Testimony Before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Hearing on International Financial Institutions and Human Rights
Date: September 30, 2015
Given by: Mr. Obang O. Metho,
Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia
Mr. Chairman, I am not here as an expert, a scholar or researcher; but instead, I am here as a defender of human rights for human beings. I am the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, (SMNE) a social justice organization of diverse Ethiopians, which is based on the principles of “putting humanity before ethnicity or any other differences” and caring about the well being of others as we do about ourselves not only because it is right, but also because “none of us will be free until all are free.” read...
HEARING on International Financial Institutions and Human Rights on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Obang Metho to testify to members of the U.S Congress. read...
September 28, 2015
Think of us as a human family in a global community.
I will begin my speech with story of a man I met name Steve Abdullah. Steve was released from prison the day I met him in the metro. I wore hijab. He greeted me with “Assalamu alaikum.” Humbled I responded, “Walaikum as-salaam.” A delightful introduction. He asked everyone to help him pay for a meal, but his voice drowned out in the crowd of morning commuters.
I was on my way to DC to the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) office. The, SMNE, is a family. Everyone is welcome. Think of us as a human family in a global community. I sat next to two Ethiopian women new to the US. A young Muslim sister who had lived in Alexandria for one year and a Protestant Ethiopian Christian woman who had arrived two months ago. They were new to each other, their friendship only a week old, and already they supported each other in their job search. I gave them both my SMNE card and said we can help you get situated in this area to make it your home. read...
September 26, 2015
Human Rights for Human Beings - Mr. Obang Metho speaks to Ethiopian Muslims in Washington DC about the widespread human rights violations in Ethiopia and the need for justice, freedom, tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity.
I would like to thank First Hijraha Foundation for inviting me to speak to you today on the very important topic of human rights. It is good to be here with all of you. I also thank you for this very nice and meaningful plaque First Hijraha Foundation, UEM-PMSG, Risala Intentional and Oromo Muslims Foundation have just given to me, acknowledging the work the SMNE has done for Ethiopian Muslims.
I am honored to receive it in behalf of the SMNE; however, I also believe we have only done our job. In speaking up for you and other Ethiopians who are suffering and at risk of abuses, we believe we are only assuming our God-given responsibility. This is at the heart of our mission. We hope this principle will permeate into the fabric of Ethiopian society so as to establish a culture of respect, care, and love that embraces all Ethiopians.
When the Anuak, my own ethnic group, suffered horrific human rights abuses at the hand of the current ethnic apartheid regime of the TPLF/EPRDF, we formed the Anuak Justice Council and initially spoke out for the Anuak, but early on, we learned of human rights abuses throughout the country.
When the same kinds of abuses were perpetrated against Ethiopian Muslims, we felt we had to speak out for you also. Eventually, we broadened our mission to all Ethiopians and beyond. I am glad you have been the beneficiary of that. This plaque is not only for me, but is also for others in the SMNE who have joined together to advocate for the human rights of others. read...
September 3, 2015
Lingua Franca - Adopting a Common Language
By Yerusalem Work
Ethiopians incorporate the concept of home in the naming of many public institutions. Bet is the Amharic word for house. A movie theater is called a cinema bet. You have an akim bet, a house of doctors. A mesaf bet, a house of books, is a library. Timirt bet is a house of education or school. From a young age, we're taught that home extends beyond sleeping quarters and includes more than our immediate family. At least, that logic is embedded in the Amharic language. Do we as Ethiopians really feel at home, especially around other Ethiopians? read...
July 26, 2015
When Will the Human Tragedy of the African People End? Open Letter to President Obama
Dear Mr. President,
Seven years ago you stood before the parliament in Ghana and said, “I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story.”
On July 28, you will be addressing the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As you do, may I introduce you to another story, my own and that of the Anuak people of Ethiopia. I also have the blood of Africa within me; in fact, it is similar to your own. We Anuak are part of the larger family of Luo, Shilluk, Acholi, Pari and other people of the upper Nile. We are an ancient people, now mainly living in East African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Uganda, but some of our people are scattered all over Africa. Many of our names start with “O” like yours and mine.
My story also encompasses the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story, but the ending is still to be determined. The reason I am telling it at this time is because it presents a microcosm of what threatens the lives and futures of Africans. It begins in the remote region of Gambella of southwestern Ethiopia, located on the border of South Sudan. It involves a rich culture, a marginalized people, valuable land and resources and its exploitation by those in power. Much of what you may hear about Ethiopia may be heavily processed, like food that undermines your health. Some thrive on it while others are not satisfied until they have it in the “organic” state. If you are the latter, keep reading; if not, please forgo the rest of the story. read...
