ESAT journalists have returned to Ethiopia today after 20 years. They have received with a warm welcome from Minister of Culture Hirut Kassahun, their families, fans, and other government officials.
The journalist expressed their happiness for returning home after their long stay in exile and affirming their determination to fulfill their responsibility as a media company by working hard to sustain positive changes in their country.
ETSAT which mainly gets its fund from the Ethiopian diaspora community around the world had been challenging the EPRDF government which “criminalized freedom of expression” since 2010. The journalists repeatedly designate Ethiopian government as “one of the leading enemies of press freedom in the world.” most of its journalists were jailed, tortured, and forced to exile.
According to ESAT, their official website was among the list of hundred websites that was blocked prior to PM Abiy took power and their TV channel was jammed by the Ethiopian government more than 24 times with the help of China. The media company was one of the prohibited media in the country until the arrival of PM Abiy.
Among the returned Abebe Gelaw, Sisay Agena, and Mesay Mekonen are the most known. Abebe was mostly known for humiliating former PM Meles Zenawi on worldwide event in Washington DC and which was a key highlight of the late PM Meles Zenawi last public appearance with the unpleasant encounter. Abebe Gelaw earned “man of the year” by worldwide Ethiopian community following his iconic interruption.
Sisay Agena was jailed six times because of speaking against the ruling elite. He was imprisoned in 2005 by the government of Ethiopia along with 15 journalists. They were accused of genocide, treason, and outrage against the constitution, he was released after almost two years with the struggle of many human rights organizations. He is mostly known for his insightful critics against the ruling party and he is an honorary member of PEN center USA since 2006. PM Abiy appreciated Agena’s insights in the parliament this month.
Mesay Mekonen was also known by criticizing TPLF the major leading group in Ethiopian government, on ESAT tv and his writings. Before joining ESAT Mesay was working for Deutsche Welle
The government of Ethiopia has made changes and lifted the ban on many media companies including ESAT, which opened its office in Addis Ababa this year.