What happened to the journalists and politicians who were detained by the Eritrean government?
“When I hear about people murdering, I wonder, What has to go through your brain to say, I don’t want him breathing anymore? What makes you get that angry? How can you take someone’s breath away? That just blows my mind.”
GILBERT ARENAS, Esquire, Apr. 2010
It is alarming that the government of Eritrea under the administration of Isaias Afwerk who has been ruling the country since 1993 cannot provide answers to the whereabouts of politicians and journalists it detained.
The United Nations Human Rights experts have drawn the attention of the world to the current situation in the country, saying that the Eritrean government has been unable to give clarity and/or evidence of life for the detained opposition political members and journalists in its custody. Could it be that these individuals have been murdered? Many of the individuals in question were arrested as far back as 2001.
The United Nations body is also concerned about the fate of journalists and opposition members in the country because according to them, the government has maintained a static posture on matters of human rights. The issue was raised by Christof Heynes, a South African independent United Nations Human Rights expert who said that the body has been investigating some of the high profile cases and felt it was time to bring the issue to the limelight since some of the investigations met dead ends and the government has not been able to provide adequate explanation. It is on record that Eritrea is one of the worse in human and press rights, is one of seven nations under the spotlight of Human Rights Committee.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a body charged by the United Nations to monitor the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A total of 18 experts of the committee said they have received several allegations of extrajudicial executions, torture, disappearances, and other grave violations.
“So, we did raise this with the delegation. We asked them in so many terms, we asked them are these people still alive. And we asked this repeatedly, and they did not answer to that, which is, of course, a worrying sign,” Christof Heynes said. Some of the main cases they highlighted in their report include:
1 . 2001 – 18 journalists detained. It is not known whether they are alive.
2 . 2001 – Another celebrated case of 11 former top officials of the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. They reportedly wrote a letter critical of the government and were arrested. He says no one knows what happened to them.
3 . 2018 – Detention of former Minister of Finance, Berhane Abrehe, and his wife Almaz Habtemariam.
Christof Heynes confirmed that the Eritrean government has refused to confirm whether the detainees were still alive or dead. The big question is WHY?
Source: African Exponent.