Thomas Rhiel and Ben Cotton of Columbia Spectator, the latest victim of Ethiopia’s censorious press law (the website is reportedly blocked in Ethiopia), blog live the absolute Dictator of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi’s, speech at Columbia. He spoke for less than 20 minutes. According to the bloggers, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a man who is believed to have played a big role in inviting the dictator and embarrassing the Forum, introduced the Crime Minister reiterating the disguise about dialogue and free speech.
EthioMedia.com reports that four buses load of Human Rights Activists are headed to Columbia University to Protest Meles Zenawi's invitation by World Leaders Forum. The International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA) and Oromo communities in the tristate and Washington DC area are also organizing a similar protest rally infornt of the venue where the dictator was scheduled to speak.
Yesterday, the college's daily, Columbia Spectator, reported that the organizers have moved the speech to another location. It is not clear how much the move will affect the activists effort to confront the most ruthless Dictator in Town.
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.
By Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
Columbia University likes to invite world leaders to campus when they are in New York City for United Nations meetings, and the university has defended invitations to some particularly controversial leaders -- such as Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who appeared there in 2007. Columbia officials say that the university benefits from exposing students to world leaders, however reprehensible their ideas may be, and that the visits are about learning, not endorsing a particular point of view.