A message from Oromo Advocacy Alliance
Dear members of Oromo Community in DC, Maryland and Virginia,
This summer and fall, many Oromos from other states will be making travel plans to come to DC. Some will be here for the 2017 Oromo Studies Association summer conference at George Washington University, others for weddings and summer vacation, still others for work or family visits. This year we urge you to encourage and support all visitors to allocate some time to make congressional office visits in the DC offices of their Representative and both of their two Senators to advocate for resolutions currently being considered on Ethiopia. If visitors are coming for OSA, the dates could be either Friday, July 28 or Monday July 31. Appointments for visits can be made several weeks to several days in advance.
Advocate for House and Senate Resolutions on Ethiopia
There are two historic and connected pieces of legislation under consideration by the United States Congress at this time which impact the Oromo: House Resolution 128 and Senate Resolution 168, both titled “Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia.” These resolutions started with a petition signed by 450 persons in the Metro DC area in December 2015-January 2016 to bring the Oromo protests to the attention of US lawmakers and urge that the Congress take action on Ethiopia.
About the Resolutions on Ethiopia
These resolutions are strong. They provide a “ticket in the door” of Congressional offices for Oromo and others adversely affected by the Ethiopian government. This is an excellent opportunity to exercise your democratic rights in the US and raise awareness about conditions in Oromia and Ethiopia and about what America should do. The purpose of the office visits is to ASK for the Congresspersons to co-sponsor the resolutions.
The resolutions’ text highlight 1) the human rights crisis, 2) erosion of democracy, 3) confiscation of land in Oromia and elsewhere, 4) excessive use of force (killings, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, rape) by the Ethiopian government against peaceful protesters, and other abuses against the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia. The resolutions condemn the atrocities by Ethiopian security forces and then focus on the need for stability and security in the region, the need to give hope to the youth who are sacrificing to express their aspirations, to lift the state of emergency, to investigate conditions, to call for the US government to take specific actions to hold the Ethiopian government accountable for its abuses and to closely assess security and development assistance,
Role of the Oromo Community Association of DC, MD and VA
The DC Oromo Community helped to get this legislation started. If you will recall, both the Senate and the House resolutions on Ethiopia grew out of a petition signed by 450 people in Dec 2015. People went to the Oromo Community House and the Oromo Center, to churches and restaurants to sign the petition in person. Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of MD and highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took it and assigned it to his staff to craft a Senate Resolution. Last year the resolution was S Res 432. This S Res is an updated version of that. Oromos were in the streets with huge demonstrations last year, which encouraged the introduction of the resolution (Demonstration was April 19 and introduction was April 20!). Congress ended before it was voted on in 2016, so it is reborn in 2017 and updated to include the newest conditions such as State of Emergency and massive arbitrary detentions, torture of innocents and military command post control.
This year advocates have a very important opportunity to be inside the Congressional buildings with a powerful “ASK”: “We ask the Representative/Senator to co-sponsor this legislation on Ethiopia.” Since the DC Community played a role getting this process started, members of the DC Community are well positioned to help bring it to the floor in both houses of Congress and get both resolutions passed.
What Should You Do?
Office visits on Capitol Hill are the best way to make these issues known, win friends for the Oromo and others adversely affected and to deconstruct the false narrative crafted by the Ethiopian government. Phone calls and emails also help, but nothing beats a well-planned office visit.
DC Oromo Community members can step in to advocate and we can help. Either plan a meeting for your selves or help plan meetings for others and accompany them. You will need to prepare well for it.
- Tell OSA visitors to plan to arrive one day early for the OSA conference, Thursday evening, July 27, or depart a day later, late in the day Monday July 31 or Tuesday August 1, in order allow time to make office visits before departing. Tell other visitors to plan extra time while in DC to visit Capitol Hill.
- Fix a time in advance to be sure that you or your visitors can visit your congressperson’s office while in DC. We can help to schedule it.
- If you want help in finding who your Congressperson is go to www.callyourrep.co. To get a meeting scheduled at a convenient time, or if you wish to have an experienced advocate accompany you, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide the following information
- your full legal name as it appears on your ID
- home street address – including zip code
- email address
- cell phone number
- names of people you would like to join you for the meeting. They do not have to be from your District, but it would help. Try to have at least one constituent/voter of the Congressperson as part of your group. Residents of the state or district can also request meetings. A mixed delegation with older and younger, different experiences or professions and different stories to tell, makes a more lasting impression.
OAA is available to follow up with you by email to help 1) arrange or confirm your appointment, 2) match available people to join your delegation, 3) provide people to accompany you, 4) give you the address of the office location, 5) tell you the best transport to use to reach the office building, 6) how much time to allow, 7) how to organize the delegation and 8) how to present talking points. This assistance is available for either a Representative’s or Senators’ office visit, if you want it. Potentially you could do three meetings – one Representative from district and two Senators.
Oromo Advocacy Alliance Will Assist by Providing Essentials.
- a well-marked table/booth in the lobby at OSA to provide materials, advice, instructions, and answer questions.
- a small workshop sponsored by Oromo Advocacy Alliance organized to give further guidance on how to have an effective and impactful visit. The workshop is planned for 7:30 PM Thursday, July 27 at the Oromo Community House, 6212 3rd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011.
- If you have questions, feel free to call 301-312-1361 and say that you are asking for OAA.
For more details and resolutions materials — including Sample Letters, Tips for Office Visits, Call-in Campaigns and Talking Points, go to the OAA website: https://oromoadvocacy.org/advocacy/