Top Ten Reasons to Write for Rights

Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.

In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.

Those are some pretty amazing reasons to participate, but in case you need more, here are my top ten reasons to Write for Rights: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Ethiopian Prisoner of Conscience Birtukan Mideksa Released!

Birtukan Mideksa

Birtukan Mideksa ©AI

Amnesty International welcomed Birtukan Mideksa’s release from prison yesterday. The leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) opposition party in Ethiopia, Birtukan Mideksa has a long history of speaking out against the Government of Ethiopia.  In the aftermath of the potentially corrupt 2005 elections, in which the ruling Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) retained control, she was one of many CUD officials who refuse to take office and participated in mass demonstrations.  The protests were violently dispersed by police: 187 people were shot dead and 765 others were wounded.  Birtukan Mideksa was arrested for the first time in November 2005, charged with treason and sentenced to life in prison.  After being held for 18 months, she signed a letter of apology and was released.  The other terms of her pardon remain unclear.

 On 28 December 2008, Birtukan was arrested for a second time, after speaking at a public meeting in Sweden regarding the process and terms of her previous release. The Government gave her three days to retract her statement, and when she refused, arrested her again.  Much of her sentence was spent in solitary confinement, and she was also not allowed to see her 4 year-old daughter until mid-April, 2009.

 Birtukan Mideksa’s case was featured in Amnesty International’s 2009 Global Write-A-Thon, during which thousands of people from around the world petitioned for her release by sending letters to the Government of Ethiopia. The organization Free Birtukan has also been campaigning tirelessly for her release.

 Learn more about other priority cases, and sign up for the Global Write-a-thon!

Elizabeth Stitt, Campaign for Individuals at Risk, contributed to this post.

Write-a-Thon Series: Birtukan Mideksa

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/

© AI Birtukan Mideksa

© AI Birtukan Mideksa

Birtukan Mideksa, an opposition party leader, is serving a life sentence in Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She was previously arrested in November 2005 after the Coalition for Unity and Democracy party, of which she was a leader, disputed the results of local and parliamentary elections.

Post-election demonstrations turned violent — security forces shot dead 187 people and wounded 765 others, while at least six police officers were also killed. Birtukan Mideksa was charged with treason among other charges, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Local elders working with detainees negotiated a process which led to a pardon by Ethiopian authorities. Birtukan Mideksa and others were released in June 2007 after serving more than 18 months in prison. The exact terms of the pardon remain unclear.

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