Demand information about Eritrean dissidents detained 20 years ago

It’s been 20 years since Eritrea’s most high-profile dissidents, a group of 21 politicians and journalists, were arrested by the Eritrean authorities. They have not been seen since. Their loved ones want to know their whereabouts and see them again. Take action and call on the Eritrean authorities to give information about the fate and whereabouts of the politicians and journalists who were arrested without charge 20 years ago and immediately end their arbitrary detention. 

I was ten years old when my brother was arrested. I was on the street of my house playing football with my friends. The policemen approached me and asked if Amanuel was home, and I said yes because they wore regular clothes and not police uniforms. I thought they were his colleagues or friends. Amanuel was asleep and they woke him up. I still carry the memory of him being handcuffed and looking back to say goodbye. I and my family haven’t heard from him ever since.

Brother of detained journalist Amanuel Asrat 

On the morning of 18 September 2001, the Eritrean government announced the shutdown of the country’s independent media. Following the announcement, they arrested 11 politicians who had publicly criticised the president in an open letter and 10 influential and critical journalists. All the dissidents were arrested without charge and none of them ever received a trial.  

The government refuses to acknowledge their existence and will not answer any questions about their status. There have been unverified reports that some of these individuals are alive and still in prison, but none of them has been seen or heard from since their arrests and they have not been granted access to a lawyer. 

Just imagine that someone you love and care about dearly walking out of the front door one morning and never seeing them again. Never knowing if they’re cold, hungry, sick, in pain, alive or dead… Try to really imagine that, because that’s my reality.

Relative of one of the detained

Amnesty International has documented extremely poor prison conditions in Eritrea, in some cases amounting to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Prisons in Eritrea are generally overcrowded, with inadequate water and sanitation facilities and providing poor-quality food and drinking water. 

Sign the petition and demand that the Eritrean authorities give information about the detained dissidents’ fate and whereabouts and to immediately and unconditionally release them.