Members of the opposition recently met with U.S. House Speaker Dennis Haster staff.

September 14th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

* The human rights, economic and military situation in Ethiopia is very bad and getting worse. elected Opposition members of Parliament, journalists, civic group being held in terrible conditions and under trial for ridiculous crimes; there is no freedom of the press; even the Internet, which only a tiny fraction of the population can access, is being censored, like in China and Iran; the government has prevented economic development by a combination of communist-style economics and corruption; top Army officers have defected.September 14, 2006

By Mesfin Mekonen.

Members of the opposition, Ato Yesahak Kifle CUD representative, Dr. Seyoum Solomon CUD representative and Mesfin Mekonen, Ethiopian/Americans Council and ENC met recently met with U.S. House Speaker Dennis Haster staff.

Talking points for meeting with House Speaker?s staff. In addition to discussing these points, a number of background documents, including recent coverage of Ethiopia in the Economist and other publications, was provided to the staff at the meeting.

* The human rights, economic and military situation in Ethiopia is very bad and getting worse. elected Opposition members of Parliament, journalists, civic group being held in terrible conditions and under trial for ridiculous crimes; there is no freedom of the press; even the Internet, which only a tiny fraction of the population can access, is being censored, like in China and Iran; the government has prevented economic development by a combination of communist-style economics and corruption; top Army officers have defected.

* The Smith legislation isn?t a magic wand and it won?t by itself fix Ethiopia?s problems, but it will help and even more important it will send a strong signal to both Meles regime and the Ethiopian people that the United States supports democracy and human rights.

This is particularly important because Ethiopians are starting to give up on democracy. Many Ethiopians risked ? and some lost ? their lives to participate in the election and it was stolen by the Meles regime, so now people are giving up hope.

* Meles regime has given a lobbying firm, DLA Piper Jaffrey, a $50,000/month contract to block the Smith legislation. The firm is spreading the word that America needs to stick with Meles because he is an ally in the war on terrorism. In reality, however, Meles is fueling terrorism, as the Economist magazine has pointed out.

A combination of suppression of human rights, a divide and conquer policy that pits ethnic groups against each other, and the lack of economic progress is destabilizing Ethiopia and creating conditions that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups can exploit.

* There are an increasing number of Ethiopian-Americans and they are becoming politically active. The number one issue of Ethiopians who have received American citizenship is U.S. support for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, and Ethiopian-Americans will be very grateful to any members of Congress who support this cause.

Mesfin Mekonen

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