The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
In your second inaugural speech on January 20, 2005, you made a magnificent promise to all people in the world who endure under despotism and dictatorship, “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.” We Ethiopian Americans commend you for your steadfast commitment to the cause of liberty throughout the world.
Ethiopians Have Responded to Your Promise
Mr. President, on
On that fateful day, Mr. President, Ethiopians did what has never been done in their ancient country’s history: They chose their leaders freely; and spoke directly to their present rulers and told them they are tired of 15 years of one-party rule. They want change. They want a country where the rule of law reigns supreme, and human rights and civil liberties are respected.
But human rights, democracy and justice remains elusive in
Ethiopians Ask If the United States will Ignore Their Oppression
Mr. President: Those accustomed to ruling by force and intimidation have defiantly refused to heed the collective voice of their people, and allow a peaceful transition to democracy. They have cynically dismissed the prudent advice of the international community, and refused to conform their conduct to the rule of international human rights law. They continue to cling to power despite universal exhortations for national reconciliation and dialogue.
In the aftermath of the May, 2005 elections,
But, Mr. President, the catalogue of flagrant human rights abuses is not limited to atrocities committed over these few days. Zenawi’s regime continues to engage with impunity in extrajudicial killings of opponents, and presently holds thousands of political prisoners throughout the country. Zenawi’s regime has criminalized the exercise of the basic rights of free speech, assembly and the press, and continues to use the criminal justice system for political ends. Opposition leaders and human rights defenders continue to be subjected to prolonged prosecution and detention for pretended offenses, and judges have been inducted in the service of political partisanship. The regime has erected an extensive security apparatus and dispatched swarms of malignant mercenaries throughout the land to harass, intimidate, persecute and wreak havoc on the lives of the people. And for good measure, the current rulers of
Mr. President, to borrow the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, the Ethiopia’s rulers today continue with impunity their “history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny.”
Ethiopians Ask If the United States will Excuse Their Oppressors
Mr. President: Today, Ethiopians ask whether you will honor your promise and stand with them, or excuse their oppressors. As Ethiopian Americans, we do not believe for a moment that you will stand on the side of those who have perpetrated unspeakable atrocities on thousands of unarmed protesters, imprisoned thousands of ordinary men and women on suspicion of political opposition, and jailed the rightful representatives of the people. We believe you will keep your promise and stand with all who stand up for liberty.
But our brothers and sisters in
Two Types of Ethiopians in the World Today
Mr. President: There are two kinds of Ethiopians in the world today. There is an infinitesimal number of Ethiopians upon whom God has shed his grace and live with dignity, respect and hope in the greatest nation in the world, the
But the suffering masses of humanity in
Duty of Freedom Loving Ethiopian Americans
Mr. President: As free Ethiopian Americans, we have a solemn duty to help those we have left in
As Ethiopian Americans, Mr. President, we bring to your attention the daily solicitations of our loved ones: “Isn’t there anything we can do to help them as Ethiopian Americans using the mighty Constitution of the
Must American taxpayers bankroll their oppressors?”
Illusions of Hope
Mr. President, the great American patriot, Patrick Henry, facing similar tyranny and
despotism as contemporary Ethiopians said: “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope.” And looking over the past 15 years, Ethiopians are beginning to wonder if their aspirations for liberty are merely idle indulgencies in the illusions of hope.
Mr. President, the present rulers of Ethiopia have spurned and ignored all demands for justice and liberty; and have responded to their peoples’ petitions for democratic rights by inflicting upon them unspeakable violence and injury. They have categorically rejected the intercession of the international community -- to release all political prisoners and their leaders who languish in prison, to institute the rule of law, to seek peaceful reconciliation -- with contempt and derision. All efforts to institute the rule of law and ensure respect for human rights have been reduced to a distant illusion of hope.
In vain, Ethiopians now ask: How much longer must they languish under withering oppression? When will they breath the fresh air of liberty? Will
But we Ethiopian Americans refuse to believe
Counter-terrorism and Human Rights
Mr. President: When you addressed the United Nations General Assembly last September,
you spoke passionately of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and “the more hopeful world that is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices of moderation are empowered, and where the extremists are marginalized by the peaceful majority.” You said, “This world can be ours if we seek it and if we work together.”
Mr. President: Ethiopians know all too well the scourge of terrorism that has been unleashed on the world. They appreciate and support
Mr. President, in March, 2005, at the
We agree with you. In
Mr. President, last June you said, “When America gives its word, it keeps its word.” We believe you will keep your word that
Now Is the Time to Stand Up For Human Rights in
Mr. President, now is the time to stand up with the Ethiopian people. Now is the time to stand up for human rights in
Please Stand With Us and Support H.R. 5680 -- “The Ethiopian Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act”
Mr. President, there is a simple way you can stand with Ethiopians and help advance the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia: Support H.R. 5680.
This bill provides for a comprehensive scheme to advance democracy and human rights in
Mr. President, in the words of the great American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, in H.R. 5680,
Mr. President, you have said, “Americans, of all people, should not be surprised by freedom’s power. A nation founded on the universal claim of individual rights should not be surprised when other people claim those rights. Those who place their hope in freedom may be attacked and challenged, but they will not ultimately be disappointed, because freedom is the design of humanity and freedom is the direction of history.”
Mr. President, we Ethiopian Americans say: “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!”
Mr. President: As an Ethiopian American, the greatest reward and honor that I have received is the opportunity to defend the American Constitution and American liberties in the courts of the realm, and to prepare young Americans to understand, appreciate and defend this great instrument of government. Those who have had the good fortune of making close acquaintance with our Constitution are able to discern its meaning and relevance to all those who live beyond
Please support H.R. 5680.
Alemayehu G. Mariam, Ph.D., J.D.
Professor of Political Science &
Attorney at Law
Vice President Richard Cheney
Dr. Condoleeza Rice,
Jendayi Fraser, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
Representative John Boehner,
Representative Steny H. Hoyer, House Majority Leader
Representative James E. Clyburn, House Majority Whip
Representative Roy Blunt, House Minority Whip
Representative Tom Lantos, Chair, House Committee on International Relations
Representative Donald Payne, Chairman, House Subcommittee on
Global Human Rights and International Operations
Representative Chris Smith,
Representative Michael Honda
Senator Harry Reid,
Senator Russ Feingold, Chair, Subcommittee on African Affairs
Senator Richard Durbin,
Senator Mitch McConnell,
Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense
Ambassador Donald Yamamoto