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Family Of Missing Eritrean Poet Welcomes PEN Award


The family of Eritrean poet Amanuel Asrat, who won the 2020 English PEN Award for International Writer of Courage, has welcomed the award.

Mr Amanuel has not been seen or heard from in 19 years, since he was arrested in Eritrea. He was the editor of the Zemen newspaper at the time.

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The poet’s brother, Daniel Asrat Mebrahtu, told the BBC’s Newsday that it was painful that his brother’s whereabouts were not known.

He said the award was a well deserved surprise for his family.

“He was a critic especially he was against the war that erupted in 1998 and claimed 2,000 casualties from both Ethiopia and Eritrea,” Mr Daniel said.

The poet cum journalist was arrested at the height of the war as part of the Eritrean government’s crackdown on critics.

“Nothing is known about his whereabouts whether he is alive or dead…no government officials give statements regarding the whereabouts of the prisoners…there is nowhere you can ask about their whereabouts,” Mr Amanuel’s brother told Newsday.

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Written by PH

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