Dr. Berhanu Nega faces death

Dr. Berhanu Nega faces death

New School Ph.D. Alum Faces Death Penalty


December 8th , 2005: A rapidly growing student-led movement at The New School has demanded the release of Dr. Berhanu Nega, a democracy activist and New School alumnus, who was jailed by the Ethiopian government several weeks ago following his involvement in mass protests over election irregularities in Ethiopia. Nega and 57 other democracy activists have been imprisoned on charges of treason, a crime punishable by death in Ethiopia.

Human rights group Amnesty International has declared Nega and the other arrestees "prisoners of conscience," or prisoners imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. "He's there trying to be an advocate for democracy," New School president and a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, said of the imprisoned alumnus. At The New School, a student-driven campaign has collected 1200 student letters urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senator Hilary Clinton to take immediate action in urging Ethiopia to release Nega. Teruneh Zenna, the Ethiopian permanent representative to the UN, has also received student letters. In addition, New Jersey Representative Christopher Smith has introduced a bill addressing the Ethiopian government's human rights abuses.

A New School Ph.D. alumnus, Dr. Nega is the mayor of Addis Ababa and a leading member of Ethiopia's main opposition party. Economics professor Dr. Anwar Shaikh of the New School called Nega, "one ofthe bravest people to have ever come through this department." The New School University Student Union has condemned the arrest and urges public awareness and political action to ensure his prompt release.


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