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My friend Dejene, whom I met through the Obama campaign, met us today at the airport. He was very upset. He told me that Birtukan Mideska, a beautiful 35 year old mother of a 4 year old, the only female leader of an opposition party in Africa, has been wrongfully arrested - after being pardoned in 2006 - and is now on a hunger strike in a prison in Ethopia. He is very concerned for her welfare and wonders why the mainstream media is not publicizing. I offered to post on Pulsewire. This is one of the great values of this website - a place to allow women to stand up and call to other women to ensure no woman is silenced. So please post the story of Birtukan Mideska everywhere you think women who care about justice will read and react. We cannot be silenced if enough of us use our voices. Amplify your voice and pass this on.


You have certainly grasped the usefulness, mission and community sense of PulseWire. Thank you for sharing the story of Birtukan Mideska. If you have any further information on the background and welfare of her, than please update us here. Otherwise, I hope that others in the community will pass this along. I know that I will.

Warm regards, Jade

Britukan decided to join a political party to bring about a fast change in the country, including superiority of the rule of law, and a full respect and implementation of the constitution which proved first hand not in place while serving as a judge. She joined RAINBOW party and later CUDP after a coalition of four parties. After election or 2005, her party won, and the governing party started to round opposition party leaders (including Birtukan). They spent two years in prison and were freed in late 2007.[2] She later founded UDJ (Unity for Democracy and Justice) with the same principles followed by CUDP. The need for having the new party name came from the fact that the ruling party's election commission awarded to a splinter group from CUDP (aka Kinijit). Birtukan is elected to be a chairperson of the UDJ party which has a motto of bring about change in Ethiopia in a peaceful means. She now seems to be imprisoned.

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia’s leading opposition politician is in her 10th day of a hunger strike after she was jailed for life on Dec. 29 following a dispute with the government, according to her mother. Birtukan Mideksa, 34, has been taking only juice and water and is being held in solitary confinement in a windowless 3-meter by 4-meter (10-foot by 13-foot) cell in Ethiopia’s Kaliti prison, said her mother, Almaz Gebregziabhere, who visited her in prison Wednesday. “I didn’t recognize her because of how she’s changed,” said Gebregziabhere, 72, in an interview on Thursday at her home in Addis Ababa. “I begged her for the sake of her daughter to eat, but she didn’t.” Prison officials have banned all visitors except Gebregziabhere and Mideksa’s 3-year-old daughter, Halle, from visiting her, Gebregziabhere said. Gebregziabhere, speaking in Amharic through a translator, said the family had been unable to hire a lawyer for Mideksa because those contacted on her behalf have turned her down as a client, fearing government reprisals. Mideksa, a leader of the now-dissolved Coalition for Unity and Democracy party, was first jailed after Ethiopia’s 2005 elections, in which the CUD claimed victory. She and dozens of other opposition leaders were sentenced to life in prison, though they were released in 2007 after a pardon agreement with the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. She was re-arrested Dec. 29 after she rejected government demands that she make a public statement saying she had formally requested the original pardon. ‘Humane Condition’ Bereket Simon, an adviser to Zenawi, said he wasn’t aware of Mideksa’s fast. “We have a prison system whereby we hold prisoners in a humane condition,” Simon said. “This is a case where she has said that she didn’t ask for pardon and the decision of the judiciary is being applied. At this point, I don’t think it requires intervention by lawyers.” Simon also said the government wasn’t interested in potential mediation efforts by the independent group that negotiated Mideksa’s initial release. Following their release in 2007, some former CUD leaders chose exile in the U.S. or U.K. Mideksa stayed in Ethiopia and formed a new party that planned to contest the 2010 elections. “Look what has happened to her,” said Berhanu Nega, who along with Mideksa led the CUD movement in 2005, in a phone interview from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The government “will never allow any peaceful transition in that country.” Call to Struggle Nega, who was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 before his imprisonment, has called for armed struggle to oust Zenawi. Nega left Ethiopia after his release from prison in 2007 to teach at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. His new movement, Ginbot 7, has formed an underground network inside Ethiopia with the goal of overthrowing Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, Nega said. The U.S., which views Ethiopia as a key ally in the fight against terrorism, offered a rare rebuke to Zenawi’s government following Mideksa’s arrest, warning Ethiopia to avoid steps that appear to “criminalize dissent.” Government opponents accused the state of rigging the May 2005 poll, sparking protests in Addis Ababa. A judicial inquiry after the election concluded that government security forces had killed 193 opposition supporters in the unrest. Source: BloombergJanuary 8, 2009

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Hi Muluneh,

Thank you for the background information of Birtukan Mideksa, it certainly helps in understanding the full picture of the injustice that she faces in Ethiopia and her struggle for justice and democracy.

Warm regards, Jade

Without much ado let me point out the following 3-decisive key notes:

(1) Obviously, ‘change’ we definitively need! In Obama’s foot-spore let me say: “Yes we can!” Just like the Iranian youth world wide are fighting for reform, for change and for a renewed life in Iran, we Ethiopians must also stand behind Birtukan Mideksa and her party for greater change to come. (2) Yes, men have thus far done their share for Ethiopia. It is time to give way for a woman leadership and see what a woman like Birtukan Mideksa can do for boosting the audasity of change in Ethiopia. (3) We must remain vigilant for unconditional release of Lady Liberty Birtukan Mideksa so that she is able to take part during the forthcoming 2010 election.