Oromo living in Minnesota are holding a weekend vigil at the state Capitol to protest the killing of students in Ethiopia by government security forces.
The students are protesting a plan by the government to take a large amount of land from Oromo farmers for development.
Hassen Hussein, Oromo Community of Minnesota executive director, wants the United States to help calm the situation.
“We are urging the United States government to be a little bit more proactive to open up the political system to make the system as inclusive as possible so that multiple voices can be heard within the political process and a peaceful solution can be found,” he said.
An estimated 40,000 Oromo live in Minnesota, one of the largest concentrations in the United States.
Hussein said the Oromo are the majority population in Ethiopia.
“The reason why the government is so paranoid about any protest by the Oromo is because of our sheer numbers,” he said. “They are afraid the system cannot hold. . . so they lash out with disproportionate force.”
Ethiopia’s government restricts access of outsiders and controls the press. The government reports 11 students killed in the clash, but other accounts put the death toll much higher.