Abbay Media News
On Saturday, April 21, 2018, the renowned Ethiopian political dissident and award winning journalist, Eskinder Nega, arrived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International after a failed attempt by Ethiopian authorities to block him from traveling abroad.
Eskinder Nega was not only stopped at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but also had his passport confiscated after he was processed and cleared for departure to Amsterdam. All pressures were brought to bear on the Ethiopian government including a relentless social media campaign and a very serious letter from Amnesty International asking the authorities to give back the passport and allow Eskinder to board his plane and exit the country.
In less than 24 hours and after he missed his first flight, Immigration officials returned Eskinder’s passport. Amnesty International purchased a new flight ticket so he could arrive in time for the celebration in which Eskinder and the Dutch King, King William Alexander, are guest of honors.
On the other end his flight, in Amsterdam, Eskinder was met by ethiopians from all walks of life, party dominions and Media Groups. Dereje Habtewold and Afework Agidew of ESAT-Amsterdam, Social media activist Geresu Tuffa, Ahmed Shiffa of OMN et al were among the excited crowd at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. Eskinder was presented with the people’s flag of Ethiopia, the plain flag with Green-Gold-Red stripes, and with specially handcrafted scarf of ‘Aba Gedda’ made qeerroo inside Ethiopia. He was also showered with bouquets of flowers.
Eskinder was calm and collected and delivered a precise but to the point speech as soon as he met his compatriots. He thanked all who came from near and afar to greet him. On behalf of all past and present prisoners of conscience, he thanked all freedom fighters and activists inside and outside of Ethiopia for their uninterrupted support.
He said “you were far away from us physically but with us in spirit. You were our strength and voice. We can’t return the favor but God and the Ethiopian people will.” He continued, “your efforts were not in vain because:
- I was sentenced to serve for 18 years but now have been released;
- some prisoners are now out of Jail;
- the infamous torture center, Meakelawi is now closed;
- hope for freedom is brighter than ever and the oppressed mass has their head up where as our rulers are nervous and confused.”
“In spite of all this”, Eskinder continued his brief speech, “we are on the final chapter and we need to crank up diligence upon diligence; persistence upon persistence and determination upon determination. ‘This is not the time for distraction, rather is the moment to demand democracy more than ever before.” he included.
The polished journalist and seasoned activist, Eskinder nega, concluded: “We need to get rid off oppression from Ethiopia. We must make Ethiopia free of political prisoners. The dead children commend us to make Ethiopia a place where children doesn’t fall prey to government bullets and killed on streets”.
Eskinder Nega is married to journalist Serkalem Fasil who like Eskinder was also imprisoned. The couple have a son named Nafkot that was born in prison. Serkalem and Nafkot live in exile in Washington DC area.