Dawit Isaak has today been jailed for 2 742 days. Without charge and without any sentence.
Dawit Isaak is a journalist and a Swedish citizen who is in prison in Eritrea. His crime? Dawit Isaak wrote and published articles on the need for democracy and freedom in Eritrea in the newspaper Setit.
On September 23, 2001 he was arrested and imprisoned in connection with the Eritrean government shutting down the country's independent newspapers.
The regime in Eritrea has never formulated any allegations against Isaak, let alone a prosecution, a trial or a sentence. In total silence, he has for nearly eight years been locked up in Eritrea’s capital Asmara.
Recently, there has been new alarming information about Dawit Isaak. He is alleged to have been taken by prisoner transport to a military hospital. He is kept isolated and his only human contact is with a doctor. No relatives are allowed to see him. His health has also deteriorated because of diabetes.
The Swedish authorities' attitude to the case is characterized by silence. They refer to the method of “quiet diplomacy”. So far, this method has yielded few results. Now is the time for the Swedish government to start working actively for Dawit Isaak´s release.
Dawit Isaak´s children are growing up in Gothenburg, but without a father. The two oldest children have finished both primary school and most of secondary school without their father. His youngest daughter is now ten years old and has lived almost her entire life with only vague memories of her father.
This indecent cruelty to Isaak´s family must come to an end, just like the daily violation of freedom of expression and freedom of press is being violated through Dawit Isaak´s imprisonment.
There are 143 journalists imprisoned around the world today. Dawit Isaak is one of them and the only Swedish citizen currently in prison without trial for having exercised freedom of speech. He is also the only Swedish citizen adopted as a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International. This is not only about journalists, but of all people’s right to freely express their opinions.
Today, as editors-in-chiefs of Sweden’s largest media houses, we begin a joint campaign to focus on Dawit Isaak’s case. During the campaign, the daily competition between us will be put aside. We will report on Isaak and what the Swedish Foreign Ministry is doing to free him.
Our demand is very simple: Free Dawit Isaak.
Our cause will be powerless without your help. We need your name in the fight for Isaak’s release. Every added name to the list s a small step closer to freedom for Dawit Isaak. Show your commitment. Go into any of our web sites and sign the petition.
On May 4 we will hand over all the names to the Eritrean Embassy.