From: The Honorable Christopher H. Smith
Bill: H.Res. 861
Even before opposition political parties made surprising gains in Ethiopia’s 2005 elections, the Government of Ethiopia was restricting the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Democratic space in Ethiopia has steadily diminished since that 2005 election.
As a result, the 2015 saw the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front party claiming 100 percent of the parliamentary seats.
Last November, largely peaceful student protests commenced in response to the Ethiopian government’s plan to take over territory in the Oromia region to expand the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa. Since then, the protests have spread to other regions of Ethiopia,
including the Amhara region, and Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 400 protestors have been killed by Ethiopian security forces in the Oromia region alone. This spontaneous outcry has developed into the country’s longest and most widespread protest
movement since the ruling party took power in 1991. The government has since ceased border expansion plans, but the discontent has proven to transcend land rights and to extend beyond any one particular ethnic group. Although the documented turmoil threatens
to disrupt Ethiopia’s fragile political stability, Ethiopia’s strategic state partners have been relatively quiet.
Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and Charities and Societies Proclamation, both passed in 2009, have been misused to silence independent journalists, persecute members of the political opposition, and restrict the operation of civil society organizations
H.Res. 861 condemns the killing of peaceful protesters, and the arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists, and political leaders who exercise their civil liberties, while urging protesters to refrain from violence. This resolution also calls
on the Government of Ethiopia to end the use of excessive force by security forces, and to allow a United Nations human rights rapporteur to conduct a credible, independent and transparent investigation into the killings and instances of excessive use of force
in the Oromia and Amhara regions. For the U.S. government, H.Res. 861 calls on the Secretary of State to conduct a review of security assistance to Ethiopia in light of recent developments, and calls on the USAID Administrator to immediately lead efforts to
develop a comprehensive strategy to more effectively support improved democracy and governance in Ethiopia.
To join myself, Rep. Keith Ellison and Reps. Eliot Engel, Mike Coffman, David Cicilene, James Himes, Anna Eshoo, Richard Hudson and a growing number of House members as a co-sponsor of H.Res. 861 contact Chairman Chris Smith’s office at
Gregory.Simpkins@mail.house.gov or Rep. Keith Ellison’s office at
Member of Congress