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article imageExiled journalist decries clampdown on press in Eritrea Special

By Samuel Okocha     Jul 12, 2010 in World
Yonas Embye has been holding weekly one man protest in Uganda calling for the release of Eritrean journalists held unjustly in his native country Eritrea. The journalist and rights activist was jailed for four years before he eventually escaped.
Embye granted interview with this reporter before the Ugandan blasts that left scores dead. Though saddened about the blasts, he was not affected in the incident that reportedly claimed the lives of almost a dozen Eritreans.
Now in Uganda seeking Asylum, Embye says many journalists are still in government jails in Eritrea staying as much 9 years without trial.
“In 2001, there was a major crackdown on dissent in Eritrea, with the detention of scores of government critics and journalists who are held without charge in unknown locations. These journalists have been detained incommunicado without charge or trial since late September 2001.”
Embye said the private media has been affected by the clampdown on government while journalists who were critical of government have been detained irrespective of who they work for.
“When the private newspapers they (journalists) work for were shut down by the government on 18 September 2002. Ten of these journalists were detained because they had published articles critical of the government.”
He added that, “five others journalists were detained on separate occasions in 2000 and 2002 in connection with their work as journalists for the private or government media.”
The activist said Eritrean refugees can not go back to the country due to situation back home and that jailed Journalists were likely facing deplorable conditions.
“The fact these 10 journalists are being held in secret makes it possible they are being denied essential medical care, without access to doctors of their choice. They are not held in any of Eritrea’s official prisons or police stations and may be held in the same place.”
Libya recently granted around 400 Eritreans permission to stay, after human rights group warned that refugees and asylum seekers among them risked abuse if forcibly repatriated.
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