Protests disrupt MLK Jr. commemoration

January 18th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

January 18th, 2007

Wife of A Dectator Patriotic Ethiopians object to University giving award to TPLF’s First Lady

Protests erupted during President John J. DeGioia’s speech at Georgetown’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration on Monday night.

“Shame on you, Georgetown University,”? a man’s voice shouted above the clamor as DeGioia presented the Coach John Thompson, Jr. “Legacy of a Dream”? Award to the first ladies of Zambia, Rwanda and to the despicable Azeb Mesfin, wife of Dictator Meles Zenwi.

When the three women accepted the award on behalf of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), members of the Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners (SOCEPP) in the Kennedy Center auditorium began shouting.

According to flyers distributed by SOCEPP, the group objected to Georgetown’s recognition of Azeb Mesfin.

“You don’t deserve this!”? a woman’s voice rang out when Mesfin stepped onto the stage.

The flyers called on the University to reverse its decision to include Mesfin and alleged that she has played a role in corruption and anti-democratic policies.
The flyers also accused Mesfin and her husband, Dictator Meles Zenawi, of contributing “to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia by dismantling the health system.”?

DeGioia, who could not finish presenting the award over the noise, implored the protesters to cease, saying, “in the spirit in which this evening is being conducted, please.”?

Canaan McCaslin (SFS “˜09), a member of the MLK planning committee, expressed similar sentiments after the event.

“The organization [OAFLA] as a whole represents something greater than the three of them,”? he said. “While [the protesters'] intentions were good and understandable, they could have displayed them better and more appropriately, not at a service for Dr. King.”?

Speaking in a quiet, halting voice, Mesfin remained steady throughout her talk, despite intermittent yelling from the audience. Several protesters were removed from the auditorium.

OAFLA “gives a mother’s face to AIDS, a voice to the voiceless,”? the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame, said. Her husband, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, led the army that ended the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

Maureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of Zambia, called for more support from other countries outside of Africa, declaring that success can only come when “the rest of the world stops thinking Africa is a bastard case.”?

The Let Freedom Ring event, jointly sponsored by Georgetown University and the Kennedy Center, is the sixth annual concert honoring King. Hosted by WUSA Channel 9 News anchor Andrea Roane, the concert proceeded smoothly after the award presentation, and included musical performances by Brian McKnight, the violin duo Nuttin’ But Stringz, and the Let Freedom Ring choir, as well as a speech by recently-inaugurated Mayor Adrian Fenty.

  1. Abesha
    | #1

    January 16, 2007
    Posted to the web January 16, 2007

    Katy Gabel
    Washington, D.C.

    Three African first ladies, Azeb Mesfin of Ethiopia, Jeanette Kagame of Rwanda, and Maureen Mwanawasa of Zambia, have called for new and further-reaching approaches to combating HIV/Aids on the continent. Their message, delivered at a panel discussion on Tuesday at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., was presented on behalf of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/Aids, formed in 2002.

    The first ladies focused on the importance of giving women, children, and communities special attention when designing national plans for HIV/Aids prevention and treatment. “We all know awareness does not bring about behavioral change,” remarked Ethiopian first lady Azeb Mesfin. “Addressing the needs of girls and women would be the best way to reduce poverty,” and in turn, HIV/Aids, she said.

    Jeanette Kagame, first lady of Rwanda, provided a few practical solutions that new HIV/Aids plans could potentially incorporate, such as testing and ARVs for fathers, job placement systems, economic assistance, and counseling for HIV-positive victims of and rape and trauma. “Women need to have a voice and advocate for education to defend themselves. The answer is to empower them economically,” she remarked.

    Zambian First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa emphasized the importance of having all donor groups working under the same framework. Donor groups, she noted, work best when they can work together.

    The World Bank is not the largest donor for HIV/Aids programs in Africa, but it was one of the earliest to design a multiple-country strategy in its Multi-country HIV/Aids Program. The Bank, recognizing its new role in the changing aid environment, has embarked on a new plan for HIV/Aids from 2007-2011. The new plan will attempt to incorporate ideas from groups like the Organization of African First Ladies as well as civil society organizations.

    In a brief interview with AllAfrica following the discussion, Elizabeth Lule, Manager of the World Bank’s AFT-Africa Technical Families and ACTafrica programs, spoke about some of the challenges in making a plan that incorporates grassroots, government, and donor concerns.

    “We’re talking about “¦ how the relationship between governments and civil society has always been a challenge, and there was reluctance at first for governments to engage civil society. But we have now moved beyond that.”

    Relevant Links

    United States, Canada and Africa
    International Organizations and Africa
    HIV-Aids and STDs
    Aid and Assistance
    Health and Medicine
    Sustainable Development

    One major challenge, she noted, was “how civil society can be critics and provide constructive criticism for the government when they are partners. I think it differs from country to country and there isn’t a solution, but it also depends on the leadership of civil society in those countries to be able to balance the two roles that they play.”

    Other challenges remain for the Bank as it shapes its new plan. It won’t play a leadership role among HIV/Aids donors. One area the Bank has no particular plan for is the crisis of pediatric Aids, a growing concern for countries like Rwanda, host to the International Conference on Pediatric Aids last year. Lule noted that the World Bank works primarily with the private sector to alleviate pediatric drug costs, but will continue to work with the Clinton Foundation and other initiatives, civil society groups, women, and other stakeholders “to address the issues in scaling up treatment for children.”

