Senator James Inhofe’s Oklahoma office throws out his constituents, including a State Senator!!!
Oklahoma City, OK – During a recent peaceful protest in front of Senator Inhofe’s office, a group of peaceful Oklahoma constituents including State Senator Constance Johnson and Mr. Bill Fix, a former ardent supporter of Senator Inhofe were thrown out of the Senator’s office consistent with Senator Inhofe’s refusal to meet stakeholders of HR 2003, the “Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007” during his recent official trip to Ethiopia. Despite near freezing temperature, many supporters of HR 2003 braved the weather and made their voices heard. Over 500 signed signatures from Oklahoma constituents were turned in to Senator Inhofe’s district office. Several media outlets, including, NPR national radio network, KFOR TV and KOKH TV stations covered the rally.
Notable Oklahomans spoke at the peaceful protest rally in opposition to Senator James Inhofe’s continued opposition to the Ethiopia Human Rights bill. Ms. Semaynesh Ayalew representing Ethiopian-Americans in Oklahoma for H.R.2003 opened the rally by stating, “My fellow human rights defenders, we were in this place on November 13 and, again on Nov 20, 2007, to ask Senator Inhofe to lift his hold on H.R.2003 a human rights bill for Ethiopia that all of the Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives supported and endorsed and forwarded to the U.S. Senate.”
Other speakers included, State Senator Constance Johnson, who in her heartwarming, passionate speech stated, “Senator Inhofe refused to meet with us his constituents, we were asked to leave, I never, ever experienced anything like this before. Inhofe has persisted in only meeting with the government of Ethiopia. The power is with the people. The primary election is coming up that is when you will show Senator Inhofe what his actions will bring about. If Senator Inhofe thinks that it is correct to only deal with the government of Ethiopia then you will show him that is not acceptable in November. You have collaborators in Oklahoma, NAACP is standing with you, Peace House is standing with you. I need you to keep this fight going on, we will continue to fight. Senator Inhofe has to listen to us the voters of Oklahoma.”
Mr. Nathaniel Batchelder, Director of The Peace House, Oklahoma Human Rights award recipient proclaimed his solidarity with the demonstrators by saying, “I have heard about this issue from people at the United Nations, I have heard about this issue from people in the human rights movement. Peace House has sent 1000 e-mails to its membership to contact Senator Inhofe.”
Mr. Adam Carter, ACORN representative (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) clearly expressed his disappointment in Senator Inhofe’s position by stating, “I am proud to be here with you to stand up to Senator Inhofe’s shameful disgusting behavior. Senator Inhofe’s behavior in opposing H.R.2003 is unacceptable behavior and simply wrong.”
Mr. Bill Fix, a former ardent supporter of Senator Inhofe affirmed his solidarity with the demonstrators, said, “Christians have an obligation to support democracy in Ethiopia, we must in all good conscience support human rights in Ethiopia, we have to write to our Senators and demand they support H.R.2003.”
The letter that triggered the wrath of Senator Inhofe’s Oklahoma City office manager, Ms. Jane Hightower is the following:
APPEAL TO SENATOR JAMES INHOFE BY OKLAHOMA CONSTITUENTS
January 29, 2008
Dear Senator James Inhofe,
We, your Oklahoma constituents, hereby fervently appeal to you, Senator Inhofe, to support the “Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007” which is currently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
As you are aware, the Bill advances U.S. foreign policy in the Horn of Africa including Ethiopia in several ways: 1) support the growth of democratic institutions by helping establish a free and competitive electoral process, independent judicial institutions, a free press, and other civil liberties, 2) bolster all existing counter-terrorism efforts and allow the continuing delivery to Ethiopia of peacekeeping and security assistance, 3) supports continued delivery of all humanitarian assistance and food aid programs to Ethiopia.
We are confident that you are aware of the various credible reports including those by the State Department and Amnesty International (please see the enclosed document for more details), presenting an overwhelming evidence of the Ethiopian regime’s gross human rights violations including the imprisonment, maiming, and extra-judicial killings of thousands of innocent civilians including women and children. In addition, due to the Ethiopian regime’s poor governance and rampant corruption during the last 17 years, the Ethiopian people continue to suffer from a grinding poverty, endemic diseases such as malaria, TB, and HIV/AIDS.
The most important lesson we have learned from the experience in Afghanistan and Somalia is that what breeds international terrorism is the prevalence of oppression, poverty, and hopelessness. We are, therefore, at a loss, Dear Senator, why you oppose the Bill and side with a despotic regime. As expressed by President Bush in one of his public speeches, US policy is to stand with the people who suffer under a severe dictatorship and struggle for their freedom. It is, therefore, obvious that US interests will be served better by siding with the Ethiopian people and NOT with their oppressive dictators.
We take this opportunity to express our disappointment due to the fact that during your recent visit to Ethiopia, you declined to meet with a number of highly respected and credible individuals who would have afforded you a more accurate understanding of the realities in Ethiopia. You preferred to listen only to the representatives of the dictatorial regime.
Our real partners in the fight against international terrorism are the Ethiopian people. We, therefore, call on you, again, dear Senator, to be on the side of democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law, and support the Bill. Please do not shame Oklahoma by siding with one of the most cruel dictatorships in the world.
Your Constituents in Oklahoma.
ETHIOPIAN-AMERICANS and FRIENDS of ETHIOPIA in OKLAHOMA for H.R. 2003
For Immediate Release
February 1, 2008
Mr. Muluneh Zeleke