On the table in front of us is the unfolding of Aaron Berhane out the eritrean presshistoria in tabloid. The fifth of June 2001, Setit an open letter with demands on democratic reforms in Eritrea, including the signatures of several high-ranking officials. Berhane pointing out photographs on the respected figures in the country on tidningssidorna.
the Letter made a huge impact and many hoped that it would be a turning point for Eritrea. Now it has been 18 years and we are still waiting for political change, " says Aaron Berhane.
on a visit in Sweden for the first time and receiving in the Reporters without borders office in Stockholm. Aaron Berhane is a co-founder of Setit, a newspaper in tigrinya, which published its first edition in the autumn of 1997. Before the year was over he had enlisted the profiled Swedish-eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak to the sides.
" I had heard his feature on the radio, and we needed knowledgeable journalists to the newspaper. My friend who knew Him since before I made contact with him and on the way there was, " says Aaron Berhane.
the Years after independence in the 1990s belonged to Aaron Berhane, a crowd of idealists who wanted to exploit the newfound freedom of the press in order to examine the power. Earlier, he had sent articles to the regimtrogna media, but they were never interested to publish critical journalism.
" I was young and ambitious, and began to dream together with two of my friends. We did not want, that our country would commit the same mistakes as many other african countries. Because no one listened to us, we began to investigate the possibilities to start our own newspaper, " says Aaron Berhane.
was a deterrent. Not only was half of the country's population is illiterate and there was no reading the newspaper tradition. Both took the state of the country's only printing press. But Berhane and his friends tried it anyway and it was obviously a läsarintresse for their idealism. The edition and the publishing rate increased rapidly and soon became the Setit, Eritrea's largest newspaper. The friends were joined on the editorial team of a dozen employees.
Aaron Berhane got some help with the financing of his father, who is not really wanted to encourage the project.
He was not convinced that the business idea would work, but, above all, he was worried that the government was not ready for review, " says Aaron Berhane.
both the wrong and the right. Setit was a success, but the prize for editorial accountability discourse was high. Just over three months after the open letter published in Setit shut the regime down all the country's independent newspapers. The attack on the media came as a shock.
Earlier, the authorities had only sought to frighten us by we were called in for interrogation. The police could question us about our sources and question our intentions, but they dared not arrest us for fear of international criticism, " says Aaron Berhane.
rumors began to spread that the media were ethiopian collaborators and a few days later was massgripanden of journalists and opposition members. Among them was Dawit Isaak, who in the autumn has been imprisoned for 18 years without trial.
– We discussed the closure of intensive and merged several publishers in a joint letter to protest against the regime's accusations. At the same time, I think that Dawit personally felt quite confident in the capacity of american citizens, " says Aaron Berhane.
Dawit Isaak's fate is still unknown, but several of Aaron Berhanes colleagues have died in prison. Himself he managed to go underground and hide in the capital city of Asmara during the hundred days before a smuggler could help him flee the country. In 2002, he received asylum in Canada and now live in Toronto where he works as a university lecturer and runs the news site Meftih for exileritreaner.
the ranking of press freedom in the world ports, Eritrea is on the 178th of 180.
When I ask Aaron Berhane about a forecast for the development of democracy in the country after this summer's peace agreement with Ethiopia, he shakes his head. He wants to be an optimist, but see no sign of töväderspolitik.
– When the agreement was presented, I was hopeful, like many other eritreans. Unfortunately, the hopes fulfilled, " says Aaron Berhane.
After the positive news, nothing has happened in Eritrea, despite the fact that the conflict with the neighboring country, was a pretext to silence the free press in the country. The regime continues to arrest opposition figures and the only change is that the united nations has lifted sanctions against Eritrea – a success for the president, Isaias Afewerki, who ruled the country since 1993, says Aaron Berhane.
– It is of course very frustrating, but I do not believe that the president will release a few prisoners of conscience without any pressure, " says Aaron Berhane.
Since Dawit Isaak and his colleagues was jailed in 2001 have their case attracted the attention of both the Swedish and international media. The quiet diplomacy, by contrast, allows Aaron Berhane't do much. The result speaks for itself, " he says.
" I demand that the Swedish government is doing something actively for Dawit Isaak. He has been imprisoned for 18 years, and Sweden is still using quiet diplomacy. I do not understand what it means. After almost 18 years without success should try something other than quiet diplomacy, " says Aaron Berhane.
" I have submitted a letter to the foreign minister of Sweden with the several proposals. Close the eritrean embassy in Stockholm to begin with. Facing a travel ban for the eritrean representatives. The eritrean governance respects obviously not sweden, and Sweden has nothing to lose, " says Aaron Berhane.
He's talking about how eritreans in Sweden have to pay a two-percent exilskatt to the dictatorship, which has long attracted the attention in the media. Because of such pressure against the exileritreaner in Canada was thrown the eritrean ambassador out of the country in 2013, he points out and argues that Sweden should act in the same powerful way.
– unfortunately I can't understand Sweden's actions in any way other than indifference or neglect. It is sad because Dawit Isaak always pointed out Sweden as a model when it comes to standing up for human rights, " said Aaron Berhane.
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