A Free Eritrea

The one thing I hate more in the world outside of standing in a long Starbucks line on a Monday morning is INJUSTICE, especially when it’s happening in my beloved Eritrea. Anyone who knows me can tell you I am a proud Eritrean, however, lately I find myself praying for my country. To me Eritrea is in a state of despair.

Ten years ago, President Isaias Afewerki  demanded the arrest of 11 high government officials after finding information criticizing his leadership. He then went on to arrest 10 journalists who published  letters about this policies and closed all independent newspapers in Eritrea. The Human Rights Watch reported:

“The 20 men and one woman have never been seen again by anyone outside the penal system, including their families, lawyers, or prison monitoring groups. They have never been afforded a hearing; rather, all 21 were incarcerated in secret detention facilities in solitary confinement. According to former guards whose reports Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm, 10 of the 21 have died in prison and the remaining 11 are physically or mentally incapacitated and emaciated.”

Although these 21 are the most internationally known victims, there are thousands of others who have been denied basic rights. Most rights are denied of Eritrean’s because they are suspected of not fully supporting the regime and/or have attempted to flee out of Eritrea.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information sent out a press release yesterday stating:

“The Sudanese authorities are increasingly deporting Eritreans to their country without allowing them to claim asylum, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 17, 2011, Sudan handed over 300 Eritreans to the Eritrean military without screening them for refugee status, drawing public condemnation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).”

On October 24, Reporters Without Boarders reported their concern to Sudanese authorities when Eritrean journalist Jamal Osman Hamad got arrested in Khartoum.

“Hamad’s arrest took place less than a week after an official visit to Sudan by Isaias  when he and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir inaugurated a new road linking their two countries in the Sudanese town of Kassala. Reporters Without Borders believes the criticism of the Sudanese authorities’ attitude by the UNHCR is well founded. This event unfortunately demonstrates that the U.N. body is not in a position to guarantee the safety of those who have fled persecution by the Asmara government. We therefore ask the UNHCR to appeal to third countries to grant visas urgently to Eritrean human rights campaigners who have taken refuge in Sudan,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard.

On September 10, 2011 which marked the 10th anniversary since the arrest of the 20 political officials, Reporters Without Borders along with various journalists and all privately-owned print media launched an international publicity campaign about Eritrea. The campaign also has an updated list of journalists detained in Eritrea.

Below is a clip of a ‘Free Eritrea democracy speech at San Francisco City Hall’ on April 19.


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