There's been some rare news today about the condition of Dawit Isaak, the imprisoned writer whom I'll be writing about as part of the 26:50 project. (My 50-word contribution should come out in the next few days – see this previous post for more background.)
Dawit is an Eritrean-born Swedish citizen arrested eight years ago in Eritrea for his work as a journalist on the country's first independent newspaper. Since then, he has been held without charge and there have been no reliable reports of his condition. Today's leaked information from a former guard is at least confirmation that he is alive, but there the good news ends.
For the past 3,119 days, Dawit has been held in solitary confinement, handcuffed almost around the clock, in a windowless cell measuring three metres by four metres. The sanitary conditions are grim and the food barely enough to sustain a life. Around 15 of the 35 fellow inmates arrested at the same time as Dawit have already died.
Writing 50 words in this situation feels like striking a match on a dark night in a force-ten gale. But writing two words, your first and second name, on this petition is an effective way to keep the pressure up. You can also use the Free Dawit website to send messages to the Eritrean government.