The Ad Hoc Committee Speaks Out – The Ad Hoc Committee
Over the past week, we have become aware of statements in the media concerning the role of the Ad Hoc Committee in the coordination of the Kinijit Delegation’s activities in the U.S., and matters related to the arrival of Eng. Hailu Shawel. (more…)
Over the past week, we have become aware of statements in the media concerning the role of the Ad Hoc Committee in the coordination of the Kinijit Delegation’s activities in the U.S., and matters related to the arrival of Eng. Hailu Shawel.
Ad Hoc Coordinating Committee for
Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD)
Leadership Delegation Visit to the United States
For Immediate Release
September 21, 2007
This Clarification is intended to remove confusion regarding the role and activities of the Committee over the past few weeks when it began its coordinative role.
It should be noted that the Committee issues this Clarification reluctantly amidst the apparently charged environment surrounding the arrival of the Kinijit leaders in the U.S.
Initially, we decided to forbear from making any public statements in response to certain allegations made about our role and activities in the coordination of the Delegation’s visit in the U.S. However, it appears that repetition of these allegations over the past several days in the media has caused public concern and confusion, requiring clarification from our side.
Our decision to issue this clarification was not made lightly, but rather with a heavy heart and much soul searching. We took many factors into consideration in deciding whether to respond to these allegations: 1) the utility of issuing the clarification against the possibility of aggravating any misunderstandings that may currently exist between the various parties concerned with the Delegation’s U.S. visit, 2) the potential for public distraction from the paramount issues of democracy, freedom and human rights in Ethiopia to other less important issues, 3) the possibility that any statement we make could deepen public cynicism and confusion about organizational and/or personal matters, 4) the likelihood that our statement could exacerbate the apparent acrimony and confusion among the various parties in the media, 5) the possibility of aggravating and adversely impacting ongoing organizational process in the U.S. and elsewhere, 6) the potential for any statement we make in creating a counter-productive credibility contest between ourselves and others, 7) the potential for our statement to preempt or foreclose any future reconciliation efforts, 8) the potential for adding or detracting value to organizational cohesion or fragmentation, 9) the potential for the public to misread and misconstrue our intent in making any statements on the allegations, and 10) the potential propaganda windfall that may accrue to the enemies of democracy and human rights.
In the end, we decided to issue this strictly factual statement having concluded that any harm that may flow from its issuance is outweighed by the public’s interest in ascertaining the truth by hearing both sides of the story. We also felt obliged that we must practice the very principle of accountability that we counsel others to follow; and in this regard, we appreciate the role of the Diaspora Ethiopian media in demanding such accountability from us.
Our statement below is strictly factual and chronological. It is intended to document specific events and actions. It is not intended to impute untoward motive or bad faith to anyone; and our sole concern is factual clarification. We trust the reader will find sufficient factual details below to come to an independent conclusion about our role and activities as it relates to the Delegation’s visit and activities in the U.S.
Chronology of Events
In the first press release we issued on August 17, 2007, we announced the arrival of the Kinijit Delegation, which included Ato Hailu Shawul, Chairman of CUD, W/T Birtukan Midekssa, Vice Chair, Dr. Berhanu Nega, Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect and members Dr. Hailu Araya (Spokesperson), Ato Brook Kebede and Ato Gizachew Shiferaw. We indicated that the Delegation is expected to arrive on August 29, 2007.
In the second press release we issued on August 24, 2007, we announced the occurrence of unexpected visa problems at the U.S. Embassy, and indicated the possibility of postponement of the August 29 arrival date. In that press release, we announced the Leadership Delegation traveling to the U.S. will include Ato Hailu Shawul, Chairman of CUD, W/T Birtukan Midekssa, Vice Chair, Dr. Berhanu Nega, Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect and members Dr. Hailu Araya (Spokesperson), Ato Brook Kebede and Ato Gizachew Shiferaw.
