Local Ethiopian Community holds Vigil for Imprisoned Bloggers in Homeland

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A gathering of about 50 members of the Washington, DC area Ethiopian community along with several friends of Ethiopia held a candlelight vigil in Upper Senate Park adjacent to the Capitol Building this evening in observance of two years having passed since the imprisonment in Ethiopia of Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega. The vigil also served as a voice for other imprisoned journalists in Ethiopia.

Nega, along with the other reporters, are serving lengthy prison terms for expressing views of dissent against the Ethiopian government. Freedom of expression is not tolerated in Ethiopia for those with opposing views.

The vigil carried the theme of “Nafkot”, which translated into English means yearning. Eskinder’s son, who was born in prison while Eskinder’s wife was also imprisoned, was given the name Nafkot to symbolize a yearning for a democratic Ethiopia where the freedom of expression can be enjoyed without retribution or persecution.

Several guest speakers read letters from Eskinder and other imprisoned journalists during the two-hour long vigil. A moment of silence was observed as well.

Among those reading was Jasmine Heiss, Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International which has been very active in drawing attention to the case of Eskinder and the others while pushing for their release.

“It seems that the Ethiopian authorities are intent on destroying the last vestiges of freedom of expression, intent on silencing journalists, opposition figures, activists and government critics,” Heiss told the crowd. “But the voices we heard tonight carried countless miles from the prison cells where they’re housed remind us those calling for freedom and justice will never truly be silenced.”

“As Eskinder Nega said, ‘freedom is personal to no race, freedom has no religion, freedom favors no ethnicity, freedom discriminates not between rich and poor countries. Inevitably freedom will overwhelm Ethiopia'”, Heiss added.

Further information about the efforts to free Eskinder Nega can be found at: http://www.freeeskindernega.com

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