10. April 2007
His Excellency Issayas Afewerki
Office of the President
P O Box 257, Asmara, Eritrea
Fax: + 2911 125123
As Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN I am seriously concerned at recent reports of the death of prominent journalist, playwright and poet Fessehaye (Joshua) Yohannes on 11 January 2007, after over five years’ arbitrary detention.
His death, thought to have been caused by severe ill treatment and the denial of medical treatment, follows that of three other imprisoned journalists in November 2006. Norwegian PEN calls for the Eritrean authorities to state publicly what has happened to Yohannes and the other journalists, Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile and Said Abdulkader, detained since September 2001.
If the reports of their deaths are correct, Norwegian PEN calls on the authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation and bring those responsible to justice. If they are still alive, Norwegian PEN calls for the journalists to be immediately and unconditionally released.
Norwegian PEN calls on the Eritrean government to free all writers and journalists detained without charge and in violation of Article 19 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Eritrea is a party.
Confident that you, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, and that you will see to it that a full investigation is carried out, and that those responsible are brought to justice, I remain,
Elisabet W. Middelthon/sign.
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
Norwegian Embassy in Asmara
Eritrean Embassy in Stockholm