World-known publisher Kassahun Checole accepted PEN Eritrea’s Freedom of Expression Award at the closing ceremony of PEN Eritrea’s annual meeting held in Antwerp, Belgium, from 7 to 8 October 2023. Kassahun was announced the award winner on 18 September to highlight the assault on freedom of the press in Eritrea 22 years ago. According to the award committee’s report presented by chair Yonatan Tsighe, Kassahun’s overwhelming contribution to freedom of expression and the advancement of literature deserved the award, and all three judges unanimously decided it.
The PEN Eritrea Freedom of Expression Award was established in 2019. It recognises an individual, a group or institution with a notable contribution to advancing literature and freedom of expression in the Eritrean context. The winner receives a certificate of recognition, a medal, and $1,000.00.
Kassahun accepted his award from Ermias Ekube, a contemporary artist and PEN Eritrea’s outgoing president. At the award ceremony, Kassahun thanked Pen Eritrea for selecting him for the award, and he expressed his confidence in members of the association to promote the tenets of PEN Eritrea. Invited members of PEN Flanders attended the ceremony, which was streamed live via the PEN Eritrea Facebook page. Towards the end of the program, an interview was conducted with the awardee, led by Tedros Abraham.