First-week protest in Oklahoma City successful

By Ethiopians and Friends for HR 2003
November 15, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY - Ethiopians and their friends campaigning for the promotion of the human rights bill HR 2003 held a demonstration in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and protested against Senator James Inhofe's reported move to block the Bill. Local TV and international media such as Associated Press covered the peaceful demonstration.

The purpose of the demonstration was to protest Senator James Inhofe's opposition to H.R.2003, the "Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007." In a statement that Senator James Inhofe made on the Senate floor on October 17, 2007, he stated;

“… In Ethiopia, recently, I met with Prime Minister Meles, his wife. I met with members of the Parliament and with all the individuals there who are trying to do a good job. While there, I saw first hand their democratic progress and commitment in fighting terrorism….…..In spite of all these successes, in spite of what we have talked about and the significance of Ethiopia, I think we have to oppose H.R. 2003....This resolution's idea of encouraging and facilitating is to impose restrictions and ultimatums. These punitive actions could damage the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Government of Ethiopia, as well as derail progress Ethiopia has made in furtherance of democracy and supporting human rights.”

Senator Inhofe went on to say, "I hope when it comes to this side, if it does come in this form, that we will be able to resoundingly defeat it. I look forward to being in Ethiopia in about 3 weeks. I will certainly hope that I don't have to go over there after having something like this pass the Senate."

The senior Senator from the State of Oklahoma was referring to a visit in Addis Ababa with Prime Minster Meles Zenawi - that Parade Magazine identified as one of the world's worst dictators.

A delegation representing the peaceful demonstrators presented a letter with backup documents that documented the recurring human rights abuses in Ethiopia to Senator Inhofe’s district office Director. The delegation comprised of Ethiopian-Americans, and native-born Americans underlined the importance of H.R.2003 in the struggle for human rights, freedom and the rule of law in Ethiopia. The delegation stressed that they were very concerned about Senator Inhofe’s continued opposition of the Human Rights bill.

The District Director stated that Senator James Inhofe did not, at this present time, put a "hold" on H.R.2003 and that Senator Inhofe as well as his staff will be doing further research on H.R.2003. The delegation requested that Senator Inhofe put out a statement stating that he did not put a "hold" on the bill and discussed thoroughly the reasons Senator Inhofe should support H.R.2003 when it came to the Senate Floor.

After exiting Senator Inhofe's office, the delegation reported to the crowd the result of the meeting; commitments were made from the energized crowd to continue to engage Senator James Inhofe to garner his full support in the passage of H.R.2003 from the U.S. Senate.

As promised, Senator James Inhofe put out a short statement later on in the afternoon confirming that he has not put a hold on H.R.2003 at this time. Senator Inhofe’s quote on not currently having a hold on the bill is as follows:

“I do not currently have a hold on the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 as it is still being considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has not yet been reported in its final form.” - -U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.)>

In light of today's successful campaign towards Senator James Inhofe, Ethiopian-Americans and Friends of Ethiopia in Oklahoma for H.R. 2003 commit to continue engaging Senator Inhofe so that he will give his full support to the human rights bill. Ethiopian-Americans and Friends of Ethiopia in Oklahoma for H.R. 2003 urge all who have successfully supported the November 13 effort to continue to call, fax and e-mail Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) , Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) until Friday, November 16, 2007.

Ethiopian-Americans and Friends of Ethiopia in Oklahoma for H.R. 2003 thank everyone for the support that was given to the Oklahoma campaign, without the united action of everyone the effort would not have shown the success seen today.