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UK host exhibition on Eritrea disappearances

Exhibition on Eritrea

An exhibition about Eritrea’s disappeared former government officials and journalists has been launched in the UK parliament.

On Tuesday, MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Eritrea (APPG) called for the release of the disappeared and improvement of human rights in Eritrea.

Lord Alton of Liverpool, who has been critical of Eritrea’s human rights situation, said the exhibition would help highlight the plight of the missing.

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Among those detained since September 2001 are former senior ministers, members of the now suspended National Assembly and senior military generals.

The group of officials, known G-15, wrote an open letter demanding accountability and democratic reforms.

Patrick Grady, a British SNP MP, who spoke at the exhibition’s launch spoke of the devastating stories he had heard: “Over the years we have heard testimonies that brought us to tears.

“Testimonies from families who do not know where mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, children, other relatives are or if they are even alive.”

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Eleven of the G-15 group were arrested after criticising President Isaias Afwerki, who has ruled the country since 1991.

He refused to implement an already ratified constitution, suspended the National Assembly and has never held national elections.

In the wake of the high-profile arrests, President Isaias’ government also shut down all private newspapers and arrested many of its editors and journalists.

The arrested have never appeared in any court of law, and have been held incommunicado for over 20 years. Human rights groups say there are many others who have disappeared after their arrest by security authorities since 1991.

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Eritrean officials have always rejected accusations of human rights abuses as demonisation by the West.

The exhibition organised in collaboration with Pen Eritrea, Eritrea Focus and Amnesty International will be open until Friday.

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