By Tadias Staff
Updated: April 2nd, 2017
New York (TADIAS) — This week in a letter to the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Program, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, whose district includes the vibrant Denver-area Ethiopian community, urged his colleagues to review the more than $500 million American taxpayers dollars for Fiscal Year 2017 in US aid program to Ethiopia. The letter comes the same week as the Ethiopian government announced the four-month extension of its strict emergency ban.
“I write to you today at the request of many of the Ethiopian-Americans whom I represent in Congress,” Coffman said in the March 30th, 2017 letter addressed to the subcommittee’s Chairman and Ranking member, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Rep. Nita Lowey of New York. “These constituents have brought to my attention what they view as an ongoing campaign of human rights violations in their homeland of Ethiopia.” The Congressman continued: “They are convinced that these serious human rights violations are the result of an organized and concerted effort perpetrated by the Ethiopian government.”
The letter, which was shared with us by members of the Ethiopian American community, goes on to highlight the arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists and political leaders. Congressman Coffman noted that currently the amount of money that the United States gives to Ethiopia annually totals $514 million most of it allocated for “economic development, humanitarian assistance, health, education and social services.” Congressman Coffman pointed out: “While the goal of this aid is noble, numerous constituents and experts on the Sub-Saharan region tell me that this assistance may not be reaching those in Ethiopia who needed most, and maybe providing support and legitimacy to this regime”
“In light of these abuses and the United States’ stated strategy of strengthening democratic institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, I believe it is important for you to review the current aid program to Ethiopia to ensure that the aid provided is not subsidizing a government apparently committed to the systematic abuse of its own citizens and reduction of the democratic space within its borders,” the letter said. “I respectfully request that the subcommittee include language ensuring the suspension of appropriations FY2018 foreign assistance for Ethiopia pending its government’s implementation of real, concrete and measurable humanitarian reforms as outlined in H.Res. 128.” Rep. Coffman added: I believe that doing so will communicate to the Ethiopian government how seriously the United States views these human rights violations.”