Eritrea jailed 'at least 10 000'

2013-05-09 22:20
Asmara at night

Asmara at night

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Eritrea's hardline regime has jailed at least 10 000 political prisoners, many in "unimaginably atrocious conditions", rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday criticising the situation in the Red Sea state.

With political opposition banned, independent media quashed and religious minorities targeted, the ex-rebel government uses a system of underground cells and shipping containers to house the prisoners, the report read.

"The government has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people's lives," said Claire Beston, Amnesty's Eritrea researcher.

But Eritrea dismissed the report as "wild accusations" and said it "rejects in the clearest of terms" that it had jailed thousands.

"The sordid picture it paints resembles little to the reality," Eritrea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The report says "at least 10 000" prisoners have "disappeared into secret and incommunicado detention" in the Horn of Africa nation, but warns it is impossible to know the exact figure.

The report was released ahead of Eritrea's celebrations of 20 years of independence on May 24, which followed an overwhelming vote by the people to split from arch-foe Ethiopia after years of bitter war.

Repressive

Eritrean rebels battled far better equipped Ethiopian troops - backed first by the United States, then the Soviet Union - for three decades until victory in 1991, which was followed by a referendum two years later.

A subsequent border conflict with Ethiopia from 1998-2000 still simmers, which analysts say Asmara uses as an excuse for its continued iron-rule.

"Twenty years on from the euphoric celebrations of independence, Eritrea is one of the most repressive, secretive and inaccessible countries in the world," Beston added.

Opposition parties are banned and anyone who challenges President Issaias Afeworki is jailed without trial, often in the harshest of conditions.

Reporters Without Borders lists Eritrea below North Korea as the worst country in the world for press freedom.

"In the vast majority of cases, the prisoners' families are not informed of their whereabouts, and often never hear from their relative again after they are arrested," Amnesty added.

"Torture - for punishment, interrogation and coercion - is widespread."

Read more on:    issaias afeworki  |  eritrea  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.