A Call To Free Birtukan Mideksa On International Women's Day
Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. And where was Gillian? In Dallas at an Ethiopian rally to speak out for the release of UDJP party chair Birtukan Mideksa. Mrs. Mideksa, the only woman leader of an opposition party in Africa and the real winner of the 2005 Ethiopian national election (but overruled by the corrupt regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi), has been imprisoned by the ruling government for the last 60 days. Here is the Gillian's speech:
Thank you for coming today.I was very proud of Gillian today!
My name is Gillian Parrillo. I had the pleasure of meeting many members of the Ethiopian community when I was registering voters prior to the 2008 presidential election. As they supported me then, I stand here today to support them.
As you have learned, Judge Birtukan Mideksa, the 35-year old first female leader of an opposition party in Africa has been held in solitary confinement in jail on trumped up charges since December. The only visitors allowed are her elderly mother and her 4 year old daughter. The International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations have been denied access. Imagine if this was your daughter, your mother, the leader of your political party!
A group of courageous women have come together under the mantle of the Ethiopian Women’s Human Rights Alliance. They are writing letters to women United States Senators asking for their support. Here, in part, is what they write:
“It is pressure from the international community and specifically from the United States that compels governments such as Ethiopia—that can only survive and be viable based on foreign aid—to conform to international human rights laws. As a US partner in the Global War on Terror, the Ethiopian government must be held to a higher scrutiny in matters of human rights. Our reputation as a nation - a beacon of human rights and a stalwart advocate of freedom - rings hollow whenever we remain silent in the face of grave injustice. We know as advocates of a more just and equitable world, you share our hope for a future where all human rights and the rule of law are respected. We ask you to join us in calling for the unconditional release of Judge Mideksa and for the adherence to human rights standards by the Ethiopian government. It is our obligation as women to tell her story and urge you to take a principled position by raising your voice to demand the immediate release of Judge Birtukan Mideksa”.
I ask each and every one of you who are here today to contact your elected representatives and urge them to stand up for Birtukan and the far too many others in similar circumstances.
The Sacramento Executive