Fesseaye Yohannes was a poet, playwright, journalist and co-owner of the independent Setit newspaper.
Fesseaye “Joshua” Yohannes was a poet, playwright, journalist and co-owner of the independent Setit newspaper. Along with other editors of Eritrea’s other private newspapers, Fessaye was arrested from his home on the morning of 23 September 2001.
He was arrested that year along with 16 other journalists, for reporting around the G-15 letter, an open letter from prominent Eritrean politicians, known as the G-15 or Group of 15, within the ruling party, that condemned the actions of President Afwerki and his regime. In April 2002, the detained journalists began a hunger strike in protest against their prolonged, incommunicado detention, demanding to be brought before a court and fairly tried. Shortly after the hunger strike they were separated and sent to different prisons and detention centres across Eritrea. He is being held incommunicado by the Eritrean authorities who refuse to disclose his exact location or details of his health and well-being. His arrest amounts to an enforced disappearance, and the status of his health and whereabouts are unknown.
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights ruled in May 2007 that journalists arrested in September 2001 in Eritrea, which includes Fessaye Yohannes, were being held in arbitrary and unlawful detention. It called upon the Eritrean government to release the men and compensate them. The Government of Eritrea has ignored the ruling and journalists arrested in September 2001 remain in detention.