Birtukan Mideksa awarded Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship By Abebe Gellaw

August 3rd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has awarded its most prestigious fellowship to Birtukan Mideksa in recognition of her commitment for the advancement of freedom and her potential to bring about democratic change in Ethiopia, Addis Voice has learnt.

The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship program, named in honor of the two principal founders of NED, former US President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) and the late Congressman Dante Fascell (1917-1998), is awarded to accomplished democracy practitioners, journalists and scholars from around the world to enable them “to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change.” The fellowship was established in 2001 with funding from the US Congress.

“I am very pleased to join some of the most influential people from around the world that are selected for their leadership and commitment to freedom and democracy,” Birtukan said. “This is an honor that I accept with utmost humility on behalf of the people of Ethiopia, particularly those unsung heroes and heroines that have made untold sacrifices in the struggle for freedom, justice and democracy in our country,” she added.

Girmaye Gizaw, who headed the Free Birtukan global campaign, told Addis Voice that the award is a unique opportunity for Birtukan and a step forward on the road to full recovery from the trauma and abuse she had suffered at the hands of those who made every effort to break her indomitable spirit and shatter the cause she has represented with extraordinary commitment and courage. “This is a golden opportunity for our leader who is destined for great things. Those of us who know her well are always certain that Birtukan will not be held back,” he said.

Birtukan, a 2011-12 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, will be in full-time residence at the Washington DC-based International Forum for Democratic Studies, NED’s research arm that is one of the leading centers in the world dedicated for analyzing and discussing the theory and practice of democratic change around the world. According to NED, the fellowship program is designed to offer a unique international environment for fellows to “reflect on their experiences, conduct research and writing, develop contacts, exchange ideas with counterparts in Washington DC, and build ties that contribute to the development of a global network of democracy advocates.”

Ethiopia’s first female leader of a major political party, she will start her fellowship in October. Birtukan will particularly focus on the failures of democratic change in Ethiopia and the way forward. She is also planning to write her autobiography, a unique account of her arduous journeys in the course of her struggle for freedom and dignity.

“Given Ethiopia’s continued experience of political violence, I would also like to spend some time to try to understand how and why the United States has succeeded in building a truly democratic system that accommodates every kind of clashing and competing views, groups and parties without undermining the rule of law,” she noted.

After she emerged as an unwavering leader of the pro-democracy movement in the aftermath of the 2005 national elections, former federal judge Birtukan Mideksa was jailed twice and spent over 1200 days in harsh jails including over 6 months in solitary confinement. Birtukan was selected by the European Parliament as one of the three finalists for the 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Cuban dissident and political activist Dr. Guillermo Fariñas, who conducted 23 hunger strikes to protest against repressions and censorship, was selected as winner of the grand prize.

  1. Hopster
    | #1

    Congratulations Bertukan!!!

    It is good to see Abe Gellaw coming back with scoop after scoop. It certainly is a great news. Bertukan is our leader and I hope she will lead the crusade against Meles Zenawi and Azeb Golla’s kleptomaniac Monarchy from ADWA/Wolqait.

    Go Bertu.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    I am beyond trilled that our Mandela, Birtukan got the deserving recognition and award. Many thanks and appreciation to Girmaye Below and the likes of him who worked hard that Birtukan’s struggle and scarified is not forgotten by Ethiopians and recognized and known around the world.
    I do not know who Girmaye is, but Ethiopians like him give me hope when things seem hopeless. Thank you all!

  3. Sheger
    | #3

    What a great news!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Congratulation dear Birtukan!!!!!!!!

    We win, we win, we win!!!!!!!! Sorry Meles may be next time for you. You never know, you might change. Well if not
    Tomorrow honey, you have the chance today. Today is at your hand, what do you say???????…..make me happy
    And proud please????.

  4. Yohannes Ke Dallas
    | #4

    Congratulations!! Birtukan,

    We all are proud of you as an icon of freedom for all Ethiopians suffering under tyranny. You deserve such a recognition not only from American Institutions but from your country, your people for whom you melt like a candle to be a light in the dark journey to democracy, justice and freedom.
    I think we all know that this fellowship is to little too late for what you did but it is a platform to work with advocates of democracy and justice around the globe.

  5. Sheger
    | #5

    Don’t worry about it Meles. Today we all stand proud and happy. And that is Birtukan that made us proud.

