U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution with 11 other Senators today condemning the lethal violence used by the government of Ethiopia against protestors, journalists, and others in civil society for exercising their rights under Ethiopia’s constitution.
The resolution calls for the Secretary of State to conduct a review of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia in light of allegations that Ethiopian security forces have killed civilians. It also calls upon the government of Ethiopia to halt violent crackdowns, conduct a credible investigation into the killing of protesters, and hold perpetrators of such violence accountable.
“I am shocked by the brutal actions of the Ethiopian security forces, and offer condolences to the families of those who have been killed. The Ethiopian constitution affords its citizens the right to peaceful assembly and such actions by Ethiopian government forces are unacceptable,” Senator Cardin said. “The government’s heavy-handed tactics against journalists and use of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism and Charities and Societies Proclamations to stifle freespeech and legitimate political dissent demonstrate a troubling lack of respect for democratic freedoms and human rights.”
“Peaceful protestors and activists have been arrested, tortured and killed in Ethiopia for simply exercising their basic rights,” Senator Rubio said. “I condemn these abuses and the Ethiopian government’s stunning disregard for the fundamental rights of the Ethiopian people. I urge the Obama Administration to prioritize respect for human rights and political reforms in the U.S. relationship with Ethiopia.”
Joining Cardin and Rubio as cosponsors of the resolution are Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
The United States works closely with Ethiopia on signature Administration initiatives including Feed the Future and the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership. It also provides funding for Ethiopia’s participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia.
“Given the challenges posed by the devastating drought and border insecurity, it is more important than ever that the government take actions to unify rather than alienate its people. It is critical that the government of Ethiopia respect fundamental human rights if it is to meet those challenges,” Cardin added.