Week In Review: Official Kinijit Delegation In The U.S. – The Ad Hoc Committee
Over the past week, Kinijit Leadership Delegation to North America has been working tirelessly. (more…)
Over the past week, Kinijit Leadership Delegation to North America has been working tirelessly.
Ad Hoc Coordinating Committee for
Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD)
Leadership Delegation Visit to the United States
For Immediate Release
September 27, 2007
|On September 26, 2007, official Kinijit Delegation members attended the House Foreign Affairs Committee mark-up of H.R. 2003. Eng. Gizachew Shiferra, Dr. Hailu Araya and Ato Brook Kebede met with a number of Congressional leaders including H.R. 2003 author Donald Payne, Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman Tom Lantos and others after the bill was unanimously passed by the committee and sent to the floor. The Delegation members expressed their deepest gratitude to the lawmakers for their support of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. The lawmakers expressed their appreciation to the delegates for their sacrifices and contributions to the cause of democracy in Ethiopia.||
Courtesy of Tamagne Beyene
The presence of the former political prisoners accentuated the Committee’s awareness for expedited legislative action to help improve the human rights situation in Ethiopia.
On September 25, the Delegation met with Cong. Michael Honda, Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Ethiopia. They discussed various current issues dealing with the political and economic situation in Ethiopia.
Courtesy of Tamagne Beyene
On September 23, 2007, the Delegation met with members of the Boston support group and discussed various matters of mutual interest. The Delegation later visited the widows of CUD activists in Boston who died in a car accident following a CUD event one day after Delegation members were released from prison.
During their stay in Boston, Delegation members met with a number of state and local leaders including the Governor of Massachusetts, the Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly and a number of other members of the Assembly. The Delegation thanked the lawmakers for passing a resolution in the Massachusetts legislature earlier in the year urging their release from prison and for supporting human rights in Ethiopia. The Delegation also met with the District Director of Congressman Michael E. Capuano.
On September 23, 2007, two members of the Delegation traveled to Rochester, N.Y. to meet with support group members.
On September 22, 2007, two members of the Delegation issued a statement denying unfounded allegations concerning their lack of support for H.R. 2003. A report in the Hill newspaper misquoted two Delegation members and their support of H.R. 2003. Dr. Hailu Araya and Ato Gizachew Shiferraw had given the bill their full support at the March for Democracy on September 12. An email letter was sent to Hill reporter to make the correction.
On September 22, 2007, the Delegation traveled to Boston and was received by an enthusiastic crowd. The Delegation later attended a very successful fundraising dinner. Wzt. Bertukan, head of the official Delegation, appealed to Ato Hailu Shawel to join the Delegation and lead its U.S. tour.
On September 20, 2007, the Delegation visited Senator Russ Feingold’s (Chairman, African Subcommittee) office for a scheduled visit. Due to last minute changes, Sen. Fiengold was unavailable. The Delegation met with top staffers and discussed various matters relevant to Ethiopia. The Delegation expects to meet with Sen. Feingold in the foreseeable future.
On September 19, 2007, Delegation members met with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) at a breakfast session. Delegation members expressed their deepest appreciation and gratitude to legislators and to the American people for their support during their prolonged detention, and for working to secure their release. Delegation members stressed their commitment to democratic values, the rule of law and human rights in Ethiopia. The meeting with the Senators was warm and informal.
On the same day, the Delegation also met with Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in his office. Senator Leahy has been a strong supporter of human rights in Ethiopia. On August 5, 2007, Senator Leahy issued a Statement concerning the release of Kinijit political prisoners:
“I am pleased that Prime Minister Meles heeded the pleas of the Ethiopian people and the international community and released these prisoners. The fact is, none of them should have been arrested or tried in the first place. Their release was long overdue and is welcome… I hope the [Ethiopian] government acts expeditiously to release the remaining political detainees, and bring to justice police officers who used excessive force. I also hope the negotiations that resulted in the prisoners’ release will lead to further discussions between the government and the leaders of the opposition, to ensure that their political rights are fully restored and that future elections are not similarly marred.”
Senator Leahy has previously stated that, “The Senate Appropriations Committee is seeking assurance from the U.S. State Department that military assistance for Ethiopia is being adequately monitored and is not being used against civilians by units of Ethiopia’s security forces.”
The Delegation expressed its deepest gratitude to the Senator for his courageous and principled action in support of their innocence and in demanding their release and the release of all other political prisoners. The discussions with the Delegation were very productive.
The Delegation spent much of the morning dialoguing with top staffers from various senatorial offices including the ones mentioned above, Senator Sam Brownback and others. Extensive discussions were conducted on issues affecting Ethiopia, including human rights violations, poverty, terrorism, regional stability, and the democratization process.
The Delegation expects to meet and confer with a number of Senators and members of Congress during its stay in the U.S. Arrangements are underway for meetings with State Department officials.
Ato Negussie Nega coordinated the senatorial meetings with various members of the Coalition for H.R. 2003 in the Washington metro area and elsewhere.