The Spirit of Birtukan Mideksa is with Us! – For Immediate Release

April 1st, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Birtukan Mideksa, has been named the honorary chairperson for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa Conference, which will be held from April 9 to 11, 2010, in Washington DC.

Judge Birtukan Mideksa is 36 years old, mother of a 5 year old, daughter of a 76 years old mother. She is a lawyer, a Judge and the leader of a major political party. Judge Birtukan Mideksa sat on the high court bench. Displeased by the routine political intervention of the TPLF regime, in the justice system, Birtukan resigned from the bench and started a political career which was highlighted by her candidacy for parliament from the area of the capital called Ferensaye Legassion. She won her seat to represent her district, while none of the ruling party’s candidates were able to get a single seat from the 25 allocated areas. Although the May 15, 2005 election was the freest and fairest election Ethiopia has ever had and close to 30 million people casted their votes, the ruling regime stole the election, and launched violence on the opposition. Under the direct command of the Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi special forces massacred at least 200 people, and about 40 000 people were jailed. Miss Birtukan Mideksa and her colleagues were thrown in jail for 20 months, and were found “guilty” in a court where Meles Zenawi was the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury.

Upon her release from prison, Birtukan and her colleagues founded the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) where she was elected President of the Party becoming the first Ethiopian woman to lead a major political party. Fearful of the kind of peaceful resistance that Birtukan was building, Meles Zenawi revoked “the pardon” and sent her back to jail and re-imposed the life sentence.

Today Birtukan Mideksa has become a symbol of peaceful resistance. She has become Ethiopia’s Neleson Mandella and Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. She has become a role model for Ethiopian women, the educated and the youth. The Ethiopian Diaspora respects her. Every month a candle gets lit in front of the White House.

Demonstrators carried her photos at the G20 Summits in London and Pittsburgh. Ethiopian websites carry her photos and collect petitions for her release.

On April 14, 2009 the United Nations Human Rights Commission declared Judge Birtukan Mideksa a political prisoner. Opinion # 28/2009 describes the circumstances of her imprisonment as “detention arbitrary. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the State Department, the United States Congress, Members of the United States Senate and members of the European Parliament have called for her release.
The joint conference organizing committee for Advocacy for Ethiopia and Ethiopian National Priorities Consultative Process is honored to name Birtukan Mideksa the Honorary Chairperson of the Conference.

Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa Conference Organizing Committee


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