World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Dawit Isaak, Eritrea, jailed since September 2001

Dawit Isaak, Eritrea, jailed since September 2001

Article ID:

17656

Day 29
Country: Eritrea
Journalist: Dawit Isaak
Media: Setit
Jailed Since: September 2001

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Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, who left Sweden to the East African country to help establish its independent press, has not been seen alive for four years. Following the country’s independence in 1991, Isaak gave up the freedoms offered to him in Sweden and returned to Eritrea to co-found Setit, the country’s first independent newspaper. The paper rose to national prominence for its editorial line that exposed government corruption. But in 2001, the government closed it following a major clampdown on dissent, which obliterated press freedom, suspended civil liberties, and sent scores of journalists to prison.

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In 2011, Isaak was awarded the 50th anniversary Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Without any formal charges pressed against him and having never been presented before a judge, Dawit Isaak has disappeared into the silence of the notorious Eritrean prison system. Eritrean ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste Debbas, made comments to journalists in late January 2014 that Isaak was still alive, however, no proof has been put forward.

Of the 11 journalists who were rounded up in September 2001, at least seven of them have died behind bars, according to Reporters Without Borders. Eritrea has pursued one of the heaviest clampdowns on media in the world, and there has been no independent press since 2001. Journalists have frequently disappeared into the country's brutal Eiraeiro prison. As of late last year, 22 journalists were behind bars in Eritrea, and although CPJ also says some of them might have died, they will remain on its prison census to hold the government accountable.


Suggested Tweets:

'30 Days for Freedom' campaign calls for release of Dawit Isaak and all journalists jailed in   



Resources:

  • Free Dawit Isaak campaign: http://freedawit.com/
  • CPJ interview with Esaias Isaak, brother of Dawit: http://cpj.org/blog/2010/05/the-reluctant-activist-a-brothers-struggle-to-free.php
  • 2011 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom - Dawit Isaak: http://www.wan-ifra.org/articles/2011/10/13/golden-pen-of-freedom-awarded-to-swedish-eritrean-journalist
  • Eritrea's Silent Shame: http://www.wan-ifra.org/node/42973/
  • A Double Tragedy for Eritrea: Peter Englund: http://www.wan-ifra.org/node/53449/

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Author

wm_WanIfra

Date

2014-05-02 10:12

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Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop

Date

2014-04-03 20:08