Issaias Afeworki- no less dangerous than Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar Al-assad
Sept. 17 2011
Ten years ago, on 18 September 2001, the entire world’s eyes were still turned to New York, the target of Al Qaeda’s devastating attacks the previous week. In Asmara, the Eritrean government took advantage of this distraction to launch a brutal political purge.
“To the international community’s indifference, several ministers and former generals and all the newspaper editors were thrown in jail in the space of a week,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “All the privately-owned publications were shut down. The country embarked on an era of terror from which it has yet to emerge. Ten years later, no one can continue to ignore the Eritrean regime’s brutality.”
“Ten years have gone by without the international community ever understanding the scale of the tragedy suffered by the Eritrean people: a complete absence of freedom of expression, constant surveillance of journalists, harassment of their families, enforced disappearances and secret detention in inhuman conditions.
“The sanctions that were finally adopted by the UN Security Council in 2009 are clearly not being applied because several senior Eritrean officials have just visited Europe. Nonetheless, the Eritrean dictator, Issaias Afeworki, is no less dangerous and cruel than Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad.”
Eritrea has been ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders international press freedom index for the past four years in a row. More than 30 journalists are currently detained in Eritrea. This makes it the world’s second biggest prison for the media, after China.
Border guards have orders to fire at once on anyone spotted trying to cross the border illegally. The journalist Paulos Kidane, for example, was gunned down in 2007 as he tried to cross into Sudan. Those who make it usually find a precarious existence awaiting them, and sometimes a tragic fate. Lidya Mengesteab, who used to work for Dimtsi Hafash and Eri-TV before fleeing to Sudan and then to Libya, died with many other exiles while trying to cross the Mediterranean in a boat in April.