The magnificent and unanimous passage of H.R. 2003 in the House of Representatives received a HUGE media splash! The BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and others reported on the great success of Ethiopians, Ethiopian-Americans, and all American friends of Ethiopia (See an excerpt of the many articles here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/ethiopia/hr2003.html ).
We heard from the media, now it’s time that the media (and through them, the world) heard from us! The international media did a great job bringing attention to the big Yes vote on H.R.2003. As is the norm, they quoted both proponents of the bill (Payne, Smith, and others) as well as opponents of the bill (Ambassador Samuel Assefa). The ambassador’s main talking point, which he regurgitates at every opportunity, is that the bill hurts Ethiopian-American relations, and that it fosters instability. Unfortunately, ill-informed Americans could easily buy it. So it is important to write to the papers to refute that! Let them know that:
The relationship between the United States and America is more than the relationship between Bush and Meles. Rulers come and go; the Ethiopian people are here to stay! Remaining silent when Meles brutalises Ethiopians is not the way to win Ethiopian hearts and minds – Condemning his brutality, as HR2003 does, will increase prospects of long-term and sustained strong relations between the two countries.
What breeds instability is to coddle an authoritarian government. Moderate critics of the regime will see US failure to stand by the side of the people as a signal that the only way to remove a tyrant is through violent means, which can’t be what the US wants! What breeds instability is when EPRDF, with the tacit consent of the US and the international community, starves Ethiopians in the Ogaden in order to root out a rebel group. Armed groups will then get sympathy, support, and recruitment. H.R.2003 seeks to encourage a democratic space in which Ethiopians can hold their government accountable through means other than the barrel of the gun.
Choose any one newspaper that published an article on the bill (and that published the ambassador’s reactions), and Write the Newspaper a letter Now:
Many, Many should Write: If the papers get flooded by letters-to-the-editor, they will be sure to publish one or two of them!
Keep it Short: 200 words or less. That will increase the chance of publication
Write ASAP: News becomes old fast in the media world. The sooner you write, the greater the chance you’ll see your letter in the paper.
Stay polite: Our problem is not with the paper, but with the ambassador’s illogic. Refute his talking points in a factual, straightforward manner.
It doesn’t have to be a piece of art! Don’t be too worried whether each word is perfect. The most important thing is that the newspapers hear from as many as possible, then they will know that this topic is a big deal, and will feel more compelled to publish one of the letters flooding their inbox.
For more ideas how to write a highly effective letter and increase your chances of getting published, see the Media Toolkit at http://eacamoveon.org/communicate.php .