Many Ethiopians who now call Colorado home have escaped violence and torture in their home country.
If there was ever a right time to focus on a goal it’s this week for Yoseph Tafari.
“America is a beacon of hope for most if not the entire world,” Tafari said. “The harm that’s being done by this regime is no different to countries like Iran, North Korea.”
Colorado is home to one of the largest Ethiopian populations in the country. The evidence of torture and violence is not half a world away – it’s in Parker.
“I’m really happy I’m getting questioned now so that I could explain my pain hidden inside of me,” said Abdurizak Umer.
Through the help of an interpreter, Umer said he was arrested twice in the 90s for supporting the opposition to the ruling government. Now, he’s turning to another government for help.
“I don’t think without the support of the U.S. that they will survive,” he said.
The United States sent a billion dollars in aid to Ethiopia between fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
During that time, the government is accused of blocking the internet and social media access. The government has also been criticized for cracking down on journalists, according to House Resolution 128.
Parts of Colorado’s Ethiopian community helped craft the resolution.
The U.S House of Representatives is set to vote on it this month, which would include asking Ethiopia to allow the UN to investigate human rights violations as well as “stand by the people of Ethiopia and support their peaceful efforts to increase democratic space and to exercise the rights guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution.”
“I was only 14 when they arrested me,” said Jalata Abdo, who shared his story while interpreting Wednesday. “Our fight is not for us. It’s for our people. We are a voice for the voiceless.”
Republican Congressman Mike Coffman’s office has worked on this resolution. They say the Ethiopian government paid an American lobbying firm $150,000 a month.
At first, that did make it harder to push it toward a vote, but Coffman’s office believes the vote will happen in the coming weeks.
Ethiopia has a new prime minster, Abiye Ahmed, who just this week promised to work to end the years-long unrest as well as push through democratic reforms.
This changed some of the wording in the resolution, but the resolution is still expected to go to a vote this month.