2007: Ethiopia: Serkalem Fasil

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister,
PO Box 1031, Addis Ababa,

Your Excellency,

Today, on 8 March 2007 – International Women’s Day  – I, as Chair of Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, will express my deep concern for the safety and the well-being of the Ethiopian journalist Serkalem Fasil who has been imprisoned since November 2005.

In June 2006 Serkalem Fasil gave birth to a son in a police hospital. Amnesty International reports that the child was born prematurely in dire conditions and that a doctor’s recommendation that the child be given incubation was refused. The child is now being cared for by his grandparents. Fasil is married to another journalist, Eskinder Nega, who is also held in Katili prison, and the couple are provided limited access to each other.

Fasil and Nega were among 15 journalists arrested in late 2005 following articles critical of the May 2005 parliamentary elections. They are accused of treason, a charge that carries the death penalty. In recent months there have been disturbing reports that a number of journalists have died in custody..

Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee is strongly protesting against the detention of Serkalem Fasil along with other Ethiopian writers and journalists.

We believe that they are held in violation of their right to freedom of expression, and we are calling for their urgent and immediate release.

Confident that you, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Elisabet W.Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee Norwegian PEN

Copies to:
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia
Ethiopian Embassy in Stockholm