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Demand the release of prisoner of conscience Aster Fissehatsion

Aster Fissehatsion has been held incommunicado without charge or trial since September 2001 after being arrested in Eritrea together with 10 other political dissidents. For close to 14 years, her family has not seen or heard from her.

Aster Fissehatsion was arrested together with 10 other members of a group of political dissidents known as the Group of 15 (or G-15), including her former husband, former vice-president and foreign minister of Eritrea, Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo. 

Before their arrest, the G-15, who were all senior party officials in the People's Front for Democracy and Justice Party (PFDJ), Eritrea’s only political party, wrote a letter to party members describing and proposing solutions for the “crisis of Eritrea”. The letter contended that the President and the PFDJ were obligated by the Constitution to call internal party meetings, follow correct parliamentary and government procedures and follow up on a number of promises the party had made, particularly regarding judicial reform.

In August 2001, the Secretary General of PFDJ accused the G-15 of attempting to destabilize the country and in response the G-15 published a letter in a newspaper, calling upon the Eritrean people to help solve the country's problems. On the night of 18 September 2001, 11 of the 15 signatories of the letter were arrested.

Aster Fissehatsion is a prisoner of conscience arrested and detained for solely exercising her right to freedom of expression.  Aster's son, Ibrahim, tells their story.

Add your voice by signing our petition. Let’s urge the Eritrean president to release Aster Fissehatsion now!

Your Excellency,

I am writing to urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Aster Fissehatsion and all other prisoners of conscience detained in Eritrea for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, opinion, association or religion or belief. This includes the right to peaceful opposition to the government and if they are a family member of someone who has refused conscription or fled the country.

Since her arrest in September 2001, Aster Fissehatsion has been held incommunicado. Her whereabouts are unknown and her family has not been able to see her or speak to her in close to 14 years. She has not had any legal representation. At the time of her arrest Aster was suffering from stomach ulcers but I do not know whether she is receiving medical treatment. I urge you to immediately reveal Aster’s whereabouts and fate, to ensure that she is granted access to her family and to legal representation, that she is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and provided with all necessary medical care.

Finally, I urge you immediately to charge all other prisoners suspected of a crime with a recognizable criminal offence or else release them. Those charged must be tried promptly in fair proceedings which meet international standards.

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