Oromo: Event Addresses Democratic Growth
Below is an article written by Kathryn Nelson published by The
During the past two decades, rebel leaders and regimes have taken control of several African countries promising positive change but have instead executed attacks on civilians.
Last Friday [06 April 2007], the
Bringing together prominent policymakers, academics and leaders, the event focused on broad topics of African democracy and progress and drew about 150 attendees.
President of the Oromia Student Union Gada Beshir cosponsored the event. Beshir, who was born in an Oromia region of Ethiopia, said this "new breed" of African leaders have suppressed the will of the Oromo people and have participated in mass human rights abuses such as arbitrary detainment and torture.
The global studies junior also said the Ethiopian government is carrying out these actions with financial and military aid from the
Panelist Michael Clough, a former senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations and director of African advocacy at Human Rights Watch, spoke about the 2005 elections in
Clough said the Oromo people have a distinct disadvantage in participating in government politics, as the minority population rules over the majority.
"It's similar to the rulers of apartheid, maybe even less democratic," he said.
Clough said the Oromo people make up about 40 to 50 percent of people living in
The fragility of the area, in terms of political tension, is also a cause for concern, he said.
"If there was ever a full outbreak (of violence), the death toll would dwarf other situations," Clough said.
Bringing Ethiopian and Oromo issues to the top of the
"Or I guarantee people will say 'How could we not have done anything?' "
Professor at California State University Alemayehu Mariam said the
Mariam, who received his doctorate here, said Friday's event was meant to send a message to the victimizers of the African people: that someone is watching them.
These new leaders are "pitiful emperors with no clothes," he said.
The interactive event also allowed participants to voice their opinions on the current state of
"We have to bring the women up," one participant said, "and start to talk about the future of female African leaders."
Others looked for help from Africans living outside the continent, as well as African-American citizens in the
"Never, in the history of
Some said there's a disconnect between hypothesizing about solutions for
Still, the auditorium buzzed with questions, solutions and concerns for the continent that many living in