American documentary filmmaker and activist Chris Flaherty is on a hunger strike in support of jailed opposition leader Birtukan Midekssa.
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Birtukan, leader of the largest opposition group in Ethiopia, UDJ, has been held at the Kality prison for the past 16 months on alleged treason charges.
Flaherty, became interested in Birtukan's case while doing research for his film about Ethiopian politics and election 2005. He says he became convinced that the Ethiopian government claims about her are inaccurate. He is using his strike to bring her case to the attention of the Obama administration. He is calling on them to name her a prisoner of conscious.
"This is important to me as she was jailed simply because she stands by what she believes. To me that is a strong character. She believes in the same values that I believe in as far as democracy and freedom are concerned. I would hunger-strike for any one like that," Chris asserts. "She shouldn't have been in jail in the first place."
Kebadu Belachew, an Ethiopian-American took three days off from work to join Chris on the hunger strike in front of the White House.
Birtukan was arrested in December 2008 for allegedly violating the terms of an earlier pardon. She and several fellow opposition leaders were previously released after serving two years in prison.
Flaherty's film, Migration of Beauty, will broadcast in the U.S. this month.
Click the audio link on the side to listen to the Amharic report on Flaherty's strike.