Today exactly 11 years ago…(11/12/2003) Aster Yohannes was betrayed by the very gov­ern­ment she trusted and gave her life to. Exactly this day, Aster was picked up from Asmara Air­port, whilst her chil­dren waited in the wait­ing area, yearn­ing to hug and kiss her.….Aster has not been seen again by the pub­lic or her fam­ily. NO ONE knows of her con­di­tion or her exact where­abouts although there are the never end­ing rumours.

Aster Yohannes, jailed since Dec 11th 2003 incom­mu­ni­cado with­out being charged, due process or vis­i­ta­tion rights

Aster Yohannes was in her 2nd year of an Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing degree at Addis Ababa Uni­ver­sity when she decided to join the Eritrean People’s Lib­er­a­tion Front (EPLF) in 1979. After 6 months of mil­i­tary train­ing, she was assigned to work behind the lines till 1986 she joined the hayl­i­tat (com­bat­ant forces). Three years later she mar­ried Pet­ros Solomon (see above) who was one of the influ­en­tial mem­bers of the front. Pet­ros and Aster have four chil­dren: Simon, the twins Zerai and Hanna and the youngest one Meaza.

Aster worked for the min­istry of Fish­eries and Marine Resources from 1995 onwards. In Jan­u­ary 2000 she enrolled at Phoenix Uni­ver­sity (Ari­zona, USA) with a dream of finally her study she inter­rupted at Addis Ababa Uni­ver­sity. This study was made pos­si­ble because the United Nations granted her a schol­ar­ship. She wanted to com­plete her study as soon as pos­si­ble; she is a lovely fam­ily mother, sis­ter, friend and wife. She wanted to go back to her chil­dren, hus­band and her mother.

This dream was dis­rupted after Isa­ias Afew­erki unleashed a crack­down on his for­mer com­rades known as G15, inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists and elder medi­a­tors on Sep­tem­ber 18, 2001. Aster wor­ried by what hap­pened asked the Eritrean Gov­ern­ment to grant her chil­dren exit visas to the USA where she was still pur­su­ing her study. Aster had already secured entry visas for her chil­dren. The Eritrean regime refused.

For Aster life with­out her hus­band, chil­dren, and mother was not easy. So she decided to return to Eritrea after she was given assis­tance and assur­ance of her safety in writ­ing by the for­mer Eritrean Ambas­sador to the United States and cur­rent Eritrean Ambas­sador to the African Union, Girma Asmerom.

On Decem­ber 11, 2003 she arrived at Asmara Air­port eager to see her chil­dren and her mom after four years of sep­a­ra­tion. Her mother was wait­ing out­side the air­port together with her four chil­dren. Aster was arrested upon arrival before meet­ing with her mom and chil­dren. Her mom and chil­dren were wait­ing out­side not know­ing what was hap­pen­ing to Aster. Aster has been kept incom­mu­ni­cado like the other pris­on­ers of con­science in Eritrea. Nobody knows where she is. After 10 years Aster is not (yet) charged of any crime and nobody knows what her crime is aside for the fact that she is the wife of for­mer Min­is­ter Pet­ros Solomon.

Like the other pris­on­ers of con­science, Aster and Pet­ros spent their pre­cious life fight­ing for the inde­pen­dence of Eritrean and the lib­erty of its peo­ple. As if that is not enough, their mother and mother-​in-​law respec­tively, their chil­dren and fam­ily are con­tin­u­ing the strug­gle for the release of their beloved once and for full-​fledged free­dom of all Eritre­ans.

What are we doing? Are you keep­ing quite as if noth­ing is going on in Eritrea? Are you keep­ing quite as if you don’t know these beau­ti­ful peo­ple? As if they were not your com­rades? As if they didn’t fight side by side with you? As if they didn’t sup­port you? As if you were not school­mates? As if you were not their class­mates, neigh­bours, col­leagues, in the same choir group /​youth group in the church? Or are you keep­ing quite because you are “not inter­ested in pol­i­tics”? The mantra used by many to cover up their inac­tion whether in reli­gious or non-​religious groups