In the third press release we issued on September 5, 2007, we announced that the Kinijit Delegation is expected to arrive in the U.S. on September 9, 2007. We indicated that the Delegation will include Kinijit Vice Chair Birtukan Midekssa, Dr. Hailu Araya (Spokesperson), Ato Brook Kebede and Ato Gizachew Shiferaw. We further indicated that Dr. Birhanu Nega, Mayor-elect of Addis Ababa, was already in the United States having left Ethiopia earlier on personal matter.
In the September 5 press release, we specifically stated “Kinijit Chairman Ato Hailu Shawul is not expected to arrive with the delegation. He has not received an entry visa from the U.S. Embassy as of the date of this press release. The Committee is informed and believes that even if Ato Hailu were to receive his visa at the present time, he will be unable to join the Delegation on a U.S. tour due to ongoing health care needs.” We further stated that “The Delegation is hopeful that Ato Hailu will regain his health speedily and join them on the tour.”
The Delegation listed in the September 5 press release arrived in the U.S. as scheduled on September 9, 2007.
In an email written in Amharic script and dated Qagme 3, 1999 (Sept. 8, and carbon copied to Kinijit Support Committees in Washington and Toronto), Eng. Hailu informed us that the Delegation’s travels to the U.S. have raised some questions, and that due to poor health and delayed visa processing he had initially decided against coming to the U.S. However, because of strong request by supporters, he had decided to be present among the Ethiopian public and contribute to the resolution of disputes and misunderstandings. He further stated that he will be arriving in the U.S. on the afternoon of Re-bue (Wednesday), Meskerem 1, 2000, and will receive medical care. He indicated that on Arb (Friday) Meskerem 3, 2003, he will arrive in Washington, D.C. and be ready to participate in the program scheduled the following day, Saturday. He asked us to let him know if his plans were acceptable to us.
On September 10, 2007, we replied to Eng. Hailu acknowledging his Qagme 3, 1999 email message, stating: “ …. In our last press release, we have informed the public of your health situation and the delay in processing your visa at the U.S. Embassy. We were all glad to hear that your visa was granted even though it was late. We are even more glad that you have decided to come and lead the delegation as originally planned despite the fact that your health situation still needs immediate attention…
“We are very pleased and excited, as are the vast majority of Ethiopians in the U.S., by the news of your arrival very shortly. We will do our very best to expedite the planning for your arrival.
“What would be most helpful to our efforts is channeling of your directions and instructions through the delegation. This would be helpful to us in achieving better coordination with the various support groups and individuals as well as in the execution of plans that have been underway do date. We respectfully ask that you communicate your wishes and desires to the delegation so that we can get specific guidance on the kinds of things you would like to get done before and after your arrival. Once you communicate your instructions to the delegation, we will do our best to help accomplish them.”
On September 10, 2007, Eng. Hailu replied acknowledging our earlier email communication to him, in Amharic script, stating that he is interested in participating in activities promoting the work of Kinijit. He asked us to send him post haste the schedule of activities so that he will be able to ascertain his participation.
On September 11, 2007, we replied to Eng. Hailu stating that “in the itinerary plan we drafted and presented for review by the Delegation, there are no roles and activities defined for each delegate member. The plan is based on the principle that the Committee will help organize the venue for the events, but the order of presentations and activities at the various sites will be determined by the Delegation itself after consultation between members…. How these activities will be handled is entirely up to the Delegation, and we play no part in the deliberations.”
We further stated that “We have forwarded your request in the last email to the Delegation for consideration and response to you directly.” We further drew attention to the delicate situation of the Ad Hoc body: “We hope you will appreciate our situation as members of an Ad Hoc body, with limited scope of activities, particularly following the arrival of the Delegation. We will continue to provide help and assistance to the Delegation as requested. We will make suggestions and recommendation. However, it is up to the Delegation to consider our proposals and determine whether it fits its overall agenda.”
In an email dated Qagme 6, 1999, (Sept. 11) scripted in Amharic, Eng. Hailu acknowledged receipt of our email and informed us that he will be arriving on September 15 at 4:30 p.m., and that his own planned activities included: Saturday, private discussions; Sunday, discussion with support groups, and Monday, private program.
