Eritrea marked 25 years of independence from Ethiopia this year, but its citizens remain victimised by one of the world’s most repressive governments.
They suffer arbitrary and indefinite detention; torture; inhumane conditions of confinement; restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, and belief; and indefinite conscription and forced labour in national service.
People from all walks of life —government officials, leaders of government-controlled labour unions, business people, journalists, and national service evaders or escapees — have been jailed for explicit or inferred opposition to the ugly brutal President Isaias Afwerki and his policies.
The number of Eritreans jailed for such opposition is difficult to confirm, but ranges from 10,000 to 20,000, excluding national service evaders and deserters, who may number tens of thousands more. More than numerous prominent critics and journalists have been held in incommunicado isolation for a decade — most of which are feared to be dead.
Prisoners are often held indefinitely without access to family members, prison monitors or lawyers. There are no public trials and no appeals. Those inquiring about a relative’s whereabouts risk being jailed themselves, or disappeared.
Families are punished for the acts of one of its members, especially for draft evasion or desertion. The family is given no opportunity to defend itself. Families are fined for evasion or desertion. Those who do not or cannot pay are jailed and may have property confiscated, in addition to the forced labour and other abuses faced by those who do national service.
Therefore, we urge the United Nations to take the required immediate strict action against the criminal government so that it might be a good lesson to the other dictators