How Eritrean Writer Abraham Tesfalul Zere Is Fighting His Country’s Oppressors From Abroad
(Interview with Michael Barron; Culture Trip; August 2, 2017)
We spoke with the journalist, fiction writer and PEN Eritrea executive director about the situation his country faces and how he’s working to remedy it. Zere’s short story “The Flagellates” appears as part of our Global Anthology
In June of this year, a coalition of human rights lawyers, activists and institutions submitted a joint letter to the UN, urging them to reinstate an investigator to its member nation of Eritrea. Officially termed a special rapporteur, this investigator, along with the UN’s Commission of Human Rights, had found that during its two-year monitorship June 2014–July 2016, the Eritrean government, under the rule of President Isaias Afwerki, had repeatedly violated many fundamental rights of its citizens. The country’s political turmoil is so bad that it has earned the nickname “The North Korea of Africa,” the Asian country being the only one to rank below Eritrea in the World Press Freedom Index. “In view of the ongoing crimes under international law, including torture, enslavement and enforced disappearances, and violations of fundamental freedoms committed in Eritrea,” wrote the coalition, “the Special Rapporteur’s mandate… has been instrumental in monitoring the dire situation on the ground, highlighting on-going violations and the failure to implement the recommendations of the CoI and in providing a crucial platform to help amplify the voices and concerns of victims.”
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