23 July 2009

Letter from the Eritreans in Tripoli. Tortured in Libya as in Eritrea

TRIPOLI, July 23 2009 - After the message which informed us about the deportation to Libya of the 74 Eritreans refugees intercepted at sea by the Italian forces the last July 1st 2009, the Eritrean community in Tripoli wrote us again. This in their letter, under anonymity, for obvious security reasons.

"For Eritreans, it is no difference either In Eritrea or in Libya

In an era of civilization, the world is tending to some opposite extremes, where some governments are increasingly growing towards dictatorship while others increasingly tending to extremely free democratic governments. What is the trend of Eritrea and Libya? We Eritreans in Libya are the witness for both situations. We see no difference at all, either here or there it is just torture. The only difference is Eritrea is torturing its own citizens while Libya to foreigners. But how they torture is totally similar and it is shame to speak about it in 21st century. Here I will try to outline the amount of suffer in Libya and Eritrea.

Today’s report from many governmental and nongovernmental organizations are telling us Eritrea is ‘Slender but giant prison’. HRW’s report 2009 about Libya is also similar, but there is some more left untold. Innocent people are detained indefinitely without clear case and without chance of defending themselves in legal court. Many of them remain to have lifelong remains of the detention, either physical or mental damage. The way their issue is handled remains similar to Guantanamo.

Now a days Eritrea as a whole is a prison. Anybody unwilling to stay in the service for life motto is detained indefinitely. Detention centers are growing everywhere like Mushrooms and every Eritrean town; even far places are becoming ground for prison building. Each army division is autonomous and has its own prison where army members are detained inhumanly for undetermined period. Nobody is allowed to protest about anything; even this will be more serious if the protest is done by a group with similar claim… it is considered as a rebel. Thus, anyone who is not satisfied with this handling has to escape and save himself than be imprisoned and get too much suffer.

The leading prisons now are:
1. Track B: Military detention center located few kilometers west of Asmara used to imprison army members who come back home to help family without permission or who stayed more time than the allowed break time. The detainees are Called ‘Zikoblelu’ meaning lawless.
2. Adi-Abeyto: Located around 3 kilometers North West of Asmara and mostly used to detain anybody caught without valid I.D card until his issue is examined. Some of its rooms are also used to detain families whose children deflect from the army or illegally left the country.
3. Wia and Gela’elo: Located South East of Massawa in the Danakil depressions whose temperature reaches around 45oC. Its altitude is either sea level or below sea level and always too hot. It is used to detain people accused for rebel. These prisons have been used as centers of mass arrest in 1999 for about 10,000 army members and in 2001 for nearly all University students accusing all as rebel.
4. Ebatkala: This is the most secured and well patrolled prison on the way to Massawa used to detain higher governmental officials accused as rebel. It is where the most of the Eritrean influential ministers and journalists are detained for years without a judge for years.
5. Sub-Zonal prisons: These are located in every town of Sob-zone and are mostly used to detain families of deserters.
6. Ala detention: Located east of Asmara and on Dekemhare-Massawa way. This is mainly for deserters and people accused to be smugglers.
7. Mai-Edaga: Located south of Dekemhare on the way to Tsorona and similar to the Ala detention.
8. Sawa detention (Shadishay Birgad): This is mainly detention center of military trainee and sometimes even used to arrest the permanent army of Sawa and its vicinities.
9. Nakura and Dahlak Islands: These Islands have been used as prisons during the Italian and English colonial period to detain rebels. Now they are mostly used to detain deserters retuned from other countries. In the last years many countries were not aware on the Eritrean situation and deported many Eritreans to be good candidates for these prisons.

These are the leading prisons in Eritrea and the reader should note there are more minor unknown and secret detentions in remote areas of the country. Anyone who tried to break the detention is shooting. The way they are treated inside is very terrific. Many of them remain to be sterile due to the foot beating and more others become blind as they have been in dark underground rooms for years. According to the eye witness death is normal and nobody but Mom cares about the death of the innocents. Mmmm… the more you uncover the story the more internal pain you will feel.

Let’s come back to Libya. Eritreans flee escaping these tortures looking some form of relief somewhere in the globe. But their dilemmas hardly remain inside Eritrea, all the harsh situation is also migrating with them. It reaches climax in Libya as Libya has no difference from Eritrea in case of prisons. Every where it is prison, all with similar torture but thanks God in Libya there is no shooting. The Leading Libyan detentions where Eritreans are continuously imprisoned are:

1. Ganfuda prison (Benghazi): It is located in Benghazi city and mostly receives detainees caught on their way to Tripoli.
2. Kufra prison: Located on the first Libyan City from the Libyan-Sudanese border. This is also a center used to detain deserters when trying to enter from Sudan.
3. Musratah Camp: officially it is called a camp and people there are formally under UNHCR, but it does not reach to the level that makes a camp. Around 700 Eritreans are detained for more than two years without any hope.
4. Felah Prison: Located in Abu-slim area in Tripoli detaining many immigrants from different nationalities accused for undocumented stay in Libya.
5. Twesha-Binkeshir: Located in Tripoli
6. Gurgi Prison: Located in Tripoli
7. Zileten Prison: Located some 150 km east of Tripoli and mostly used to detain immigrants when trying to depart to the terrific sea to reach Europe.
8. Zawiyah and Surman prisons: Some 70km West of Tripoli.
9. Zuwara prison: Located on the Zuwara city near the Libyan-Tunisian border and usually used to detain immigrants caught when departing or intercepted in the sea.

Over all, the sufferance is similar, just change of place. This is mostly based on eyewitness or taken directly from people who tasted this sufferance at some instant. We are trying only to explore the similarity and difference of the type of torture in Eritrea and Libya. All the victims of the above are looking forward for a solution as so as get international protection under which they can live well secured. Nobody knows when exactly but everybody waits here for the day all the sufferance will end and enjoy freedom!!!"