Ethiopian Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) Leadership Plans Conference in Washington, D.C., January 13-14 to Discuss Zenawi Atrocities

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Coordinated by the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUDP), North America Office, Ethiopian-Americans, expatriates and members of the international community concerned with human rights abuses in Ethiopia are meeting January 13-14, 2006 in Washington, D.C. The primary objectives of the meetings are to 1) Reassess the current gloomy political situation in Ethiopia, 2) Devise diplomatic strategies designed to bring an end to Zenawi’s repression and imprisonment of members of opposition parties, and 3) Bring international attention to human rights abuses inflicted by the Zenawi regime, which has created political instability and brought widespread suffering to the people of Ethiopia.

Americans, expatriates and members of the international community concerned with human rights abuses in Ethiopia are meeting January 13-14, 2006 in Washington, D.C.    The primary objectives of the meetings are to 1) Reassess the current gloomy political situation in Ethiopia, 2) Devise diplomatic strategies designed to bring an end to Zenawi’s repression and imprisonment of members of opposition parties, and 3) Bring international attention to human rights abuses inflicted by the Zenawi regime, which has created political instability and brought widespread suffering to the people of Ethiopia.

Dr. Theodore Vestal, an expert on Ethiopia who teaches at Oklahoma State University, has described Zenawi’s regime as brutally dictatorial, which “does whatever it can to ensure the hegemony of a political minority over the majority of the people,” one that “thwarts democratic processes, abuses human rights,” and whose “repressions are on a scale equivalent to those of the world’s worst dictatorships.” A former Associate Director of the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, Dr. Vestal testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa in 1994, and is the author of "Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State."

Some international scholars believe the Zenawi regime exhibits all of the most recognizable ten characteristics of fascism:

1.    Suppression of dissent

2.    Attack on opposition parties/persons

3.    Incicipent Unitary party

4.    Lawless officials

5.    Police State

6.    Popular apathy, resignation and ignorance

7.    Diplomatic, fiscal and military

        recklessness

8.    Monopolized press

9.    Vote suppression and fraud

10.     Disdain for intellectuals and the arts

Concerned with Meles Zenawi’s mass murders of June 15, 2005, and those which occurred during November, 2005, several U.S. senators and members of Congress are questioning American support of the Zenawi regime. Among them, Senator Patrick Leahy has said, “There should be severe consequences for such a flagrant subversion of the will of the Ethiopian people.”

Dr. Joseph Lowery of the Atlanta-based Coalition for the People’s Agenda has called on President Bush and the U.S. Congress to “suspend all U.S. joint security activities with the Zenawi regime, which, despite an apparent defeat at the polls, has resorted to vicious nationwide terror campaigns aimed at crushing the people’s desire to build democracy.”

Recent developments in the international community have included the withdrawal of $375 million in aid by international donors and action by the European Parliament, which voted overwhelmingly for the formation of a UN-supervised inquiry commission into state-sponsored violence and to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

According to Ethiopian expatriate Dr. Desalegn Seyum, “Meles Zenawi is a master of deception who has remained in power mainly due to the unabated support of the West, irrespective of whatever atrocities he has committed.” Dr. Seyum is Chairman for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy.    He says those planning to attend the meeting in Washington, D.C. plan to appeal to the international community to assist them in achieving the following objectives:

1. Stop the killings of innocent civilians by Zenawi’s “special forces;”

2. Release of imprisoned CUD opposition party leaders, journalists and members of civic organizations;

3. Release of 100,000 or more estimated civilians who were imprisoned in concentration camps after the May 15, elections;

4. Formation of a new election board free from influence by the Zenawi regime;

5. Removal of the monopoly on use of the mass media by the Zenawi regime, which serves to circumvent the democratic process.

Dr. Seyum and others are calling for the formation of an ad hoc international tribunal to be formed under the auspices of the UN, to prosecute Zenawi and members of his regime responsible for the June 8, 2005 and November 1-5 massacres committed in Addis Adaba, and to seek compensation for the families of those slain.

He says, “We appeal to the U.S. government to stop funneling American taxpayers’ money to Meles Zenawi’s brutal regime – a regime that has used those resources for mass killings of the very people it was intended to help. Meles, a terrorist himself, can never be a good ally to any country fighting terrorism.”

CONTACTS:

Dr. Theodore Vestal

vestal@okstate.edu

Dr. Gashu Habte

571-432-7773

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Desalegn Seyum

405-612-6748
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