Both are at same ages. Both had noble professions. Both are courageous. Both are not afraid to tell the truth. Both are standing against a regime that is tyrannical, deceptive and hateful. Both are women. Both represent, in their own way, the best of this new generation. Both have a baby child. Both lived at the same place at one time, kaliti prison.I am talking about Birtukan Mideksa and Serkalem Fassil. I would like to use this opportunity to salute these two sisters of ours, for their courage and for what they have done for the cause of freedom and well-being of Ethiopia.
Birtukan Mideksa was arrested four years ago, on phony charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the notorious, full of big rats Kaliti prison. At that time Birtukan Mideksa’s daughter Hale was a 7 months old baby.
Serkalem Fassil , jailed at the same prison with Birtukan Mideksa, was pregnant. Recalling her pain in Kaliti prison, and in her letter she send to Global Forum of Freedom Expression forum, Serkalem characterized the regime as immoral. “As my pregnancy progresses, I slept many sleepless and tearful nights. Prison officials were so sadistically content with my pain. The sleeping arrangement was my longest nightmare of the prison experience. It symbolizes the moral bankruptcy of the Tyrants. It was tantamount to a long and deliberate torture.” she wrote.
Birtukan Mideksa is arrested for a second time and placed in solitary confinement for more than hundred and sixty three days now, a punishment even rapists and serial killers have not had. Her apparent crime, as Newsweek Tepperman explained it, is to “organizing a democratic challenge to the increasingly iron-fisted rule of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.”.
Serkalem Fassil has been denied – for the third time – a visa to travel to Europe and attend the Global Forum of Freedom Expression. She was denied to publish a newspaper and exercise her constitutional right.
On December 28th 2008, 10 armed soldiers jumped out from their four heavily armed vehicles to detain just one woman, Birtukan Mideksa. When Serkalem Fassil was sent at the police hospital to deliver her baby, four heavily armed strong soldiers were guarding her. Ten strong men for one woman and four strong men for another!!!!!
By arresting Birtukan Mideksa, the regime has made itself more isolated. More and more of its officials are embarrassed on the international scene and Birtukan Mideksa is gaining national and international status. She is mobilizing people from within her cell. She has become the symbol of resistance and justice. She is winning by loosing.
By denying exit VISA to Serkalem Fassil, the regime again has exposed itself. It has shown that it is weak, lacking confidence, immoral and in deep trouble. In the Global Forum of Freedom Expression annual meeting, the chair assigned to Serkalem Fassil was empty. However her name was displayed in big. The Empty chair has sent a very powerful message, perhaps even more if Serkalem would have attended physically the meeting.
By arresting Birtukan Mideksa and denying constitutional rights of Serkalem Fassil, the regime has benefited nothing. To the contrary it is damaging itself internationally and showed to the world its barbarism, brutalities and IMMORALITIES.
Ethiopia is lucky to have braves like Birtukan Mideksa and Serkalem Fassil, women of actions, who love their country and are visionaries. ” Because we have seen twenty three African countries conform into democracies, we know Ethiopia can there” said Serkalem Fassil believing in the power of the people.
“The Sun has risen to Ethiopia. Darkness is no more.” said Birtukan Mideksa. “Where is the sun, where is the light ?” some may ask. However, Birtukan have seen the light because she put on new glasses on her eyes, that helped her see the strong desire, and thirst of democracy that is actively burning within the mind and heart of millions of Ethiopians.
Agents of darkness have been trying to extinguish the emerging light. They have been desperately going over the edges to preserve the status quo and make sure we stay in darkness. Their evil actions against Serkalem and Birtukan are parts of these activities. However, they are failing. The END of agents of darkness has begun. With a little nudge from the people, the era of dictatorship and tyranny will be over.
It is therefore time for the rest of us, who have been basically silent, to come out from our closets and join the struggle for real and create the little nudge that is necessary to bring visible results. This is not a game; this is a serious matter that concerns the destiny of 80 millions people.
As Carmen de Monteflores said ” Oppression can only survive through silence”. Therefore should we continue to give only leap services in view of the suffering of our country, should we fail to seriously contribute our share to the struggle of democracy and justice , Should we be selfish and engaged only in personal matters, we can consider ourselves as dead people. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” said Dr Martin Luther King. We determine our destiny, not few groupies.
Birtukan Mideksa and Serkalem Fassil, without firing bullets have been able to shake up the regime in their own way. Had we all become more like them, our country would not have been where it is now. If we follow the footsteps of these women, if we start believing in ourselves, if we do not allow ourselves taken away by the talk of despair and hopelessness, if we stop saying “It is impossible” and allow ourselves to be filled with ‘the I can do attitude”, we will surely prevail. black Americans did it. South Africans did it. Indians did. Why shouldn’t we do it as well ! Are we not human beings like them ?
As Serkalem Fassil said “ Ethiopia shall be free from Tyranny”. Behold, in front of us the new era and the new beginning ! Let us all stand up and march towards the noisy Jordan River and cross it. Let us inherit the promise land !