Ethiopian Heritage Society Honors Fighters for Liberty, Free Press, and Religious Tolerance – PR

Press Release – July 11, 2013

Honorees of the Third Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival, July 26-28, 2013

For the third year, the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America has selected people who deserve recognition for their heart-felt fight for liberty, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Their honor will be extolled at the Third Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival to be held in Washington, D.C.

The honored individuals and groups are:

Abune Petros – Contribution to the Advancement of Humanity

Abune PetrosAbune Petros became a martyr on the 29th of July, 1936, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the struggle against Italian colonialism. The bishop led a crusade against the invading army’s terror and sophisticated killing machinery. He refused to quit and exhorted his fellow citizens to resist the Italian invasion and Italy’s attempt to rule Ethiopia as one of its colonies. The bishop showed courage and bravery in the face of death by proclaiming to the Italians: “The cry of my countrymen who died due to your nerve-gas and terror machinery will never allow my conscious to accept your ultimatum. How can I see my God, if I give a blind eye to such a crime?” The invading army put him in front of a firing squad and murdered him. Ethiopians went on to oust the Italians from their homeland.

Reeyot Alemu – Unsung Heroine

reeyot_alemuThis young journalist has been incarcerated for more than a year in the filthy conditions at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa. Branded as a terrorist by the ruling regime, she is exceptional because of her commitment to work for independent news media when the prospect of doing so became increasingly dangerous. She refused to self-censor, though that practice is standard among journalists weak before the regime. She refused to apologize for truth-telling, though that could have won her freedom. She refused to testify against fellow journalists, though that could have earned her clemency. She is one of many journalists arrested, interrogated, tortured, and even murdered in their own country because of their demands for a free press, and social and political liberty.


Eight Muslim Leaders & Supporters – Contribution to the Advancement of Liberty

Muslim leadersThe arrest and indictment of 29 prominent Muslims for exercising their basic rights to free speech is another flagrant misuse of Ethiopia’s laws, most notably its anti-terrorism laws. These men have strongly defied the government in the cause of religious freedom. They have held forth that no human or worldly government may dictate to any man or woman how he or she must worship. These people are facing a sham trial and long prison terms. Their cause should continue; they have made a significant contribution to the advancement of human liberty and freedom in Ethiopia as well as around the globe.

Remember Those Who Stand Their Ground

News gets old quickly for human audiences. What seems horrible or wonderful when it first happens, seems less so the following day. Weeks or months later, significant happenings are almost forgotten. In view of this human trait, the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North American feels it necessary to point out that those quests for liberty and human dignity which were important yesterday are still terribly important today. More so are the people involved. On an annual basis at its Ethiopian Heritage Festival, EHSNA tries to remember those people who have paid dearly in their fight for liberty; it endeavors to remind Ethiopians and the rest of the world’s citizens alike of the sacrifices these individuals have made on their behalf.

Honorees Jailed or Deceased

Unfortunately, none of the honorees EHSNA has selected in recognition of their work for liberty are able to be present at the festival. They are in jail or dead. EHSNA has found worthy individuals to accept the recognition awards on behalf of the honorees:

  • Abune Gorgorios, a leading scholar in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, will accept the award for the martyred church bishop and national hero, Abune Petros.
  • Tizita Belachew, an outstanding journalist in her own right, will be accepting for the talented young journalist and writer, Reeyot Alemu, presently in jail.
  • Members of Bader Ethiopia, an International Ethiopian Muslim Association, will accept the award on behalf of the eight Muslim leaders and their supporters, all presently jailed.

After careful consideration, EHSNA feels that the honorees would appreciate the proxies that they have selected on their behalf. The proxies have been asked to speak a few words regarding the honorees at the Third Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival. Members of the Ethiopian diaspora, Ethiopian Americans, and all friends of Ethiopia are encouraged to join the society at the Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival as it remembers the sacrifices – and the hope – that these people represent.

Ethiopian Heritage Festival

Sponsored by the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America, the Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival will be held from July 26th to July 28th on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During those three days, art exhibits, wonderful food, craft exhibits, town-hall meetings, sports activities, traditional and contemporary music and dancing, and much more will make the weekend an enjoyable, and hopefully thoughtful, time for all. For more information, questions, and suggestions, please email us at or call us (202) 596 -1964.