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Human rights cases

Petros Solomon, Eritrea

Petros Solomon and his wife Aster Yohannes were both held in 2001. Photo courtesy of Solomon family

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

Petros Solomon was a commander and intelligence chief during Eritrea’s struggle for independence from Ethiopia. He went on to hold high-ranking positions in the new state, including roles as minister of defence, minister of maritime resources and minister of foreign affairs.

He was held with 10 other MPs in 2001 after urging democratic reform in President Afwerki’s one-party state. After his imprisonment, many of his colleagues and friends were also detained.

He is married to Aster Yohannes, another veteran of the Ethiopian People’s Liberation  Front (EPLF). She was detained in December 2003, having flown home to Eritrea after four years of UN-funded study in the US. She had received guarantees of her safety from the Eritrean authorities, but was arrested immediately after stepping off the plane. She was not permitted to meet her four children, aged between six and 13, who were waiting at the airport to greet her with flowers.

She remains detained in an undisclosed location with no contact with her children, wider family or lawyers. Both Petros Solomon and Aster Yohannes were still believed to have been alive many years after their detention, but are now feared dead, given the extremely harsh conditions in which they were being held.