Ethiopian newspaper reports its mail tampering by Ethiopian Postal service

New York, June 29, 2010—Ethiopia’s postal service should a conduct thorough and transparent investigation into the tampering of mail addressed to the country’s leading critical newspaper, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Awramba Times Editor-in-Chief Dawit Kebede said the paper has complained to the Ethiopian Postal Service at least three times since June 6 after finding opened and destroyed envelopes in its mailbox inside Teklay Posta Bet, the national postal headquarters in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Tampered mail sent to the Awramba Times.
Tampered mail sent to the Awramba Times.

The Amharic-language weekly quoted local postal manager Bezabih Asfaw as saying that the “quality of the paper” of the envelopes may be to blame for the tearing.

The Awramba Times has been harassed for its critical coverage of the government, with the government-controlled media airing programs in December 2009 that lambasted the paper, according to news reports.

“The tampering of Awramba Times’ mail potentially impacts sources and readers,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “Mail tampering is a criminal offense and we call on the Ethiopian Postal Service to take these reports seriously by conducting a thorough investigation and ensuring that all of the newspaper’s mail arrives intact and undisturbed.”

Asfaw told CPJ today that he is “unaware of this problem.” He said he would look into the reports, but said “this did not happen in the post office.” Under Ethiopia’s penal code, “violation of the privacy of correspondence or consignments” is punishable by up to six months in prison, according to CPJ research.

: CPJ

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3 Comments

  1. L-O-L seriously, what else in the bloody hell are they expecting? they’d be cavity searched at the door every morning by now.

  2. This is totally false. Anyone could come and see how things are done there. Please tell the Awramba Times people to try to write something true for the first time.

  3. Towards a democratic renaissance in Ethiopia
    This is my first visit to Ethiopia and I must say that I have been impressed by some of the things that I have seen here in Addis. The relatively constant power supply, taps running with water, fairly well paved roads are social commodities alien to many parts of Africa. Indeed, the people of Ethiopia are warm and friendly. But that is where the applause stops.
    After reading fairly extensively on Ethiopia, talking with some of my Ethiopian friends and observing the Ethiopian way of life, a few inferences can be made thus: A good number of Ethiopians live in abject poverty; the take home pay of workers is not enough to take them home; the cost of goods and services is beyond the reach of many Ethiopians due to rising Inflation.
    However, while I am bothered about the above malfunctions in the economic survival of ordinary Ethiopians what worries me more is what I see on the faces of the ordinary Ethiopians. I see fear written on the faces of the Abesha. I see a citizenry dissatisfied yet unable to speak. I see a muzzled press and a suffocated populace who are disgruntled but unable to air their grievances due to fear of official and unofficial reprisal.
    A few days ago, I was at an Ethiopian restaurant with a few, new Ethiopian friends. I was savouring the alluring flavour of the Ethiopian coffee and local beer. I was enjoying the uniquely addictive taste of the local injera with tibs. We were having a lively and engaging conversation on different topics from culture to tourism, love and life. But when the discussion veered towards Ethiopian politics, I noticed that my friends fell silent. Those who agreed to speak did so in hushed tones. They confirmed my fears that freedom of speech and other human rights are still at an infant stage many years after the advent of democracy.
    This lack of a democratic culture should be a bother not just for ordinary Ethiopians but for all lovers of democracy worldwide. While the main responsibility of fostering a free and democratic atmosphere in Ethiopia should lie with the Ethiopian government, it is unclear to me the willingness of the current dispensation to do this. Indeed, a prime minister who is willing to stay in power for up to twenty years cannot be described as democratic. The sit-tight syndrome of political leaders in Africa including Ethiopia, leaders who stay in power for donkey years is not healthy for any country that takes democracy seriously. This sit-tight syndrome, the bane of African development should be condemned by all lovers of democracy.
    It is my understanding that the buzz word in Ethiopian official circles is ‘renaissance’. Economic renaissance, good-governance renaissance etc. I say it is time for a democratic renaissance in Ethiopia. The opposition parties, civil and human rights groups should form a healthy partnership with the academia on driving a renewed and sustained push towards an atmosphere of real and genuine freedom in Ethiopia.
    There is the need for the international community to partner with Ethiopians on a deliberate drive towards modern democracy. The current government in Ethiopia must be made to realise that without democratic renaissance, there can be no real renaissance. The people need to be guaranteed the right to speak, to meet and of course the right to complain. Above all, the people need to be guaranteed the right to vote in or out, leaders of their choice in free and fair elections. Elected officials must be made to realise that they are servants of the people. Elected officials need to understand that they are holding their positions by the grace of the electorate and in trust for the electorate; they should know that if they do not perform to the satisfaction of the electorate-the so called hoi-polloi- they could be voted out.
    A democratic renaissance with total and absolute respect for human and democratic rights for every Ethiopian citizen should be seen as the first step towards the drive for a complete renaissance of the Ethiopian state. All hands should be on deck to make the re-birth of Ethiopia, a reality; Now, not later.

    Wole Ameyan Jr, a medical doctor and post graduate student in England is on a research visit to Addis Ababa. He can be reached on 0922750179 and at: sketchon@yahoo.com

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