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Remember  Ermias and Senait

Still in Prison without trial

Ermias Debessai who joined the Eritrean liberation movement in 1967,  was the European representative of the EPLF in the early 1980s.  He was well known in Britain for speaking at solidarity meetings and conferences.   His humble manner, modest life style  and approachability won him many friends.  When Eritrea achieved independence, Ermias  was sent by the new government to China to establish commercial relations.  He was recalled from there, in 1996 and disappeared from public view.   What followed provides a disturbing insight into the dictatorial methods of the Afeworki regime.

Ermias was imprisoned without trial between 1996 and 2003.  He was adopted by Amnesty as a prisoner of conscience.  Soon after his release in April 2003 he was rearrested   and his sister, Senait was also arrested.    No judicial process was initiated against either of them  but instead rumours were spread that Ermias had been involved in corruption.  For those in the UK who knew Ermias well the charge of corruption is utterly unconvincing but, more importantly,  the fact that he is imprisoned without any judicial process is revealing of the absence of civil liberties in Eritrea.  The Eritrean regime has a worse record on human rights than Mugabe in Zimbabwe and yet the latter is constantly – and rightly – pilloried in the western press.   Afeworki receives no such attention, despite the fact that since he came to power there have been no elections, the press is entirely controlled by the government and the country is now a police state, where people fear talking politics in public. Asmara University has been closed down and political prisoners number in the hundreds.  

Senait who joined Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF)  in 1976 ,  worked as a barefoot doctor  until 1978.  From 1978 to 1991 she was  a  member of  the EPLF’s cultural troupe and after  1991 she was a member of  the National Union of Eritrean Women.  In the  late 1980s she  married   Beyne Wedi  Resoum and  they had three children.   Senait  was arrested  on 15 November 2003 after she demanded divorce  from her husband  for mistreating and beating her.
In 2005  SUWERA CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS stated that  the government investigator visits  Senait frequnetly and asks her if she had changed her mind with respect to her demand for a divorce. Every time she gives a negative response she is returned to the jail. Senait says, she prefers to stay in prison rather than have to live with her husband.

There were reports by exiles that in the first half of 2010 Ermias Debessai was seen at the central hospital in Asmara, closely guarded and unable to communicate with other patients.   According to a former female singer in the cultural troop.   Senait, too, has been at the central hospital in Asmara. closely guarded.  Senait  managed to speak to this person despite the guards trying to prevent her.  The former singer reported the incident to Senait’s family.

Former Members of Eritrea  Support Committee UK.

18/09/2010 Ermias Home


                     Justice for Ermias and Senait Debessai © 2004-2010. Contact: rkidane@talk21.com