U.S Senator Cardin Statement on Arrest of Oromo Opposition leader Dr. Merera Gudina in Ethiopia.
WASHINGTON (kichuu info) : U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Friday after Dr. Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo People’s Congress and one of Ethiopia’s opposition leaders, was arrested earlier this week after returning home following his testimony to the European Union parliament on the current political crisis in the country:
“Dr. Gudina’s arrest appears to be based solely based on the fact that he is a member of the opposition who has spoken out publicly against the regime, and as such he should be immediately released. He is not the only member of the opposition to be arrested for speaking out, and his detention signals a disturbing lack of commitment to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution.
“The government’s crackdown on Oromo protesters over the past year have resulted in very troubling allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings by security forces with little in the way of meaningful accountability.
“The Ethiopian government should release all journalists, members of the opposition and civil society activists who have been detained, and take meaningful actions to open political space, starting with lifting current restrictions on social media.
“Ethiopia and the United states are close partners. As such, I call upon the government to take actions which demonstrate that it is sincere about making political reforms toward an inclusive, truly representative government.”
Senator Cardin introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution, S. Res. 432, in April that condemns government crackdowns on and violence against civil society, opposition leaders and the media, as well as asks the Secretary of State to conduct a review of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia.
Summary of S.Res.432 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)
Reported to Senate without amendment (06/28/2016)
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary of that version is repeated here.)
- killings of peaceful protesters and excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces;
- arrest of journalists, students, activists and political leaders who exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression through peaceful protests; and
- abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to stifle political and civil dissent and journalistic freedoms.
Urges protesters in Ethiopia to refrain from violence.
Calls on the government of Ethiopia to:
- halt the use of excessive force by security forces;
- investigate the killings and excessive use of force that took place as a result of protests in the Oromia region;
- release dissidents, activists, and journalists who have been jailed for exercising constitutional rights;
- respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and guarantee freedom of the press and mass media; and
- repeal proclamations that can be used to prohibit funding for organizations that investigate human rights violations, engage in peaceful political dissent, or advocate for greater political freedoms or proclamations that prohibit or otherwise limit those displaced from their land from seeking judicial redress.
Calls on: (1) the Department of State to improve oversight of U.S. assistance, and review security assistance, to Ethiopia; and (2) the U.S. Agency for International Development to lead efforts to develop a strategy to support improved democracy and governance in Ethiopia.
Supports the peaceful efforts of the Ethiopian people to exercise their constitutional rights.