Friends of ESAT Gathered in Dallas and Raised Over US$25,000
On May 21st, 2011 ESAT Support Group in Dallas organized a fund-raising evening at the Roman Palace: 4550 W. Buckingham Road, Garland, TX 75042 that not only was successful for the night but also laid the ground work for sustainable ESAT support-structure in Dallas.
Over 200 friends of ESAT bought a $100 per person ticket for an evening that featured information about ESAT, a buffet dinner and a night of entertainment. The event was led by the well known community figure in Dallas: Ato Zewge Kagnew, host of Ethiopian Community Radio in Dallas. Ato Zewge was later joined by Abebe Belew of Addis Dimtse Radio in DC. Abebe had to rush to the airport after finishing his Saturday Live Radio broadcast. His arrival to the event was delayed by two hours due to flight-delay. To those of us who know this man’s relentless dedication to the cause, it is not surprising to see him walk directly to the stage as soon as he arrives and energize the audience to the next level through his humor-laden and informed pep talk about the condition of Ethiopia and its people and a call for action. In his first hour, he managed to help raise about US$6000 in auction. God bless you Abe!
The event was opened with a welcoming speech by Ato Zewge followed by dinner. Around 9:00PM, the speakers of the night were introduced. As a person who has a long experience as a PR for the North American Ethiopian Football Federation and as a multi-year host of the Dallas Community Radio, Ato Zewge used his opening remarks for highlighting the imperative value of the free flow of information in building a democratic society.
After Ato Zewge’s opening speech, Ato Bitru G/Egzabher took the stage as a spokesperson of Dallas ESAT Support Group. Ato Bitru described the existing oppressive and corrupt political environment in Ethiopia as being characterized by economic deprivation and political repression of the majority of the Ethiopian people. He pointed out that it is critical that we in the Diaspora help our people to free themselves from the shackles of the multi-faceted oppression of Meles’s regime. He urged the audience to pull its sources together to support endeavors like ESAT to help our people get information that is not filtered and managed by the propaganda machine of Meles-Bereket .
Following Ato Bitru, Dr. Aziz Mohammed from ESAT Advisory Board gave a prepared presentation highlighting four major points: the need-for, the achievements, challenges and roadmap of ESAT.
1. The Need for ESAT: According to 2011 Report of Freedom House, the Meles regime is in the top list of African governments that monopolizes completely information gathering, information production and distribution in broadcast, print, and Internet Media. ESAT is one means to break this strangle on the free flow of information to our people.
2. Achievements of ESAT: ESAT’s achievements were enumerated. ESAT has proved that the monopoly of broadcast media by Meles can be broken to reach even the dictator’s bed room. ESAT has also created a bridge between the free press journalists of Ethiopia who have been forced into exile and the people of Ethiopia in a medium that is even broader and more direct in its reach. ESAT is also serving as a platform to build the necessary personnel and skill-sets that is required in the business and technical areas of independent broadcast TV that can be used to facilitate the advent of the Ethiopian people’s awakening for freedom and democracy.
3. The challenges of ESAT: ESAT’s challenges were communicated to its supporters to make sure that they understand broadcasting in ESAT is not just a simple TV programming/transmission matter. ESAT broadcasting involves breaking the internationally illegal intervention/jamming practice of ESAT by Melese. The audience was reminded that in its brief existence, ESAT has already produced and transmitted several hundred hours of original programming to Ethiopia and to Ethiopians around the world from its three studios in Amsterdam, Washington, DC, and London despite jamming practices from Melese and Co.
4. ESAT’s Roadmap: Melese is doing everything he can to frustrate the success of ESAT. However, the audience was assured that ESAT is being run by a management/technical team that has a clear vision of where to take ESAT: Make ESAT the Al-Jazeera of Ethiopia.
Finally, the organizers of the event would like to thank all those who help in raising the US $25,000 plus fund for ESAT. The Dallas friends of ESAT have also resolved to continue supporting ESAT with a regular and planned fund raising events in the future.
May 22, 2011