Open Letter to Senator John McCain in Regards to H.R. 2003
Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2235
Fax: (202) 228-2862
Recently, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 2003, “The Ethiopian Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2007”. The passage of the bill is a triumph to freedom loving people, and demonstrates Congress’ unwavering rejection of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes across the World.
Ever since the May, 2005 general elections, the Ethiopian regime has brutally clamped down on public descent. It has slaughtered and maimed hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, arrested opposition members and journalists, shutdown critical media, and intimidated the public through a powerful show of force.
The Ethiopian government and its supporters disastrously failed to derail the passage of H.R. 2003. The fact that they were unable to enlist the support of a single congressman shows how blatantly undemocratic and ruthless the government is. The unanimous approval of the bill sends a clear message to the Ethiopian government that the World no longer tolerates brutal and dictatorial regimes.
In a last ditch attempt to prevent the legislation of H.R. 2003, the Ethiopian government and its sympathizers have began to intensively lobby the US Senate. Their primary argument is the bill constitutes an intervention in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs and endangers the US-Ethiopia alliance.
The reality is the bill does not intervene in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs. The bill simply ties the amount of non-humanitarian US aid Ethiopia gets with the degree of democratic governance in the country. This by no means implies an intervention in Ethiopian domestic affairs, but rather underscores the fact that aid is fundamentally based on reciprocity. This is a fact the Ethiopian government is incapable or unwilling to understand.
The bill allows the US president to override the provisions of the bill if they are found to be against the national interests of the US. We don’t believe a mutually beneficial alliance between the US and Ethiopia will be affected by the bill. However, if the bill deteriorates the alliance between the US and Ethiopia, and if this is found to be against the interests of the US, the US president can exclude the implementations of the provisions in the bill.
Finally, the bill provides up to $40 million to strengthen the independence and impartiality of Ethiopia’s judicial system. If the Ethiopian government is genuinely willing to be democratic and law abiding, it should embrace rather than dismiss such a generous offer.
We strongly believe H.R. 2003 will bring positive changes to Ethiopia. As a major donor, the United States has demonstrated tremendous influence on the Ethiopian government. Recently, imprisoned opposition members and journalists were freed as a result of overt and covert pressure from the US government and Congress. We unequivocally believe the persistence of such type of pressure will eventually democratize Ethiopia.
You are not new to the totalitarian and undemocratic ways of the Ethiopian government. On April 14th, 2005, you and Madam Secretary Albright wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia expressing your dismay for the expulsion from Ethiopia of the representatives of the International Republican Institute, IFES, and the National Democratic Institute. The representatives were in Ethiopia to monitor the upcoming elections in May, 2005, and the Ethiopian government feared they would expose its fraudulent practices.
As a very influential and respected member of the Senate, we ask you to support and co-sponsor this noble bill. Your support will go a long way to unshackle the freedom yearning people of Ethiopia.
Arizonans for a Democratic Ethiopia
1535 Scottsdale Rd. #1110
Tempe, AZ 85281