CRITICAL UPDATE ON H.R. 5680
For Immediate Release
COALITION FOR H.R. 5680
September 18, 2006
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
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?