Eskender Nega wins PEN America’s “Freedom to Write” award
Awramba Times (New York) Jailed Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskender Nega was honored Tuesday with PEN America’s “Freedom to Write” award. Eskinder was arrested in September 2011 under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism laws, which PEN says criminalize any reporting deemed to “encourage” or “provide moral support” to groups and causes the government deems “terrorists.
His wife, award winning journalist Serkalem Fasil, traveled to New York to accept the award on her husband’s behalf. “Prison has been Eskinder’s home away from home for the past two decades,” she told the audience; at the American Museum of Natural History, with some 500 PEN members and supporters in attendance.
“The Ethiopian writer Eskinder Nega is that bravest and most admirable of writers, one who picked up his pen to write things that he knew would surely put him at grave risk,” said Peter Godwin, president of PEN American Center. “Yet he did so nonetheless. And indeed he fell victim to exactly the measures he was highlighting, Ethiopia’s draconian `anti terrorism’ laws that criminalize critical commentary.”
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more journalists have fled Ethiopia than any other country in the world over the past decade.