New York ( Tadias Magazine) — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, launched a one-month campaign last week called #FreeThe20 that will highlight 20 women from around the world who are political prisoners, including three female members of Ethiopia’s Semayawi (Blue) Party: Blen Mesfin, Meron Alemayehu, and Nigist Wondifraw.
According to the campaign, which will last through September 2015, the Ethiopian trio will be the focus of attention on day 4-6 this week.
“Blen Mesfin, Meron Alemayehu, and Nigist Wondifraw were among a number of opposition party members and others arrested and charged with inciting violence during anti-Islamic State in Libya (ISIL) demonstrations in Addis Ababa in April 2015, which were organized by the government of Ethiopia following the killing of 26 Ethiopians by ISIL,” states the campaign’s website humanrights.gov.
During a Q&A session with the press following her announcement of the campaign last Tuesday, a reporter asked Ambassador Power regarding the women from Ethiopia: “You’ve got three from Ethiopia on here,” the journalist said. “I’m curious – the President, our President, was just in Ethiopia, where he made some comments praising its democracy. I’m just wondering if you see a discord there?"
In her response Ambassador Power said: “As President Obama said on his trip to Ethiopia, the full potential of Ethiopia will not be unleashed and unlocked until journalists are able to report on what’s going in the country freely and opposition – credible opposition candidates are able to participate in elections.”
Humanrights.gov adds: “Blen, Meron, and Nigist are leading members of Ethiopia’s Blue Party, which advocates peacefully for democratic principles and has faced numerous obstacles in exercising freedom of association and assembly both in the build-up to May 24 parliamentary elections, and thereafter. All three were arrested in Addis Ababa in the days following the April 22 protests and charged with inciting violence at the rally. They remain behind bars to this day.”