09 May 2015
Prisoner of conscience, journalist Eskinder Nega has been at the centre of efforts to highlight World Press Freedom Day for Horsham Amnesty Group.
The international celebration is marked each year on May 3, and members of the group came to the County Times office in Springfield House, Horsham, on Tuesday to highlight their cause.
We are trying to tell Eskinder (and his family) in as many ways as we can that he is not forgotten – and that lots of people are concerned about him
Alison Marshall, speaking on behalf of Amnesty International Horsham Group said: “May 3 is World Press Freedom Day! Yet we know that Eskinder is likely to spend the day in prison. He was sentenced to 18 years in June 2012 after he criticised the Ethiopian government and called for freedom of expression in speeches and articles.
“He has been identified by Amnesty as a prisoner of conscience – someone imprisoned for his peaceful and legitimate activities as a journalist.
“We are writing regularly to the Ethiopian authorities, expressing concern about their crackdown on journalists and freedom of speech and asking for the immediate and unconditional release of Eskinder and others. We are also asking them to amend laws limiting freedom of expression in Ethiopia.
“We are also trying to tell Eskinder (and his family) in as many ways as we can that he is not forgotten – and that lots of people are concerned about him. So we are sending pictures of people who are concerned – which will include the staff of the West Sussex County Times, particularly in the light of the West Sussex County Times Free Speech Charter.”
The Horsham Amnesty Group wrote the following piece to explain what it is, and what is does:
In 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson was outraged when two Portuguese students were jailed just for raising a toast to freedom. He wrote an article in The Observer and launched a campaign that provoked an incredible response. Reprinted in newspapers across the world, his call to action demonstrated that people everywhere can unite in solidarity for justice and freedom.
Amnesty does not take sides in conflicts but documents and campaigns against human rights abuses, whoever commits them. Through detailed research and determined campaigning, Amnesty staff and members help fight abuses of human rights worldwide, bring torturers to justice, change oppressive laws and free people jailed just for voicing their opinion.
Just because you are in prison, it does not always mean you are guilty of a crime. If you were lucky enough to have a trial, it may not have been a fair one. Since 1961, Amnesty activists have been ready to spring into action for people facing imminent danger in detention. From sending faxes and tweets to making phone calls or taking to the streets.
This approach really works. 156 countries have now signed the Convention against Torture. After relentless campaigning, a global Arms Trade Treaty became international law on 24 December 2014. Amnesty has opposed executions since 1977, when only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Today, 140 have.
Local groups are at the heart of Amnesty’s work. The Horsham Amnesty Group is nearly 25 years old and going strong. Members from all walks of life meet monthly to write letters and discuss campaigns. We organise a wide range of fund and awareness raising events including plant sales, Writeathons, greeting cards campaigns, information stalls as well as a yearly street collection. An important focus of our campaigning at the moment is to highlight the case of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist, Eskinder Nega, our adopted “prisoner of conscience”.
If you would like to get involved or find out more about Horsham Amnesty group check out our website: www.amnesty.org.uk/groups/horsham or contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or search for Amnesty International Horsham on Facebook