Friends and family are fearing for the life of a 28-year-old Ethiopian woman who has spent more than 2 years in a Chinese prison on drug charges.
In December 2018, Nazrawit Abera, a civil engineer, flew from Addis Ababa to Beijing to pursue a job opportunity and learn about home building materials, according to her older sister, Abby Abera.
But when she landed at Beijing Capital Airport, officials detained Nazrawit and inspected her luggage. They found five shampoo bottles filled with cocaine. Chinese police arrested Nazrawit on drug trafficking charges, which carry severe penalties in China.
Abby told VOA the bottles did not belong to Nazrawit, and that her sister agreed to bring them as a favor to a friend from elementary school who had planned to accompany Nazrawit.
When the friend’s father died shortly before the trip, she allegedly asked Nazrawit to bring the bottles on her behalf. She told Nazrawit they contained expensive Brazilian shampoo, according to Abby.
Abby said what followed has been a nightmare for the family. They have been unable to speak to Nazrawit and have received scant details from representatives of the Ethiopian consulate, who met with Abby several times.
public pressure for her release has been growing and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is promising to advocate on her behalf, including raising her issue to the Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Second Belt and Road Summit in Beijing, earlier this year.
Her online petition for clemency has also garnered thousands of signatories and stars such as Teddy Afro have spoken on her behalf.
Her biological mother is said to have been partially paralyzed as a result and family or close friends have not been able to speak to her. However, Ethiopia’s ambassador to China, Teshome Toga confirmed to The Reporter that she was visited by diplomats several times and is receiving consular support.
The case is still ongoing in court amid growing fear from family members
The charges, if convicted, would likely lead to execution under China’s Article 347 of the Chinese Criminal Law.