Rep. Coffman Praises Passage of House Resolution 128

Resolution Supports Human Rights & Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia

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Washington, D.C. , April 10, 2018 | Daniel Bucheli (202-225-7882) | comments

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) praised the bipartisan passage of House Resolution 128, the “Supporting Respect for Human Rights and Encouraging Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia”. The resolution condemns the government of Ethiopia for their use of excessive force that has resulted in the deaths of protesters and wrongful arrests of activists and political opponents of the regime.

“This is the first time that the United States House of Representatives has condemned the Ethiopian government for its human rights abuses, and it is my hope that the new prime minister will take the country in a new direction by instituting the necessary reforms for a more inclusive government that respects the human rights of its people,” said U.S. Representative Mike Coffman.

Initially introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and cosponsored by Rep. Coffman in early 2017, H. Res. 128 was unanimously passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July of the same year. On February 5, 2018, Rep. Coffman, joined by a local Colorado Ethiopian delegation and national advocacy groups, led a high-level negotiation with the Office of the Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, to finally bring the Resolution to the House Floor.

“A strong, unambiguous signal from the U.S. demanding concrete reforms is required to avert crisis in Ethiopia and to create a path toward sustainable regional stability. We believe H. Res. 128 represents an important and long overdue response to Ethiopia’s human rights violations. We are grateful for the many bipartisan cosponsors and Congressman Coffman for his leadership and for championing this cause,” said Deacon Yoseph Tafari, Chairman of Ethiopian-American Civic Council.

While the Resolution was working its way through the halls of Congress, the Government of Ethiopia, in an attempt to stop the resolution from getting to the House Floor, hired a Washington D.C. lobbying firm for $150,000 a month according to required disclosure reports.  

“We would like to thank our Honorable Congressman, Mike Coffman, who worked tirelessly to bring this resolution to the Floor for a final vote, and who stood with our community in the most difficult time. As H. Res. 128 passes the House, we want everyone to know that the international community is watching,” said Jamal Said, President of the Oromo Community of Denver.

Clearly, the passage of this resolution sends a strong signal to the Ethiopian regime that its continued use of its security services to violently suppress its own citizens as they seek to exercise their rights to speak out and its use of excessive force is simply unacceptable.


Important Historical & Relevant Political Events:

In 2009, the Ethiopian Government enacted into law the Charities and Societies Proclamation and Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, both enacted in 2009, both damaging free democracy and limiting the practice of fundamental human rights, enabled abuse by security forces, and impeded efforts to promote accountability for such abuses in Ethiopia.

In 2010, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed to win 99.6% of the vote in elections that were deemed neither free nor fair, and claimed all 546 parliamentary seats in 2015--further consolidating the EPRDF’s single party rule.

In 2015, government forces launched a violent crackdown on protests by ethnic Oromo and Amhara over their marginalization, resulting in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of arrests.

In 2017, the Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Ethiopia cited serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, killings, and torture committed by security forces, restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association, politically motivated trials, harassment, and intimidation of opposition members and journalists.

In 2018, the Ethiopian Defense Minister announced a six-month state of emergency that further closes the space for peaceful political activity and contains broad restrictions that will facilitate government abuses.  During the Government’s previous state of emergency, from October 2016 until August 2017, security forces arrested more than 20,000 people and committed human rights violations.  

On March 28, 2018, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) reported that about 9,600 Ethiopians--more than 80% women and children--crossed the border into Kenya after Ethiopian Government soldiers killed at least nine civilians and wounded dozens more.
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