Somali, Ethiopian refugees in Fargo-Moorhead say killings in their home country are genocideby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Moorhead, Minn. — Refugees living in the Fargo-Moorhead area are trying to draw attention to what they say is genocide happening in their home country of Ethiopia.
A documentary film about the war, called "Silent Cry," is showing Wednesday evening at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Violence is familiar to the people of Ogaden, a small area originally part of Somalia, but given to Ethiopia after World War II. The area has been caught in conflict between the two countries for 50 years.
Abdi Karim Rabi, a college student in Moorhead, fled Ogaden with his family when he was 12. He said he vividly remembers an incident in his village when soldiers killed four young men.
"Not only did they get killed, but their bodies were cut piece by piece and put in...public," he said. "Their own father...if they feel pain or have tears in their eyes or anything like that they get killed too."
Abdi said about a year ago, his 70-year-old grandfather was shot and left for dead. He was rescued and evacuated to Kenya.
A middle-aged Somali man who came to Fargo in 2007 said he was shot multiple times by soldiers as he worked on a farm. Part of his skull is missing, and his legs are paralyzed.
He asked that his name not be used because he fears for family members still living in Ogaden. He doesn't speak English, so Abdi Rabi translates:
"I thought the thing that was happening in my homeland was happening everywhere around the world," the man said. "Today, I realize it's not everywhere; it's in the Ogaden."
He said aid agencies have been forced out of the area by soldiers. He believes the native Somali people are being systematically killed to clear the way for exploration of oil reserves in the region.
He said family members in Ogaden are not allowed to travel or even raise the crops they need to survive.
"They are just torturing people and killing and doing whatever they want and there is nobody stopping them," he said. "I'm asking the world to do something about this."
The documentary shows this Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Alumni Center at North Dakota State University, and April 30th at 4 p.m. in Anderson Hall at the University of Minnesota.
- Morning Edition, 04/14/2010, 7:45 a.m.