    Victory to freedom and democracy!!!!!!!!!

  6. astra
    | #6

    Very good news indeed! A well-deserved award for an Ethiopian patriot who was willing to leave her infant daughter behind in defense of her principles, which principle would surely lead her to prison and it did.What Ethiopia needs is more of her type and less of the “talking heads” around us who do not, and will not, amount to much.Action is better than words. Congratulations.

  7. Enanu
    | #7

    It is one thing to learn, and quite another to practice it! End of quote.

  8. Oda Tulu
    | #8

    Cogratulations to dearest icon Judge Birtukan, her daughter Hale Mideksa and her mother Wro Almaz and entire family and freinds. Bitu is a bright hope for the young generation and salvation of Ethiopia.

    Profound thanks to Abe for posting this enlivening news!!!

  9. tewbel
    | #9

    Congratulations.

    A well diserved prize.

  10. abel
    | #10

    congratulation birtukan,

    You deserve it and good luck on your endeavor as the weyane and eprp as well as stupid so called mead and other arrogant anti birtukan elements will get disappointed as they are filled with nothing but with endless jealousy as well as uncontrollable egos.

  11. Peter
    | #11

    I was enthralled to see her in Atlanta at ESFNA’s game. She looked good and happy with her daughter. Seeing her in that mood, and later listening to her speech, I felt more confident than ever that nothing will stop her from fighting for democracy and Ethiopia, the land she so loves.

    Lastly, I say I am happy for her and all of us. However, I have some suspicion that this has been an arranged deal before she left Ethiopia through the U.S. Government.
    Either way, she deserve the brake and the time to recuperate and do some research.

  12. bimm
    | #12

    The recognition of Birtukan on the international arena is a big stepforward for the democratic movement in Ethiopia. The gun touting woyane do everything possible to curtail democracy, freedom and justice in our country but they cant break the spirit of the people and their staunch leader Birtukan Mideksa. Let the barbaric woyane go backward, that is where they belong. we will advance forward.

  13. Youhne negn
    | #13

    Congratulations.
    you deserve even more.

  14. Ke Addis Abeba !!!
    | #14

    CONGRATULATION !!!!
    For your struggle of freedom. you deserve. We all Ethiopians are very
    happy !!!

  15. wonde
    | #15

    congra birtu,
    berchilin bewnetu,
    anchi neshna fitun medhanitu.

    copy right (i think this poem is original and should be patented)

  16. koster
    | #16

    I hope what I read in Ethiofact.com about the disintegration of KINIJIT is wrong and all Ethiopians will stand against state terrorism in Ethiopia together. Birtukan should be admired and followed not for her religious affilations but her leadership quality and for dedication to end injustice in Ethiopia once for all.

  17. Gizew
    | #17

    Congratulation dear Birtuka.

    You are a true democracy leader and an Icon.

    The award is deserved to you and it shows that many people did understand
    price you paid and and paying to bring democracy in Ethiopia.

  18. Anonymous
    | #18

    Koster,
    What the hell did you mean “followed not for her religious affiliations”? The fact that you questioned the scarified Judge Birtukan paid for her country and people shows what kind of individual you are–another religious fanatic. Why in the world even bring her religion? People like you who ware their religion on their sleeves and inject other people’s religion on every matter is very annoying and irritating.

  19. Yakobe
    | #19

    It is a very good news;she deserve it.Congra dear Bertukan!
    We should also give credit to people like Girmaye Gizaw.

