RSF opens room for Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak in its uncensored library
Articles, texts and poems by a Swedish Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak are now available in RSF’s Uncensored Library, a project that allows the public to access censored articles through the computer game Minecraft. RSF has opened a new room for this journalist to mark the 20th anniversary of his arrest.
Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean dual citizen, was arrested by Eritrean security officers on September 23, 2001. He had reported criticism of President Afwerki in Set, the country’s leading independent newspaper, of which he is a co-owner. With the exception of two days in 2005, Isaak has since been imprisoned. No formal charges were brought against him, he was not tried and Swedish diplomats were never allowed to meet with him. On September 18, a few days before Isaak’s arrest, all independent media were banned. No independent media have been authorized since. A dozen journalists were arrested that month, including Isaac’s colleague Fessehaye Yohannes of Set. According to information gathered by RSF, at least seven of these journalists died in detention due to the appalling conditions in which they were held.
“The publication of Dawit’s work as a journalist and writer in the Uncensored Library sends a strong message to the Eritrean regime: we will not lose hope for Dawit Isaak and his work will be accessible regardless of the crass attempt to silence him for a while. the last 20 years, said Erik Halkjaer, president of RSF Sweden.
The texts by Dawit Isaak which are currently published in the Uncensored Library in collaboration between RSF and the Dawit Isaak Library are part of the book “Hope: The Tale of Moses and the Love of Manna”, a translation of the texts by Isaak which was published in 2010 by an alliance of Swedish publishing houses.
RSF launched the Uncensored Library project on the occasion of World Cyber Censorship Day on March 12, 2020. In a digital library integrated into the computer game Minecraft, users can read texts that have been blocked or censored in their home country. ‘origin in English and in the mother tongue of their authors. With the launch of the campaign, the library included articles from Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. In March 2021, it was extended by two more rooms containing texts from Belarus and Brazil. The uncensored library has reached over 25 million gamers in over 165 countries.
Eritrea is ranked 180th out of 180 countries on RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index. With at least 11 journalists currently in prison, he continues to be the largest jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa.