The Washington Post published a lengthy report on the concentration camps in the country EritreaIt conducted interviews with 42 former prisoners who spoke about the “absolutely horrific” conditions and that they had been tortured numerous times.
The newspaper stated that Eritrea is “a land of fear that has known only one leader since its independence three decades ago.” Isaias AfwerkiAnd nothing embodies the “brutality” of the state today better than its prison system.
She added that Eritrea is full of “terrifying” prisons, with cells made of cracked concrete underground, sweltering prisons made of cargo containers, and cages packed with hundreds of men who are forced to sleep on their sides like sardines, while their colleagues stand exhausted to make room for them. There are prisons that are shallow pits covered with wooden and clay ceilings that are so low that inmates cannot stand.
Former prisoners told the American newspaper that the conditions inside these detention centers are often so horrific, and that the punishment is of indefinite duration, so that desperate prisoners often try to escape, but they are often killed by gunfire.
Unlike in countries with authoritarian regimes, where people often avoid prison by being cautious and staying out of politics, most Eritreans are inevitably at risk of arrest if they refuse to perform compulsory national service that can extend for decades, much of it in the army's notorious reputation. The bad thing is impoverishing the recruits and treating them brutally.”
The Washington Post reported – in its report – that it had contacted 42 Eritrean citizens who were former prisoners living in 6 different countries. Some of them live in refugee camps outside Eritrea, or are hiding in secret safe houses in African cities, while a few escapees reside in the West, and all of them They described the types of torture they were subjected to, the “debilitating” conditions, and the hunger they suffered.
They died of suffocation and shooting
She pointed out that some prisoners died of suffocation and being shot, and that others suffered from tuberculosis, bronchitis, or paralysis as a result of being beaten with sticks, electric wires, and bicycle chains.
The newspaper said that their accounts provide a rare insight into what is happening inside the secret prisons in their country, which is described as “north korea African”.
Among them is a former prisoner named Mawlawi Zerezghi, who said that the Eritrean authorities detained him for 5 years without knowing the reason at all.
Zerezighi, a nurse practitioner, remembers when men in civilian clothes came to Keren Hospital where he works, took him out of a meeting in handcuffs and took him to prison. More than a decade later, he still does not know why he was arrested.
According to Zerezighi, who is now 38 years old, he was arrested in 2011, and then spent two months in a small cell in the city of Keren before being transferred to Karshili prison in Asmara.
He said: “No one interrogated me. Sometimes, they would tell me that if you tell us the truth behind why you were arrested, you will leave, and if you don't tell us, you will remain in prison.”
Another prisoner – who requested that the newspaper refer to him by his middle name, Giorgio – said that the first time he was arrested, he was imprisoned in a stifling underground pit covered with wood and mud, with about 30 people inside, and they were unable to stand on their feet.
He added that he fled to SudanBut the authorities there arrested him in 2014 and returned him to his homeland, where he was thrown into a prison in the town of Tesne, west of the country, and a week later he was transferred to Hashvray, an underground prison in the Gash and Barka region in western Eritrea.
He described the prison as a concrete trench packed with about 100 prisoners in a small cell. Georgiou spent three weeks in Hashvray underground prison before being imprisoned for a year in Adi Abeto, a large prison complex outside the capital, Asmara. After his release, this time he fled to Ethiopia Where he spent 6 years. However, he was returned to prison in his native Eritrea after the outbreak of civil war in Ethiopia between the army and Tigray rebels.
According to a Washington Post report, Eritrean authorities rarely allow foreign journalists to enter the country, local journalism is controlled by the state, which places cell phones under surveillance, and Internet access is rare, making it difficult to contact Eritreans, who are usually afraid to talk to reporters. Aliens.
Wife of a former minister
Other prisoners mentioned in the report include the wife of former minister Petros Solomon, who was arrested in 2001 for demanding government reforms.
She was arrested after returning to Eritrea from United StateWhere she was studying. “She was alone in her cell, and I could hear her crying,” Zerezgui said.
Another Eritrean, psychiatrist Fitsum Berhane, was an inmate of the cell next to Zerezghi's, who said that his prisoner neighbor heard of his wife's death from cancer on the radio in prison, and began praying for her and their son.
“I dreamed every day that someone would come to save me,” Zerezgui says. “I dreamed of him every night and every day for 5 years.”
In May 2016, his dream came true and he was suddenly released without any explanation. He left the country in 2018 after a brief political breakthrough, leaving his face split Los Angeles In the United States, where he now works as a nurse and participates in protest demonstrations against the Eritrean government.