Dagnea Teshome – AN OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR JIM INHOFE
Dagnea Teshome / October 23, 2007
As a fellow Christian who cite the Bible as the source of my stance on various political issues such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, I would like to congratulate you on your leadership and sponsorship of The Religious Freedom Act (SB 178). (more…)
Dagnea Teshome / October 23, 2007
As a fellow Christian who cite the Bible as the source of my stance on various political issues such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, I would like to congratulate you on your leadership and sponsorship of The Religious Freedom Act (SB 178).
Dear Senator Inhofe:
As a fellow Christian who cite the Bible as the source of my stance on various political issues such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, I would like to congratulate you on your leadership and sponsorship of The Religious Freedom Act (SB 178). It is reassuring to witness that the voices of Bible believing Christians are being heard and that we too have a place at the table of democracy.
It is because I want the voices of Bible Believing Christians to continue to be heard that I am sending this letter to you. As an Ethiopian American, I pray daily, and yearn for the time when democracy reigns in my birth land and that my people are no longer repressed by ruthless dictators. That was why I was ecstatic when Congress passed H.R. 2003: Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 unanimously. In the words of many Ethiopian human rights activists, it was Ethiopia’s finest day in the US Congress.
Unfortunately, my joy was short-lived; it was with the utmost disbelief and sorrow that I listened to the impassioned statement you made on the Senate floor arguing against H.R. 2003 on October 18, 2007. You described the bill as one “focusing only on shortcomings while blatantly ignoring the unprecedented progress the country has made”. You also asserted that Ethiopia “continue(s) to be a close friend of the United States and a strong ally in the War on Terror in the Horn of Africa.”
With all due respect, Senator, how can a government that is terrorizing its own citizens be a “strong allay” in the War on Terror? It is a disgrace for the United States of America to be characterized as an ally of the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi which is responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, beatings and imprisonment of thousands of opposition supporters.
Senator, contrary to your claim of “unprecedented progress the country has made,” the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report for 2006 has concluded the following:
The [Ethiopian] government’s human rights record remained poor in many areas. Human rights abuses reported during the year included the following: unlawful killings; beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of those suspected of sympathizing with or being members of the opposition; detention of thousands without charge and lengthy pretrial detention;infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of the press; arrest, detention, and harassment of journalists for publishing articles critical of the government; restrictions on freedom of assembly and of association; violence and societal discrimination against women and abuse of children; female genital mutilation; exploitation of children for economic and sexual purposes; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities and against religious and ethnic minorities; and government interference in union activities.
In addition to the U.S. State Department Human Rights, other international human rights organizations including, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights, etc. have made similar conclusions.
In your statement against H.R. 2003, you argued that “…I will only say, then, this is a success story we have had. I can’t think of anything worse for the surrounding states, and I would say all other 51 countries in Africa, than if we were to punish the very country that is being friendly to us, is helping us, fighting with us side by side, sending 100,000 troops with American troops down to Somalia and working on our side.” Senator Inhofe, I can assure you that the U.S. government can find a dozen rogue heads of states that will gladly “make available” hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight along American troops, for a price – military and other financial assistance and staying in power as an “ally” of a super power, without impunity. The government of Mr. Zenawi is an ally of the U.S. dollar ($), not an ally in the War on Terror.
Senator Inhofe, the Ethiopian people are, and continue to be, the natural ally of the United States. Even here in the U.S.A. where there is only a small immigrant community, hundreds of 1st generation Ethiopian-Americans have voluntarily joined the U.S. armed forces and are serving in Iraq and other danger spots around the world fighting against terrorists. It will be atrocious on the part of the U.S. government to use our tax dollars to help Mr. Zenawi perpetrate acts of brutal repression against our families in Ethiopia.
Senator, in your statement you stated the following:
“ … so often we use America as a standard by which to measure democracy in other countries… People say they are not reaching the goals we want them to reach…” You went on to say, “Why would they? It took this country several years to come up with a democracy. Why should they be able to do it?”
Senator, why not? Thanks to America, we do not have to “reinvent the wheel!” America has long been the symbol of hope and freedom, an inspiration to many nations and nationalities. Indeed, many a nations have used America’s magnificent model of Representative Democracy and transformed their nations bringing about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to multitudes. Surely, you are not suggesting that there are two standards for the application of democracy; one for Western World and another for Africa?
As a follower of Christ, I believe strongly that liberty, justice, equality and Democracy are the birth rights of every human being regardless of race or nationality. It is a God ordained “state of existence” for Ethiopians as well as Americans. With all due respect, Senator, the founding fathers of this great nation did not make an “appointment” with democracy and wait for the prescribed moment to come. They decided that “now” is soon enough.
Senator, H.R. 2003 is simple and straightforward. It intends to encourage and facilitate the consolidation of peace and security, respect for human rights, democracy, and economic freedom in Ethiopia. It does not in any way threaten U.S national security interests – all of its objectives are in harmony with U.S. long-term interest. And most of all, it is the right thing to do.
As a fellow born-again Christian, I beseech you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; please don’t be a stumbling block by standing against freedom to millions of children such as your adopted granddaughter, Zigita, for mere Political expediency. Please, do not elect the utilitarian route and vote against H.R. 2003 in order to appease the government of Mr. Zenawi and draw short-term “advantages”. Destroying the hope of 70 million Ethiopians languishing under Mr. Zenawi’s repressive regime is not only callus, it is pure evil. Such blatant compromise of the truth is immoral and ungodly, an abomination.
Ethiopia, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, have had a glorious past mired by a poignant present and ostensibly bleak future, however, as the psalmist said in Psalm 68 Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God, and the God of heaven and earth, whose throne is founded on two strong pillars – righteousness and justice (Psalms89), will answer my people’s petition!
Senator Inhofe, you are in a unique position to be used by the Spirit of God in a mighty way; In Isaiah 61, the prophet unequivocally declares that the presence of God urges and enables us (the Christ in us) to certain course of actions to accomplish God’s purpose in the world:
1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those who are] bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,”
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.”
Senator, I ask you to reconsider your position and stand alongside the 70 million Ethiopians that have been languishing under oppression for 17 years under the communist regime and now another 17 years under a U.S backed regime that terrorizes its own citizens while putting the façade of “democratization” and fighting “terrorism.”
Thank you for all that you do. I am confident that you will seek God’s guidance in this matter and continue to work to make the world a better place. I sincerely appreciate your service to the nation. I only ask that you remember that we (Ethiopians, Americans, etc.) are all children of God and that we all deserve the opportunity to enjoy Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I am sure that you will. You will remain in my prayers.
Culver City, California