Lantos directed not to mark up HR 2003

Coalition for HR 2003r
July 27, 2007

WASHINGTON DC - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (San Francisco) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Maryland) on Friday directed Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos not to mark-up H.R. 2003 on July 31, 2007, the Coalition for HR 2003 disclosed today. The reasons for the directive are not clear.

Preliminary investigations suggest that neither Chairman Lantos nor Chairman Payne were consulted prior to issuance of the directive. The Coalition is informed and believes that over the past few days, Zenawi’s lobbyists from DLA Piper, State Department officials and others were engaged in intense lobbying of Pelosi and Hoyer. Recent reports in national newspapers and magazines in the United States have documented the involvement of DLA Piper lobbyists to defeat H.R. 2003.

The Coalition has further learned that Ephrem Isaac, who has recently been masquerading as a “shimagle," has been engaged in intense lobbying efforts against H.R. 2003 in Congress. He was observed visiting various congressional offices today chaperoned and accompanied by Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York. The Coalition is investigating information that Isaac is mobilizing powerful Jewish leaders and groups in the United States against H.R. 2003.

The Coalition respectfully notifies Ethiopian Americans in California and Maryland, particularly in the congressional districts of Pelosi and Hoyer, to prepare for vigorous and intense advocacy in the coming days.

The Coalition will provide further statement on these developments shortly. The Coalition will prepare an advocacy action plan in the near future.

Special Alert:Zenawi cranks up lobbying machine to defeat HR 2003

WASHINGTON DC (July 27) - The fate of HR 2003 hangs in the balance as Ethiopia's tyrant Meles Zenawi deploys high-profile lobbyists now moving feverishly to kill off the Human Rights and Democracy Bill scheduled for mark-up July 31. The time to act is now, warns Coalition for HR 2003, as the Bill which has come this far winning bipartisan support faces direct threat from the $50,000-a-month DLA Piper lobbyists.

Following is the Action Alert released by Coalition for HR 2003.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has set H.R. 2003 for mark-up on Tuesday, July 31, 2007. We expect the Ethiopia Human Rights and Democracy Bill will receive full support by committee members and be recommended for passage by the Full House.

Special Alert: DLA Piper

Meles Zenawi has engaged his lobbying army of DLA Piper to defeat the bill. They are making calls and paying visits to members asking them not to support and vote for the bill. DLA Piper has fully engaged their top guns to defeat the bill. See Ken Silverstein’s report in Lobbying firms blocking action against Ethiopia's tyrant.

Shimagles

We are also very much aware that some individuals who have lately been representing themselves as “shimagles” are indeed leading a secret lobbying campaign against the bill. We are fully aware of their efforts, and if they want to continue on their present course, we insist that they register as lobbyists for a foreign government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act , 22 U.S.C. § 611 (c) (1).

Final Push

The Coalition for H.R. 2003 calls on all Ethiopian Americans in the United States to rise up once again and deliver victory in the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. We are up against the mighty lobbying firm of DLA Piper. If we don’t rise up now and show our support for H.R. 2003, they will use their enormous power to crush our efforts to defend human rights in our country.

Special Message from Prof. Al Mariam

I thank the Coalition for H.R. 2003 for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on the challenges that we face in pushing through H.R. 2003 in the House of Representatives.

I am afraid that some of us may not be aware of the concerted and coordinated activities by Zenawi’s lobbyists and others to defeat H.R. 2003. Every single day, Zenawi’s lobbyists, official representatives and even some who claim to be “shimagles” are making phone calls and pounding the pavement in Congress to defeat H.R. 2003. There is a coordinated effort between the lobbying firm, the official representatives in the U.S. and certain “shimagles” and others to mount a covert and not-so-covert assault on our bill. We must stand up and defend our bill!

Zenawi’s new lobbying strategy is simple. He wants to convince Congress that he has changed overnight from a dictator to a democrat. He says: “I have released the political prisoners. I am going to be a good boy from now on. I will abide by the rule of law and all that good stuff. Just don’t slam me with H.R. 2003.” His lobbyists are chanting the same thing all over Congress. “Sure, sure. Things are improving in Ethiopia. The political prisoners are released. More will be released. Zenawi is willing to observe human rights. He should be given a chance. The bill will hurt the Ethiopian people.” Blah, blah, blah. The unofficial lobbyists are trying to scam members of Congress by telling them that “Ethiopia is trying to solve its problems by using its elders and traditional methods of conflict resolution”. Blah, blah, blah.

But H.R. 2003 is not just about releasing political prisoners. It is about democratic reform and accountability, restoration of the democratic rights of the people, strengthening human rights and civic society organizations and human rights monitoring and reporting processes, increasing the independence of the judiciary, prosecution of human rights abusers, improving election procedures, removing press censorship and repeal of restrictive press laws and provision of various training programs for demcratic participation, and limiting U.S. security assistance to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism only, among others. Fortunately, we have not only truth and justice on our side, but also the defenders of truth and justice: Donald Payne, Chris Smith, Tom Lantos, Mike Honda, Charlie Rangel and dozens of others.

We have a choice to make now: Let Zenawi buy his way out of H.R. 2003, or we stand up and stop him cold on the steps of Congress. The choice is ours, not his. Zenawi is certain, very certain, that he will defeat H.R. 2003 and win in the end, because he has millions to spend on lobbying. He thinks he can buy Congress. Have no doubts about this. He is sitting in his palace right now laughing at us: “They are not going to do a damn thing. All they do is moan and groan. They have never been able to do anything in all these years.” So, here we are. Is Zenawi right? “We can’t do a damn thing.” ???

Call, Write, Visit Your members of Congress on behalf of Mother Ethiopia!

I ask every Ethiopian American to call, write and visit their members of Congress and ask them to support H.R. 2003. To paraphrase Shakespeare, the questions are:

  • Can each one of us afford to give Mother Ethiopia 5 minutes out of our busy lives to make a telephone call to a member of Congress and plead on her behalf the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights?
  • Can each one of us spare 10 minutes to write a letter to a member of Congress and explain Mother Ethiopia’s pain and suffering and the plague that has been visited upon her children?
  • Can we spare a couple of hours to go to the district office of our member of Congress; or for those of us who live close to Washington D.C., can we spend half a day in Congress and personally petition for relief of the suffering of Ethiopia’s children?

Let’s act NOW!

Let’s prove, No! Surprise Zenawi, that we can really work together to bring about positive transformations in Ethiopia. Let us show him that though we do not have millions to spend on lobbyists, we have hundreds of dedicated Ethiopians who will make up with patriotism and love of country what they lack in money.

My fellow Ethiopian Americans, awaken the giant within you. You have the power to do good, to be caring and compassionate towards your suffering brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. Use your power as a democratic citizen of the United States to fight evil. As Ghandi has taught, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." Let me add that strength does not come from spending millions on lobbyists. It comes from an unflagging and unfaltering commitment to a cause – our holy cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia.

Join me and thousands of others as we make our calls and visits to our members of congress.

Remember July 31, 2007!
God bless all of you!!!

For samples of fax letter, addresses of members of congress etc, click Here.

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