Press freedom body highlights plight of Eritrea’s jailed journalists

Press freedom body highlights plight of Eritrea’s jailed journalists

Radio Erena: 10 December 2014


Reporters Without Borders (RWB), the Paris-based press freedom watchdog, has launched a fund-raising campaign based around the plight of jailed journalists in Eritrea, China and Saudi Arabia.

The Eritrean prisoner is Dawit Isaak, who has been imprisoned without trial for 13 years after being arrested along with other newspaper editors in 2001.


Isaak is reported to be dying slowly in a prison camp where detainees are tortured by being shut inside steel containers during periods of intense heat. And RWB has used that image of a container to publicise its campaign.

In his appeal for donations, RWB’s secretary-general, Christophe Deloire, writes:

In Eritrea, political prisoners are being detained and tortured, sometimes in steel shipping containers without any form of trial, simply because they expressed their opinion.

What do we know about this shocking situation? Not much, in fact, because the journalists who could tell us about it have all been locked away or murdered by the regime. Precisely because they try to shed light on these atrocities for us, they are often the barbarity’s first targets.

Reporters Without Borders supports news media that work to provide us with independent information. So that Eritreans have access to freely-reported, uncensored information, we created Radio Erena, the only independent radio station broadcasting to Eritrea, in 2009.

Our staff strives constantly to support news media for the public’s sake. A world without journalists is a closed world, where the most terrible things happen without anyone knowing. We refuse to accept that.

You, too, can provide assistance and defend the cause of all those who fight for one of the pillars of democracy, freedom of information. Make a donation to Reporters Without Borders.

Isaak, a naturalised Swedish citizen, returned to his country to launch Setit, a newspaper with reformist ideas.

Lawyers urged the Swedish prosecutor to pursue Isaak’s case accusing the Eritrean authorities of a crime against humanity, torture and abduction. But she refused to take any action, arguing that it would be a waste of time because the Eritrean authorities would probably refuse to cooperate.

Isaak has been named as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Another journalist jailed without trial since 2001 is Seyoum Tsehayewho, the former head of Eritrea’s television and radio services (see One Day Seyoum and YouTube video).

A third Eritrean journalist suffering in jail is Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu, who was arrested in 2009 when the authorities raided Radio Bana and detained its entire staff. She has spent periods in solitary confinement, according to other prisoners.

Eritrea is ranked in last place in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index for the seventh year running.

Source:-Reporters Without Borders