  20. DRAMA
    | #20

    HARD COPY
    WELL, ANYBODY THAT GETS AN AWARD SHOULD BE CONGRADULATED. HOWEVER, FOR THE RESPECT OF OTHER WOMEN POLITICIANS IN ETHIOPIA, I DO NOT BELIEVE BIRTUKAN DESERVES THE NEB AWARD. THERE WERE OTHER WOMEN POLITICIANS WHO WERE IMPRISONED AND WHO FOUGHT AND CAMPAINED MORE FOR THE 2005 ETHIOPIAN ELECTIONS THAT BIRTUKAN. IF MEN ARE EVEN INCLUDED IN THE AWARD, THERE WERE SO MANY FREEDOM FIGHTERS IN THE AEUP WHO PUT THEIR LIVES AND COMMITMENT FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF FREEDOM TO BRING DEMOCRATIC CHANGE; WITH VISION. THE TRUTH IS BIRTUKAN WAS NOT EVEN THE PEOPLE’S ELECT. SHE DID NOT CAMPAIGN. SHE BECAME VICE PRESIDENT OF KINIJIT JUST BECAUSE FOUR PATIES MERGED TO CREATE KINIJIT AND EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF AEUP WAS SHARED BY THE NEW INCOMING SMALL PARTIES LIKE KESTE DEMENA WHICH SHE WAS FROM. I BELEIVE, IF SUCH AN ORGANIZATION WITH THE NAME PRESIDENT RONALD REGAN ENDORSES THE AWARD WITHOUT MAKING ANY RESEARCH, I WOULD ASSUME IT IS DONE FOR A PURPOSE. IS THERE A MOTIVE????????? PERHAPS SHE CAME TO THE USA TO GRAB A PAPER LIKE MELES DID ONLINE, AND WHO KNOWS OND DAY BECOMES A FUTURE ETHIOPIAN PRESIDENT FOR HIRE…. IT IS JUST AN ASSUMPTION, AND I SHOULD BE FREE TO ASSUME…. DON’T HATE PEOPLE. IT IS AN ASSUMPTION. AS LONG AS TIME SHOWS THE FACTS TO THE CONCLUSION OF THIS HYPOTHESIS, NONE OF YOU SHOULD BE TAKING THIS PERSONAL. ARE WE FREE TO ASSUME? OR TO TALK?

  21. Easy to judge
    | #21

    Ayeeeee gud! yeDRAMA asteyayet betam yaseznal. Thank God that other people are able to see and appreciate the unselfish scarifies Judge Birtukan paid for Democracy and freedom for all Ethiopians. DRAMA, being sentenced for life death, hanging over ones’ head and not knowing what is going to happen to a person from day to day spending years in solitary confinement separating from an only child is not like going to Ethiopian Restaurants and gossip. Come on!

  22. Yonas
    | #22

    Birtukan Medekesa with other patriotic Ethiopians has paid huge sacrifice for speaking the truth against the Legese regime. Unlike some of the opportunist Ethiopians, who gather under (OPDO,), (ANDM), (SEPDF) that chose to be in the service of TPLF and a boot licker of her leader Legese, she refused to go along with Ethno fascist agenda of Legese. As a result, everyone knows she become one of the longest held political prisoner in the country. Birtukan receives this award it is because the NED deemed she is worth of receiving it; she is one of the few politicians that advocates none violent method of struggle and has been in the front row in this fight to promote democratic principles in Ethiopia.
    I think she deserves this recognition and hopefully she uses this opportunity to enrich and sharpen her ideal and conviction about democracy, peace, justice, and recouncilation.

    DRAMA,

    I tend to agree with you, at times, on issues related to Ethiopian History, but on this one we are miles away. You wrote,
    “THERE WERE OTHER WOMEN POLITICIANS WHO WERE IMPRISONED AND WHO FOUGHT AND CAMPAINED MORE FOR THE 2005 ETHIOPIAN ELECTIONS THAT BIRTUKAN”.
    Who was the other women that you referred to deserve this award than this national dove? We know Serkalem, for one, has paid huge sacrifice and humiliation in Melese’s dungeon. The true Ethiopia’s sons and daughters won’t forget her courage and valor to stand up to the face of the totalitarian Adwa chief of thieves. We remembered very well too ,perhaps for the first time in the history of the country, she was forced to a child labor while in Legese’s prision.We know too that Serkalem is first Ethiopian and Tigrian by birth; she did all this as a journalist not as a politician. Beyond this I do not know if Serkalme had been a political activist, or if she has campaingned.If there had been women, as you have stated, that do more deserve to be the recipient of the above award, give their name. I think your comment about this article is way over the edge. What is this infatuation with AEUP any ways?

  23. Yegna neger
    | #23

    DRAMA,

    Yours is pure envy period! AEUP members deserve whipping on the butt and five more years in Kality, not this kind of prestigious scholarship. Bertukuna might not be the only one that deserves the award, but if some one deserves it, she is the one. Look DAMA, politics is a littel about now and more about the future. AEUP was- it is no more now. The leader of AEUP is a man who should never, I repeat never be considered to lead “Kebele Association” let alone a party!

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