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Free Swedish Journalist Dawit Isaak in Eritrea

Statement adopted by the Congress of the Swedish Journalist Union, adapted and adopted at The Nordic freelance journalists’ associations meeting and the Nordic freelance seminar in Helsingør on the 15th of May 2011.

Our Swedish colleague Dawit Isaak has soon been imprisoned in Eritrea for ten years. The 23rd of September this year we might be experiencing a jubilee of shame. Dawit Isaak and his journalist colleagues were arrested for the first time by Eritrean civil police in October 2000. Since September 2001 he has been in Eritrean prison. Several of his colleagues are dead.

Reports never cease on journalists being imprisoned for the only reason that they have fulfilled their profession. Dawit Isaak and his colleagues wrote in the newspaper Setit about Eritrean society and civil rights stipulated in the law of the country. The government regarded this as being critique towards the regime.

When totalitarian regimes, organized crime, powerful and unscrupulous companies silence or try to silence journalists they do so because of fear that knowledge will be spread, fear of a free debate weakening their influence or turn their power over.

The Nordic freelance journalists’ associations, gathered for a top meeting, and the participants in the Nordic freelance journalists’ seminar in Helsingør urge the Nordic governments to intensify their so far insufficient actions and put pressure on the government of Eritrea to immediately release Dawit Isaak. 

We also urge the Nordic governments to take initiative to an international treaty for protection of journalists and journalism around the world.