Human Rights Watch 2005 Eritrea report published on

New email address for Friends of Aster

To contact Friends of Aster please use the new email address:

The Voice of a Prisoner of Conscience Behind Bars in Eritrea

December 2005-- On the second anniversary of Aster's abduction, human rights activist Elsa Chyrum of Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE) writes from London to keep Aster's story alive in the minds and hearts of fellow human rights activists. Ms. Chyrum has been working for Eritrean human rights since 2001.
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Aster included in Amnesty International report, Eritrea: Religious Persecution

Some prisoners of conscience of particular concern to Amnesty International [include] the following: ...

Aster Yohannes (f): aged 46 with four children (including twins), she joined the EPLF in 1979 when she was an electrical engineering student. After independence in 1991, she brought up her children and worked as a civil servant. In January 2000 she went to study marketing at Phoenix University, Arizona, USA with a UN grant. Her husband, Petros Solomon (see above) was detained in 2001. Despite warnings of the risk of being arrested herself, she returned voluntarily to Eritrea on 11 December 2003 after her graduation to be with her children. She was detained on arrival at Asmara airport, despite a previous government guarantee of her safety. She is held in Karchele security prison in Asmara and has not been allowed to see her children. She is reportedly in a poor state of health emotionally and suffers from asthma and a heart disorder.

Access Complete Report.
AI Index: AFR 64/013/2005 7 December 2005

Sudanese National Tells of Aster Sighting and More

August 16, 2005-- Sadiq Mohamed Ahmed, from the neighboring Sudan and a father of seven children from an Eritrean lady, had been suffering behind the bars of the PFDJ. He had taken part in the Eritrean armed struggle against the Ethiopian colonialism until he entered Asmara with the fighters. Sadiq, who has narrated the violations he had been exposed to at the hands of the PFDJ in more than a prison through the Sudanese daily al-Watten, says that he had been involving in business after he had got an invitation from Petros Solomon following the independence of Eritrea.

Worldwide Appeal

July 2005-- Aster Yohannes Detained for Husband's Opinions

Amnesty International appeals for the release of six women prisoners of conscience on the occasion of Eritrean Independence Day

May 23, 2005-- As Eritrea celebrates its 12th year of independence on 24 May, large numbers of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners - possibly amounting to several thousands - languish in indefinite incommunicado detention - held without charge or trial and without access to friends, family or lawyers.

Congressman Criticizes Eritrea's Human-Rights Record

May 11, 2005-- Representative Smith urges release of Aster Yohannes from jail

U.S. Congress Leads the Call for Immediate Release

January 6, 2005-- U.S. Congress leads the call for Aster Yohannes' immediate release in letter to President Afewerki.

Amnesty International Awards

Amnesty International Arizona has given Scottsdale resident Libby Walker one of its highest honors, the Andreas Ekholm Award, for her volunteer work on behalf of a former Phoenix resident "disappeared" in her native Eritrea, Aster Yohannes.

U.S. Government news on Behalf of Aster!

Email your Representative in the U.S. House today and ask him/her to sign the letter that Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has authored on Aster's behalf.

After collecting his goal of 100 signatures, the Representative will send the signed letter to the President of Eritrea asking for Aster's release. Easy instructions are provided on Amnesty International's web site. We need to make this a national effort. Please share this appeal with your friends in other states besides Arizona. Read more...

Who is Aster?

In 2000 Aster Yohannes arrived in Phoenix, AZ with dreams of finally completing her college education quickly so she could return home to her husband and four young children. Aster was the grateful recipient of a United Nations funded scholarship for college bound individuals in her homeland Eritrea, a small country in the Horn of Africa. Read more...

About Friends of Aster

It is impossible to overstate the positive impression Aster makes on everyone who meets her. She is a kind, gentle woman whose intelligence and humor reveal themselves in her lively curiosity and appreciation for the experiences she enjoyed while studying in the US. When Aster's husband, Petros Solomon, and his colleagues were arrested in 2001 Aster's friends came together formally as Friends of Aster to support her in her struggle to cope with her husband's arrest and reunite her family. Read more...

Become a Friend of Aster