The action against the state that has kidnapped the Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak is unacceptable.
Here is the list of everything Sweden does to avoid erecting Eritrea, Kurdo Baksi and Helena Giertta write on Press Freedom Day.
DEBATT | PRESS RIGHTS DAY. Today, May 3, World Day of Press Freedom is highlighted around the world. This day reminds us of the importance of states taking responsibility for maintaining the freedom of expression contained in Article 19 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
And this day is extra important for the detained Swedish journalist, poet and three-childhood father Dawit Isaak from Lerum. Dawit ”received” namely, exactly one year ago, UNESCO’s UNESCO Press Freedom Prize, aimed at ”paying attention to his courage and resilience as well as great commitment to freedom of the press.” As he was detained in a small cell three times three meters in the Eiraeiro prison outside of Eritrea’s capital, Asmara for almost 17 years, he could not get the prestigious prize in Jakarta himself. Dawit’s daughter Bethlehem represented his father during the prize ceremony in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.
Dawit Isaak was detained on September 2001 by civilians in Asmara. Even though it has been so many years, he is denied today the lawyer, appeals, trial and visit of his immediate relatives. That Dawit gladly wrote about the development of democracy in Eritrea in his newspaper Setit is the only reason that Dawit has now been deprived of all his fundamental human rights and kept isolated from the outside world.
Sweden contributes financially to an Eritrean church propagating for the oppressive state.
Eritrea acts nonchalantly and dishonestly
The most awkward thing since Dawit was deprived of liberty is that the Eritrean state has acted as nonchalant, as dishonest. In the summer of 2016, for example, Eritrea’s Foreign Minister, Osman Saleh, stated in the French radio channel RFI, that Dawit lives, and he also promised that Dawit would have a trial. The promise of the trial surprised us and others fighting for Dawit’s freedom in Sweden, given that Eritrea’s despotic president Isaias Afewerki said in a Swedish television channel that Dawit did not even deserve a punished punishment. But we had no reason to question the statement given by the three most important rulers in Eritrea to the outside world about the fate of Dawid.
Almost two years later, we realize that our optimism was lacking. Dawit has not been shown either in a trial, in the media or for his family.
In spite of all this, the various Swedish governments in our eyes have given priority to working together with the irreverent dictator Isaias Afewerki’s regime in Asmara, both nationally and internationally. You can say that Sweden has done everything not to regret Eritrea.
The list that shows Sweden’s openness
It may sound like hard accusations, but facts speak for themselves:
- No Eritrean diplomat in Sweden has been expelled
- None of the various Eritrean ministers who visited Sweden for nearly 20 years have been interrogated by the Swedish police about Dawit Isaak’s fate.
- The various Swedish governments have accepted the two-percent ”forced tax”, ”diaspora tax” or ”exile tax” that the Eritrea embassy in Stockholm indirectly calculates with the help of the Swedish Tax Agency, as the final tax return must be reported.
- According to UN sources, Eritrea’s Embassy in Stockholm receives tens of millions of years annually via this tax form.
- Sweden continues to provide assistance to Eritrea through the EU.
- If not all this would be enough, Sweden will make a financial contribution to an Eritrean church propagating for the oppressive Eritrean state.
Sweden’s actions against a state that has kidnapped a Swedish citizen is unacceptable. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, if you seriously mean that Sweden does everything for downloading Dawit Isaak, you can start by tapping for Eritrea’s dictator Afewerki.
By Kurdo Baksi
Journalist and Social Debater
Chief editor of the journalist