Political Prisoners are Still Waiting for Release

Eskinger Nega

Eskinger Nega

Last Friday, the Huffington Post wrote an article about 10 political prisoners who are still waiting for their release date. Nelson Mandela waited 27 years to be released from prison, and we don’t want these 10 people to wait in vain. Especially when one of those 10 political prisoners is Eskinder Nega of Ethiopia.

Nega is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence for his work as a journalist. He was charged with terrorism offenses after writing articles and giving speeches critical of the government. Ethiopian authorities routinely use terrorism charges to silence dissenting voices, and we are calling for Nega’s unconditional release as someone who was arrested for peacefully exercising his freedom of expression.

Sample Letter

Hailemariam Desalgn
Prime Minister
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa
ETHIOPIA

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to ask you to immediately and unconditionally release Eskinder Nega. Eskinder was detained in 2011 and sentenced to 18 years in prison after publicly calling for government reform and promoting freedom of speech. He was detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

I am deeply concerned that your government has consistently used criminal proceedings and the threat of criminal charges to silence critics. Eskinder Nega himself has been arrested several times in the past for legitimately criticizing the Ethiopian government. Tolerance of criticism and opposing viewpoints is an essential part of any free and open society. I urge you to stop the harassment of journalists and other human rights activists, and to ensure the government allows voices of dissent and calls for reform.

I am also concerned that the Ethiopian government has employed the legislative system to restrict freedom of expression. The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation unduly restrict the right to freedom of expression and assembly by defining peaceful activities and legitimate criticisms as offenses against the state. I respectfully ask that you amend these laws so that all Ethiopians can exercise their human rights without fear of state retribution.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Write Holiday Cards in Solidarity

Tomorrow is our last meeting of the year! Since December is a busy month, and are usual letter writing date conflicts with the holidays, we spend the second Tuesday of the month sending holiday cards to prisoners of conscience. We take the fourth Tuesday off. The holiday cards are something we do in solidarity with prisoners of conscience and their families, letting them know that we are thinking about them and working on their behalf. Below are the details of tomorrow’s meeting. Please bring holiday cards (cards without messages of a specific holiday or religion).

Who: Our Amnesty International chapter and those interested in human rights

What: To send holiday cards to prisoners of conscience and their families. Also to spend some time with each other before the holidays and the end of the year.

When: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company on the corner of Roger and Hartford, one block off of Arsenal

Why: Because people need our help and we can make a difference.

How: We’ll provide the paper, pens, and pertinent information on each of the cases. For this meeting, if you can bring holiday cards, then that would be great.

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