Category Archives: Testimony

Elizabeth (Elsa) Chyrum: A woman of the year 2012

We, at asmarino.com, would like to emphasize what a difference Elsa Chyrum has made this yea as a Human Rights Activist, to the cause of Eritrea’s human rights situation. Elsa has done a lot in helping refugees stranded in nowhere; in highlighting the lawlessness of the mining companies in Eritrea; in helping Eritreans in detention centers outside the country, the latest one being in Djibouti; and generally in bringing the humanitarian plight of Eritrea inside and outside the country. But the one that has made us chose her as “a woman of the year 2012″ has to do is what was in news lately, and that is what will be the focus of this posting. Continue reading

Appalling Work Conditions at Bisha-Nevsun Mining Project, Eritrea


A few months ago, a number of workers from Bisha-Nevsun Project (owned by the Eritrean government and Canada’s Nevsun Resources Ltd.) have managed to escape to Ethiopia, and they are now living in one of the refugee camps located in Tigray. Two of them, Abadi Ghebremeskel and Legesse Berhe, have been extensively interviewed so far. HRCE (Human Rights Concern Eritrea) has kindly provided us with the audio version of those interviews. In due time, we will provide the video version of the interview. Since the interviews are about three hours long and conducted in Tigrigna language, below we are summarizing them in English in a categorical manner, supplemented with our interpretation of what is going on the ground based on the data extracted from the interviews. The content of this summary depends on the interviews in the audios and follow-ups.
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Interview with an Ex-Prison-Guard

Interview With Eyob BahtaEyob Bahta Habtemariam, a man who credibly claims to have been a guard at the notorious Eiraeiro prison camp in the desert of Northern Red Sea province, in northeastern Eritrea, fled the country a year ago and found refuge in neighbouring Ethiopia. Elsa Chyrum, Director of Human Rights Concern Eritrea, interviewed him. Watch the interview.

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Sweden “legally bound” to Seek Dawit Isaak Release

Lawyers and activists argued on Monday that Sweden and the EU are legally bound to work harder to secure the release of Dawit Isaak, an Eritrean-Swedish journalist who has been held in Asmara for nearly a decade without trial.

“In our opinion, Sweden and the EU have not lived up to their obligation to use all possible legal and diplomatic means to protect the basic human rights of Swedish citizen and EU citizen Dawit Isaak,” Percy Bratt of Swedish law firm Bratt & Feinsilber told reporters in Stockholm. Continue reading

Escaping Eritrea

In September 2001, Aaron Berhane made the heart-wrenching decision to escape Eritrea.

He left behind his wife and young children, as well as his prestigious job as editor-in-chief of the country’s largest circulation newspaper, Setit. It was his work that left Aaron with no option but to flee the country. Continue reading

Eritrean Journalits’ Hunger strike testimony

‘The biggest prison for Journalists’ is a fitting label for PFDJ’s Eritrea. It is 9 years since the dozen Eritrean independent journalists have been detained; and their whereabouts is unknown.

Soon after their detention, they went for a hunger strike demanding their case to be brought into court, but their condition got worse.

Some are believed to have died due the harsh prison conditions. This is an eyewitness account how their hunger strike came about.

Click here to watch:YouTube: Eritrean Journalits’ Hunger strike testimony

Refugee hopes to raise awareness of Eritrean plight

Bereket Yohannes often lies awake at night in his East Kildonan home and wonders where his relatives are or if they’re even alive.

His sister, Esther Yohannes, her husband, Petros Soloman, and their three children are among Eritrea’s many missing and unaccounted for citizens.

“My brother-in-law was arrested on Sept. 18, 2001,” Yohannes said, visibly nervous just talking about the subject.

“It was just after the terrorist attacks in the United States and the president took the opportunity, while the world’s attention was focused elsewhere, to get rid of his enemies.”

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Eritrean Refugees in Libya Held in Inhumane Conditions in a Single Cell

Hundreds of Eritrean refugees who were transported in trucks “like cattle” from Misrata prison in Libya to Sabha detention centre, situated on the edge of the Sahara desert, are being held together in a single, dark and overcrowded cell. They have been given nothing to eat or drink since Tuesday lunch time and no toilet or exercise breaks. According to eye-witness accounts, the refugees have been forced to relieve themselves in their shoes.

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Elizabeth/ Elsa Chyrum: Human Rights Activist (Eritrea)

On 20 June 2009, Elsa Chyrum, a human rights activist and advocate forEritrean refugees all over the world, has received a DistinguishedMedal Award of Excellence from the Eritrean Community For Human Rightsand Refugee Protection in a symposium organized by Eritrean GlobalSolidarity in recognition of her human rights crusade, in general, andher tireless work with refugees, in particular.

Without exaggeration, Elsa Chyrum is a one-womaninstitution. First and foremost, she is the one person who has beenhandling the plight of Eritrean refugees from all over the worldsingle-handedly, be it from stranded Eritreans in Khartoum in imminentrisk of their lives, detained and abused refugees in a prison in Libya,traumatized refugees in fear of perishing in the Mediterranean highseas, terrified refugees soon to be deported from Egypt, or refugeeswho have reached their destination but afraid of rejection by theirhost country. Calm and reassuring at times of emergency, she is knownto have turned hopeless seeming cases into happy endings at the 11th hour. Continue reading

Memories of a dreadful time

We were young and naïve…

The idea of starting a newspaper or a magazine came in a veryinformal way in a rather casual setting. We were having coffee indowntown Asmara at Bar Bereket with my friend school mate MedhanieHaile. I used to be an assistant editor to a magazine and a newspapercalled” rim” and we both used to contribute to the then new independent paper”setit”.Gazeta zeynjimir (why don’t we start a newspaper?) I heard that theministry of information was issuing licenses and press cards toindependent newspapers but Medhanie was reluctant at first. His worrywas: Where can we get the money? How about the printing cost? Who isgoing to buy our paper? Who will write for us? Continue reading

A Refugee At last

I was born and grew up in Asmara, a city whose loveaffair never ends; it resonates in my heart in every second of myjourney to seek refuge elsewhere. I have attended my primary, highschool and University classes there. It is a place where I have seen mydream come true; unfortunately, it is also a place where I have seen mydream and the dream of its entire population shuttering.

Ibegan contributing articles to the print media as young as 16 years ofage. In 1998 when I was a high school student of Red Sea school(Ke’has), along with my colleagues, I co-founded a monthly newspapercalled Hareg, with an aim to create a forum where students coulddiscuss on a range of issues that concerns them. I worked aseditor-in-chief of this newspaper until it was banned by the governmentin September 2001. Continue reading