Incarcerated Amanuel Asrat Wins the 2016 Oxfam-Novib-Pen Award

Incarcerated Amanuel Asrat Wins the 2016 Oxfam-Novib-Pen Award
The Family Have Asked Me, Habtom Yohannes, to Receive the Award on Behalf of Amanuel

20160113 by Habtom Yohannes (Kinzareb)

It is with mixed feelings that I am announcing this today. I am glad he will receive the award. I am extremely honoured to be asked to receive the Award on behalf of Amanuel Asrat. At the same it pains me that an Eritrean, an ex-EPLF-fighter, a young and promising poet, journalist has been suffering Tomorrow I will travel to The Hague, the international city of justice and peace, to receive the “2016 Oxfam-Novib-Pen-Award” on behalf of Amanuel Asrat, a compatriot and a colleague who has been languishing in the dungeons of Eritrea under Isaias Afwerki since 2001. Nobody knows whether Amanual Asrat is alive or dead, except the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki and his security forces. Amanuel Asrat is one of the many Eritrean prisoners of conscience. Like the other, he has never been charged or brought before an independent court of law, which actually is non-existent in Eritrea under the current regime.

I am very grateful to the family members of Amanuel Asrat, who reside outside Eritrea, for asking me to receive the Award on behalf of Amanuel Asrat. I have never met them, but I hope to meet them soon during the release of Amanuel Asrat and the other prisoners of conscience. I am really honoured to do this; the least I can do for Amauel, the other prisoners of conscience and their families; who have been suffering with them since their incarceration.

Amanuel Asrat was arrested on September, Sunday 23, 2001 during the crackdown against the free press and critical officials that started on 18 September 2001. According to various information he has been held incommunicado in the high security prison of Ella-Ero (see picture).

Self-trained journalist Amanuel Asrat is an Agronomy graduate and former EPLF (Eritrean People's Liberation Front, that became totalitarian after 1994) fighter. He is also a talented poet. Amanuel was 31 at the time of his arrest. He was editor-in-chief of Zemen (Time, Century) a nascent bi-weekly newspaper that started in 1999.
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Millan Kundera (one of my favourites)
Lest We Forget Them! Our parents used to say "Niacha interesiE Amlach YiresiAni" (May God forget me if I forget you).
"The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster……The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."


Habtom Yohannes's post.


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