Atlanta (Georgia): “ESAT is ours and we are for ESAT” was the favorite slogan for the night that Ethiopians and Ethio-Americans chanted last Saturday, February 04, 2012 at Jade Event Hall. When guest speakers (Artist and Activist Tamagne Beyene, Artist ShambelBelayneh, Journalist DawitKebede and Activist TeklemichaelAbebe) arrived, the crowd welcomed with a standing ovation. Then Tekle, the master of ceremony, quickly took the stage and warmed the crowd with his wit and humor.
The fundraising night at Jade Event Hall was packed beyond its capacity, signifying the public trust ESAT has won since launched about two years ago. The Chairman of the ESAT Atlanta chapter, Getachew Legesse, stated that Ethiopians view ESAT as genuine source of information and called upon the attendees to stand behind fully support of such young media.
MitikuTeshome, chairman of Mahidere Andinet Civic Association in Atlanta, ironically injected a small amount of sarcastic dose into his speech and said: “All of you who are present here at this ESAT fund-raising event tonight are charged with terrorism.” Obviously, Mitiku was referring to the countless bogus charges and long-term sentences the regime passes against journalists, opposition leaders and other members of the civic society that fight for the rule of law and democratic rights.
The epicenter of the whole program for the night was addressed by no other than the renowned and ever inspiring human rights activist, Tamagne Beyene. Tamagne with his wit and exceedingly unique ability of eloquence reminded his audience from the get go that he normally possesses two different types of badges…. a badge of entertaining persona in one hand and the logo that puts him at the forefront of civil right activism, on the other.
In a well-documented and methodically prepared presentation, the ever altruistic activist Tamagne illustrated the extent of repression and tyrannical rule of MelesZenawi that forced hundreds and hundreds of intellectuals in all fields of professions flee the country and currently leading an exile life style the world over.
According to his study, more than 41 academicians, out of whom 22 are PhD holders and 26 well trained and experienced air force pilots are but some of the professionals who left Ethiopia. What is most appalling is the systematic obliteration of the entire Ethiopian Air Force unit only to be replaced by ill-trained personnel derived from one single minority ethnic group. Tamagne pointed out that dictator Meles dismantled the air force and stacked it with “officers” of his choice contrary to what he promised in a televised speech to the Ethiopian people at the early stage of coming to power. Tamagne recalled that the tyrant Zenawi addressing the Ethiopian people at the time said: the people of Ethiopia will decide on the type of the military that Ethiopia would set up, which of course was soon proved to be only a means to strength his own political power.
Addressing the current controversial statue of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, erected at the center of the newly inaugurated African Union Building in Addis Ababa, in lieu of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, who is mostly known as “the father of Africa” by the rest of the world, Tamagne stated that Woyane dictators feel uncomfortable and in fact hate to see any memorabilia that brings the name Ethiopia to the surface, which in most cases the name Haile Selassie equates to that of Ethiopia.
Referring to the infamous policy of land grab in Ethiopia by foreigners, Tamagne cunningly posed a question: “aren’t the Amharas closer to possess farm land than Indian investors?”
Addressing the gathering earlier, Aba G/ Selassie Tibebu, of Debre Hail St. Gabriel church, recalled the role that Ethiopian Orthodox churches played during the fascist occupation in 1928 and said religious leaders won’t stand by idly while people are suffering and facing difficulties. Citing verses from the Holy Book, the Clergyman pointed out that Jesus Christ acts via his disciples whenever people face hardship and difficulties. Aba Gebre Selassie equated the work of disciples in spreading the word as the work of the current day media.
He also encouraged ESAT to continue telling the truth to the rest of the world.
Representing the Muslim community in Atlanta Hajji Safi Alamin referred to repeated injustices perpetrated against the Muslim community in Ethiopia and called on all participants to stand together irrespective of religious differences. He further noted that the atrocities of the ruling party has reached such an ugly stage that Woyane is working day in day out to create division within the same religious faith.
Journalist DawitKebede, the other guest speaker mentioned the enormous support and acceptance that ESAT enjoyed from Ethiopians at home so much so, that sales of satellite dish receivers hit the roof at the time it launched its first ever transmission to Ethiopia.
Dawit recalled the availability of open media even for a short period of time during 2005 election has really changed the course of the game. He also recalled the moment when ESAT first launched its program people were so excited that there were some who even thought that change of government has taken place.
Dawit, former Managing Editor of Awramba Times and recipient of the world known CPJ award, left Ethiopia recently to avoid another round of arbitrary arrest. He encouraged participants to assist ESAT in any way possible so that ESAT would live up to its expectation.
The evening musical entertainment was headed by the one and only Artist ShambelBelayneh who fluted his branded songs between programs.
A short poetry was read by WorkeshetChernet in memory of the young selfless activist YenesewGebre who recently ablaze himself and paid the ultimate sacrifice thereby showing to the rest of us the road to democracy, liberty and the rule of law.
“Such a gathering is the first of its kind in Atlanta since recently” observed one of the attendants adding that “one day we Ethiopians will transform from victims to victors.” He was particularly keen about the huge turnout despite childish threat by few Woyane thugs not to attend the event and said, “it looks like Atlantans are determined to send a strong message that Atlanta won’t be safe heaven to Woyane stooges.
“When do we rise up as a people and tell Woyane enough is enough?” remarked another young participant.
Ethiopians from the neighboring states of Florida, North Carolina, and Alabama also participated in this energized and well organized event.
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