 has been delayed from a floor vote because of your opposition, or lack of support for it. I am deeply troubled by this development, if true.
As Chairman Chris Smith of the Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations Subcommittee and author of H.R. 5680 has accurately observed: “Freedom and human rights in Ethiopia have seriously deteriorated under Prime Minster Meles Zenawi” of Ethiopia. Chairman Smith has further found in his legislative investigations that “hundreds of elected officials, party activists, journalists and human rights defenders have been thrown into jail on trumped up charges. Violence against dissidents has increased significantly and yet there have been no credible accounts for the slaughter of protestors in the streets of Addis Ababa last year.”
H.R. 5680 is intended to help Ethiopia develop democratic institutions preserve and protect human rights. Specifically, the bill requires release of political prisoners in Ethiopia, facilitates the establishment and functioning of human rights, provides training civil society groups and government officials to effectively perform electoral activities, promotes the growth of an independent judiciary, protects freedom of the press, and enhances the collaboration of Ethiopia and the U.S. the global war on terror.
The bill also provides $20 million to help Ethiopia implement these requirements. It may be that opponents of the bill may have misrepresented its value to advance human rights and democracy in Ethiopia. I am not surprised by such distortions, but I ask that you to review the bill independently. I am confident that you will conclude that this bill will help Ethiopia achieve democracy and enable Ethiopians to enjoy basic human rights shared by all free peoples.
I have always believed that you are a great supporter of human rights and democracy throughout the world. Just this week, you pledged to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.R. 398) to a vote on the House floor before the end of September.
Would you also allow H.R. 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006) to come to the floor before the end of September as well?
I will call your office to follow up on this request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tel. #

Action Alert from HR 5680 Taskforce

September 18th, 2006

For Immediate Release

COALITION FOR H.R. 5680
http://www.hr5680.org
e-mail: passhr5680
@hr5680.org
Tel# 323-988-5688
Fax# 323-924-5563

September 18, 2006

CRITICAL UPDATE ON H.R. 5680

The Coalition for H.R. 5680 is providing the following resource to supporters of H.R. 5680.
The Coalition has learned that the Speaker’s office has received only hundreds of calls in the first few hours of Monday, September 18. Every one needs to call the Speaker’s office as many times as necessary to get the message across.

Contact Speaker Hastert at the following numbers:

Phone: 202-225-2976 or 202-225-0600
Fax: 202-225-0697

E-mail: speaker@mail.house.gov

When a call is made to the Speaker’s office, a receptionist will answer and ask the caller what message he/she wants to tell the Speaker:

The Coalition suggests use of the following statement as a message to the Speaker.

*** PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL, COURTEOUS AND APPRECIATIVE WHEN YOU CALL THE SPEAKER’S OFFICE.***

Read the following message to the receptionist:

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE COMPLETELY READ YOUR MESSAGE TO THE RECEPTIONIST BEFORE HANGING UP THE PHONE.

======================================================

Mr. Speaker: I am distressed by recent information suggesting that H.R. 5680 has been delayed from a floor vote because of your opposition, or lack of support for it. I am deeply troubled by this development.

Mr. Speaker: Even though I am not in your district, you are a leader of our nation. You are the third highest official of our national government, and so I appeal to you not as your constituent but as an American, an Ethiopian-American.

Mr. Speaker: As Chairman Chris Smith of the Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations Subcommittee, author of H.R.5680 and a republican and a global champion of human rights, has accurately observed: “Freedom and human rights in Ethiopia have seriously deteriorated under Prime Minster Meles Zenawi” of Ethiopia.

Mr. Speaker: Chairman Smith has found in his legislative investigations that “hundreds of elected officials, party activists, journalists and human rights defenders have been thrown into jail on trumped up charges. Violence against dissidents has increased significantly and yet there have been no credible accounts for the slaughter of protestors in the streets of Addis Ababa last year.”

Mr. Speaker: H.R. 5680 is intended to help Ethiopia develop democratic institutions preserve and protect human rights. Specifically, the bill requires release of political prisoners in Ethiopia, facilitates the establishment and functioning of human rights, provides training civil society groups and government officials to effectively perform electoral activities, promotes the growth of an independent judiciary, protects freedom of the press, and enhances the collaboration of Ethiopia and the U.S. the global war on terror. The bill also provides $20 million to help Ethiopia implement these requirements.

Mr. Speaker: If democracy rises in Ethiopia, America will benefit because a democratic Ethiopia can best defend against the evil forces of terrorism in the horn of Africa and the Middle East. If Ethiopians have their human rights and civil liberties respected, they will be the best defenders of American values in East Africa and the Middle East. That is all H.R. 5680 does.

Mr. Speaker: I would like for you to know that H.R. 5680 is not a bill that is intended to punish the Ethiopian government, or harm Ethiopia. Quite to the contrary.

Mr. Speaker: To be truthful, the Ethiopian government claims to be a democratic government, and its prime minister claims to be a champion of freedom and human rights. H.R. 5680 will help the Ethiopian government live out the true meaning of its public pronouncements and declarations.

Mr. Speaker: I am confident that you will conclude that this bill will help Ethiopia achieve democracy and enable Ethiopians to enjoy basic human rights shared by all free peoples.

Mr. Speaker: I have always believed that you are a great supporter of human rights and democracy throughout the world. Just last week, you pledged to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.R. 398) to a vote on the House floor before the end of September.

Mr. Speaker: Would you also allow H.R. 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006) to come to the floor before the end of September as well?

THANK YOU.

