22 September 2010

Oppressive silence surrounds imprisoned journalists

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Eritrean journalist Eyob Kessete was arrested this past summer as he attempted to flee Eritrea and cross the border into Ethiopia. His detention on the eve of the ninth anniversary of a vicious political purge of dissident voices in Asmara in September 2001 is part of a continuing pattern of terror, reports Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Authorities will not reveal where Kessete is being held. He first attempted to escape in 2007 and was kept in several prisons until relatives obtained his release. He worked for the state-owned radio Dimtsi Hafash's Amharic-language service.

The 2001 round-ups, the closure of all the privately owned media and the arrests of the main newspaper publishers began a period of repression with intolerant leaders gagging all forms of free expression. Currently, there is no independent media, foreign reporters are unwelcome and journalists working for the state media are forced to be mouthpieces for the government.

There is still no information about the fate of 20 other journalists imprisoned since 2001. An "oppressive official silence" surrounds the March 2010 arrest of journalist Said Abdulhai and the 2001 detention of Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaac.

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