Befekadu Hailu

Advisory Council

Befekadu Hailu is a civil society leader, author, and an advocate for the respect of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia. Currently, he works as an Executive Director at the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), an Ethiopian civil society organization registered in July 2019. As a co-founder of the Organization, Befekadu helped CARD to define its MVO and develop the structure to meet its goals, and has served as the first leader of the Center. Prior to establishing CARD in 2019, Befekadu worked as an independent writer and activist for sociopolitical rights for more than a decade. He was a co-founder of the renowned Zone 9 Blogging and Activism Collective and served as an editor and opinion writer for many local print media outlets including Enqu and Weyeyet Magazines as well as Addis Maleda Amharic weekly.

Befekadu was unjustly prosecuted four times and spent 596 days in jail in relation to his activism efforts, but has never been convicted guilty. In the past years, Befekadu has received multiple awards and recognitions. He is a recipient of the PEN Award for International Writer of Courage 2019 and Bill Burt Award for African Literature 2012 (Ethiopia) as well as five other recognitions together with his colleagues from Zone 9. He has studied Management Information Systems for his bachelor’s degree and became a writer and activist by inclination, after which he has received multiple trainings and fellowships on human rights and democracy, including Draper Hills Fellowship at the CDDRL, Stanford University, and Freedom Fellowship at the Human Rights Foundation. He is also a weekly contributor to Deutsche Welle (Amharic Service).


  • PEN Pinter Prize for International Writer of Courage 2019
  • Burt Award for African Literature 2012 (Ethiopia)
  • Martin Ennal’s Award Finalist for Human Rights Defenders, 2016 (with Zone 9 Bloggers)
  • CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award 2015 (with Zone 9 Bloggers)
  • Hellman/Hammet Human Rights Award, HRW, 2015 (with Zone 9 Bloggers)
  • RSF Award for Citizen Journalists 2015 (with Zone 9 Bloggers)