AFRICA MONITORS - Report Ethiopia II

All the subjects the monitor so far interviewed attest to the overall existence of torture in prison camps in Eritrea. Although none of them were tortured but some have witnessed tortured prisoners. In another statement if the prisoners were not tortured, the treatment and places they are locked in is uninhabitable places, dug into mountains and underground. This in a sense is torture; they are incarcerated in those areas where no one is allowed to go near to for years without any chance of parole. What entails a torture is very subjective, what could be looked at as a torture through a layman’s eye could be considered otherwise through the interrogators. Because some prisoners are thought to be interrogated humanly when absolutely degraded and treated like animals. The degree of torture is vivid to the prisoner while letting the prisoner out of solitary and send him to hard labor could be a sign of compassion and humanity afforded by the interrogators.

In these prison camps and so many similar prisons, women and children rights are violated without exception. Men are subjected to hard labor and their time and energy used for personal gains of the leaders of the system and wardens of the prisons. Inhumane treatment, open-ended prison time, unjustified accusations of prisoners and terrorizing family members is part of the everyday life of an Eritrean youth. They have managed these prisons in this way for years and seem not to think of halting anytime soon.    

Eritrean youth escape to avoid indefinite servitude in the military or take a flight right before they were drafted in the army. This is one of the many reasons that cause these refugees, especially young men and women, to flee their country in search of a better life. They do face many problems from the time they conceived the idea of escaping to the moment they safely reach the neighboring countries. These problems arise either from the devotees of the system or from the smugglers who knew the business is lucrative and ask a great deal of money or violate women when crossing.

All the Eritrean youth prefer to keep quiet and not mingle in any political squabbles for fear of their lives and those of close relatives living in Eritrea. They prefer not to speak of the degradation they had faced in Eritrea because they are still haunted by the horror of those experiences. They try to forget what happened and move on with their life. If they speak of what happened they get nightmares every time. Those who do not get nightmares their preferences for a peaceful life outweighs that of fighting for their rights.

These youths either witnessed or became victims of every kind of torture. The form of torture includes beatings with canes and tube-like with wirings inside, putting out cigarettes all over their bodies and hanging them upside down with their hands tied from behind and beat them with canes on their heels. Keeping prisoners in solitary in shipping containers and locking them in air tight rooms in places with thirty-seven-degree centigrade temperature is an everyday sighting. In these cells tens of young men and women are locked for weeks and some are locked for years. The prisoners can barely stand or stretch in these cells. While other places are like halls were they are stuffed with prisoners five folds the actual number they can hold. These places are infested with disease carrying insects and prisoners die from these conditions.

During that time the prisoners are incarcerated, no sort of medication is given except Panadol. Whenever these prisoners get sick or need medications the only available medicine is Panadol or a placebo. The prisoners are allowed to go to hospitals when the prisoner is in his or her deathbed. Some survive while others die in the hospital. Some of these prisoners die from minor infections that could have been prevented easily with antibiotics. But lack of enough nutrients, torture and stress take a toll on their life that they would rather give up.