On September 13, 2005, Ad Hoc Committee member Ato Tamagne traveled to Germany on a prior commitment, and returned to Washington on September 16.
On September 13, 2007, Prof. Al Mariam returned to his home state, having stayed in DC for a week, and proceeded to meet his prior engagement by participating in the Seattle Millennium Celebrations on September 16.
On September 15, 2005, Eng. Hailu arrived in Washington.
On September 15, 2007, Dr. Solomon Alemu, who lives in the DC metro area, was present at Reagan Airport to receive Eng. Hailu.
Regarding communication with Eng. Hailu, between August 8 and 11, 2007, Ad Hoc committee members have directly communicated with him and have followed his original instructions that we try to include any and all contending factions and others in planning for the Delegation’s arrival. The Ad Hoc Committee did in fact go to great lengths to involve individuals and groups from diverse perspectives as urged by Eng. Hailu.
In the press release issued on September 5, 2007, the Ad Hoc Committee stated that it “has been working closely with Kinijit support groups that have been willing to cooperate with it on the basis of the Leadership’s authorizing directive. The Committee encourages and welcomes the participation of all support groups and their members in ensuring a successful itinerary for the Leaders. The Ad Hoc Coordinating Committee is grateful to the support groups and their members for providing financial and planning support the Delegation’s visit. Support group members who wish to resume their cooperation with the Coordinating Committee are cordially invited to do so.”
In the three weeks preceding the arrival of the Delegation, the Ad Hoc Committee spoke with Eng. Hailu once, at length, and twice briefly. Subsequent repeated efforts to contact him by telephone proved unsuccessful, and repeated phone calls to his residence yielded information that he was unavailable because of medical or other reasons. As mentioned earlier, there were several email communications between the Committee and Eng. Hailu.
It should be noted here that the role of the Ad Hoc Committee members is strictly one of general coordination of the support groups so that they can work more effectively with the Delegation. Indeed, the Ad Hoc committee has spent countless hours interacting with the support groups for this purpose. However, it appears that some in the general public may have had the misimpression that the Ad Hoc Committee is a “road manager” for the Delegation. That view is wholly inaccurate. To be sure, it is the support groups that made it possible for the Delegation to visit the U.S. by making substantial commitment of money, time and energy. They are entirely responsible for the implementation of the Delegation’s itinerary. They deserve all of the credit.
It further appears that there may be some unease about the unavailability of two of the Committee members during the weekend of September 15. It is important for all to understand that Committee members have other professional and social commitments for which they must give proper attention. Their commitment in time, energy and expenditure of personal resources to their responsibilities in the Committee should be viewed in this context.
There are no plans, nor have there ever been any plans, for the Ad Hoc Committee members to chaperon the Delegation from state to state.
Ad Hoc committee members have defrayed all costs related to their service on the Committee out of their own pockets, and have received no monetary or other compensation or financial support from any other person, entity or organization.
Ad Hoc Committee members are individuals who are not members of any Ethiopian political party or organization. Their participation in the Committee is by special request of the parties, and their desire to serve is motivated by the singular and sincere desire to promote democracy, freedom and human rights in Ethiopia.
Ad Hoc Committee members do not take any side in their present service on the Committee.
Ad Hoc Committee members take no offense from any statements made by anyone over the subject matter herein.
Ad Hoc Committee members are ready to publicly apologize to any one who may have been offended in the manner the Committee has discharged its duties.
Ad Hoc Committee members stand ready to assist all Kinijit leaders to the best of their ability.
Ad Hoc committee members shall try to make this statement available in Amharic with the help of volunteer translators.
Ad Hoc Committee members thank all individuals and organizations that have contributed so much to make the Kinijit Leaders’ tour in the U.S. a success.
This will be the first and last statement in writing or otherwise from the Ad Committee members on the subject matter herein.
Prof. Al Mariam
Ato Tamagne Beyene
Dr. Solomon Alemu