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DC Joins a Bunch of Obscure Int'l Separatist Groups Seeking Statehood

As part of its quest for statehood, Washington, DC has joined an obscure organization whose members include separatists groups and ethnic and religious minorities from around the world.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) on Monday welcomed DC as its newest member, citing the District's lack of federal representation.

"In recognition of its lack of self-determination, lack of voting representation in the national legislature, and potential unequal weight in Presidential elections, District of Columbia was admitted as a member of UNPO through a vote by the Presidency Members," the group announced.

UNPO's 44 other members include territories like Taiwan and Kosovo, and political parties like the Balochistan National Party, of Pakistan, and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan.

Joining the list is DC, whose residents pay federal income taxes, but have no voting representation in the federal government. Additionally, all DC laws and budgets are subject to congressional approval.

Paul Strauss, one of DC's two elected "shadow" senators, traveled to Brussels last week seeking to secure District membership into UNPO as a way to advance the cause for statehood.

"This was an important opportunity to highlight DC's status on the international stage," Strauss said on Monday after his return.

As a part of his pitch, Strauss reportedly showed a segment from HBO's "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver," in which the late-night comedian discussed DC's status.

In a statement, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton praised Strauss for his lobbying efforts.

"I recognize that some of UNPO's members are ethnic groups or territories that present different kinds of abuse than we usually discuss in the District, but the fact that we are among strange bedfellows only points up the recognition that the denial of democracy takes many forms," she said.

Still, the benefit is unclear. Membership does not guarantee other UNPO members will support DC statehood, nor does it give new support to those groups, the Washington Post reported.

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