Radio Erena was founded in 2009 with the support of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). At the start there was only one journalist, Biniam Simon, who has been working for 14 years for the government television station ERi-TV based in the capital Asmara. After being granted asylum in France in January 2007, he had the idea of founding a media organization to act as a link between the people of Eritrea and the rest of the world since Eritrea’s dictatorial government ensures that the country is isolated and people are deprived of access to information.
It took almost a year to get the station up and running. Finding funding for basic studio equipment and infrastructure was not easy. The main challenge was forming a network of journalists and correspondents. Eritrean journalists, even if they are outside the country, still fear the government. Over the years, the president has developed a reign of fear using arbitrary detention, punishing family members of its enemies and other abuses.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has helped Biniam Simon to seek asylum in France and supported Radio Erena at every step.
Radio Erena quickly built up an audience of Eritreans inside and outside the country. Biniam was soon joined by another journalist and, as the serious nature of their work and their fight for freedom of expression and access to information became clear, other journalists – sometimes under pseudonyms — began working with them. Today there are four journalists based in Paris and around 15 other persons throughout the world working for Radio Erena as correspondents, contributors and volunteers.
Radio Erena is based in Paris where 4 journalists are working full time to prepare the news and programmes for the radio. They are supported by 15 correspondents based in 7 countries.
Meet some members of the team
Biniam Simon, Director and chief editor
Born and raised in the capital Asmara, he pursued studies in media and communications,
including television production, and video and audio techniques using various software applications and different types of equipment. He also studied the production of educational videos for broadcast both in Eritrea and overseas (Japan). He joined the newly created Eritrean Television in 1992. He worked in production including editing, camera work and graphics, and as a news anchor until 2006.
In 2009 he founded Radio Erena, of which is the director. He also coordinates correspondents and contributes to daily programming.
Fathi Osman, Responsible for the Arabic programmes and news
Fathi Osman worked as a reporter for the Arabic-language newspaper Eritrea Al-Haditha from 1994 to 1996.
In 1996, he joined the foreign ministry as a member of the commission on the arbitration of the Red Sea islands.
In 1998, he worked as senior research officer in the office of the presidential legal adviser.
In 2003, he worked as a political officer and deputy head of mission in Eritrea’s embassy in Pakistan.
From 2004 to 2012, he was political officer and deputy head of mission in the Eritrean embassy in Saudi Arabia.
In 2014, he lanched Radio Erena’s Arabic-language programme.
He received a BA in English literature in 1990, a diploma in diplomacy in 1993 and an MA in peace and development studies in 2010.
In 2014, his first book “Eritrea’s Journey from Liberation to Dictatorship” was published in Arabic in Paris.
Amanuel Ghirmai, News editor
Amanuel Ghirmai graduated from Asmara University in 2001 and joined the information ministry a few months before all private newspapers were closed down. He worked for almost nine years as a reporter and news editor for the national radio station Dmsi Hafash Eritrea. He also contributed analyses to the state newspaper Hadas Eritrea.
He fled Eritrea just as Radio Erena started broadcasting and joined the radio just six months after its creation. As the news editor of Radio Erena, his role was mainly news gathering and production.