An Appeal To President George W. Bush sign now

Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned citizens of the United States, were delighted to learn that Ethiopia, one of the oldest nations in the world, was evolving peacefully into a democratic state, and that on May 15, 2005 nearly 90\% of the registered voters turned out to vote, to the extent that some voters
had even to wait some ten hours in line to exercise their democratic rights.
However, the government in power claimed victory before the votes were counted. The two major opposition coalition groups, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), and United Ethiopian Democratic Front (UEDF), have now gone on record to challenge the victory claim made by the regime. Having already expressed serious misgivings about the independence of the National
Electoral Board of Ethiopia, they now contend that serious fraud and vote-rigging had taken place in 299 constituencies. They have demanded that investigation be conducted by a group that is free from the influences of both the government and the opposition. Members of the public also raised protests. On June 8, 2005, hundreds of university and college students throughout Ethiopia staged sit-in demonstrations against what they believed was a rigged parliamentary election. Bus drivers, shop keepers and taxi drivers went on a strike to protest both the violence and the stealing of votes by the government.

Mr. President,
Incredible as it sounds, the regime deployed its security forces armed with assault rifles to go on a rampage against the unarmed and peaceful demonstrators. Many of the university and college students were beaten with batons and rifle butts. Those who were taken away by the police have
not been released yet. Given that the Prime Minister himself is in charge of the police, the military security, and the army the election, the responsibility for these was entirely his alone.

Mr President,
The situation in Ethiopia is getting worse by the day. Without a timely intervention by the Government of the United States, it could get out of control and destabilize the region. Government sponsored violence by armed special forces is spreading throughout the land. The death toll is now
thirty nine by government counts and many fold by eye-witness accounts.
As we speak,
More than 3,000 supporters of the opposition have been arrested by the government since election day, the leaders of the opposition are under repressive political environment, and recently elected opposition member of parliament was shot dead by the security police.
Two members of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council are held incommunicado.
Six journalists have been detained.
Even an Italian journalist covering the election in Ethiopia has been forced to seek refuge at the Italian Embassy in Addis Ababa.
The call by Amnesty International for an urgent independent investigation into the killings of the demonstrators has been rejected by the government.

We the undersigned, citizens of the United States, condemn the killings, the terror and imprisonment of people who struggle peacefully for the respect of their rights, and the gross and persistent violations of human rights. We ask the United States government to use its powerful office to exert maximum pressure on the regime to bring an end to its reign of terror, to respect the international principles of human rights, to allow investigations into the crimes which were committed against unarmed and defenseless individuals, and to allow the recounts of votes or new elections to take place in the 299 disputed constituencies.

Unless arrested, the situation on the ground is extremely volatile and might destabilize the region. We are convinced that a democratic, stable and peaceful Ethiopia is in the best interest of the United States.

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Sasha RiosBy:
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