Döttrar till Eritreas fångar vädjar om hjälp från grannländer


Abie Seyoum, boende i Paris, var bara två år gammal när hennes pappa, fotografen och TV-journalisten Seyoum Tsehaye greps. Betlehem Isaak var sju år när hennes pappa arresterades i samband med att myndigheterna i Eritrea stängde alla landets oberoende tidningar 2001.

– Jag vet att min pappa lever. Det är en känsla jag haft sedan den dag då de tog honom från mig, mina syskon, min mamma, ja alla som älskar honom, skriver Betlehem Isaak i sitt budskap när hon ber Kommissionen om hjälp att få honom fri.

Abie Seyoum berättar hur hon och hennes lillasyster vuxit upp med sina morföräldrar sedan pappan fängslades och innan hennes mamma kunde hämta dem till exilen i Frankrike.

-Vi vill be om er hjälp att finna en lösning eftersom vi förlorar hopp lite i taget, varje dag, skriver Abie Seyoum.

Sammanlagt är ett tjugotal journalister fångna i Eritrea. Ingen av dem har åtalats eller dömts för några brott. De politiska fångarna räknas i flera tusental enligt Amnesty. Den svenske Riksåklagaren har sagt att det sannolikt kan vara fråga om Brott mot mänskligheten vilket även FNs särskilda undersökningskommission för Eritrea sagt.

Afrikanska kommissionen för mänskliga och folkens rättigheter ett av Afrikanska unionens organ som övervaka att den afrikanska människorättsstadgan efterlevs. De har Dawit Isaaks ärende på sitt bord.
Betlehem Isaak ber i sitt budskap Kommissionen att hjälpa till i hennes familjs kamp.

Abie Seyoum avslutar budskapet om sin far Seyoum Tsehaye:

-Vi vänder oss till er för att finna svar på våra frågor och vi ber er hjälpa oss att befria vår far, en oskyldigt fängslad som försvarade rättvisan, men fått betala för det i 14 år.

Nedan finns Björn Tunbäcks hela framförande:

Respected Commissioners, State representatives, fellow NGO-members.

Again I stand here before you coming from Europe asking for your help. I feel humble and honoured by the opportunity you give to me – to us – to speak before you.

This time I come with you with messages from two girls in exile, one in Paris the other in Gothenburg, Sweden. Both of them are hurt by a decision made in Eritrea. The lives of these girls have been most deeply affected by the arrest and detention of their fathers in Eritrea more than 14 years ago. They have not seen their fathers since.

One of the girls has become 16, the other 21. At that age 14 years is an eternity. Their fathers are journalists.

In September 2001 Eritrea closed the entire private press which affects the whole country and its people’s right to information, the press freedom and the freedom of expression.

The first message is in English, the second in French.

Bethlehem, daughter of imprisoned Dawit Isaak writes:

”Just above my heart I have a tattoo saying ’A Hero Never Dies’. It is dedicated to my father. He himself said that ’as journalists it is our duty to inform the public’. But he also said ’some have to die for the freedom of others’.

I do not know if my father ever will be released, but I know he is alive. It is a feeling I have had since the day they took him from me, from my siblings, my mother – all who love him.

Myself I live in one of the world’s greatest democracies. War or such misery has not knocked on the door during the last 200 years. You can tell. The problems people have here are a luxury, comparatively. Sweden is a paradise for people fleeing war and persecution. For me, however, whose rights were taken when I was 7 years old it is difficult to fully enjoy that.

I am afraid, I do not have trust. I am always suspicious and do often believe that people who actually wish me well want to harm me. I understand how this has hurt me as a person. But yet I am grateful, I am grateful being able to live yet another day in freedom. So I ask you, please join my family’s struggle, Sweden’s struggle and not least the struggle of Eritrea.”

Free Dawit Isaak, is Bethlehem Isaak’s message.

Dawit is sadly not the only journalist who is arrested in Eritrea without charge or sentence and in total isolation and without the Eritrean regime disclosing where or how they are. There are many, many more. One is Seyoum Tsehaye, photographer and TV-journalist. His daughter Abie Seyoum writes to you from Paris:

”Nous sommes la famille de Seyoum Tsehaye , journaliste érythréen emprisonné en 2001. Nous n’avons plus de ses nouvelles depuis . Bien que nous avons chercher on n’a jamais obtenu d’informations. Nous savons pas où est-il ni comment va-t-il. Nous avons grandi avec nos grands parents, privé de notre père mais aussi de notre mère qui est sortie de l’Érythrée en cachette afin de nous ramener par la suite en France. Tout celà est dû à l’emprisonnement injustifié de notre père et nous subissons ce manque paternel depuis bien trop longtemps.

On a envie que vous nous aidiez à trouver une solution car nous perdons espoir de jour en jour. On se tourne vers vous afin de trouver des reponses à nos questions et nous vous demandons de nous aider à libérer notre père, un innocent emprisonné injustement qui défendait la justice quoique ça lui ait couté 14 ans de sa vie, un combattant loyal qui a participé à la libération de l’Érythrée mais qui n’a pas vu le fruit de son travail.”

What happens in Eritrea needs to be addressed urgently. Thousands of people are fleeing the country by the month and thousands are kept in jail.

Not long ago I met another writer from Eritrea. He was a prisoner himself. He was held in darkness and isolation. He often despaired in his solitude. One second in a prison like that feels like a year, he said. And every time the door opened there was hope, he said. Hope that something should change, at least this time. Conditions in the prisons in Eritrea are harsh and life-threatening.

Respected Commissioners, please help make Eritrea open the door for these prisoners of conscience before they perish, and before Abie in Paris and Bethlehem in Gothenburg lose their fathers for good.