Ethiopian in DC Demand the Cancellation of Dictatorial Regime’s Event at Howard University
President Sidney A. Ribeau
2400 Sixth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20059-3402
Re: Cancel the Ethiopian Dictatorial Regime’s Event Planned to be Held at Cramton Auditorium on April 9, 2011
Dear President Sidney A. Ribeau:
It came to our attention that Howard University is going to the provide its Cramton Auditorium facilities to an Ethiopian repressive regime, which will be having a conference on its five year economic plan which claims to “transform” the country’s economy. It is not uncommon for totalitarian regimes to declare grandiose plans, as was done for example by Mao Zedong through his “The Great Leap Forward” that resulted in the deaths of over 50 million Chinese and caused massive environmental damage, or the Soviet Union’s periodic 5-year plans under various leaders, including Stalin and Brezhnev.
President Sidney A. Ribeau
Ethiopian-American Community and human rights activists are stunned that Howard University is willing to give its space to the dictator’s Embassy. Providing space to a regime known for brutality, mass violence, torture, use of rape as a weapon of counterinsurgency, and killings of innocent civilians as a method to undermine the movement for freedom and democracy and gross human rights violations is very embarrassing, not in line with the strong standing and reputation of this great institution of higher learning, and an affront to all people, especially those of African origin. It also makes Howard University—which is known as a living symbol of the determination of a people of African descent to free themselves of oppression and enjoy the fruits of life, liberty, happiness, and prosperity as responsible citizens in an equal society—appear to be a tacit supporter of social injustice and human rights abuses in Africa.
Another to-date highly reputed academic institution, the London School of Economics (LSE) in London, U.K., is currently suffering a series damage to its name because of the way that it accommodated the close family members of another repressive totalitarian of the African continent, Col. Muhammar Ghaddafi. Inspired by the freedom-seeking African citizens of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and elsewhere, many Ethiopians within Ethiopia are planning to rise up to reclaim democracy, rule of law, and human dignity. Particularly in light of this, and the reputational damage LSE recently suffered, we feel it is both highly surprising and very much the wrong thing to do for a university with the history of Howard’s to be inviting the dictatorship’s delegation to come to use Howard’s halls to disseminate their propaganda.
Providing a forum and space for the delegates of a violent dictator who suppresses his own people with an iron fist is incredibly inappropriate, and hurts the reputation of Howard University. Therefore, we strongly urge you to cancel the Ethiopian Embassy event on April 9, 2011 that is to be held at Cramton Auditorium. We would be very happy to meet with you and explain our concerns further, and we can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-656-8070 .
Ethiopian Community in Washington, D.C.