The Ogaden and Oromo communities of Ontario staged well organized protests in front of a venue where a delegation said to be visiting from Ethiopia was holding a meeting. The meeting was billed as a ‘meeting of the minds’ to discuss investment opportunities inside Ethiopia.
Although representatives from the Ethiopian embassies in Ottawa and Washington were present, multiple sources privy to the planning details of the meeting confirmed that it was bankrolled by the Harari community of Toronto. It was reported that this community paid $4,000 dollars for a meeting space that could accommodate up to 4,000 people.
Reliable sources have intimated with the Ogaden Online reporter in Toronto that when on the eve of the meeting, the organizers realized that they would not get even one third of the projected attendance, they attempted to switch the venue to the Harari Community office in Scarborough.
However, it is reported, and confirmed by one of the front desk attendants of the hotel where the meeting was to be held, that the hotel did not agree to refund the booking fee. The meeting went ahead at the Marriot Hotel in downtown Toronto as planned.
Hours before the meeting was to start, Oromo and Ogaden community members who have succeeded in obtaining a legal permit to protest in and around the meeting venue, have gathered. They appeared to be well organized. Many of the community members were dressed in Oromia and Ogaden national attires from head to toe.
They were carrying Oromo and Ogaden flags. Many of the protesters were carrying placards denouncing the Ethiopian regime. Some even hard banners accusing the Ethiopian regime of having perpetrated genocide in Ogaden. Some of the protesters stood the major intersections to distribute fliers some of which were titled “Highlighting the Hidden Genocide in Ogaden”.
The protesters had microphones and sound amplifiers that reached the hotel and its surroundings. While the protesters numbered in the hundreds – some estimates put the number at 350 – the meeting attendees were, in the best estimate, said to number no more than 30 individuals.
The Ogaden Online reporter was present at the meeting venue two hours prior to the start of the meeting and lingered until it ended. The reporter who was stationed at the main entrance of the hotel, counted 21 individuals five of whom were said to be from the Edmonton, Ottawa, and Washington cities respectively.
While the protesters demonstrated outside, those in attendance in the meeting listened to prepared statements from the Ethiopian officials. Although many topics ranging from politics to economic investment werediscussed, the most important item on the agenda appeared to be the delegation’s recommendation and insistence that those present and the Ethiopian Diaspora in general should invest in the Ethiopian central bank.
They have highlighted how redirecting the millions in money remittance that now goes through the informal, trust based Hawala system would benefit both the senders and the Ethiopian economy.
An attendee who was later interviewed by the Ogaden online reporter summed up his feelings this way: “Only an irrational individual would want to send his hard earned cash through the Ethiopian central bank.” He continued to add, “This is the same bank where billions worth of gold bars in reserve were looted and replaced with fake replicas instead of the gold bars that were deposited in the system.”