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Anuyak foes id again

Associated Press May 30, 2008 Exiled Anuak To Confront Ethiopian Official InMinneapolis   ST. PAUL (AP) ¯

Being in the same Minneapolis hotelbuilding is about as close as Peter Omot wants to getto Omot Obang Olom, the Ethiopian official he holdsresponsible for the massacre of more than 400 of hisethnic kin. 

Peter Omot, a 35-year-old member of the Anuak ethnic minority, says he won't enter the room where Omot, thegovernor of the country's western Gambella region,will speak to the local community-in-exile onSaturday. Gov. Omot was in charge of security when,according to human rights groups, Ethiopian troopsattacked the local Anuak population in December 2003. 

"He prepared the ground," Peter Omot, who lives in Savage, Minn., said Friday.  The regional governor's appearance at the community meeting has set off debate in the Anuak diaspora overwhether it's appropriate even to be in the same room as Omot, who is Anuak himself.  The Anuak Justice Council in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has been pushing U.S. and Canadian authorities to arrest and try Omot for war crimes. He is expected tocontinue on to Canada next week.

But advocates haven't been able to confirm whether he's traveling on a diplomatic visa that would grant him wide-ranging immunity.  "He should not be meeting the Anuak in a town hallmeeting. He should be meeting the Anuak in chambers --you know, in a court of law," said Obang Metho, anadvocate with the Anuak Justice Council in Saskatoon who is boycotting the meeting.  He added: "He has blood on his hands." 

State Department spokesman Bill Strassberger confirmed that Omot received a visa, but said that because visa records are confidential, he could not discuss the visa application. He also declined to discuss whether Omot had a role in the 2003 killings.  Human rights groups have detailed a campaign of killings, rape, torture and displacement against theAnuak by government soldiers and members of other ethnic groups.

Wholesale attacks started on Dec. 13,2003, in Gambella town in southwestern Ethiopia.Thousands fled, some to southern Sudan.  An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 Anuak live in Minnesota, in what is thought to be the largest concentration outside Africa, said Akway Cham, who heads theMinneapolis-based Anywaa Community Association in North America. 

Obang, the advocate in Canada, said he expects Omot totry to get exiled Anuak to move back and help developtheir region, and will say that the region has becomesafe and democratic.  Akway is at the center of the furor over Omot's visitbecause he's the facilitator of Saturday's forum.

He planned to collect Omot and other Ethiopi

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