Addis Abeba – Ethiopian diaspora leaders have met and discussed with selected members of the two houses of the US Senate and the Congress as well as the US Department of State on ways of promoting peace and transitional justice among others in Ethiopia.
According to a statement sent to Addis Standard, the leaders during their engagement with Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who is the Ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs, Africa Subcommittee and a close observer of events in Ethiopia, presented a road map of how they envision peace and stability in Ethiopia.
Between September 27-29, 2023, the San Diego-based Horn of Africa Community organized an inclusive Ethiopian Diaspora (the coalition) trip to Washington DC to brief selected members of the two houses of the US Senate and the Congress as well as the US Department of State.
The coalition’s first meeting was at the office of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman and ranking member, Senator Ben Cardin, who received the group and listened to its multiple concerns and suggestions. After listening to the coalition, the Chairman was open to solutions offered by the coalition and in turn encouraged the group to continue to work together.
Additionally, the coalition briefed a bi-partisan staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee followed by a separate briefing with Senator Dick Durbin’s office. Senator Durbin is a key member of the Senate Appropriation Committee that is charged with earmarking US foreign aid. At this meeting, the coalition registered its concerns over the defunding of the International Commission for Human Right for Ethiopia which is now received and filed.
More talks were held with some members of the House of Representatives. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who is the Ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs, Africa Subcommittee and a close observer of events in Ethiopia, met with and encouraged the coalition to strive to better the lives of Ethiopians. At the conclusion of the meeting, the coalition presented the congresswoman with a road map of how it envisions peace and stability in Ethiopia. After Rep. Jacobs, the coalition held a fruitful discussion with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who represents a large Ethiopian diaspora in Minnesota.
Additionally, on September 28, the coalition had a fruitful briefing held at the State Department by the US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mike Hammer. In addition, the coalition was briefed by senior members of the African Bureau at the State Department. Community representatives from 6 different regions of Ethiopia including Somali, Oromo, Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Harari as well Ethiopia advocacy organizations all coalesced on the following seven points:
1. Release Political Prisoners: Immediately release all political prisoners, including party leaders, former officials, activists, journalists, and artists, as a crucial step towards peace and reconciliation.
2. Media Freedom: Ensure freedom of the press by allowing international and local journalists unrestricted access to all areas of the country. Enable them to report without fear of reprisal, fostering transparency and accountability.
3. Freedom of Speech and Assembly: Ensure free speech, unhindered. telecommunications and internet access addressing persistent concerns throughout Ethiopia and currently in the Amhara region. Safeguard the right to peaceful protests without fear of arrest or violence.
4. Anti-Corruption Measures: Address mass corruption, particular focus on the deteriorating situations in the Somali, and Harar regions. Implement stringent anti-corruption measures to hold accountable those involved in corrupt practices.
5. Equitable Aid Distribution: Promote equitable distribution of foreign aid to the whole country, with a special focus on Tigray, while ensuring transparency and accountability. Provide unhindered humanitarian assistance, with a priority on vulnerable populations in need.
6. National Dialogue: Initiate an inclusive national dialogue, immediate cessation of hostilities in Amhara and Oromia regions, and honor the full implementation of all peace agreements in a way that ensures inclusivity and peace in the region.
7. Sanctions: Implement sanctions against all government and military officials involved in mass atrocities, conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), and other crimes across Ethiopia.
This coalition and diaspora leaders remain dedicated to promoting peace, transitional justice, freedom, coexistence, and empowerment for all in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. AS