PRESS RELEASE: “Unity, Hope and Vision: Ethiopia Yesterday and Today and Tomorrow – Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum Conference
The Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum held its first organizational Conference in Columbus, Ohio on February 28, 2009. Despite their diverse backgrounds, the Participants displayed one common passion—the shared love of the Motherland. The preservation and maintenance of the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia was without question the unifying factor that beckoned the Participants to meet at the first organizational conference of the EUDF. Some of the participants drove hundreds of miles, and all Participants financed their own travel and lodging to participate in this historic Conference.
During our recent national history, we have been subjected to social and political tsunami that has eroded our national pride, and left us with deep wounds of conflicts and divisions. It was also emphasized at the Conference that the Ethiopian people are currently suffering from lack of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, and freedom of expression. In this regard, the Participants stressed the necessity of being extra careful in having an active role in the democratic struggle of the Ethiopian people that includes us all and also regarding the EUDF’s approaches of the Diaspora community. Specifically, the Participants stressed the importance of being as much inclusive as possible so that every member of the Ethiopian community would have an equal chance in his/her contribution to the struggle for democracy and individual rights. The Participants emphasized the importance of not repeating the errors of the past. The discussion and discourse at the Conference was conducted in a brotherly and respectful manner where every Participant had uncensored opportunity to share his views and concerns regarding the economic and political situations in Ethiopia and the roles played by the Diaspora community. The Conference lasted from 9:00am to 8:30pm, with breaks for coffee and lunch.
In the morning session, most of the Participants presented their views followed by brief and unhindered comments from the floor. The afternoon session was focused on organizational matters and the roles of the EUDF. The following are some of the most significant items reached by consensus by the Participants of the Conference:
1. that the Participants stressed the fact that the EUDF is devoted to promote and to bring together all Ethiopians in the Diaspora world-wide in order to have one voice irrespective of the fact that they may be members of diverse political and civic organizations; that the Participants expressed their convictions in assisting such organization in order to have meaningful impact in how the future of Ethiopia is to be guided by a legitimate and democratically elected Government of Ethiopia;
2. that the Participants focused their full and deep concern on issues dealing with the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia; that the EUDF promote “Ethiopiawinet” as one of its objectives, and it was also pointed out that serious studies on a number of sensitive and national issues be conducted by Ethiopian scholars;
3. that the Participants declared their commitment to work and cooperate with other organizations with similar commitment to the wellbeing of Ethiopia and Ethiopians; that the Participants are committed to reach out to all Ethiopians in the Diaspora;
4. that the Participants expressed their commitment to work with all democratic forces inside Ethiopia;
5. that the Participants noted the fact that Ethiopian women and young Ethiopians are poorly represented in civic and political forums and conferences; that it was the consensuses of the Participants that maximum effort be devoted to bring about fair representations of Ethiopian women and young Ethiopians in the next Forum Conference;
6. that the Forum shall hold its first Public Conference in three months time, sometimes at the end of May, 2009; and
7. that all Participants acknowledged the need to work together setting aside past differences in political outlook and ideology.
Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum
March 3, 2009