    “We see these challenges as opportunities,” Lule said.

  2. | #2


  3. | #3

    I found the following poem in the
    Internet, please comment on it.

    The cursed family:

    What a match! A well played card,
    A Dracula and Vampire married,
    Produced three children of the same kind,
    Who suck blood; eat flesh as staple food,
    But why are the children to be blamed?
    For the sins they have not committed yet,
    Due to the eye brow resemblance fit?
    Or the atrocities inflicted they inherit?
    The stolen blood money they should admit?
    Let the parents explain what all that is about.
    Self appointed “first lady’s”? names,
    Has got many titles and empty fames,
    Queen of Mega, Etege, and Emebets
    One razor blade to dry shave students heads,
    For deliberate spread of the deadly AIDS,
    Was that reason for “Queen Gola’s”? advance?
    Mrs. Street smart or we call her “Etege AIDS”??
    Who allowed her to share the “dream awards”??
    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice- everywhere”?, right?
    Wasn’t what Martin Luther King-
    preached for and fought!
    Shame to Georgetown’s University insult,
    to the King’s legacy of might and thought.
    Dictator’s wife brought misery to millions,
    With and without HIV or Aids,
    Who incarcerate unlimited power by force?
    Does she deserve such honor and awards?
    Chair woman of social affairs is might,
    Member of a fake doll parliament,
    TPLF central committee participant
    A multimillion stolen dollars monopolist
    Should be accounted for, and face a court.
    The Dracula husband butcher of the Horn,
    Once president changing colors like chameleon,
    Not elected “Prim Monster”? by his own,
    Commander in chief as he failed to win.
    Power is with people his dreams are nothin.
    The true elected leaders kept in jail,
    Thousands touched, killed, weeping still,
    Millions kept hostage on Earthly hell,
    Will that buy you time and peoples will?
    The blood of thousands souls is there,
    To follow you where ever you are,
    Your co-workers are not to spare.
    Our advice goes to the vampire,
    Stop sucking blood of millions out there.
    Bring back the peoples wealth you stole,
    Release the leaders detained in hell.
    Fulfill the mighty peoples will.
    Or you face the inevitable?
    The real love you have for hate,
    Share Saddam Hussein’s award and fate!

  4. | #4

    god bless you azeb mesfen.
    all yor enemies veporized in the usa desert.

    long live azeb mesfen.
    long live the ethiopian democratical prosses.

  5. | #5

    I am very very happy that Azeb Mesfin´s contribution to fight against HIV/Aids.i hope sch has moved a lot to be candidated for such prize.
    i Love, Appricate and Respect all the ppl. wo who work very hard to bring a change for ppl. at home .i wish i can do more .at the same time i am full
    of schame for some who are working against the interst of my country, the so called oppsition parties here in america ,who have lost the reallity in
    their respected countries and zero contribution .

  6. Tigist
    | #6

    As we all know, recently thousanads of youth and students from addis Ababa were detained in horrible camp and dry shaved on head by one blade by EPRDF security force. In my opinion this is a delibrate action to spread HIV/AIDS to the young peple. This is a big sin. So, Ethiopian First Lady Azeb Mesfin didn’t object this. She was by EPRDF side and we haven’t heard any comment from her. So , how come she deserves this award.If the award is spreading HIV/AIDS, it makes sense…she deserves. This is very confusion.

    Anyway let God to judge,

  7. sera
    | #7

    BRAVO Azeb Mesfin

    Gender-equal society is achievable in Ethiopia thanks to indefatigable women like Azeb Mesfin, the First Lady of Ethiopia, who is an invincible warrior in the struggle for equal rights. Having joined the TPLF movement as a guerilla fighter at a young age, abandoning her comfortable life, Azeb has demonstrated at that early stage her dogged determination to sacrifice her life for freedom. She is known to be an ardent advocate of human rights;
    people close to her say that she feuds with anyone who disrespects women or ignores their contribution.

    take care

  8. chane
    | #8

    Where is that a sin?

    The award given to her by Georgetown University, therefore, is way overdue and most deserving. Azeb’s role in Ethiopian society is dauntless. Not only is her assistance in battling AIDS vital, but in the areas of girls’ education and health care, she can move mountains. As a role model to millions of Ethiopians she could be the force much needed in altering ancient behavior now resistant to change.

    For example, one of the problems in sub-Saharan Africa is the massive dropout rate of girls from school before achieving their goals. Gender-based discrimination and inadequate educational resources factor into this problem. I have no doubt that the First Lady can make a significant difference in these areas in the future and rectify the problem. Again, thank you Georgetown University for making the right choice. Azeb Mesfin is a woman of integrity whose love for her country and her people is plainly evident. To scold her presenters and denigrate her person as seen in some websites is therefore unacceptable and out of line. In this regard, Azeb’s contribution to her country is unimpeachable. Some of us, regardless of the loud clamor from some corners, sincerely applaud her.


    long live Azeb Mesfin
    long live Meles Zenawi
    long live the democrtical process

    and good day for all who are working practically to bring a change home.

  9. | #9

    MAMO – Look at whats happening can u anderstand whats thier on J.P.H ‘spoem .-
    shameless you,your kind and your leaders.”
    have fun for the time being arrogant worthless.

  10. NEB
    | #10


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