Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the over 40, 000 Oromo-Americans in the great state of Minnesota, the Board of Directors of the Oromo Community of Minnesota (OCM) want to bring to your attention our deep concerns regarding your decision to visit Ethiopia. We are afraid that your visit will be construed by the ruling party as an endorsement of its undemocratic
While we are lucky to have escaped tyranny at the hands of your hosts in Finfinne, Ethiopia’s capital, we enjoy the unlimited freedoms, liberties, and opportunities afforded by the United States of America. However, our loved ones are suffering from rampant violation of their basic rights.
While making up close to half of Ethiopia’s burgeoning population of 94 million, the Oromo face political oppression, economic exploitation, and cultural marginalization in Ethiopia. Those who peacefully oppose these injustices are detained without any recourse to due process of law and languish in the many known and unknown detention centers dotting the vast Oromo country. Many others wallow under a judicial system lacking the independence necessary to ensure respect for the rule of law. Tens of thousands have disappeared never to be heard from again. Since the regime came to power through a violent means a quarter century ago, thousands have been murdered. In the name of development, over a million Oromo farmers have been uprooted from their ancestral farmland to make way for foreign-owned mechanized farms.
The Oromo Community of Minnesota strongly advises against making the trip out of fear that the regime will use it as propaganda tool to legitimize its autocratic rule. In the event that you decide to proceed with the trip, we urge you to press the regime in power to respect human rights, release all political prisoners in the country, and open up the political space for free exercise of democratic rights. We will also be thrilled if you could pay a visit to the notorious Maikelawi and Kallitti prisons, as you have commendably done here in the United States of America, and witness with your own eyes the injustices being visited upon the prisoners of conscience who are locked up for exercising the very rights enshrined in the country’s own constitution.
We thank you for paying attention to this important matter.
Sait Paul, Minnesota