Sunday, July 08, 2012
TORONTO — Members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a rebel group fighting for independence for an ethnically Somali part of Ethiopia, have held their annual conference in Toronto, Canada, on Friday.
The three-day conference was organized by members of the Ogaden Diaspora community and participants came from far and wide — all seven continents.
Friday’s inaugural event was a flashy, exhilarating spectacle featuring Somali music and traditional dances as well as patriotic songs for the movement. Members of the Canadian mainstream society were also present at the convention.
The event, spearheaded by prominent political panels, highlighted the current political and social situation in the Ogaden region, which borders Somalia and is settled mainly ethnic Somali tribes.
The ONLF accuses the Ethiopian military of routinely killing Somali civilians and burning villages in an effort to displace them from their land.
Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman, chairman of ONLF, touched on a proposed peace talks between his group and the Tigray dominated government of Addis Ababa, which Kenya offered to mediate.
He said he was optimistic about the proposed agreement between his movement and the Ethiopian regime during his teleconference address on Friday. The scope of the proposed dialogue is not clear as the Admiral did not specify any details but some people have speculated that ONLF might agree to disarm its rebels.
The members of the ONLF central committee including Mohamed Abdi Yasin “Diirane” spoke there about the known abuses against the civilians. He presented a comedy show that highlighted some of the current Human Rights issues.
Some of the participants who spokes there briefed on issues such as oil exploration which they said was illegal and the locals did not have access to its wealth.
They warned foreign firms not to explore in the region against their will as the indigenous people.
The ONLF has been fighting the Ethiopian regime for over three decades.