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Human rights cases

Estifanos Seyoum, Eritrea

Eritrean MP Estifanos Seyoum has been held incommunicado without trial since 2001, one of a group of 11 seized after criticizing the country’s president, Isaias Afwerki.

Estifanos Seyoum was an Eritrean brigadier general and father of five, who had joined the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front during the struggle for independence from Ethiopia.

He was educated at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the US, where he received a masters degree in finance and economics. He served as head of the Eritrean Inland Revenue until August 2001.

The following month, he and 10 other MPs were detained for criticizing the government of President Isaias Afwerki. They had signed an open letter urging peaceful democratic reform in the one-party state.

The group were never charged or tried, and no communication with the outside world was permitted. Estifanos Seyoum is believed to have died in September 2007 as a result of infections related to chronic diabetes, after surviving six years in harsh prison conditions.

Many of the others are also thought to have died, but the government has never confirmed this.