“Credible Eritrean sources in Asmara and abroad have told Reporters Without Borders that poet and playwright Fessehaye “Joshua” Yohannes, who was a journalist with the now-banned weekly Setit, died in detention on 11 January.”
[He had been Eritrea’s most prominent journalist.]
“Fessehaye was paralysed in one hand and had been walking with difficulty for years. He reportedly succumbed to the extremely harsh conditions in which he had been held since his arrest in September 2001. After being held at an Asmara police station and an underground prison and after spells in the Halibet and Sembel hospitals in Asmara, he was reportedly taken to a prison camp at Eiraeiro, in the Northern Red Sea desert province.”
“Fessehaye surrendered to the police during the week of 18-23 September 2001, after around 10 other journalists and many members of the political opposition had been arbitrarily arrested and the privately-owned press had been “suspended” by the authorities. Ten detained journalists were transferred to undisclosed locations in April 2002, after going on hunger strike to demand the right to appear in court.
“Their hands permanently manacled, the detainees at Eiraeiro are just given just bread, lentils, spinach or potatoes to eat. Their hair and beards are shaved once a month. All they have for beds are just two sheets. They sleep on the ground. Any contact with other prisoners or with guards is absolutely forbidden.”