On the week of June 8th, 2009, a team of Ogaden Voice Peace activists and their Washington DC based political advisors paid a visit to Washington’s corridors of power in order to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill, The State Department, and other unidentified entities whose opinions shape US Foreign Policy towards not only the Ogaden Region but the entire Horn of Africa.
The goal of the OVP team was to illicit support in holding the Ethiopian regime accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity which has been well documented by respected human rights organizations. The OVP team also brought attention to the fact that there are currently thousands of innocent civilians in Ethiopian military prisons without due process or charges.
On Capitol Hill, OVP activists met with the Senate subcommittee on Africa and the Senate leadership who have placed human rights at the top of their agenda for the new term. These meetings also included a meeting with Senator Roland Burris who is the only African American in the United States Senate and who replaced Barack Obama.
The OVP team was morally uplifted by the fact that senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee have given their commitment for support in our struggle for justice, human dignity and towards a permanent settlement that satisfies the aspirations of the regions inhabitants. It’s our hope that the Obama administration will think outside of the box and find creative solutions to some of Africa’s most intractable conflicts. During our visit, it was apparent that the new administration has a new bold vision for Africa.
On the visit to the State Department, OVP was able to give its input with regards views and needs of the region’s inhabitants and the need for a more forward leaning and balanced US foreign policy in the Horn of Africa. The State Department is currently going through a transition of drafting a new policy for the new administration. During this transition period, the State Department illicits input from advocacy organizations in order to take into account their views in the drafting of the new policy. It’s expected that the new administration will focus on good governance, democracy, human rights and economic development in Sub-Sahara Africa.