Fax letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Coalition for HR 2003r
July 29, 2007

WASHINGTON – The Coalition for H.R. 2003 calls upon all pro-democracy Ethiopians, Ethiopian Americans and friends of Ethiopia worldwide to IMMEDIATELY fax letter to the US House of Representatives Speaker’s Washington, DC office and follow-up with a telephone call starting July 30, 2007, Monday, 9 AM Eastern Standard Time.

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 Monday morning. Make sure to call and confirm that your fax was received any time after July 30, 2007, Monday, 9 AM, Eastern Standard Time (Washington, DC time).

July 29, 2007

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0508

Fax: 202-225-4188
Phone: 202-225-4965

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

Dear Madam Speaker:

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 you have directed Chairman Lantos not to mark-up the bill and thereby keep it from getting floor action. I would very much like to know why you have given such direction which will effectively block passage of the bill in the House.

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

Madame Speaker:

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”?

1 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”?

Madame Speaker: I know that a champion of human rights and a member of the highly respected Congressional Human Rights Caucus. I and thousands of my Ethiopian American friends would like to work with you in helping my family and friends in Ethiopia enjoy the blessings of liberty and human rights.

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. Thank you.

God Bless America!


Your name,
Telephone #

Rep. Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader, Rep. Donald Payne, Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.