ATLANTA – Ethiopians in Atlanta on Sunday added their voice to the growing chorus that is demanding the release of the charismatic and inspiring young leader, Judge Birtukan Mideksa. In this symbolic Mother’s day Candle Light remembrance in the United States, diverse groups within the Atlanta Ethiopian community gathered in front of the CNN Center to voice their solidarity with Ms Birtukan Mideksa and demand her release from prison.
Clad in Ethiopian flags and carrying various signs that read “Free our Leader Birtukan Mideksa”, “Free Teddy Afro, “ and “Free all Political Prisoners in Ethiopia,“ demonstrators vowed to continue the fight to secure the lease of Ms Mideksa’s and all political prisoners.
Ato Wossenseged Kebede, Vice Chair of Andinet-Atlanta Support Group, kicked of the event by welcoming the participants and calling for a moment of silence to remember Ms Birtukan Mideksa and other Ethiopians who languish in prisons all over Ethiopia under horrible conditions at that very moment. He especially noted the conditions of Ms Birtukan who is held in solitary confinement.
Following the welcoming remarks, several poems were read that resonated with the deep anger and outrage felt by the public because of the ongoing illegal and unjust imprisonment of Birtukan Mideksa. A poem written by the women’s affairs committee of EPRP recounted Birtukan’s enduring spirit and power to inspire all Ethiopians. The writers related their unique experience as women in Ethiopian politics and strongly identified with the harassment and imprisonment of Ms Birtukan Mideksa. However, they vowed to fight for Birtukan’s freedom and called on all women to condemn the Ethiopian government and the illegal imprisonment of the most dynamic female political party leader in Africa.
Ms Fifi Derso, representing the Ethiopian Women Human Rights Activists Network (EWHRAN), added a woman’s perspective to the conversation by expressing the outrage she felt by the imprisonment of Ms Birtukan. She informed everyone that EWHRAN has been helping Ms Birtukan Mideksa since January 2009, a mere two weeks after she was illegally imprisoned. EWHRAN is now actively working to secure Birtukan’s release as well as provide financial assistance to her family. Ms Derso concluded her remarks by rejecting the government’s intimidation tactics and declaring to redouble EWHRAN’s efforts to secure the release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia.
The second speaker at the event representing Mahedere Andinet Radio was Ato Dereje Zewdie. He started his comments by reminding everyone that the imprisonment of Ms Birtukan Mideksa, Teddy Afro, and other countless Ethiopians is indicative of the repressive regime under which Ethiopians suffer daily. He further stressed the need for cooperation among political and civic organizations and encouraged all participants to continue the fight by organizing and exposing the regime’s crimes to the International community. The third speaker, Mr. Tesfahun Gebremichael, who represented EPRP Democracy, spoke very emotionally and eloquently about Birtukan as a symbol of Ethiopian Unity and spirit. Ato Tesfahun emphasized that Birtukan represents the rebirth of a dynamic political engagement of young Ethiopians. It is this particular fact, Mr. Fantahun described, that alarms the current regime. He compared her with Etige Taytu and other transformational historical figures. Finally, he underscored that Birtukan Mideksa’s illegal and politically motivated imprisonment was a human rights issue that all freedom loving people should reject.
The keynote address was given by Ato Girmaye Gizaw, Chairperson of Andinet-Atlanta Support Group. Ato Girmaye noted that Birtukan’s illegal imprisonment is a continuation of the pattern of intimidation by the Ethiopian government to harass and discourage young people from participating in the affairs of their country. Mr. Girmaye pointed out that the very fact that Birtukan is the first and youngest of her generation has opened up the political space in Ethiopia and signaled a new direction for Ethiopia and its people. Ato Girmaye passed on a message from Birtukan Mideksa herself sent through her sister. Ms Birtukan thanked everyone for standing up for justice and urged them to be a voice to the countless number of Ethiopians silenced by the regime.
You can leave a comment below.