Last minutes push for Sakharov Prize – By Abebe Gellaw

October 10th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

As it has been widely publicized, Ethiopian heroine Birtukan Mideksa is one of the nine nominees being considered for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. (more…)

As it has been widely publicized, Ethiopian heroine Birtukan Mideksa is one of the nine nominees being considered for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. Thanks to the great friend of Ethiopia, MEP Ana Gomes, Birtukan has a chance to be this year’s winner of this coveted award that annually recognizes and honors extraordinary people that have made significant contributions for human rights and freedom of expression.

On October 5, the European Parliament approved nine nominees after debating on the merits of each nominee for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Though. The nominations were presented at a joint meeting on Foreign Affairs and Development committees and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. The nominees are Ethiopia’s pro-democracy leader Birtukan Mideksa, the citizen movement Access, Aminatou Haidar, Haytham Al-Maleh, Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, Guillermo Fariñas, Dawit Isaak, Father Thadeus and the Christian mission Open Doors.

One of the nine nominees will be honored to join extraordinary freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, who have both been awarded the prize. The Sakharov Prize rewards groups or individuals that have shown extreme bravery and courage in the fight for dignity, human rights and freedom of expression.

The European Parliament will choose the three finalists and winners on 18 and 21 October respectively. The winner will receive the award on 15 December in the presence of dignitaries and the world media. The award ceremony coincides with the anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was signed on 10 December in 1948, according to the European Parliament.

The coveted prize is named after the late Soviet scientist and freedom fighter Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989), who won international recognition for his outspoken opposition to the former Soviet Union’s nuclear programme and its repressive policies. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was elected a member of the free Russian Parliament.
According to the group that nominated Birtukan, the Sakharov prize will offer her more visibility and international protection, which will further galvanize support for her struggle for freedom in Ethiopia.

MEP Ana Gomes has already called on Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia to support Birtukan’s nomination. Please write to Members of the European Parliament before 12 October in support of Birtukan Mideksa’s nomination. Let us all make a last minutes push as Birtukan’s win is a win for Ethiopia that will also generate world-wide attention for the untold suffering of the people of Ethiopia under dictator Meles Zenawi.

If you haven’t already written to MEPs in connection with this campaign, please click here to find Members of the European Parliament and their contact details.

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Sample Letter

Dear MEP……

I am sending you this brief note to humbly request you to lend support to Birtukan Mideksa’s nomination for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Birtukan is an unsung heroine that needs the attention and unreserved support of people like you in her struggle for freedom, human rights and justice in Ethiopia.

Young lawyer and former judge Birtukan is a single mum and leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice, who was jailed twice in the last five years for standing against the criminal repressions being committed by the forces of injustice led by Meles Zenawi. Her last incarceration, though it ended last week, lasted 646 days in Kality jail, where she was subjected to untold brutality and solitary confinement. She was also denied visitation rights, access to a lawyer and proper medical care.

Your support for Birtukan’s nomination will undoubtedly add momentum to the struggle of the Ethiopian people for dignity, human rights, justice and democracy in our country and can also draw attention to the thousands of political prisoners languishing in harsh jails across Ethiopia.

In anticipation of your kind support, I appreciate your kindness to add your voice in recognition of the struggle of Birtukan Mideksa and the entire oppressed people of Ethiopia.

Yours sincerely
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