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