July 24, 2015
Obama’s Emerging African Legacy: Will African Strongmen or the African People Benefit?
This week US President Barack Obama will visit his father’s home country of Kenya, followed by Ethiopia, where he will address the African Union and meet with Ethiopian government leaders. The trip is garnering much attention among Africans, especially Ethiopians, who see his plans to meet with members of the current authoritarian government, in office for over 24 years, as a disturbing alignment with Ethiopia’s strongmen, contrary to his strong statements of the past on behalf of the people of Africa.
In his famous speech to Ghana’s parliament in July 2009, Obama won the enthusiastic response of Africans when he said, “Make no mistake; history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”
How will Obama live up to these statements in meetings with autocratic Ethiopian leaders who manipulate elections, the law and the Constitution to suit their needs or when he addresses the strongmen in the African Union? In the years 2015-2016, some thirty national elections will be held in Africa. Out of these, Nigeria may be one of few success stories where there was a peaceful transition between a sitting president and a newly elected leader. read...
July 14, 2015
Journalists Released; Religious Leaders Convicted The Manipulation of Political Prisoners for Political Gain in Ethiopiat
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) strongly condemns the recent verdict of the Ethiopian Federal High Court Fourth Criminal Bench concerning eighteen Ethiopians of Muslim faith who were found guilty on counts of attempted terrorism, conspiracy and incitement on July 6, 2015. Those convicted include six members of the Ethiopian Muslims Arbitration Committee, eight scholars, two journalists, one artist and one student. They had been arrested in July 2012 related to their leadership roles in objecting to government interference in their internal religious affairs, in violation of Ethiopian law and the Constitution. This interference included at least three major complaints read...
June 30, 2015
TPLF/EPRDF Makes a Mockery of Judges’ Decision to Release Semayawi Youth by Over-riding Court Verdict
Not only are Ethiopian elections a farce—reconfirmed by recent regime claims of a 100% victory in the May 24, 2015 national elections—but so is the independence of the judicial system. This mockery of justice was shown when police re-arrested four young members of the Semayawi opposition party [Blue Party} after they were released from court. This happened not once, but three times, despite the fact they had already been freed each time by the court. They remain in jail as of today. read...
June 17, 2015
Our Struggle for Justice, Freedom, Unity and Prosperity for All Will Not End by Killing and Arresting Our Heroes
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia are deeply grieved at the murder of Samuel Aweke Alem, a charismatic and highly popular lawyer who recently ran as a Blue Party (Semayawi Party) candidate for parliament in the May 24, 2015 Ethiopian National Election—an election where the ruling and ethnic apartheid party has claimed all the votes so far. The prevalent belief is that he won; but, it is a victory that would never be tolerated or acknowledged by this ethnic apartheid regime of the TPLF/EPRDF. Now, his refusal to give up the struggle for freedom and justice was also seen as a threat.
Two weeks before his death on June 3, 2015 he wrote the following on Facebook: “Any price I am going to pay is for my country and for freedom. I may be imprisoned, but my conscience will still be free. If they murder me I am passing this torch of struggle. Especially I am appealing to you – my contemporaries of this generation”. read...
May 27, 2015
NEW OPPORTUNITIES POST-FAKE-ELECTION: IT IS THE PEOPLES’ TIME NOW
The fake and unlawful election of May 24, 2015 is over in Ethiopia. No one is surprised with the sweeping victory of the incumbent regime, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), over the stifled opposition. Over the last five years, the EPRDF, which is mainly controlled by one ethnic group making up 6% of the population, the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), has focused enormous efforts on closing all political space to any contenders. They are now claiming themselves the winners—by a landslide. Although the final “count” is not yet in; some early reports indicate the EPRDF has “won” every seat in parliament—a 100% victory. This highly unpopular regime has somehow managed to improve upon the results of 2010 when they received a mere 99.6% of the vote. What is surprising is their apparent lack of shame and embarrassment when everyone knows the results are blatantly false. read...
May 12, 2015
AUTHORITARIAN ETHIOPIAN REGIME CADRES FORCE PEOPLE TO CAST OPEN BALLOTS IN ADVANCE OF ELECTION
Washington, DC. The Ethiopian National Election is on May 24, 2015, less than two weeks away, but the authoritarian regime, under the control of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) for the last 23 years, appears to be panicking. The political mood of the Ethiopian people is feistier than ever as they see the election to be a totally controlled process, hardly worthy of their participation. Yet, even despite the scrupulous closing down of all political space, the EPRDF is obviously still scared and has come up with a new plan to further protect themselves from the vote of the people, even while pretending otherwise.
