Testimony of Mr. Mohammed Musa Ibrahim Print E-mail
By EHRAG - Mar 17, 2004   

My experience is not unique.  The number of victims of such human rights abuse in Eritrea is countless and  I hope my experience will be a voice for the voiceless by bringing it to the attention of Amnesty International and also hope this will help people to speak out.

I am a British citizen of Eritrean origin.  On November 29, 2002  I traveled to Eritrea to visit my family and country of origin.   I was expected to return back to my family in England on 10/01/2003 [January 10th, 2003].  But I was stopped at Asmara Airport at the checkpoint by an immigration officer known by the name of Major Tamu-Ezgy [as reported.]  After inquiring on my name, I was detained informally until everyone else at the check line was dealt with.   As soon as the people at the check point were cleared the Major and his driver drove me to the GEZA-BERHANOO PRISON (KNOWN BY CARSHELLY) without uttering a word; I was handed to the guards at that prison who had no knowledge for themselves why I was detained.

On January 11, 2003, a police Colonel came and  I was interrogated, but the Colonel refused to answer my question when  I asked why  I was arrested?  He said they do not discuss why people are detained.  He continued interrogating me for more than 3 hours about my life history and asked me if  I was a member of ELF at any time of my life; to which  I replied; ?yes,  I was a member in the past during the armed struggle but at this juncture of my life  I do not belong to any political organization.?

The following day, my jailers came back for the second round of interrogation and repeated asking me the same questions.   Which ELF group I belonged and if  I am still a member?   I replied I do not belong to any political organization at this moment of my life. 

He mentioned names of political activists and asked me if  I knew them; and from the list  I knew only one person.   My jailers alleged that  I participated in several political meetings in London.    I replied all the meetings  I had attended were open to the public and have not commented or expressed any view either in support or against the gathering.

On 13 January 2003,  I was questioned for a third time; my jailer brought with him all the information obtained from the ERITREAN EMBASSY IN THE UK.   And showed me the referendum signature  I had made after independence in 1993.   The interrogation continued in the same fashion repeating the same questions.  Which organization do I support?  Do  I know anybody from the opposition?  Etc.    I repeatedly attempted to ask [my jailers] what  I was accused of?  But  I never got an answer.

All this time  I was detained in an excluded cell with nobody to see or talk to.  On the 18-01-03,  I was moved to another cell with other 26 prisoners crammed in one dungeon.  All this time  I was never given any reason for my detention and have not been charged with any offence.  This was the last time  I saw my interrogator; as  I know now, he is one of the 36 police officers arrested by the regime's security people currently.

On June 2003, another Major police officer came to cross examine me and repeated the same questions that  I had been asked by the last interrogator.   I replied the same.

On his second visit, the police officer questioned me if  I paid tax to the Eritrean government, and whether  I made any contributions to the Ethio-Eritrean recent war?  To which  I responded, that  I did not.   After questioning me why  I did not pay any tax to the Eritrean government,  I replied,  I live and work in the UK and  I pay my taxes to my adopted country.

After six months of the ordeal, in mid-July 2003, the officer came with a written statement and ordered me to sign it.   I protested why  I continued to be detained without any reasons and what would happen to me if  I was to sign the statement?  However,  I was in no position to refuse signing the statement.    I asked my interrogator once again why  I had been arrested and detained without trial for more than 6 months.  He did not respond to my protestation and left affirming his job is done and the statement would now pass to the administrator.

On 17/09/03,  I was taken from the prison to the police HQ known by the name ?AGIP? where  I was met by a Colonel and the Major who was dealing with my case.  He firstly informed me that  I would be freed, but he warned me that the Eritrean government would go to any extent, and  it is ready to pay any price to subdue ?any undesirables?, as he called it.  He repeated his intimidation, warning me to avoid associating myself with those trying to conspire to destablise the Eritrean government.   His instruction was, ?it would be wise for me to associate with the pro-government elements and to visit the Eritrean embassy when  I return to the UK.?

Another point he made was why there was a need for a ?SAHO COMMUNITY? in the UK?  My reply was, ?Even the Eritrean embassy had not objected to its existence and encouraged the community to form the center.  The community center serves as a cultural center and nothing more.?

In conclusion, he iterated that  I was free to go to my family in the UK and  I am free to enjoy myself in Eritrea.  My jailer?s final remarks were a warning not to be foolish and get involved in any media or any propaganda propagation machineries against the Eritrean government and asked me if  I had any questions.    I replied, ?yes,  I have,  I have been arrested and imprisoned from the 10th of January 2003 to the 17th of September 2003 without being given any reasons for my arrest or been charged with any offence.   And would they give me a written statement of my imprisonment??  He ignored my questions and told me  I was free to leave.

