Dawid Isaak

A well known name, at least out here in Sweden. Unfortunately, not as well known abroad as that might have impacted his case greatly and positively.

In 2001, Isaak, an Eritrean journalist and permanent resident and citizen of Sweden, was working in his former home-country in order to run a newspaper there. In September of that year, he and several of his journalist colleagues as well as a number of politicians are arrested. Their crime: demanding democratic reforms.

The captured will be prosecuted but today, 2021, no trial has taken place. No formal charges have been made and Isaak is still held as a prisoner in bad circumstances.

His resident country Sweden reacts politically and journalistically. Weeks after, articles are still written about him. In order to resolve the situation and free Dawid, the Swedish government starts a process they call for Silent Diplomacy (Tyst Diplomati), claiming this is the proper way to handle international problems as this.

Since then, and for the durations of the five or six new Swedish administrations since then, this government farce called Silent Diplomacy is still going on. The results are easily described: Nothing, no result at all. Dawid is still stuck in his prison, no contact between him and the outside world allowed. At best, government managed to get assurance that Isaak was sill alive in 2020.

Short times in 2005 and 2009, Isaak was seriously ill and released only to seek local medical help and to return after having received it. While this was a sign of life, he was not allowed to leave the country or appear be interviewed.

Over time, Sweden usually has traditionally had Labor administrations. Though during this particular time, the opposition managed to win one of the elections and built their multi-party administration. Notably, even this administration managed to continue with the Silent Diplomacy that they had criticized the previous administration for.

During Dawid’s captivity, the European Union and indeed even Sweden have contributed the Eritrean country finances with hundreds of millions of Euros with development contributions.

No serious attempts have been made to free Dawid Isaak, instead, possible counter measures have been ignored:

  • Stop EU yearly development contribution to Eritrea (~50 million Euro per year) – Not done!
  • Oppose EU development contributions – Not done!
  • Expelling Eritrean diplomats from Sweden – Not done!
  • Not accepting the Eritrean Exile taxation on Eritrean citizens living abroad (tenths of millions yearly) – Not done!
  • Interview visiting Eritrean administration officials about Isaak’s case – Not done!
  • Stop contributing to an Eritrean church favoring Eritrean government and administration – Not done!

Note that none of the measures above were taken, in other words: business continued as usual, Swedish government did not care! Fortunately, journalist organisations do care and have launched several attempts to get Swedish government to act – to no avail.

According to Swedish Television, SVT1, the subject of Dawid Isaak had never been brought up in any EU diplomatic contacts with Eritrea. It can be mentioned that the Swedish EU parliamentarians also managed keep their head down on this subject.

With Dawid Isaak still alive, Sweden should pick up speed and consider any or several of the following actions:

  • Demand answers from the Eritrean ambassador
  • Expel Eritrean diplomats
  • End all financial contributions to Eritrea
  • End diplomatic relations with Eritrea
  • Convince EU parliament to take up the subject with Eritrea
  • Stop EU contributions to Eritrea

Latest news:

In January 2021, SVT reported that Swedish government will take no legal steps against Eritrean government for unlawfully holding Dawid Isaak captive – sad news indeed. The case was launched by Reportar Utan Gränser – Reported Without Borders in an attempt to force Sweden to action. Motivation: limited possibilities to make Eritrea to free Dawid.

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