To mark the 20th anniversary of Dawit Isaak’s arrest in Eritrea, RSF has opened a new room dedicated to the journalist in its digital library against censorship, a project that allows the public to access censored articles via the computer game Minecraft. Articles, texts and poems from the Swedish Eritrean journalist are now available thanks to a collaboration between RSF and the Dawit Isaak Library. The texts are part of the book “Hope: The Tale of Moses and Manna’s Love”, a translation of Isaak’s texts which was published in 2010 by an alliance of Swedish publishing houses.
Dawit Isaak, a dual Swedish-Eritrean citizen, was arrested by Eritrean security officers on September 23, 2001. He had reported on criticism against president Afwerki in Setit, the country’s first independent newspaper, which he co-owned. With the exception of two days in 2005, Isaak has been imprisoned ever since. No formal charges have been brought against him, he has not been granted a trial and Swedish diplomats were never allowed to meet him.On September 18, a few days prior to Isaak’s arrest, all independent media were banned. No independent media outlet has been permitted ever since. A dozen of journalists were arrested that month, including Isaak’s colleague Fessehaye Yohannes from Setit. According to the information obtained by RSF, at least seven of those journalists have died in detention as a result of the appalling conditions in which they were held.
“The publication of Dawit's work as a journalist and a writer in the Uncensored Library is sending a strong message to the Eritrean regime : we will not give up hope for Dawit Isaak and his work will be accessible no matter the crude attempt to silence him for the last 20 years, said Erik Halkjaer, chairman of RSF Sweden.
The texts by Dawit Isaak that are now being published in the Uncensored Library in a collaboration between RSF and the Dawit Isaak Library are part of the book “Hope: The Tale of Moses and Manna’s Love”, a translation of Isaak’s texts which was published in 2010 by an alliance of Swedish publishing houses.
RSF launched the Uncensored Library project on the World Day Against Cyber Censorship on March 12, 2020. In a digital library embedded in the computer game Minecraft, users can read texts that have been blocked or censored in their country of origin in English and in the native language 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 that contain texts from Belarus and Brazil. The Uncensored Library has reached more than 25 million gamers in over 165 countries.
Eritrea is ranked 180th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index. With at least 11 journalists being currently incarcerated it continues to be sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest jailer of journalists.