Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Washington DC (ESAT News)–The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) held a successful fundraiser on Sunday, October 30, in the presence of guests of honor and members of the Ethiopian community in Washington Metropolitan Area and nearby states. During the course of the event ESAT officially announced the launch of ESAT Satellite Radio, which has started a 24-hour broadcast to Ethiopia.
Held at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, the gathering, attended by well over 400 Ethiopians, also honored artiste Shambel Belayneh, Abebe Belew and Gigi Shibabaw for their notable patriotic contributions. Though artiste Gigi Shibabaw could not attend due to unforeseen circumstances, she sent a message expressing her appreciation and support for ESAT’s commendable efforts to build a formidable alternative media that serves Ethiopians in and outside of the country. Artiste Tamagne Beyene presented the honorees with special plaques from ESAT.
Two of the guests of honor, Dr. Gregory Stanton and Professor Theodore Vestal took turns to endorse ESAT and urged Ethiopians to transcend over political, ethnic and other differences and rally behind the emergent media organization, which has already made a big difference just within one year.
Professor Vestal, Professor Emeritus at Oklahoma State University, noted that freedom of speech is one of the most important pillars of a democratic order. “The inescapable necessity of democracy is the free flow of information. In a democratic state, there is an inter-relatedness of the media with government and the general public in this free flow of information,” he said.
He underlined that democracy means the power to choose freely, an idea which can be an illusion without information. Prof. Vestal pointed out that citizens have to have the ability “to denounce their rulers and each other without fear of official retribution.”
“The people will ultimately find the truth and the truth will make them free….Let me urge you to support ESAT. Give generously and provide your enthusiastic support this enthusiastic effort to bring the writing on the wall to dictators everywhere,” he said to the gathering.
“There is something about truth that will eventually cut through lies. The Meles Zenawi regime exists because of lies. It tries to convince people around the world it is ruling a multiethnic country and it is somewhat a democratic regime that is elected. Dr. Stanton said that ESAT is will greatly help the struggle for freedom in Ethiopia and every Ethiopian should support efforts to bring about change.
Professor Vestal underlined that a democratic nation must have a free market of ideas, which is essential for the discovery and spread of truth, in order to guarantee meaningful democratic rights. Noting the necessity of building alternative media like ESAT to overcome oppression, he called upon Ethiopians not to give up the fight to make their voice heard and spread the truth. “Habesha never loses hope (Habesha Tesfa Aykortim),” he said in Amharic.
President of Genocide Watch, Dr. Gregory Stanton, said on his part that the Meles regime is based on lies. He said that ESAT is a powerful weapon in the battle to dismantle the regime founded on lies and divisiveness. He added that he was pleased to endorse the work of the Ethiopian Satellite Television. “It [ESAT] is one of the keys to overthrowing the tyrannical Meles regime,” he said.
It was announced during the course of the event that hundreds of members of the Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum (ECADF) that attended the event live via Paltalk raised over $10,000 online within a few hours. The attendees of the event at the Sheraton expressed their appreciation to ECADF with a round of applause.
Artiste Getachew Abdi, former Director of the National Theatre and one of the staff members of ESAT, took the podium and told noted that ESAT is a unique opportunity for Ethiopians to break the shackles of tyranny. Famed artiste and activist Tamagne Beyene also said that ESAT must succeed at any cost. He expressed faith in the transformative power of ESAT in the face of the aspiration for change in Ethiopia.
Sisay Agena also told the gathering that ESAT has kindled a great hope in Ethiopia, where the price of satellite dishes skyrocketed when ESAT was launched. Representing ESAT’s management, journalist Abebe Gellaw highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing ESAT. He said jamming is the number one challenge but stressed that ESAT will overcome the challenges and grab the historic opportunities ESAT is offering Ethiopians. “The battle in era of digital revolutions has just started. Ethiopians will not be silenced by tyrants,” he said.
Abebe Belew of Addis Dimts radio stressed on his part the necessity of a media organization like ESAT to make a difference and impact on the dynamics of the struggle for freedom. He commended the staff members of ESAT who are working in unison for a better tomorrow.
ESAT staffers Mulugeta Lule former editor of Tobia and among the most senior and veteran of Ethiopian journalists, Getachew Abdi, former director of the National Theatre, Gizaw Legesse, Nebiyu Eyasu, former editor of Africa Kend, Abebe Gellaw, editor of Addis Voice , Sisaya Agena, former editor of Ethiop, Dereje Desta, editor of ZeEthiopia Newspaper, Mekuria G. Micheal, former TV anchor, Messay Mekonnen, former Deutsche Welle broadcaster and now ESAT Radio Manager, radio presenter Bruk Yibas, Tsegaye Mola, cameraman and film editor , Dereje Asamare, cameraman as well as other staffers in Washington DC, London and Amsterdam studios were recognized and commended for their hard work to make ESAT a veritable and irrepressible voice of the people of Ethiopia.
The event organizers and many who attended the event have expressed their pleasure with the successful event that united Ethiopians from all walks of life.