14 November 2011

Joint action

Thirty-one IFEX members call on authorities to disclose whereabouts of journalist Dawit Isaak

(WAN-IFRA/IFEX) - The following is a letter to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki calling on the Eritrean authorities to confirm that Isaak is still alive and if so, to release him from prison:

His Excellency Issayas Afewerki
President of the State of Eritrea
Office of the President
P.O. Box 257, Asmara
c/o: Eritrean Embassy in the United States, Washington, D.C.
Fax: +1 202 319 1304
E-mail: embassyeritrea (@) embassyeritrea.org

14 November 2011

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned 31 members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), are writing to you to call for the immediate release of journalist, writer and playwright Dawit Isaak, and all other journalists held in captivity in Eritrea.

Mr. Isaak, one of the founders of Eritrea's first independent newspaper, "Setit", was awarded the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) 2011 Golden Pen of Freedom.

During October 2011, rumours of Mr. Isaak's death circulated among the world's press and social media. This includes an article published in the Swedish online newspaper "The Local" that appeared on 27 October, citing "credible sources from Eritrea's opposition movement as indicating that Mr. Isaak is no longer in the Eira Eiro prison because he has died".

We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr. Isaak continues to be held in Eira Eiro prison or whether in fact he has died in custody.

We respectfully remind you that Mr. Isaak is a journalist with dual Swedish-Eritrean citizenship who has been detained without charge or trial since his arrest in 2001. His whereabouts continue to be veiled in secrecy. This is an extremely distressing time for Mr. Isaak's family, friends and colleagues and we urge you to confirm if he is alive.

If this is indeed the case, we respectfully call on you to:
• ensure that the authorities provide information on Mr. Isaak's whereabouts and his health condition;
• allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit him;
• immediately release him, and all journalists imprisoned for their writing, from custody.

We are looking forward to your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,
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At this point, would publish: "Home page"
At this point, would publish: "Dawit Isaak death rumours cast dark cloud over Day of the Imprisoned Writer "
At this point, would publish: "Journalist freed without charge after four years in jail"
At this point, would publish: "IFJ urges government to allow released journalist to leave country, free others held since 2001 clampdown"
At this point, would publish: "Freed journalist sent back to jail"
At this point, would publish: "RSF urges Eritrean diaspora to intercede on behalf of imprisoned journalists on 2,000th day since "Black Tuesday""
At this point, would publish: "RSF urges democratic governments to summon Eritrean ambassadors on anniversary of 18 September 2001 crackdown"
At this point, would publish: "Journalist Dawit Isaak held without trial for almost eight years, believed to be seriously ill "
At this point, would publish: "Journalist Dawit Isaak still in prison after more than eight years"
At this point, would publish: "Journalists still hunted down nine years after September 2001 purges"
At this point, would publish: "Detained journalist's brother and RSF tell Sweden and EU they are legally bound to actively seek his release"
At this point, would publish: "Journalists face threats in covering Dawit Isaac's imprisonment"
At this point, would publish: "RSF concerned over fate of Dawit Isaac"
At this point, would publish: "RSF calls on Parliament to seek imprisoned journalists' release"
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