℅ The Individuals at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Eskinder Nega, via your wife Serkalem Fasil,
I hope this letter finds you reasonably well, given that you have been imprisoned by your government. What has happened to you could happen to any citizen in the world, if individual protections of free speech are not written into the law and enforced by strong and just courts, and supported by humane governments. It is too bad that governments do not realize that they are stronger—not weaker—when they protect these basic rights of free speech for all citizens.
I am an American who has been dwelling in Mexico for some years, where I live and write (sometimes paint, as well) with my partner Dianne. If it would reach you, I would send you a copy of my novel Playing for Pancho Villa, which people say is a good yarn, albeit both sweet and sad—a love story set in 1916 revolutionary Mexico.
It is hard for me to imagine how your government, or any government, can justify putting you in prison—for voicing your opinions about it.
I hope that you are released soon, along with any of your countrymen who have also been imprisoned for voicing dissent. And that you can get up in the morning, have your coffee, talk to your cat, and hold your wife’s hand and watch the sun come up together—with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I hope I get to meet you when you leave prison. Maybe you will come to Mexico and give a talk in my small colonial city Guanajuato, and have some Mexican food with us, at our house, with your wife, and talk to my two cats—who I am sure would be very interested to meet a writer from Ethiopia. As I would.