Regime cadres, all on salary, have been organized so that one cadre is responsible to ensure five people fall into line with the goals of the EPRDF. These cadres have been going to the homes of those people assigned to them with election ballots for the May 24th election. The people are told they must immediately cast their ballots and to stay home on Election Day. Reportedly, the ballots are not secret, but are collected by these agents who also write down their names. Anyone who refuses to cast their ballot or who tries to vote on Election Day will face serious consequences like the loss of jobs, opportunities, or other benefits. Some are threatened with punitive actions, which in this country might mean arrests, beatings or other abuse. With the full authority of the regime behind them, they are able to harass and intimidate these persons in order to achieve full compliance. read...
April 25, 2015
A LETTER FROM OBANG METHO TO ETHIOPIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS: AN URGENT CALL FOR PRAYER FOR OUR NATION
Dear Ethiopian religious leaders and members of the Ethiopian faith community,
I am coming to you as a human being and also as a believer in Jesus Christ. My appeal is not only for fellow Christians, even though it is a call for Christians to pray, but I also want it to apply to others for when we truly seek God, he will reward us.
Some religious leaders and people of faith will come as Christian believers, others as Muslims, still others as Jews. We may differ in our beliefs, but we share the truth that there is one God who created all human beings in His image. He gave each of us value and the free will to choose to love him with all our hearts, souls and strength. God told the people of Israel through Moses the following before entering the Promised Land. It gave the people a choice and we are faced with a similar choice today. He said: “… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. ” (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a) read...
April 21, 2015
“ETHIOPIA, A COUNTRY WITHOUT A GOVERNMENT” THE PROTEST SLOGAN SHOUTED OUT BY ETHIOPIAN MOURNERS IN THE STREETS OF ADDIS ABABA TODAY FOLLOWING THE MASSACRE OF ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS IN LIBYA
On Sunday, April 19th, the Islamic State (IS) released a video depicting the gruesome killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. It is said to have been carried out at two separate locations; one where they were shot in the head and the other where they were decapitated. It has been upsetting for anyone to see; however, it has been especially heart-rending to the people of Ethiopia.
Mr. Obang Metho, the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, is calling on Ethiopians from every ethnicity, religion, region and political viewpoint to come together in unity to mourn for these Ethiopians who have lost their lives and to find ways to protect the many others who remain in dangerous situations. read...
April 4, 2015
SURPRISE RESULTS IN NIGERIAN ELECTIONS UNPRECEDENTED IN AFRICA AS PRESIDENT CONCEDES VICTORY TO OPPOSITION
Ethiopians, along with Africans all over the continent, are stunned! Out of 55 countries in Africa over the last 65 years, only five incumbent African leaders, according to one report, have ever conceded victory to a political opponent. That is why it took so many people by surprise this past week when Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who has been in office since 2010, conceded the 2015 election to the former Army General Mohammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress.
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia both salute and congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan for making a decision unique to the continent of Africa. In fact, the election board had not even announced the results when President Jonathan called President-elect Buhari to graciously concede his own defeat and to congratulate Buhari on his win. read...
March 24, 2015
SECRETIVE AGREEMENT ON THE NILE BY POLITICALLY REPRESSIVE ETHIOPIAN REGIME ANOTHER TPLF GIVEAWAY TO WHAT BELONGS TO ETHIOPIANS!
(Geneva, Switzerland)-- On March 23, 2015, a Tripartite Summit on the Nile was held in Khartoum, Sudan, hosted by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and attended by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Sisi, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. As an outcome of that meeting, these three leaders will sign an agreement of Declaration of Principles on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will later be presented to the Ethiopian Parliament for final approval. This agreement will include an impact study on the effects of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam—an electrical project located on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia—on countries downstream. The results of this study will further shape the outcome.
Ethiopians have reason to worry, as the details are vague and open to interpretation. What will be signed away before really knowing the impact? What will be the potential affect on generations to come, not only of Ethiopians, but also South Sudanese, Sudanese, and Egyptians? Other people in riparian countries upstream from the north-flowing river could also end up being involved in some of the impacts. read...
March 18, 2015
An Open Letter to U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, Members of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Thank you for the work you have done in standing up for human rights and the well being of the people of Africa. This hearing tomorrow March 18, 2015 on the subject: U.S. Election Support in Africa is another example of your ongoing interest in seeking information from experts regarding Africa to make it a more just environment for its people. Over the last ten years, I have had the privilege of working with you, your office and other members of the Subcommittee on Africa on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia as its executive director.
As an organization, we are very concerned with the current deplorable lack of democratic and political rights across Africa that can create seeds of future instability, violence, and chaos; possibly creating a training ground for terrorist groups desperate for change or simply angry. In the year 2015, more than 27 elections will be held in African countries; yet, attributes of healthy democracies—free and fair elections, political space, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, transparency, accountability and democratic institutions—are all in serious decline in many of these same countries. This is an important fact to be considered by legislators in making decisions regarding U.S. involvement in these elections. read...
