Radio Erena: 20 September 2017
Eritreans in various parts of the world observed the 16th anniversary of the day, popularly known as “the Darkest Day” in the history of Eritrea.
September 18, 2001 was the day – in the Eritrean history, when the Eritrean government detained several reformers – mostly veterans of the Eritrean struggle for independence and cabinet members, and shut down privately owned newspapers sending several of their reporters and editors to prison. These reformers and reports have been detained incommunicado, several of whom are rumored to either have lost their lives or are suffering from near-death health conditions.
It is to be recalled that the government – in a press release broadcasted through its media outlets 16 years ago, announced the closure of private newspapers which led to having their reporters and editors being hunted from their offices, some from their residences and some others from the streets and sending them to detention. None of whom have been tried officially. Nor have they been given an opportunity to seek legal avenues. Besides, their families have been denied visitation rights.
A lot of Eritreans remember the day as the darkest day in their history and condemn the ruling party – the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – PFDJ for such barbaric actions that Eritrea and its citizens have never even experienced under colonial and local rulers – such as the administrations of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haileselassie and his successor – Mengustu Hailemariam.
September 18, 2001, which was not only the day when the Eritrean people lost free press but it was also the day that gave way to repression, violation of basic human rights – rights to express one’s opinion – rights to practice a religion of one’s choice, which in turn led to emigration of thousands of youth through harsh conditions seeking refugee in the neighboring countries and some crossing the Mediterranean Sea over to Europe.
The Eritrean government is reported to constantly detain several of its journalists.