As soon as  I was released  I went to the British consulate in Asmara and met with the British consular, Lynn Taylor.  Ms. Taylor informed me that since my detention, she personally had tried to find out from the Eritrean authorities for a formal notification of the detention and to formally charge me and bring me to trial or release me.  But she came against a brick wall and did not receive any response.

My wife put my case to the British Ambassador responsible for ETHIOPIA/ERITREA, in his last visit to the UK.   The ambassador contacted the Eritrean representative, Mr. Girmay (AKA ?Santim?) in London who assured the British Ambassador he would respond to the inquiry the following day.   The Ambassador, expecting a response, made an appointment for my wife for the next day.   But the following day, when the British Ambassador called the Eritrean consulate to speak to Girmay Santim, despite several phone calls in the presence of my wife, the Eritrean representative was not available and they never got an answer.

I was the only one to be released from that prison and I would say I was in a better position than others.   The rest of the prisoners I have met were under detention without any investigation being undertaken for long periods of time, some of them for more than 4 years.

As it is said that ?justice delayed is justice denied?, it is unfortunate that many people for various unknown reasons are still under detention without due process of law.  Since my release, new waves of arrests have begun and some of the names who were detained are listed in the EHRAG (Eritrean Human Rights Advocacy Group) January 4, 2004 report.   Also, the following persons whose names listed below were arrested recently and whose present whereabouts are unknown:


Saleh Ali Sheik (civilian) Asmara Airport, 15/05/03 Accused of having connection with the opposition
Sanet Romodan A. (wife of the above detainee) Asmara Airport, 15/05/03 Unknown
Osman Ibrahim Bakhit (civilian) Afabet - 2003 Accused of having connection with the opposition
Debessay Kidane (civilian) Keren - 2003 Unknown
Berhe Tesfamariam (Head of Water Supply Department) Asmara -  2003 Unknown (asked for an exit visa to join his family in Europe)
Hamid (journalist, Eritrean TV) Asmara - 2001 Unknown
Mohammed Omer (civilian) Akordet - 2000 Accused of having connection with the opposition
Kefiel Adem (civil servant) Akordet - 2000 Unknown
Jaber Idris (business man) Asmara - 2002 Unknown
Tedros Kidane (Lieutenant) Asmara - 2002 Unknown
Ibrahim Ahmed (Police Security Officer) Asmara - 2002 Unknown
Sedig M. Ahmed (Sudanese National) Asmara - 2003 Unknown
Mohammed "2nd name not known", (Sudanese National) Asmara - 2003 Accused of an assassination attempt against the Eritrean president
Musa Ali Mohammed Northern Territory, October 2003 Accused of having connection with the opposition
Abdu Yasin Nuri Northern Territory, September 2003 Has been detained for unknown reason
Kuri Galii (District Officer) Bimbila village, Kunama region, April 2003 Unknown
Idris Bura (Officer) Higher Bimbila, Kunama region, April 2003 Unknown
Musa Adamati (Chief Clerk) District Bibilna, April 2003 Unknown
Tukku Aamin (Female, Civilian) Kolluku village, March 28, 2003 Unknown
Dahba Bate (Female, civilian) Kolluku village, March 28, 2003 Unknown
Alamin Badumme (civilian) Kolluku village, March 28, 2003 Unknown
Abdu Saleh (ex-PFDJ member) Kolluku village, March 28, 2003 Unknown
Andrea Galla (representative PFDJ regime in the village) Kolluku village, March 28, 2003 Unknown
Magi Ashku (Local Administrator) Kolluku village, March 28, 2003 Unknown
Suleiman Mohammed (civilian) Keren, 1994 Unknown


I don't think I would lose anything by telling the truth.   My testimony is only what I have seen and experienced in Eritrea.  The people are struggling to make ends meet and most families are surviving on just one meal a day.   The people are left with no one to turn to.   Now it became apparent to the whole world that the killing and abducting campaign against anyone suspected of opposing the regime has been taking place for a long time.  As a result, most of the Eritrean people inside the country and in the neighbouring countries are frequently intimidated and live under constant fear.

This regime usually keeps denying any knowledge of the abductions and killings committed by its hit squads.  Most prisoners are kept in unknown detention centres and denied access to their families, without proper medications.

Since my release, a new wave of arrests occurred, including about 36 police officers and chiefs of police departments.  Among them were, Colonel Yemane F. (weddi-reggo), Colonel Hassen (Asmara Police Chief), Wedi Haleka who was in charge of the 6th police station in Asmara.   The arrests also included the Chief of Godaif police station, Colonel Fiory.

In light of my experience and ever worsening human rights violations and over all political situations in Eritrea, these violations are only a tiny proportion of the current human rights abuses committed in the country.   And in the absence of international media and humanitarian agencies, the regime seems to get away with these crimes absolutely unchallenged.   Therefore, I call upon you (Amnesty International) and other human rights organisations for the record to pay some attention to the Eritrean people, and their plight and suffering and the PFDJ regime.



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