Eskinder Nega named world press freedom hero

Eskinder Nega

ESAT News (April 25, 2017)

Eskinder Nega, journalist par excellence and blogger, imprisoned by the Ethiopian regime for criticizing the country’s anti-terrorism law, has been named world press freedom hero by the International Press Institute.

The Vienna based International Press Institute announced on Tuesday that Eskinder will be the 69th recipient of the prestigious award.

“The world press freedom award recognizes the contribution of individuals for press freedom and their personal sacrifices. We chose Eskinder Nega as the recipient of this years award because we wanted to make sure that his contributions to media freedom and the contribution he made to independent journalism in Ethiopia as well as to draw attention to the situation he currently faces,” Steve Ellis, Director of Communications and Advocacy told ESAT from Vienna.

Eskinder has been in prison since 2011 on trumped up charges of terrorism for criticizing the anti-terror law, which the regime uses to target journalists and dissents.

Ellis said awarding Eskinder sends a clear message to the regime in Ethiopia and the world at large. “He is in in prison for criticizing the anti-terror law and his effort to stand up for freedom of expression and for media independence. We wanted to send a clear signal that he was not forgotten. We want the Ethiopian government to know that and we want the rest of the world to know that.”

“We want to honor him specifically for the toll the imprisonment took on him and his family,” Ellis said.

Eskinder has been in and out of prison for at least seven times. His wife, Serkalem Fasil, was also detained for seventeen months. She gave birth to their son, Nafkot Eskinder in prison ten years ago. Serkalem and Nafkot now live in exile in the U.S.

Eskinder writes in flawless English and Amharic. Eskinder at one point was a publisher of three weekly newspapers critical of a regime which has no tolerance for freedom of speech and that of the press.

Eskinder is the recipient of awards from Pen America, the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among others.

According to IPI, Both awards, which for the past three years have been given in partnership with Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS), will be presented during a special ceremony on May 18 in Hamburg, Germany during IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly.