Congressman urges US to reconsider aid to Ethiopia

mike-coffmanESAT News (September 13, 2016)

The United States should use its leverage to ensure that the Ethiopian regime respect the human rights of its people, Congressman Mike Coffman said on Monday.

In an exclusive interview with ESAT, Congressman Coffman, who represents district six of Colorado, where thousands of Ethiopians call it home, said that if the Ethiopian government ignores the resolution by the US and also by the UN Human Rights Commission, then “Congress should find additional tools to use.”

“Certainly foreign aid is one to look at,” Representative Coffman further said.

He stressed that if the aid that was meant to fight global terrorism is instead being used to suppress the Ethiopian people, then that aid should be brought into question. “We have to exercise all the leverage that we have,” Coffman said.

The United States, the Congressman said, need to support the request by the UN Human Rights Commission that called for an independent investigation into the violence and allow UN rapporteurs enter the country to investigate the killings.

As per his promise to the constituent Ethiopians in Colorado last month, Mr. Coffman met and expressed his concerns to the Ethiopian ambassador to the US, Girma Biru regarding the deadly crackdowns on protesters. The Congressman said he made it clear to the ambassador that he would support a resolution that condemns human rights abuses and that seeks to implement the request by the UN Human Rights Commission.

“Unfortunately the Ethiopian government is not the representative government we would hope for,” the Congressman said and added “I am still hopeful there would be a government that would be representative of all the people of Ethiopia.”

Mr. Coffman, who said the Ethiopian issue is gaining momentum in Congress urged all Ethiopian Americans to call their representatives in Congress to take action.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution with 11 other Senators in April condemning the lethal violence used by the government of Ethiopia against protestors, journalists, and others in civil society for exercising their rights under Ethiopia’s constitution.

The resolution was expected to be tabled to the house on Tuesday September 13, 2016.

US Congressman Mike Coffman maintains a close relationship with the Ethiopian Community in Colorado whom he said represent the best of American values, and a community that wants to realize the American dream.

In a related news, Congressman Mike Coffman has also held discussions with Neamin Zeleke, a longtime advocate of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia, who also ceased the opportunity to highlight the killings, torture, mass incarceration and gross violations of human rights in Ethiopia. Neamin who recalled the violence and massacre in Ogaden, Gambella, Amhara and South Ethiopia regions said there was no individual held accountable for the crimes.

Neamin on the occasion thanked the Congressman for working to promote Ethiopia’s cause and urged other Congressmen to follow suit and take a firm stand against the gross violations of human rights in Ethiopia. Lest, he cautioned, the country and the region as a whole could slide into chaos and possibly civil war.

The congressman on his part encouraged Ethiopian Americans to call their representatives in Congress to take action and also work in tandem with their representatives to realize their goal of bringing freedom and democracy to their country.