Marchers Call for Ethiopian Freedom
Reported By: Jon Shirek
Web Editor: Leigha Baugham
Last Modified: 2/12/2007 12:06:23 AM
Political unrest in the east African nation of Ethiopia had Metro Atlantans protesting Sunday evening, calling for freedom.
The demonstrators, at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, drew symbolic connections between the political issues facing today's Ethiopia and the historic civil rights era struggle in America.
The demonstrators were trying to convince people in the U.S. and the rest of the international community that the current Ethiopian government stole the elections there two years ago, then jailed the winners of the elections and charged them with treason.
On February 19, the protestors say, the Ethiopian government will sentence the political opponents to death. Mesfin Wolde Mariam, 77, who earned his Master's Degree in 1957 at what is now Clark Atlanta University, is among leaders who may face the death penalty.
"No one is above the law. And these jailed leaders are the true Ethiopians, the Ethiopians that try to give the people freedom, liberty from the tyranny government," said one of the Ethiopian-American demonstrators, Eyob Kidan Mariam.
The demonstrators chose to march at the King Center because they see Mesfin Wolde Mariam as their version of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ironically, Georgia's other Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, monitored the elections in 2005 that Sunday's demonstrators said the ruling party later stole from the winners.
"I hope the U.S. government will do much better to help the struggle of Ethiopians," said Mariam.
Carter and other from the Carter Center are now on an 11 day tour of Africa that was to have taken them to Ethiopia to promote health care. The demonstrators are hoping that while Carter is there, he may try to have some unofficial discussions about these human rights issues.
On February 15, members of Congress are expected to be among the demonstrators protesting at a rally planned outside the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.