Facebook page vows to lift the lid on Eritrea’s secret reign of terror

Abraham T Zere / Guardian Africa Network An anonymous whistleblower claims to have new proof of human rights abuses, galvanising opposition online In a bid to upend years of secrecy in the country dubbed “Africa’s North Korea”, a

 / Guardian Africa Network

An anonymous whistleblower claims to have new proof of human rights abuses, galvanising opposition online

In a bid to upend years of secrecy in the country dubbed “Africa’s North Korea”, a new Facebook page is publishing documents claiming to show how the Eritrean government abuses its citizens.

In just two months, SACTISM – Classified Documents of the Dwindling PFDJ has garnered more than 16,000 followers on the social media site by alleging to have new information about human rights violations committed at the hands of president Isaias Afewerki’s ruling party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.

The name “sactism” comes from a colloquial Arabic word that roughly translates as “nothing”, and was coined by the anonymous whistleblower behind the page, who goes by the name Samuel.

Samuel claims he is an Eritrean underground blogger who once held a “key post” in the government but who later fled the country. He says he is now sorting through the documents he collected while working in the capital, and says he is determined to expose the regime.

Over the last decade, the Eritrean government has been branded one of world’s worst human rights abusers, with Amnesty International estimating the country is holding at least 10,000 political prisoners in more than 360 secret prisons.

As a result, thousands of young men and women are fleeing the country. In 2014, 50,000 Eritreans sought asylum in Europe, with the UN estimating that around 5,000 nationals continue to escape each month.

With such a severe crackdown on civil liberties, and with little information able to enter to leave the country, Sactism has garnered a significant amount of attention from the Eritrean diaspora, despite the fact that the documents are impossible to verify.
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‘Shaking the status quo’
In early February, posts appeared on Sactism claiming to show new information about the political prisoners and journalists who have been incarcerated for more than 14 years in Eritrea’s secret prisons.

Samuel also published accompanying notes he claims originate from 2001, which offer information about the security agents who arrested the journalists and their subsequent treatment in the notoriously secretive prison in Eiraeiro.

“The page is shaking the status quo,” says Daniel Mekonnen, a prominent Eritrean human rights lawyer living in Geneva. “Although it is difficult to ascertain the truthfulness of every information published on the page, some [readers] have already given their own independent opinion confirming the veracity – in whole or in part – of some of the information revealed,” he says.

The allegations have also been read out on popular Eritrean radio stations abroad, such as Radio Assenna, and have been extensively republished on diaspora websites.

President of PEN Eritrea in exile, Ghirmai Negash, describes Sactism “as a new genre in Eritrean writing, the importance of which lies in its subversive power in the context of a nation under tyranny.”

But a few prominent figures have criticised the way in which Samuel is releasing the information. Awet Weldemichael, professor of African history at Queen’s University, says he is concerned about the ethics of the way in which the information is being released.

“I am not sure if it helps to family and friends of the disappeared to learn it through Facebook,” he says, adding that he also worries about the authenticity of the documents.

Facebook initially blocked the page, originally published exclusively in Tigrinya, after a petition emerged claiming that Sactism was “inciting hatred”. Samuel then began publishing certain posts in English, and provided a short blurb to clarify his intentions to readers.

Though he’s been approached by various outlets, he says he has chosen to stick to publishing on social media to allow him to “operate at an individual level” and to be “part of the democratisation of information sharing”, he has written.

“The regime was surviving mainly through the dread of information sharing,” he explained in a post in February. As a result, he has made it his mission to fight “misinformation and secrecy”, promising that “all the information shared on the page is most accurate.”

Source: Guardian Africa Network

aseye.assenna@googlemail.com

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12 COMMENTS
  • Eritreawit April 27, 2016

    SACTISM, is telling the truth, they just reviled a name of a lady in our community, it was only roamers before that she is an agent of PFDJ now we heard it IN the list of Sactism she is pfdj informant, i hope the Justice seekers in our community report her to authorities, enough is enough; the diaspora pfdj supporters and agents are the cause of prolonged suffering of Eritrean people . Thank you SACTISM, continue helping us weed out traitors.
    Milki kiferis u, Higi kinegis u.

  • T.Yitbarek April 27, 2016

    It is good what Samuel is informing the public in Sactism posts:
    He already acertained it by saying”..(information is power), so why don’t people this powerful tool to insite the regime and expose it as much as possible, but with the true information!

  • mm April 27, 2016

    Thank you SACTISM.
    Those who perished for nothing their precious blood is not lost in vain. Their murderers will be tried one day. I believe what he is publishing is the truth that has been buried for way too long.

