Oromo community pushes SD delegation for pressure on Ethiopian government
Mustafa Godi wants to build a school in his home village of Rira, Ethiopia, and he’s not the only one.
The Sioux Falls resident’s Tuluu Dimmitu Foundation has support from the 2,500 or so Oromo Ethiopians who live in the city, and from a handful of others who’ve followed the plight of the country from the peaceful prairie.
The group would also like to offer village children scholarships, as schooling ends at eighth grade without them.
Even if they raised the $250,000 needed for the school, there’s little they can do now.
There’s too much chaos in the country.
“We have to wait until things changed,” Godi said over the weekend. “Everything’s stopped.”
The people of Ethiopia’s Oromia region have been under the thumb of the federal government since mandatory resettlements outside the capital of Addis Ababa sparked an Oromo uprising in 2015.
Since then, hundreds of thousands across the country have been displaced, jailed or killed.
That’s why Godi, his brother, Godi Boku, and several other members of Sioux Falls’ Oromo community visited the offices of Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem last week.
The Oromo community in South Dakota wants its congressional delegation to vote for a pair of resolutions designed to pressure Ethiopia’s ruling party to release prisoners and end the bloodshed. A briefing on the resolutions is scheduled to take place this week in Washington, D.C.
The same issue drove protests in Sioux Falls over the last three years.
“We’re trying to be a voice for voiceless people,” Boku said.
The issue is personal for Boku, both as an Ethiopian expatriate and a taxpaying U.S. citizen: The aid that flows from his adopted home to the leaders of his ancestral one comes out of his pocket.
“It’s like I’m paying to kill my people,” Boku said.
The delegation largely expressed support for the resolution last week.
Rep. Noem issued a statement last week saying she’s heard from numerous members of the Oromo community, and she backs the resolution.
“I’m hopeful this legislation will reiterate to the world that we stand in support of democracy and the freedoms citizens within that democracy are constitutionally entitled to,” Noem said.
Sen. Rounds was even more forceful in his support. Rounds sent a letter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016 asking what the U.S. could do to address the discrimination against the Oromo population.
“We must continue to support efforts that lead to a stable, inclusive and democratic Ethiopia,” Rounds said.
A spokesman for Thune’s office said the senator’s policy staff is reviewing the resolution and the information delivered by last week’s visitors to his Sioux Falls office.
Mark Sanderson of Sioux Falls, who works with Timmu Dimmitu Foundation, said over the weekend that he hopes to see action soon.
The plight of the Oromo has gone largely unnoticed. If the group’s dream of funding a school in Rira is to become a reality, the political situation must improve.
“Everybody in the international media knows about the situation in the Middle East and the Syrian refugees, but Ethiopia is under the radar,” Sanderson said.
Source: Argus Leader