News / Africa

    Eritrea President Denies Stifling Free Speech

    Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki (File)
    Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki (File)
    VOA News
    Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki has denied that his country stifles freedom of speech, just days after media rights group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) identified Eritrea as the most censored country in the world.

    Listen to VOA's interview with President Isaias



    In an interview with VOA's English to Africa service Thursday in the capital, Asmara, President Isaias said his government is not interested in keeping people from expressing their views, but that he will do what is necessary to "protect national security" in the face of what he calls "external aggression" by those who take money from outside governments to create chaos and spread misinformation.

    "This is not a matter of freedom of expression, this is a matter of sabotage -- organized sabotage by individuals hired by intelligence agencies from outside," said Isaias. "We've even ignored some of these individuals who have been working with foreign governments, taking money, providing distorted information about the reality here."

    In its annual survey, CPJ referred to the east African nation as "completely closed" to foreign journalists, saying only tightly controlled state media are allowed to operate there.

    It also said journalists suspected of sending information outside the country have been thrown into prison without charges and are often held for extended periods of time without access to family or a lawyer.

    In his wide ranging interview with VOA, Isaias said he has succeeded in building up Eritrea's infrastructure and decreasing its reliance on foreign aid in the nearly 20 years since he came to power in the impoverished East African nation.

    Regarding the disputed border between Eritrea and neighboring Ethiopia, Isaias denied any tension and said he wants to work in cooperation with Ethiopia to create new opportunities for people in both countries.

    "There are no controversies there," he said. "We look at it from a historical perspective. We aspire to -- in solidarity with the people in Ethiopia -- to create a new opportunity for both the people in Ethiopia and Eritrea and the region as a whole."

    Isaias, who has ruled Eritrea since 1993, said he is more interested in building up his country than embracing what he called the "so-called" tenets of democracy.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report uses education levels to determine the smartest and least smart states in the nation

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Anonymous
    May 19, 2012 11:32 PM
    Excellenet views on IGAD and Regional cooperation in the Horn and East Africa.

    To speak on behalf of the people of Eritrea, he needs to implelemt the 1997 constitution and get elected democratically by the people of Eritrea in a fair and transparent multiparty contest

    by: jon from: maryland
    May 19, 2012 7:58 PM
    very nice interview with smart answers by isaias. good job issayas!

    by: tafesse from: usa
    May 19, 2012 1:07 PM
    Sad to hear president Isayas reiterating his outdated position of no dialogue with Ethiopia.He does not seem to be aware of the fact that the world is even talking to Taliban.He sounds determined to limp his old way down to his political demise.

    by: swedish eritrean from: sweden
    May 19, 2012 12:02 AM
    optimist,, that is what free press means

    by: Eritrean from: USA
    May 18, 2012 7:22 PM
    Mr. president Isaias my hats off to you i salute you,you have never compromised your prinsipless.We Eritreans sleep well knowing you will never sell us to the highest bidder.Thanks for being yourself & protecting our dignity.All the way with you brother.

    by: Eritrean from: EU
    May 18, 2012 7:15 PM
    Dear VOA

    Still another nonsense interview with the brutal dictator of Eritrea. The excuse for the problem in the Horn of Africa is not coming from other parts or countries but it starts from the president himself. The unelected presesident cannot govern even the small country except by military force, Eritrea is being governed under a total control of the ex-fighters who are loyal to the Isaias. They are govern the country in un humane way. I am not asking here 'democracy', it is unthinkable in Eritrea. But HUMANE WAY. When there is no right of speech, no right of association and so on in Eritrea, this man cannot say he is the real president of the coutry. He is not a LEADER, he is a RULER.
    I wish all the best for the VOA journalist and when you are back to your office, I expect you to give your TRUE witness about Eritrea. If there is a psibility also to come to the 'Straight Talk Africa show, I am sure Shaka (the program hoster) would be happy to challenge the present situation in Eritrea.


    by: Ambesa from: Sweden
    May 18, 2012 5:26 PM
    My god this Man was right from the start!


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O12tdvyPOyY&feature=relmfu

    by: Tedros Asmelash from: London, UK
    May 18, 2012 4:31 PM
    The Dictator is at it again..boring as usual. Just go. Nobody is interested to hear what you have to say. Shame on you VOA for letting him run his mouth like that instead of asking him tough questions like why is he holding the country hostage, the 3000+ young people who are fleeing their country risking their life, all the political prisoners and journalists who are dying in an underground prisons all over the country. Mr Journalist, watch AlJeezera's Jane Datton Interviewing him and learn.

    by: pessimist
    May 18, 2012 3:34 PM
    Correction: BBC's Peter Biles not VOA's.

    by: Pessimist from: USA
    May 18, 2012 3:25 PM
    How are VOA reporters managing to speak to a President who has been rumored dead? How old is that picture? And what happened to the tell-tale signs of liver disease on his face? And above all, if he's indeed alive, when did his throat disease [esophageal cancer?] that VOA's Peter Biles expertly detected and tweeted about in late April go away?
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.