Act Now to Stop U.S. Support for Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia – Coalition for HR 2003
Now is a critical time: there is a window of opportunity during which the United States government can help avert human catastrophe. So far the Bush Administration has only turned a blind eye. Will Congress do the same?
The lack of democracy in Ethiopia has become terribly clear in the wake of the 2005 elections. The ruling coalition (EPRDF), led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, instituted a violent crackdown when peaceful demonstrations began in protest of alleged electoral fraud. Gross abuses of civil and human rights ensued, and continue to this day. (Read more on these abuses.)
Recently, Ethiopian military forces have been involved in a conflict with neighboring Somalia, in what has been widely described as a proxy war – with Ethiopia acting on behalf of the U.S. Human Rights observer groups have condemned the Ethiopian military as responsible for war crimes and gross violations of human rights. Given the border disputes and historical animosity between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Ethiopian intervention in Somalia threatens to destabilize the region and embroil in a wider conflict the entire horn of Africa. (Read more on the Ethiopia – Somalia conflict and regional destabilization.)
Compounding this volatile and deteriorating situation is the reported withholding by the Ethiopian government of food aid and other basic humanitarian assistance from the civilian populace in the Ogaden region (which lies along the Somalia border). Human rights observer groups have been denied entry into the Ogaden, and now claim that humanitarian crisis is a serious potential; a claim echoed by the UN.
The United States government can help avert this human catastrophe. The U.S. has been and continues to be the largest bilateral donor of foreign aid to Ethiopia, including large FMF and IMET defense financing. H.R. 2003, The Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007, was introduced this year in the House of Representatives to ensure that future U.S. military aid to Ethiopia is contingent upon Ethiopia’s further democratization, accountability for human rights abusers, and justice for the wronged. (Exceptions are made for peacekeeping and counter-terrorism assistance.)