The following is a protest letter by Dr. Begna F. Dugassa, the president of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), to the president of Columbia University regarding the invitation of Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi to the 2010 World Leaders Forum at the university.
Dear President Bollinger,
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), a scholarly, multi-disciplinary, non-profit international organization, established to promote studies on issues relevant to the Oromo who not only constitute over 40% of the Ethiopian population but also resides in other East African countries with a total of over 50 million people. OSA has studied & has produced scholarly works on Oromo people for the last twenty-five years. OSA has conducted annual & bi-annual international scholarly conferences, produced its proceedings and peer reviewed journals and books that you can find in major University libraries and library of Congress. We have historical evidences that the Euro-American racist social Darwinian theory has provided theoretical reasoning for the Abyssinian king Menilik to kill, enslave and colonize the Oromo people. Recently several academic institutions are providing forum to the Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi – who is charged for Genocide. Because theories guide practice and in turn practices inform theories, we are very worried about this trend.
We, the executive committee members of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), are dismayed when we have learned that Columbia University’s World Committee on Global Thought has invited Mr. Meles Zenawi to be a keynote speaker. We expected the committee would maintain the reputation of the university high if it had made a close look at Mr. Zenawi’s leadership style, human rights records, and ask if he has some thing positive to offer to the world community before they invite him. We expected the committee would analyse whether or not providing such a forum to dictators and criminals discourages or encourages tyrants leaders like Mr. Zenawi to tighten the grip on the peoples they rule.
– Protest Letter from Oromo-American National Foundation
– International Oromo Youth Association’s Peaceful Protest Against Zenawi at Columbia University
– International Oromo Youth Association’s (IOYA’s) Letter to Columbia University
– Letter to Columbia University from the Oromo-American Citizens Council
– An Open Letter to Columbia University Regarding the Invitation of Meles Zenawi (OPride.com)