Asmara has released at least eight long-imprisoned political activists and prisoners of conscience in the past days, Swedish evening newspaper Expressen said quoting an independent news agency named Zajel, which is run by Arabic speaking Eritrean journalists.
At the same time, Eritrean opposition sources told Expressen that several of the detainees had been in captivity between eight to ten years. The release happened spontaneous and unannounced and if true will take the wider Eritrean public by surprise. “The government is trying not to make a big deal about it. This could be signs that more people will be released“, Eritrean opposition sources told Expressen.
This also increases the chance for jailed Swedish – Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, imprisoned since 13 years without trial, to be released.
“I think there is a chance. They want to get rid of the “problem” and want to improve Eritrea’s international reputation.”, Dawit Isaak’s brother Esayas told Expressen .
Several well-known democracy advocates released
Among those released are doctors Omar Din, Mohammed Omar, Wad al- Nazer and Abdullah Gameaa. Several of the prisoners are known to be democracy advocates in Eritrea.
There are also others who have been released and are on their way out of the country, said opposition sources.
None of the released have ever been members of the ruling party, PFDJ, but known democracy activists.
An informant told Expressen that their families have been given strict orders not to celebrate the release so as not to draw attention and assure some kind of face-saving for Asmara.
According to sources inside Eritrea, a country sealed off from the outside world, the government has appointed a commission to review prisoners who have been imprisoned for a long time – most of them without trial.
“Given all the attention that Dawit’s case received over the years hopes are increasing now. It is perceived as a major burden for Eritrea”, Esayas Isaac said.