Ethiopia: Calling for financial help In the name of free press and multi-party democracy
When the Constitution was adopted in 1994, the Ethiopian people had hoped that press freedom and multi-party democracy would be a reality in Ethiopia. The people have been hoping for the last 22 years but their hope could not materialize beyond a semblance of democracy. In fact, at this time, it could be said that one dictatorial dominant party is enthroned and the hope of the Ethiopian people has been dashed. The political space that has been narrowing all along has now been totally folded and a situation has developed wherein opposition political parties could not move freely and meet with the people. The problem that is being faced by Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) at present is a case in point.
As a result of suppression by the ruling party. UDJ cannot move freely in the urban as well as in the rural areas, open branch offices and meet with the people. As one way of countering this obstacle, UDJ started to publish a newspaper, Finote Netsanet, through which it started to reach the people, express its ideas and enable the people to receive information freely. However, when the newspaper started to be popular among the people and the number of copies of its issues began to soar, it started to feel, directly or indirectly, the heavy hand of the ruling party. Birhanina Selam that was printing Finote Netsanet, refused to print our newspaper by giving all kinds of flimsy reasons. When we asked private printing houses to print our newspaper, some slammed their doors in fear the minute they heard that Finote Netsnet was a party newspaper. Others agreed to print the newspaper, accepted advance payment and provided receipt but the next day, they called to say that they could not print our paper and that we should take back our money. Still others printed one issue of Finote Netsanet and when we gave them a copy of the next issue for printing, they refused, with apology, to print the paper. When they were asked why, they gave no convincing reason. As a result, the publication of Finote Netsanet has stopped. UDJ has become unable to freely express its ideas and reach the people through its newspaper. The people are deprived of their right to receive information freely. There can be no multi-party democracy without free parties. Democracy without a free press is unthinkable.
Given the present position taken by printing houses in the country, there is no possibility of UDJ being able to have its newspaper printed. To resolve this problem once and for all, the reliable alternative it has is to have a printing machine of its own. To enable it to buy a printing machine, it has decided to raise one million (1,000,000) birr within the next four months through an intensive fundraising campaign.
Hence, we call upon all Ethiopians at home and abroad, who wish to see free press and multi-party democracy prevail in Ethiopia, to contribute your share towards the fulfillment of UDJ’s fundraising objective. Our motto is: “Yes, we can!”
Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ)