Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia, a group of pro-Ethiopian activist around the word, has written a letter to Howard University president Sidney A. Ribeau asking him to cancel a meeting that is organized at the university’s campus next weekend by cadres of the brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia. Read below:
President Sidney A. Ribeau
Howard University Office of the Secretary
2400 Sixth Street, NW, Suite 440
Washington, DC 20059
Re: Request of cancellation of the April 9th event organized by the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia.
Dear President Ribeau:
The Ethiopian-American community in the Diaspora and human rights activists, in particular, is stunned that Howard University is willing to give its space to the agents and messengers of the criminal and repressive regime of Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Providing a meeting venue to a regime known for egregious human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, torture and the use of rape as a weapon of war to undermine the movement for freedom and democracy is very disheartening. It casts a blemish on the reputation of this great institution of higher learning and an affront to all people, especially those of African descent. It also makes Howard University — a living symbol of the determination of the people of African descent to free themselves of oppression and enjoy the fruits of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and prosperity as responsible citizens in a free and egalitarian society —appear to be a tacit supporter of social injustice and gross human rights abuses in Africa.
Under the regime of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia suffers from the absence of the rule of law, independent judiciary, free press, strong civil society, a strong opposition and a vibrant private sector. The United States Department of State 2010 Country Report on Human Rights and Practices documented that Mr. Meles Zenawi’s government continued to carry out “unlawful killings, torture, beating, abuse and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces, often acting with impunity; poor prison conditions ; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of sympathizers of members of opposition groups detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; use of excessive force by security services..” International rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Genocide Watch have repeatedly documented and condemned the gross violation of human rights, war crimes and even genocide perpetrated in Gambela and the Ogaden regions by the regime of Meles Zenawi.
These gross human rights violations are an affront to humanity and we believe the American people will not remain silent about these abuses, especially since the Zenawi regime is funded by taxpayer money. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, violation of human rights and the absence of a fair and free election process in Ethiopia allowed the ruling minority clique to claim that it won by 99.6%. In 2005, Mr. Meles Zenawi’s government rigged the relatively free and fair election, imprisoned thousands of innocent Ethiopians and the entire leadership of the major opposition party; and killed more than 200 peaceful protestors.
Despite massive foreign aid estimated at $30 billion since 1991, and $3 billion per year fro the U.S. government alone, the latest Oxford University Multi-Dimensional Index (MDI) showed that Ethiopia is the second poorest country, behind Niger in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ninety (90) percent of the population is poor; there are 5 million orphans; 70 percent of Ethiopian youth is unemployed and an estimated 7 million Ethiopians depend on international emergency food aid to survive.
The national economy is dominated by party owned and endowed enterprises. Endemic corruption is rampant at the highest levels of the regime. Inequality is on the rise. Ethiopian economists estimate that growing inequality is a consequence of economic and other asset concentration into the hands of a few government officials and their cronies at the expense of the majority. Land, the primary source of livelihood for the vast majority of the Ethiopian people, is owned by the state. The ruling party has used its power to illegally lease millions of acres of ancestral farmlands to foreign investors engaged in a neo-colonial land grab. These foreign agri-business companies are investing millions to produce food in Ethiopia to feed their own population and the rest to export to rich countries.
Under Meles Zenawi’s single party rule, Ethiopia continues to be ruled with an iron fist and suffer from incalculable “brain drain” Howard University as the alma mater of pioneer Ethiopians, such as Dr. Melaku Beyan stands to suffer irreparable damage to its reputation by allowing a brutal regime to hold a political meeting in its prestigious ground.
We, a coalition of civic organizations, advocacy and human rights activists, strongly urge you to cancel this embarrassing event that is due to be held at Cramton Auditorium on April 9, 2011. We would be very happy to meet with you and discuss our concerns further, and we can be reached by email: [email protected]
Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopiaa
Provost and Chief Academic Officer
James H. Wyche, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer
Troy A. Stovall
Senior Vice President
Strategic Planning, Operations & External Affairs & Chief Technology Officer
Hassan Minor, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Secretary
Artis Hampshire-Cowan, J.D.
Senior Vice President and
Chief Financial Officer – Treasurer
Vice President for
Development and Alumni Relations
Chief of Staff
Office of University Communications
Latta, Judi Moore
Phone: (202) 238-2338
Fax: (202) 986-0409
E-mail: [email protected]
Greg E. Carr
Associate Professor of Africana Studies
Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies
Email: [email protected]
African Studies Department
Cham, Mbye B.
David, Wilfred L.
Edgar, Robert R
Nyang, Sulayman S
Serapião, Luis B