WASHINGTON, DC

US President Barack Obama walks from Marine One after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 15, 2015. More than 50 African and global human rights groups on Tuesday called on Obama to publicly meet democracy activists when he visits Ethiopia and Kenya. AFP PHOTO | SAUL LOEB
US President Barack Obama walks from Marine One after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 15, 2015. More than 50 African and global human rights groups on Tuesday called on Obama to publicly meet democracy activists when he visits Ethiopia and Kenya. AFP PHOTO | SAUL LOEB

(AFP) — More than 50 African and global human rights groups on Tuesday called on US President Barack Obama to publicly meet democracy activists when he visits Ethiopia and Kenya later this month.

In a letter delivered to the White House, groups welcomed Obama’s planned visit but voiced concerns about “grave and worsening human rights challenges” in his host countries.

Signatories included a host of African non-governmental groups as well as Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the Open Society Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center.

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In Summary

  • Signatories included a host of African non-governmental groups as well as Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the Open Society Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center.
  • Obama’s willingness to meet activists, they said, would afford the groups protection and send a message that Washington stands with them.
  • Obama is due to visit Ethiopia later this month as well as Kenya, where his father was born.

[/pullquote]”We believe it imperative that you take the opportunity of your visits to meet publicly with pro-democracy and human rights activists,” the letter said.

Citing the arrest of six bloggers in Ethiopia — five of whom have recently been released — and sanctions against two Kenyan human rights groups, the signatories described a “shrinking civic space” in both countries.

GROUPS PROTECTION

Obama’s willingness to meet activists, they said, would afford the groups protection and send a message that Washington stands with them.

Obama is due to visit Ethiopia later this month as well as Kenya, where his father was born.

A presidential visit to Kenya had been put on ice while President Uhuru Kenyatta faced charges of crimes against humanity for his role in 2007-2008 post-election violence.

The International Criminal Court has since suspended that prosecution, citing a lack of evidence and Kenya’s failure to cooperate.

Human rights groups have criticised the Kenya trip, but have also questioned why Obama is visiting Ethiopia so soon after a contested election, which saw the ruling party win all parliamentary seats.

The White House stressed that it frequently addresses issues of democracy and political rights with countries in the region.

2 thoughts on “Rights groups press Barack Obama to meet activists on Kenya, Ethiopia trip

  1. President Barack Obama should meet activist when he visit Ethiopia. I think he can bring the best to that country people. If he really tall those dictators that any more they are not except dictators. If you remember he told mless zinawi about human right in Ethiopia. Now if he can and listen to the people that tplf is hated by all the people of Ethiopia. The massacre the genocide that has been done by tplf should be clear to Barack Obama and he has opportunity to tell truth to tpl, that they own the power like the own property. The power for the people and gain by people, tplf lost election no one voted for them they are controlling Ethiopian people by gun.

  2. The US-president is rather well advised to meet the leaders of the biggest opposition camp (medredk), Dr. Marara Gudina and Dr. Beyene Petros.
    Apparently, they are real authentic defenders of human rights and democracy in in Ethiopia. Obama should not lose this opportunity for his own personal legacy vis-à-vis African socio-political progress.

    If he shall not meet the opposition party, his visit would be seen as a USA venture on an open market in a bid to buy woyane mercenaries for their fight against Al-Qaida in Somalia. Nothing more.

    At the same time this would be seen as a godsend bonanza by the anti-imperialist Somali insurgents, for it undoubtedly attracts massively the international Jihadists in their favor. In the process Al-Shabab and Woyane shall prosper at the cost of Oromo and Somali people’s suffering.
    Woyane will see the opportunity to get more billions of financial flow and encouragement from the US to drive-off oromo farmers from their land and continue massacring their children.

    Upshot: Obamas hand shake with tplf means abundant prosperity for both Al-Shabab and Woyane.

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