Dawit Isaak has been arrested since 2001.
In 1997, with a group of journalists, Isaak found Setit, the first independent newspaper in Eritrea’s history.
During 2001 a group of politicians and ministers, who later named “G-15”, began criticizing the first President of Eritrea Isaias Afewerki of his way in running the country. The G-15 demanded elections to be held as promised and for the propose of constitution to be implemented.
Isaak reported these letters in Setit.
That report brought two security officers came and knocked on Isaak residence’s door to arrest him on September 23, 2001.
Most of the G-15 were thrown into the jail without trial because Afewerki wanted to silent all form of debates in Eritrea. They were named as traitors.
Afewerki referred the journalists as ‘spies’ in the pay of the The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in various media interviews over the years.
According to a support group Free Dawit Isaak, Isaak received several awards, including:
- 2003 Reporters without Borders’ Freedom of the Press Prize
- 2006 The Anna Politkovskaya Award
- 2009 The Tucholsky Prize by Swedish Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN)
- 2010 The Norwegian Authors Union Freedom of Expression Prize
- 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
- 2011 Dawit’s collection “Hope: The Tale of Moses and Manna’s Love” is published by a collaboration of eleven Swedish publishing companies. The translation is paid for by the Swedish Academy and all revenues are deposited into Davit Isaak’s Swedish bank account
- 2015 his collections are translated into English and French
- 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
A support group Free Dawit Isaak had also been delivering letters in protest at the Eritrean Embassy in Stockholm since 2004. Unfortunately, they had been unsuccessful in meeting or speaking with the ambassador on numerous occasions.
Isaak’s family, several humanitarian organizations and human rights groups have worked tirelessly in order to get him free. Some of them are PEN International, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), etc. They tried by giving awards, sending letters, making campaigns, even conducting protest.
Though it seems hopeless, tireless attempts to convince the attention to his case is what still keeps Isaak alive.