Sacharovpriset för tankefrihet delas årligen ut av Europaparlamentet och är ett av världens mest uppmärksammade utmärkelser i fråga om kampen för mänskliga rättigheter.
Att dela ut detta pris till Dawit Isaak vore mot bakgrund av detta ett kraftfullt ställningstagande och ett konkret sätt för EU att öka pressen på den eritreanska diktaturen. Jag valde därför att i juli att nominera honom till priset och uppmanade mina svenska kollegor att göra detsamma.
Processen går till så att varje ledamot kan nominera en kandidat till sin egen partigrupp (i mitt fall EPP). Efter att grupperna gjort sina respektive prioriteringar vidtar förhandlingar dem emellan om vem som ska erhålla priset.
Idag fanns frågan uppe på EPP:s agenda och jag talade för Dawit Isaaks sak. Talet finns att läsa i sin helhet nedan. Vi fick även en förteckning over samtliga nominerade, och samtidigt som det kan konstateras att det finns många potentiella pristagare så är jag glad över att svenska liberaler och socialdemokrater också nominerat Dawit Isaak till sina respektive partigrupper. Nu fortsätter frågan att beredas och senare i höst avgörs vem som blir den slutliga mottagaren.
Nomination of Mr Dawit Isaak to the Sakharov Prize – anförande vid EPP:s arbetsgrupp för utrikesrelationer 2016-09-06.
Mr Chairman, dear colleagues
I would like to ask for your support for the nomination of the Swedish-Eritrean journalist and writer, Dawit Isaak, for the 2016 Sakharov Prize.
According to Amnesty International, Dawit Isaak today is the only EU-citizen who is a prisoner of conscience.
He was imprisoned in September of 2001 in Eritrea – meaning that he at this point of time has been in prison without any external contacts or visits for fifteen long years.
Dawit Isaak came to Sweden in 1987 and he became a Swedish citizen 1992.
When Eritrea gained independence, Mr Isaak returned to his native homeland, got married and had three children.
In 1997, he along with some other journalists, launched Eritrea’s firs independent newspaper, Setit. Eventually, he became a part-owner of the publication.
During 2001 a group of journalists, politicians and ministers began to openly criticize the dictatorship of President Isaias Afeweki.
This group was later named “G-15”.
In a series of letters, the G 15 demanded democratic reforms, general elections and a proposed constitution to be implemented.
Dawit Isaak played a key role in these efforts – he was one of the leading voices, and bravely decided to publish news reports and editorials about the lack of democracy and human rights.
All in accordance with his personal motto:
“If you have the opportunity to write, do it”.
On September 23, 2001, Dawit Isaak was arrested in his home in Asmara, Eritrea.
At the same time, ten other independent journalists and eleven prominent reformist politicians were apprehended – ostensibly for demanding democratic reforms.
Since Mr Isaaks arrest, credible reports have been made that he has suffered severe torture, been held incommunicado and solitary confinement.
The Swedish government and representatives of the EU Commission has throughout the years tried to use “quiet diplomacy” to secure the release of Dawit Isaak – while public media has pleaded more vocally for his release.
All efforts so far have though been met with contempt and scorn from the totalitarian regime.
In May 2009, the Eritrean President made a public statement about Dawit Isaak, saying:
”We will not have any trial and we will not free him. We know how to handle his kind.”
Despite this, several humanitarian organisations and Human rights groups have worked tirelessly in order to get Dawit Isaak free.
International PEN is one of these organisations – its bransch representative in Eritrea has stated:
“Dawit Isaak and his colleagues are icons of freedom of expression in our society. Risking their lives, they spoke truth to power and paved the long and often arduous way towards freedom of expression. Now it is our turn to continue the struggle and work towards achieving their dreams”.
To award Dawit Isaak the 2016 Sakharov Prize would be a forceful rebuttal to President Afewerki – proving that Europe does not forget its citizens and manifesting our unwavering support for free speech, freedom of press and democracy.
Together we are in the position to make a difference.
We have a unique opportunity to send a strong message of solidarity and support to a people living in what some describe as “the hell on earth”.
Let´s make use of this opportunity.
I humbly ask for your support for Mr Dawit Isaak for this year’s Sakharov Prize.