March 1, 2015
WHAT WENT WRONG THAT WE OVERCAME A FOREIGN OPPRESSOR BUT HAVE REPEATEDLY FAILED TO OVERCOME INTERNAL OPPRESSION?
What went wrong that we overcame a foreign oppressor but have repeatedly failed to overcome internal oppression? Later on we will talk about what we can do to achieve a more lasting victory. As I have previously stated, for Ethiopia to move forward, we must own the truth—which includes not only celebrating the proud moments of our history and learning lessons from it, but also accepting the bad and ugly parts so we might also learn from them. This must start by talking to each other rather than about each other—a way to bring reconciliation that will lead to greater unity. read....
February 25, 2015
Post ADWA Victory: Can Ethiopians Own Their Part in Decolonizing Today's Ethiopia - Starting with Ethnic Apartheid?
Ethiopia’s many committed journalists have been blocked at every turn from the free expression of ideas and information. The ethnic apartheid regime of the TPLF/EPRDF sees them as a serious threat to their control of Ethiopia. As a result, they end up jailed or fleeing the country for safety. Of those Ethiopians who flee the country, some continue to fulfill their calling even with few resources, like you. All of us should appreciate and support these people who are not only focusing on their own personal lives, but who are trying to do something of service to the people. read....
February 10, 2015
Thank You Letter to the Washington Post
Dear Editorial Board of the Washington Post,
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia want to express our appreciation to the Editorial Board at the Washington Post for your excellent article entitled, “Ethiopia’s stifled press,” appearing on February 9, 2015.
Ethiopi a is often overlooked by the mainstream United States and Western media. When it is covered, many seem to be blinded by the Ethiopian government’s political spinning and its creative use and/or fabrication of facts, indexes and indicators, a frustration among Ethiopians that makes your article all the more gratifying. In fact, we have already heard from many Ethiopians in Washington DC who are very encouraged by your forthright telling of the truth about Ethiopia, especially in light of the fact that the Washington Post is an important newspaper read by many policy makers. On behalf of the Ethiopian people whose voices have been silenced, we heartily thank you! read...
An Open Letter to President Barack Obama, The alarming political conditions in Ethiopia that may threaten the future security and stability of this strategic country in the Horn of Africa
I am writing this to you on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia to alert you to the alarming political conditions in Ethiopia that may threaten the future security and stability of this strategic country in the Horn of Africa. Current United States policies that strongly support the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) are being abused by this regime to undermine the democratic aspirations of the Ethiopian people. As the EPRDF intensifies the crack down on the political and human rights of the people there is fear that some event may ignite the simmering tensions, causing them to explode into violence, killing and chaos. read...
Video Release: part two of the
recent SMNE FORUM SERIES II in Minnesota
January 16, 2015
Should Ethiopians Boycott the Upcoming Fake Election in Ethiopia? More Crackdowns Lock Out Opposition Groups from Political Participation
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia has no choice but to expose the duplicity and repression of choice in the upcoming Ethiopian National Election due to the dictatorial nature of the ethnic apartheid regime of the TPLF/EPRDF that has been in power for the last 24 years. The SMNE is a non-political, non-violent social justice movement that stands for the freedom, rights, and well being of all Ethiopians, regardless of ethnicity, political view, religion, regional background or other differences. We are very concerned about the future of the country. Read.... (pdf)
Video Release: part one of the
recent SMNE FORUM SERIES II in Minnesota
Diverse Ethiopians in Minnesota find new and promising relationship as they step out of ethnic, religious, gender, and political boxes to embrace each other as valued human beings first.
What does it mean—in real life—to appreciate the common bond of humanity above ethnicity or any other distinctions? If you had attended the recent SMNE Forum in Minnesota on December 6, 2014 that brought diverse Ethiopians together to talk to each other rather than about each other you would have seen it in action. We give thanks to the people in the Twin Cities who have captured this vision and organized this meeting only two weeks after a similar event was held in Washington D.C. on November 15, 2014.
What made it so gratifying was to hear from such diverse Ethiopians—from different ethnicities, religions, regions, genders, backgrounds, and perspectives—as they presented their stories, ideas, and solutions to the problems facing Ethiopians. Speakers were from Oromia, Gambella, the Ogaden, and the Amhara region and included both men and women. Some were of different faiths—either Muslim or Christian. It was encouraging to witness the enthusiastic response of the audience and participants as each presenter spoke about the past, including grievances, as well as of the present and its challenges, and about our shared future. They all soon discovered the many similar commonalities between them. read... (pdf)
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