Through a series of guest speakers, poems, and presentations the conference continued throughout the evening with explicit and raw detail of the current situation in the region. The conference opened with a presentation from the vice president of OYSU, Abdifatah Kariye, who gave detailed accounts regarding both current and past human rights violations underweighting the Ogaden region. Also, Kariye introduced the audience to a collection of videos of past and present violations depicting the testimonies of ethnic Somali people who have been victimized in the Ogaden region by the Ethiopian government. Following Karie’s speech was Hibaq Dualeh, the Executive Director of Resolve Ogaden Coalition (ROC) who brought to light several key indicators that presented the Ogaden as a region undergoing genocide. Dualeh criticized the United Nations and the United States for their lack of response to the atrocities carried out by the Ethiopian government. She compared the situation in the region to previous genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, and argued that the international community is intentionally refraining from labeling the atrocities in the Ogaden as genocide due to their unwillingness to uphold the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, which would in return hold them accountable for the protection of the civilians, as well as carrying out justice against those responsible. The president of OYSU Mohamed Jowhar, interpreted the evening’s events to the non-English speaking members of the audience. He concluded the event with gratitude towards the audience and guest speakers.
Though difficult, the Ogaden community in the Twin Cities had the honor to hear documented accounts of human rights abuses in the Ogaden from Create Trust founder Graham Peebles, a UK based writer, artist, and charity founder. Mr. Peebles shed light on the current lack of media attention from the international community and the systematic continuation of Ethiopia’s state initiated terrorism.
The conference concluded with the notion that we must take substantial action within our own diaspora communities to make a change. The Ogaden community in Minneapolis/St. Paul thanks the various community members and council delegates that traveled both great distances and short miles to attend this event. We condemn the continued injustices in the Ogaden and stand strongly against human rights abuses in the Ogaden. OYSU – Minnesota extends gratitude to our sponsors: University of Minnesota Human Rights Center and the Walter Mondale Law School.