Black Tuesday, ‘justice delayed: justice denied’
Association of Eritrean Journalists in Exile (AEJE)
Eleven years ago on September 18, 2001, the government of Eritrea decided to shutdown all the once thriving privately owned newspapers in an effort to silence dissent and launched a crackdown on its editorial board members. Within a range of a couple of days more than nine journalists were jailed and never returned back. Consequently, Eritrea became the only country in Africa without a private media and ranked the worst country in the world to be a journalist by Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Our colleagues didn’t get the chance to appear in court neither have they received their sentences if they were accused of any wrong doing. They were simply made to disappear from the public sight, and we have never heard of them ever since. The motive was simply to kill the message kill the messenger. After eleven painful years of suffering in dungeons, by now most of them are presumed to be dead according to an eye witness account of a former prison guard, of the notorious Era’Ero death camp, located 70km east of the capital Asmara.
However, these were not the only journalists who were condemned to vanish simply because they were exercising their profession; there are countless others working with Ministry of Information and Radio Bana, who had faced with similar fate. Over the past decade our Association registered more than 50 journalists, who fled the country into exile as a result of direct threat to their lives.
We demand action
We held the unelected leader of the country responsible for this heinous crime and demand the International Criminal Court of Justice to pay a particular attention towards President Eseyas Afewerki’s endless gross human rights violations. Now is time for practical action as it has been proved futile and too late to write petition letter to the government, who turned a blind eye on the international community’s repeated appeals to respect rule of law and free all the political prisoners. Hence, this is a practical example of justice delayed is justice denied. Furthermore, we also would like to urge the enforcement of travel embargo by the European Union and United Nations on the senior party and military officials, who continue moving freely across the western world unimpeded with the blood of innocents on their hands.
Although we note that sanctions are imposed on the government, however, they were not in consideration of the gross human rights violations in the country. Even though, we feel there needs more to be done, however, we acknowledge the recently adopted measure by the Human rights council of the United Nations in setting up an inquiry commission in investigating on the alleged gross human rights violations in the country. We would like the commission to be dispatched for action as soon as possible, in the hope of saving our remaining colleagues and the tens of thousands of Eritreans, who are simply languishing in the more than 365 prisons across the country.
Our associations with all its practical limitations will strive to the last minute to plea for the release and whereabouts of our colleagues and bring into justice those who are responsible for these cruel and inhumane misdemeanors.
Name list some of the Journalists in Prison
1. Fessshaye Yohannes, (Joshua): Play writer and co-founder of Setit (presumed dead)
2. Mattewos Habteab: Editor of Mekalih Newspaper (presumed Dead)
3. Medhanie Haile : Assistant Edito of Keste Debena Newspaper (presumed dead)
4. Dawit Isaac : Co-founder of Setit Newspaper
5. Amanuel Asrat: Editor of Zemen Newspaper
6. Temesgen Gebreyesus: Journalist Keste Debedena Newspaper
7. Yusuf Mohammed Ali : Editor of Tsigenay Newspaper (presumed dead)
8. Dawit Habtemichael : Assistant Editor of Mekalih Newspaer (presumed dead)
9. Said Abdulkader: Editor of Admas Newspaper (presumed dead)
10. Seyoum Tsehaye : Freeliance writer and former Eri-tv director
11. Hamid M. Said: Journalit in Ministry of Information
12. Paulos Kidane: former Admas Journalist (killed while crossing the border)
13. Yirgalem Fisseha: Poet and Radio Bana journalist
14. Senait Habtu: Radio Bana journalist
15. Tura Kubaba : Radio Dmsi Hafash journalist
16. Hamid Mohamed Said : Eri-tv journalist Arabic program
17. Saleh Al Jezaeeri : journalist Radio Dmsi Hafash
18. Daniel Kibrom: Eri-tv journalist Oromo section
19. Ibrahim Abdella: Ibrahim Abdela Eri-tv journalist
20. Johnn Hisabu: Editor Eri-tv
21. Eyob Kessete : Journalist Haddas Ertra Newspaper
22. Eyob Netserab : Journalsit Radio Dmsi Hafash Amharic section
23. Isaac Abraham: Eri-tv journalist
24. Mulubrhan Habtegebriel: former journalist Setit newspaper and Hadas Ertra
25. Girmay Abraham : Journalist Radio Dmsi Hafash
26. Bereket Misghina: Journalsit Radio Bana
17. Basilios Zemo: Journalist Radio Bana
28. Meles Negusse Kiflu : Journalist and poet
30. Wedi Itay: Journalist Hadas Ertra
31. Ahmed Omer Sheikh: Journalist Eri-tv Arabic program and poet
The Association of Eritrean Journalists in Exile (AEJE) is a non-profit organization, registered in Sweden, and its members are exiled Eritrean journalists who are now residing in different parts of the world; Africa, Europe and North America. The Association can be contacted at: