Mulugeta Lule V.President of Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association

For urgent Action

To All Friendly and Democratic Organizations committed to Human Rights
and Freedom of Expression

I would like to bring to your attention, and through you, to the notice of the international community and concerned bodies about the recent grave incident that took place in the editorial offices of Atbia Kokeb Publishing and Advertising Company ( AKPAC), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. AKPAC is an idependent media oragnization, which has been paying huge sacrifices for the disseination of news fit to print and for providing forums for independent ideas. The reception and feedback from readers has ben so encouraging that during the last six years the publications have successfully become the marketplace of ideas.

AKPAC, which was established by qualified, experienced and responsible editors, cameramen and directors, is the publisher of TOBIA monthly magazine and the weekly newspaper with the same name. It has the respect and love of thousands of readers both at home and abroad.

As we tried to alert international institutions and organizations committed to democracy, rule of law, and freedom of expression through the good offfices of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in November and October of 1996, four editors of AKPAC were kept behind bars at the much dreaded dungeons of Maekelawi, (The Central Investigation Department) for well over three months. Managers, editors and journalists of AKPAC, myself included, have been subjected to unlawful arrests, rigorous interrrogations, harassments and intimidation of all sorts;suffice it to say that the last six years of our experience have been punctuated by illegal incarcerations, exorbitant fines. We have been and still are victimized by government hate propaganda.

The latest sad episode occurred ion January 16, at about 2:00 p.m. Mr. Goshu Mogus, who in my absence, has been acting as general manager since the beginning of last year, has been taken to Maekelawi along with Taye Belachew (former editor) Birru Tsegaye, acting editor in chief and Anteneh Merid, deputy editor in chief. Reason for the arrest was not clear, nor was there a court order obtained by the jailers. To add insult to injury, the office of AKPAC was destroyed by fire five hours later. This makes it difficult for Tobia to roll out its publications regularly, especially since the editors are in jail. The value of the property destroyed by fire without including the damages on the publishing , but is compelled to put off its activities with regard to the production of documentary films and advertisements. AKPAC’s system of communications with the rest of the world has ceased functioning. I am personally woriied abouth the health of Mrl Goshu and Mr. Anteneh who are asthmatic patients. I call on all organizations that uphold freedom of expression to exert pressure on Meles Zenawi’s government to release all journalists of the independent press and to drop any and all charges against them. A repetition of the tragic event of last year that took the life of Assefa Maru is disturbing me at this time. It indeed haunts me. I call upon all of you to help us stop the summary measures the government repeatedly takes against us, journalists of the independent press.

Sincerely,

Mulugeta Lule
V.President of Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association


cc:Committee to Protect Journalists-NY
International Federation of Jounalists-Brussels
International Pen- London
Amnestly Intenational, -London
Human Rights Watch-New York
Voice of America-Washington DC
Voice of Germany-(Deutsche Welle)
Reporters Sans Frontiers