Fax letter to Majority Speaker Steny H. Hoyer

Coalition for HR 2003
July 31 2007

WASHINGTON – The Coalition for H.R. 2003 is pleased to announce to all pro-democracy supporters, the fax and telephone call campaign to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proved exceptionally effective.

The Coalition for H.R. 2003, once again, respectfully calls upon all pro-democracy Ethiopians, Ethiopian Americans and friends of Ethiopia worldwide to IMMEDIATELY start faxing letter to the US House of Representatives Majority Leader’s Washington, DC office and follow-up with a telephone call. Fax your letters, DO NOT MAIL. It takes 2 weeks to deliver a letter to congress because of security inspections.

Office telephone and fax numbers are listed below.

Copy and paste, and modify the letter below to fit your special situation. Documents can be FAXED during the day or at night. They will be read whenever they are sent. If you do not have a fax machine, please use fax services available at places like Kinkos, Staples, Office Max and others. You can also ask friends who have faxes to send them for you.

Try to fax your letter before Tuesday morning. Make sure to call and confirm that your fax was received any time on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 after 9AM Eastern Standard Time (Washington D.C. Time).

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer Extended Contact Information

Washington, DC office:

The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer
United States House of Representatives
1705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2005

202-225-4131 (tel)
202-225-4300 (fax)

District Offices:
401 Post Office Road, Suite 202
Waldorf, MD 20602
Voice: 301-843-1577
FAX: 301-843-1331

U.S. District Courthouse, Suite 310
6500 Cherrywood Lane
Greenbelt, MD 20770

Voice: 301-474-0119
FAX: 301-474-4697

July 31, 2007

The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer
United States House of Representatives
1705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2005

Telephone: 202-225-4131

Re: H.R. 2003 (Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007)

Dear Majority Leader:

I am writing to inquire on your reported opposition and directives to Chairman Tom Lantos not to mark-up H.R. 2003 (Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007). This bipartisan bill authored by Africa Subcommittee Chair, Donald Payne, is co-sponsored by 83 members of the House, including all members of the Black Caucus.

H.R. 2003 was drafted with the aim of helping Ethiopia become a stable democratic society with strong human rights protections for its citizens, and to strengthen the Ethiopian American partnership in the global war on terror. The bill is fundamentally about democratic reform and accountability, restoration of the democratic rights of the people, strengthening human rights and civic society organizations and human rights monitoring and reporting processes, increasing the independence of the judiciary, prosecution of human rights abusers, improving election procedures, removing press censorship and repeal of restrictive press laws and provision of various training programs for democratic participation, and limiting U.S. security assistance to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism only, among others. I am extremely concerned that the Democratic leadership has directed Chairman Lantos not to mark-up the bill, thereby keeping it from getting floor action. I would very much like to know why the Democratic leadership gave such direction which will effectively block passage of the bill in the House.

I am therefore asking to find out your reasons for blocking a human rights bill so that I can help you understand its importance to my brothers and sisters, parents and relatives in Ethiopia.

Mr. Majority Leader:

Is your concern with the language in H.R. 2003 that requires the “Secretary of State [to] establish a mechanism to provide financial support to local and national human rights groups and other relevant civil society organizations to help strengthen human rights monitoring and regular reporting on human rights conditions in Ethiopia”?

Or are you concerned about the provision in the bill having to do with “establish(ing) a program to provide legal support for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and to assist local groups or groups from outside Ethiopia that are active in monitoring the status of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia”?

Could it be the language in H.R. 2003 which “seek(s) to increase the independence of the Ethiopian judiciary through facilitation of joint discussions for court personnel, officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, relevant members of the legislature, and civil society representatives on international human rights standards”?

Or the provision which “create(s) and support(s) a judicial monitoring process, consisting of local and international groups, to monitor judicial proceedings throughout Ethiopia, with special focus on unwarranted government intervention on strictly judicial matters, and to investigate and report on actions to strengthen an independent judiciary”?

Does the provision which “establish(es) a program to strengthen private media in Ethiopia, provide support for training purposes, offer technical and other types of support as necessary, and expand programming by the Voice of America to Ethiopia” trouble you?

Is it possible that the language in H.R. 2003 which “seek(s) the unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia” presents some ambiguity for you?

Do you find repugnant the provision which directs the U.S. “President [to] provide assistance for the rehabilitation of victims of torture in Ethiopia at centers established for such purposes”?

Mr. Majority Leader: I know that you are a champion of human rights and a member of the highly respected Congressional Human Rights Caucus. I and thousands of my fellow Ethiopian American friends would like to work with you to help my family and friends in Ethiopia enjoy the blessings of liberty and human rights that I have been able to enjoy here in the United States.

Please stand with us! Help us in our struggle for human rights in Ethiopia. Be that strong link in the chain of freedom, democracy and human rights forged by Donald Payne and Chris Smith in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. History will remember that when the clock struck midnight, you were on the side of your proud and loyal Ethiopian American constituents, and not the distant tyrants repudiated by their own people.

I will follow up with a telephone call to your office in the next day or so to find out your responses to my questions above.