A historic Transatlantic legislative summit on human rights

Coalition for H.R. 2003
June 8, 2007

WASHINGTON DC - Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and author of H.R. 2003 (Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007) and Ms. Ana Gomes, Member, European Parliament and Head of the European Union’s Observer Mission to Ethiopia (2005) an extraordinary woman of courage, who has been at the forefront of the struggle for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia are among the scheduled speakers at the Joint Summit on June 8, 2007 in Washington, DC.

Over the years, Congressman Payne, considered by his colleagues in Congress as one of the leading experts on Africa, has made several trips to Ethiopia to study and discuss improvements to the human rights situation there. He has extensive knowledge of human rights violations not only in Ethiopia, but also Darfur and Rwanda.

As ranking member of the Africa Subcommittee, Congressman Payne has both sponsored and authored legislation for the promotion of democracy and good governance, human rights, access to healthcare and education and for conflict resolution and sustainable peace throughout the continent. He is also dedicated to addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic – the most devastating war the people of sub-Saharan Africa have ever fought.

Ethiopian-Americans applaud Congressman Payne’s extraordinary effort in coordinating the Joint Summit, and in sponsoring H.R. 2003. We also owe Ms. Gomes and Mr. Payne, two great friends of Ethiopia, a debt of gratitude.

According to information from the Coalition for HR 2003, the Summit discusses three major issues: Genocide in Darfur, Unraveling of Somalia and Gross and Sustained Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia.

The Congressional-European Parliament joint summit on human rights in Africa is a rare and unique event in transatlantic legislative relations.

The Coalition believes that all Ethiopians who support democracy and human rights should attend and show support for the work of the Joint Summit in the U.S. Congress. The Coalition believes the Joint Summit will

  • Enable American and European legislators to work together on critical human rights issues in Africa, and coordinate policy responses and political action particularly on human rights abuses in Ethiopia.
  • Promote legislative cooperation on specific policy measures aimed at improving compliance with international human rights laws and conventions.
  • Encourage broader dialogue between and among human rights advocates, organizations and national policy makers on such issues as massive violations of human rights in Ethiopia under the regime of Zenawi.
  • Focus attention on specific human rights issues and problems such as the Kality political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia.
  • Mobilize international action to encourage governments to re- evaluate and re-assess their foreign policies in light of the willful disregard of international human rights conventions by dictatorial regimes in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia.
  • Raise international public awareness on the sustained assault on innocent civilian populations, dissenters, human rights advocates and organizations in Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan.
  • Facilitate joint action between the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament to improve human rights protections.
  • Help develop effective strategies for human rights monitoring and accountability in Ethiopia.
  • Send a positive message to Diaspora Ethiopians and others that the U.S. Congress and the European Union will work together to improve human rights in Ethiopia, and
  • Review recent developments in the human rights records of dictatorial regimes in Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan.

Scheduled Speakers in addition to Congressman D. Payne and Ms. Ana Gomes are:

Birhanu Tsigu, Former Head of Monitoring, Research and Public Litigation Department of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Addis Ababa. Tsigu provided compelling testimony before the Congress-ional Black Caucus International Task Force and the Ethiopia Caucus in 2006. See Berhanu Tsigu Testimony.

Prof. Charles Schafer, Chair, Department of History, Valparaiso University. Prof. Schaefer taught at Addis Ababa University from 1992 through 1994 as a Fulbright Lecturer. Professor Schaefer has accepted a volunteer position as Country Specialist for Ethiopia for Amnesty International-USA, an activity to which he devotes considerable time. http://www.ethiopolitics.com/pdfiles/FinalPanelReport10.pdf

Ethiopians Living in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland: Why YOUR Attendance is Important!

The Coalition urges all Ethiopians and other supporters of human rights in Ethiopia to attend the 11:30-12:30 session of the Joint summit focusing on Ethiopia. Here are just a few reasons why you should attend the Joint Summit: