A forum focusing on the “Politics, Human Rights and the Quest for Freedom in the Horn of Africa” was held in Minneapolis, MN, on April 9, 2011. More than 300 Oromo and Ogadeni residents of Minnesota and American friends of these communities attended the forum, which was live streamed by Gadaa.com and OPride.com to an even wider audience across the world. The forum came a day after the U.S. State Department released its 56-page 2010 human rights report on Ethiopia.


The forum, “Politics, Human Rights and the Quest for Freedom in the Horn of Africa,” was sponsored by Minnesota-based civic and community organizations: the Ogaden-American Community of Minnesota, the Oromia Human Rights and Justice Council, the Plymouth Congregational Church – Global Connections Committee, Resolve Ogaden Coalition, and The Advocates for Human Rights.

The forum was opened with a speech by the Minneapolis Mayor R.T Rybak who remarked on the uniqueness of Minneapolis in being the home of the largest Horn of African communities in the U.S. In addition, statements from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and former Senator Russ Feingold (Wisconsin) were read at the forum. Rep. McCollum praised the forum participants for taking the initiative to raise public awareness about the human rights issues in the Horn of Africa and pledged to work with the community. Former Sen. Feingold emphasized that the respect of human rights was the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Horn of Africa. Statements from Rep. McCollum and Former Sen. Feingold were read by Mr. Robin Phillips, the Executive Director of The Advocates for Human Rights.

Dr. Beyan Asoba and Mrs. Hibaq Duale, Oromo and Ogadeni activists, respectively, gave speeches about the grave human rights situations in the Horn of Africa. Dr. Asoba, after speaking about the history of conflicts in the Horn of Africa and the ever deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia, urged the U.S. to keep its promise of “No Democracy, No Aid” policy. Mrs. Duale, from the Resolve Ogaden, compared the human rights situation in Ogaden to that of Rwanda and Darfur, but with no public outcry.

Mrs. Michele McKenzie, author of the “Human Rights in Ethiopia: through the Eyes of Oromo Diaspora,” spoke about human rights abuses in Ethiopia and requested attendants to sign postcards asking the US Congress to reintroduce “the Support for Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2010,” a U.S. Congress bill that was introduced last year by Former Sen. Feingold.

Watch a short video of the forum on GadaaTube.com. More videos to come soon.

source: http://gadaa.com/oduu/8649/2011/04/09/ethiopia-the-u-s-should-keep-its-promise-of-no-democracy-no-aid/


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