The Venable Law Firm’s Support of Ethiopia’s Genocide: The lives of Tigrayans are valued at US $105,000.
By Elias Dawit 03-03-21
The Venable LLP website (venable.com) displays a banner on its home page that states: We built our firm on an enduring promise: to see the world in the eyes of their clients. By representing Abiy Ahmed and his government, Venable is participating in the genocide against the Tigrayan people. It can’t be any simpler. By representing Abiy Ahmed, this U.S. law firm, located at 600 Massachusetts Avenue, sees the Tigrayan people as disposable—the defining characteristic of genocide that dehumanizes a people to rationalize their extermination. By representing Abiy Ahmed, Venable LLP has become a partner in this extermination.
Four months ago, before the rest of the world acknowledged the genocidal reality in Ethiopia, Venable might make a case that this “law enforcement operation” was a legitimate response to a “rebel junta” that audaciously held an election against the wishes of the federal government. This flimsy rationale, in the transactional world of lobbyists, might possible have survived what little scrutiny is given to lobbyist client lists. It comes as no surprise that Venable also represents Turkey and the United Arab Emirates—rounding out their client cadre of human rights abusers.
Today, however, the global community—from governments, multilaterals and the media—has, albeit it too late to mitigate any of the suffering of the Tigrayan people—has acknowledged the tragedy that was occurring in plain sight. This is a genocide livestreamed on mobile phones.
So, why, then, does Venable continue to represent perpetrators of genocide? Venable is one of the top 100 firms in the U.S. However, in 2020 Venable laid off a number of attorneys and cut attorney salaries across the board.
Does money explain the decision to represent a genocidal state?
In a letter written to Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega, Venable attorney and responsible partner Thomas Quinn writes, “ I will be the responsible partner in charge of this matter. We have agreed to a monthly retainer of $35,000.” Thomas Quinn is a respected lawyer in a prestigious law firm. As a young man, he worked on the Presidential campaigns of Hubert Humphrey and Edward Kennedy, two stalwart champions of human rights. How can a principled man represent a genocidal state?
Since the contract ends in April 2021, the total fee for representing a genocidal state amounts to US $105,000.
The lives of the Tigrayans murdered, gang-raped, mutilated, starved, denied their essential medication, and displaced is $105,000.
Mr. Quinn is joined by Loren K. Adho as his policy advisor. An attorney, he served in the Department of Homeland Security and specializes in networking with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
In a letter to Senator Ben Cardin’s office (D-Maryland), Mr. Loren writes, “The Embassy of Ethiopia welcomes the opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest or address any concerns that you have. Ethiopia looks forward to continuing to strengthen the relationship with the U.S. and to working to resolve any issues that exist between the two countries”. Attached was Abiy Ahmed’s February 11th article, Toward a Peaceful Order in the Horn of Africa.
The irony is too obvious to even mention.
Given the plethora of news reports along with official statements from governments, multilateral organizations and human rights organizations, Mr. Quinn and Mr. Aho should inform their employer, Venable LLP, that they should no longer represent the interests of a genocidal state.
Perhaps readers would like to phone or email Mr. Quinn at 202-344-4701 and thquinn@Venable.com and Mr. Aho at 202-344-4341 and lkaho@Venable.com.
Let them know that the lives of the Tigrayan people are worth more than US $105,000.
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