Farewell, Asmara

Aaron Berhane was a beloved leader of our centre’s Writers in Exile community and a valued member of PEN Canada’s Board of Directors before his untimely death, due to Covid-19, in May 2021. He fled Eritrea in 2002, following a draconian crackdown on the independent press. The following extract from his posthumously published memoir The Burden of Exile: A Banned Journalist’s Flight from Dictatorship, recounts his early days hiding from government agents in Asmara. 

Seeking Justice for Dawit Isaak

Dawit Isaak and his colleagues are the longest detained journalists in the world today.  September 23, 2022 will mark 21 years of detention. Their cases and causes are not only heartbreaking and egregiously unjust, but emblematic of the global assault on media freedom by authoritarian regimes, which continues to intensify under the cover of a global pandemic of impunity.

RWCHR files complaint to UN on behalf of Dawit Isaak and his colleagues

The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR), in partnership with an international coalition of leading NGOs, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), PEN International, Defend Defenders, and Mr. Isaak’s Swedish legal counsel, filed a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calling for accountability for the Eritrean government’s gross human rights violations against Dawit Isaak and his colleagues, the longest detained journalists in the world today, and their immediate and unconditional release.

The Burden of Exile

Aaron Berhane, an award-winning journalist and publisher, is the recipient of the 2019 PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship and acting Chair of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Committee. He was …

On Eritrea’s Future

On January 6, 2015, 6 Eritrean journalists were released on bail after being imprisoned in 2009, when the government conducted a raid on journalists. Brendan de Caires interviewed Eritrean journalist and member of the PEN Writers in Exile Committee Aaron Berhane about the release and the implications for the country’s future.

From the Archives: Camilla Gibb reads to Dawit Isaac

In late 2011, ten years after the arrest of PEN Canada Honorary Member Dawit Isaac, five writers read letters to imprisoned Eritrean journalists. Camilla Gibb read her letter to Dawit Isaac on stage at Ryerson University. She will present a documentary on March 3, 2014, as part of our PEN Picks series in partnership with Hot Docs.

Trafficking and Torture in the Sinai

On Thursday, September 19, 2013 Dan Connell will address Ryerson University’s International Issues Discussion (IID) series on political and human rights crises in Eritrea.