The Push for Press Freedom and its Victims


Dawit Isaak

During the World Press Freedom Day, I came across a very interesting character, silenced by what I may call an uncivilized regime, and kept in the dungeon by some evil men because he wouldn’t keep the truth tightly corked in a bottle. Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean, playwright, journalist and writer is the hero I am talking about. He is a victim of a brutal regime policy which tries to suppress debate and stifle the freedoms of speech and expression.

Since September 2001, it is purported that the Eritrean government has forcefully kept Dawit in isolation without trial just because he wouldn’t keep quiet over what he thought was wrongful treatment continually perpetrated against humanity. His only ‘crime’ was to speak out for the less privileged in society. The last time he was heard from was in 2005. His present location is unknown.

Listening to the representative of the group called Reporters Without Borders narrate the story about Davit Isaak, I felt that no human being should be made to go through this kind of experience just because they chose to speak out against human rights abuse. Whiles the whole world focused on the 9/11 incident and its aftermath, cruel men elsewhere perpetrated evil against the press; an affront against all free human beings.

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in his testimony wrote that, “the imprisonment of a writer is more than the physical and moral confinement of an individual. It has a way of sending a message of fear to other writers who then begin to censor themselves and curb their imagination and the creativity of a nation.” Their imprisonment is also an attempt to imprison the world and silence the voice(s) the voiceless.

As we speak about Press Freedom, let us remember in the prison of Eritrea and other parts of the world, lie men and women who did no wrong in my opinion, writers whose only crimes were to write out their thoughts. Davit was never tried in any way, before kept away in prison. In their quest to silence free speech and the truth, to silence the people, and to silence the pen, they are hurting humanity. But I’d like to say that the pen is mightier than the sword and I hope you agree with me.

Fadi Dabousi, a victim of similar circumstances wrote in his book, 59 Dark Hours that,  “When a struggle is about freedom of association and speech; when a struggle is about the salvation of a whole nation; when a struggle is about violations of law and order by a group of bandits wielding power like highway robbers of the American Mid-West, then you know that it is another independence struggle” that must be fought. In other words, Fadi means that press freedom is priceless and a fundamental human right to fight for.

Written by Yaw BoamahGh, my guest blogger


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