At least two dozen people protested continued U.S. aid to Ethiopia outside the federal building here on Friday.
The group, mostly members of Minnesota and North Dakota’s Ogaden-American community, say billions in U.S. humanitarian aid for the drought-stricken area of Africa has been funneled to military operations in what some call a “silent genocide.”

Waving flags with green, light blue and red stripes, the protesters, many wearing black T-shirts proclaiming “I care about the Ogaden,” chanted “No more genocide!” and “Ogadenia!” They were urged on by bullhorn-toting organizers.

Abdi Kahim said he wants the U.S. to hold the Ethiopian government accountable.
“They’re murdering and raping,” Kahim said. “There’s a genocide going on in Ogaden.”
Hibat Dualeh said she’s been to several such protests. Her wish?
“To end the genocide. To end humanitarian aid to the government. And to the United States government to actually get involved,” Dualeh said.

The protest was part of a larger “I Care” campaign, aimed at stopping rape, torture, slavery, use of child soldiers, and killing of civilians in conflicts worldwide. But Friday’s focus was on the Ogaden, said organizer and Fargo resident Abdikarim Rabi.
Rabi said that as a 7-year-old, he saw dead victims of the fighting lined up outside a mosque in the Ogaden. From his perspective, most of the misery can be laid at the doorstep of the Ethiopian government, which refuses to negotiate with the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front.

“The genocide is escalating, speeding up” due to starvation in the region, where Ethiopia has not allowed access for media or nongovernmental organizations, Rabi said.
“There’s no accountability for our tax dollars,” Rabi said, adding that he’s sent petitions to Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., calling for U.S. action.

Conrad is one of six senators who wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking pressure on the Ethiopian government to open the Ogaden to the media and humanitarian groups, and to resolve the ongoing conflict between it and rebel groups.
Rabi said protesters want the U.S. to do what it has done for the citizens of Libya.
“We want them to protect the civilians of the Ogaden,” he said.

Protesters in Fargo oppose U.S. aid to Ethiopia from FCC Interactive on Vimeo.

 

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