  • Berhe Tensea April 27, 2016

    Sactism or its author are doing a great service to our people by revealing valuable secret information regarding the Satanic regime in Eritrea.
    The people inside and outside the country are waking up to the evils of the Tembein regime.
    Iseyas and yes men are on the defensive and are in a coma on their death bed in an intensive care on their final journey to hell.
    It is a matter of time when their desperate life support is pulled for good.
    An agonizing future is awaiting the Anchuwa of Nkfa.
    I hope that he is treated worse than Qazafi on his very last day before departing to his everlasting home the hell.
    Death and agony to Iseyas and hopeless drbaiat officials.

  • k.tewolde April 27, 2016

    The PFDJ thugs are regurgitating blood of innocent Eritreans like vampires and the time has come to drive the revolutionary spear right through their hearts.I dread to be in their position.Those of you who were stained with the sacred blood, repent while there is still time.

    • k.tewolde April 27, 2016

      Yes, I am talking about those who escaped from the brutal regime and went underground, come out from your hiding and ask for forgiveness publicly. The Eritrean people is calling you by name just like the Lord called Adam in the Garden of Eden. Don’t take your secret to the grave with you, otherwise eternal inferno is waiting for you.

  • Hagherawi April 28, 2016

    The blacklist in which some dangerous people who served Iseyas for decades appear, is a good example that the dictator and his group trust nobody, even their own agents. Abrahale used to be a senior military officer in the ELF. He is known to have killed a famous nationalist and hero Dr. Futzum. He is suspected of being EPLF agent within the ELF for decades. He is suspected of being one of those who killed Said Saleh in Kassala, and another opposition figure in Desie (Ethiopia). Now, even a notorious killer like this guy appears in the blacklist of those who cannot leave the country. This case should be an eye opener to the regime’s agents who are killing their own people. Very often, such people are buried with the secrets they know.

    • Sol April 28, 2016

      Since he (Abrahale) was a hamshay mesre’ agent of Isayas inside ELF, then he killed Dr Fitsum G.Selase on the directives of him (DIA). Imagine killing such patriotic hero and to go free for years.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! April 28, 2016

        No wonder Issayas rewarded him with highest military rank of General .

  • Dan April 28, 2016

    Bravo Samuel,

    The atrocities committed by the regime has to be exposed.So much blood had been spilt to attain the sovereignty of Eritrea and the people don’t deserve to suffer endlessly.Power abuse by the regime has gone off limits.And what you are contributing at the moment will pave a way to getting rid of this brutal regime.

  • Aman April 28, 2016

    Although it came late, the information is almost 100% true and genuine. I am realy surprised, how a single individual can keep such massive and horrible information. In any case, it is the first time in its nature to expose the bandit group in asmara.
    እዚ ካብቲ ኣብ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ዝወርድ ዘሎ ግፍዕን መከራን ካብ ባሕሪ ብጭልፋ እዩ። ነቲ ብርሑቕ ኮይኑ ዝሰምዕ ኣዝዩ ይገርሞ ይኽወን፡ ንህዝቢ ኤርትራ ግን ዝላደየሉ እዩ።
    ፍሉይነቱ ዓለም ትፈልጦ ስለዘላን ክንድዚ ዘኣክል ምስጢር ካብ ኢድ እቲ ስርዓት ብቐሊሉ ክወጽእ ብምኻኣሉ እዩ። ኣቀራርቡኡን ብዝሒ ትሕዝቱእን ብኪኢላታትን ብዕላማን ንነዊሕ ዓመታት ዝተስርሓሉ እዩ፡ ናይ ብሓቂ ኸኣ ዘገርም። ዓቢ ኤርትራዊ ሰንድ እዩ።
    ብዝኾነ ነዚ ታሪኻዊ ዝኾነ ሰነድ ዘዳለወ (ኣነ’ካ ሐደ ሰብ ኣይመስለንን) ምስጋነ ይብጸሓዮ። ካል ኦት ኣሰሩ ክስዕቡ እዮም። ካልእ ዝገደደ ክንሰምዕ ኢና። ምቕናይ ጥራይ።

  • Massawa April 28, 2016

    Thank you Sactism, you have made the Higdef supporters and many criminals like them to shake in their shidas and shit in their pants.
    Thank you also for Daniel Rezene and Girmay Negash for showing full support to free speech and many whistle blowers like Sactism. I am surprised why a certain quisling by the name Awet Weldemichael chose his words badly to minimize and belittle the impact of the great works of expose of Sactism?

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