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A prelude to World Press Freedom day; IOHR and EILCO host a reception at the Ethiopian Embassy in London

18 April 2019

What: IOHR and EILCO host a reception at the Ethiopian Embassy in London

When: 16 April 2019

Where: The Ethiopian Embassy, 16 Princes Gate, London

  • IOHR and The Ethiopian Institute for Leadership, Communication and Organisation (EILCO) held a reception at the Ethiopian Embassy in London in readiness for their attendance at World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa 1-3 May
  • Guests included recently released Turkish Artist Zehra Doğan, previously jailed journalists, Representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, civil society press freedom advocates and members of the press.

H.E. Mr Fesseha Shawel Gebre, Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK launched the evening by welcoming guests and highlighting how far Ethiopia has come in its transformation and deep reform. His Excellency stressed that Ethiopia is proud to host the 26th World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa this year on 1-3 May to affirm his country’s commitment to press freedom.

H.E. Mr Fesseha Shawel Gebre, Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK

Under the new leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in February 2018, Ethiopia released 7000 prisoners and today has no journalists or bloggers in jail. Ambassador Fesseha asked the assembled guests to come to Ethiopia to witness the new freedom and drive towards creating a beacon for Africa.

“You should go and see for yourself and give us the critical support that we need. Praise us when we have done well and tell us critically where we can improve.”

IOHR Director Valerie Peay described why it was important for the global media to gather in Ethiopia to show their support for press freedom and to work together to protect journalists at all levels. Peay said,

“Many journalists all over the world need a greater level of protection just to be able to do their job without risk of intimidation, incarceration or death. As part of a global campaign to protect journalists, IOHR supports the call for a UN Special Envoy for the Protection of Journalists. Ethiopia is showing that it is possible to bring monumental change but they need the world’s help and attention to sustain and grow this into their society moving forward.”

Ababi Demissie -Ethiopian Embassy Deputy Head of Mission, Zelalem Getahun-EILCO, H.E. Ambassador Mr Fesseha Shawei Gebre, Valerie Peay-Director IOHR, Bekele Woyecha- EILCO, Alistair King-Smith- UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Dr Ermias Kebede-EILCO

Alistair King-Smith, co-ordinator for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office who is helping to organize an international even on press freedom in London in July, spoke of the commitment of the UK Government to promote press freedom and to use the platform of World Press Freedom Day as a conduit to keep the momentum and focus on developing the growth of press freedom worldwide.

Alistair King-Smith, UK Foreign & commonwealth Office

Attending the reception with NGO English Pen was Turkish Artist Zehra Doğan who was recently released after spending almost 3 years in a Turkish prison. Her crime was creating a painting depicting a Turkish army attack on a Kurdish village. Zehra represents the need for greater protection for journalists on an international level and she shared her story in an interview with Trish Lynch of IOHR TV at the event.

Bekele Woyecha of EILCO spoke of his new organisation’s role which hopes to shape the next generation of Ethiopians with training and development support. Bekele was himself a refugee from Ethiopia and described the many times he and his compatriots stood outside the embassy campaigning against the policies of the old regime. Bekele captured the exuberance of the reception by calling on everyone to,

“Join us in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is now open to all”.

IOHR will be attending and broadcasting the 26th celebration of World Press Freedom Day which will take place in Addis Ababa on 1 – 3 May. The event is jointly organised by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

30 April 2019 – IOHR has organized a panel event at the Addis Ababa University School of Journalism with approximately 80-100 future journalists attending. Among the speakers will be Woubshet Taye, a renowned journalist formerly imprisoned in Ethiopia and Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye, who was held in a prison in Ethiopia for 438 days. He will be sending a pre-recorded message and presentation.

1 – 3 May 2019 – World Press Freedom Day: Global Conference, Addis Ababa. IOHRTV will be broadcasting the global conference, interviews with speakers and guests and hope to use the opportunity to highlight our campaign #ProtectJournalists, which calls for on the UN to instate a Special Envoy dedicated solely for the safety of journalists.

Ethiopian Institute for Leadership, Communication and Organisation (EILCO) is a company created to provide training, development and consultancy in Ethiopia in the fields of leadership, media, press and communication, public administration and civilian and military organisation. EILCO will organise lectures, conferences, events and promotion for governmental and private enterprises.

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