Where is my father, Ermias Debessai Papayo and where is his sister Sennait Debessai?
Lest we forget them, our prisoners of concience, our brothers, sisters, our fathers, our mothers, our daughters, our sons, our religious leaders. Lest we forget them! This season is the season of new year and celebrations; but not for the countless prisoners of conscience in Eritrea. Not for their family members. Day and night, now for 10, 13, 15 or more years, they have been surving like half-dead. Where is my daughter? Where is my son? Where is my father? Where is my mother? Where is my sister? Where is my brother? In what conditions are they in? Are they still alive?
Sennait Debessai (jailed): Ermias Debessai (Papayo) is one of the founding members of the EPLF. He joined the Eritrean liberation movement in 1967. He has served the in various positions during the struggle; including as foreign representative of the EPLF in, among others, the UK where he enticed the well-know African Editor of the BBC, Martin Plaut to visit the liberated areas of Eritrea. After liberation he was Eritrean Ambassador to China and then to Uganda. He was recalled from Uganda and arrested in 1997 on allegations of corruption. In the kangaroo courts of Isaias Afewerki, he was sentenced for seven years. He never had the chance to defend himself or hire a lawyer. Ermias is married and they have two children. While in prison, he was sick. I had a chance to visit him at the former Ethiopian military base 35stegna (Setanta Otto). My memory of Debessai goes back to Durfo when I was a young kid. When I went to Durfo to bring stuff from Asmara I heard his name Papayo and that of Vainac (Aspirin). As a child I was impressed by these two nick names.
Ermias was “released” from prison in 2001⁄2002 when the world was criticizing the Eritrean regime for the arrest of the G15. To deviate the attention, the regime “released” Ermias Debessai while in fact, he was put under house arrest; till his rearrest on Saturday November 15, 2003 together with his younger sister, Sennaity Debessai, mother of two children.
Sennait Debessai (Jailed) was a former fighter and member of the EPLF-cultural group. Here she is singing Lemin Leminey with Wedi Tukul, A classic during the war of indepedence.
She was married to the Eritrean Ambassador to Kenya, Beyene Russom. They have two children. When she asked for divorce Russom went mad and a court case regarding the children was pending. The court appointment was for Thursday, November 20, 2003. Russom is very close to Isaias Afwerki. On Saturday 15 November, security forces raided the house of Inda Aboy Debessai and arrested Sennait Debessai and her brother Ermias Debessai (papayo) early in the morning /night. Witness to these arrests were the two children of Sennait and Beyene Russom, and the visually impaired lovely sister of both Sennaity and Ermias. For Ermias who was arrested in 1996⁄1997 was this a rearrest. Nobody knows where they are! The court case went ahead after the arrest of the mother and we hear the the judge decided to benefit Beyene Russom in everything.
In this clip, Aura, the daughter of Ermias Debessai is asking “Where is my Father?”