A Grand Public Demonstration

September 17th, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"The Dictator of Ethiopia"

Once hailed as one of Africa's new model leaders, Meles Zenawi's democratic credentials are under assault from growing ethnic and political rifts. Regardless of what the West does to sustain him in power, the people of Ethiopia are determined to overthrow him by peaceful means if they can or by force if they must. Since Meles Zenawi has committed democide as a result of his regime murdering citizens for political reasons, the Ethiopian Diaspora have organized themselves to confront the tyrant when he appears at their turf in the United States. Ethiopians who reside in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York will be coming to the United Nations in New York City on September 22nd to show their solidarity with the people of Ethiopia.
A Grand Public Demonstration
Against Dictator Meles Zenawi at the UN, NY
Date: Friday, September 22, 2006
Time: 10:00 A.M.
Place: Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
(2nd Ave, 47th Street, NYC)

In blatant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia has:
• Thwarted the democratic aspirations of the people of Ethiopia, who overwhelmingly rejected his 14 years of dictatorship on May 15, 2005.
• Ordered the brutal massacre of over 42 peaceful protesters on June 8, 2005 and 46 more on November 1, 2005 in Addis Abeba. He is also responsible for the December 2003 massacre of 424 Anuaks in Gambela.
• Holds over 40,000 political prisoners and has also jailed opposition party leaders, journalists, and human rights activists on trumped up charges.
• Continues to foment ethnic violence amongst Ethiopians.
• Continues to rob the country of its limited resources, and to use land, other means of production, and the media as tools of oppression.
Now in mockery of justice, he is coming to New York to address the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The massive May 8, 2005 demonstration in support of the opposition and the overwhelming turn out at the May 15, 2005 election are clear measures of the resolve of the people to continue their struggle for freedom and democracy.
COME AND SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA!
Sponsored By:
Supporters of Kinijit and Hibret and the Ethiopian community members in Metropolitan NY, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Latest update from The Coalition for H.R. 5680

September 16th, 2006

The Coalition for H.R. 5680 is informing all Ethiopians in the United States that H.R. 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act) is stuck in the U.S. House of Representatives. Intervention of the House Speaker is urgently needed to move the bill to the House floor for a final vote.

The House International Relations Committee passed the bill on June 27, 2006. The bill has shown no movement in the House since that Committee took action.

Professor Alemayehu Gebre Mariam, who has written extensively on H.R. 5680, was asked to comment on this development for this press release. He stated: “I am not surprised. I guess Dick Armey (the Ethiopian Government lobbyist at DLA Piper), has earned his fee. Dick was the former Republican majority leader, and the right hand man of Speaker Hastert. I can imagine that he whispered in the Speaker’s ear that H.R.5680 would hurt U.S. anti-terrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa, Mr. Zenawi is really a good guy, and all of the other bogus reasons I have identified in my previous writings.”

The Coalition believes the bill has been delayed form reaching the House floor either because of Speaker’s Hastert’s opposition, or active lack of support for it.

Asked whether H.R.5680 was dead in the House for this year, Prof. Alemayehu stated: “Not by a long shot. We can still make it happen, but now we have to present our case to Speaker Hastert. I urge all Ethiopian Americans in the United States who support H.R. 5680 to contact the Speaker’s office by telephone, fax, email, or in person if possible and make the case to the Speaker that H.R. 5680 is about human rights and democracy and getting political prisoners released. Every one needs to call the Speaker’s office as many times as necessary to get the message across. I make a special plea to Ethiopians who live in Illinois, and those in the 14th congressional district in Illinois (Hastert’s district), to contact Speaker Hastert’s office and make the case for H.R. 5680. Realistically have less than four weeks to move this bill. It is now or never.”

Because of the time pressures created by the midterm elections, the Coalition urges H.R. 5680 supporters throughout the United States to contact their individual members of Congress, Republican and Democrats, immediately and without delay, and respectfully ask them to send letters and make calls to Speaker Hastert so that he will allow H.R. 5680 to come to the House floor for a vote.

Requests to Speaker Hastert to allow H.R. 5680 to proceed to the floor for a vote should be made immediately and without delay.

Sample letter/email to Speaker Hastert is posted at the Coalition’s website at:

http://www.hr5680.org

Speaker Dennis Hastert’s office may be contacted at the following addresses:

Representative J. Dennis Hastert
Republican -
ILLINOIS, 14TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Chief of Staff: Scott Palmer scott.palmer@mail.house.gov

Scheduler: Helen Morrell

Legislative Director: Anthony Reed anthony.reed@mail.house.gov

Press Secretary: Ron Bonjean Ron.Bonjean@mail.house.gov

District of Columbia (Congress) Office
Email:dhastert@mail.house.gov
Speaker Dennis Hastert
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-2976
Fax: 202-225-0697

Coalition for HR5680 launches website

September 13th, 2006

Coalition for H.R. 5680 Launches Website
September 13, 2006

The Coalition for H.R. 5680 launched its website today to help support passage of “Ethiopia Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights Accountability Act of 2006 (H.R. 5680).” The web address is: http://www.HR5680.org

H.R. 5680 is a comprehensive bill which aims to help Ethiopia build strong democratic institutions, processes and practices, facilitate release of political prisoners, insure respect for enjoy human rights and civil liberties, professionalize and modernize the Ethiopian judicial system and promote the rule of law, and strengthen the anti-terrorism partnership between Ethiopia and the U.S.

The bill provides USD $20 million over two years to cover costs associated with its implementation.

http://www.HR5680.org provides ready access to information, analysis, sample advocacy materials and other information for individuals and groups interested in supporting passage of H.R.5680.

Coalition membership information and other inquiries may be directed to passhr5680 @hr5680.org