Vanessa Tsehaye

Eritrean human rights activist

Vanessa Tsehaye is a Swedish-Eritrean human rights activist and the niece of prominent Eritrean political prisoner Seyoum Tsehaye, a renowned photojournalist whose iconic photographs documented Eritrea’s war of independence. She began protesting the human rights abuses of Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki’s regime following the imprisonment and forced disappearance of her uncle in Eritrea’s September 2001 Black Tuesday crackdown. On Sept. 18, 2001, the Isaias regime ordered the closure of all independent newspapers and imprisoned senior journalists, including Seyoum, and members of the G-15 group of political dissidents. Neither Seyoum nor the others arrested have been formally charged with a crime or taken to court, and the Eritrean regime has refused to account for their legal status, whereabouts, and health. Tsehaye is the recipient of the Dawik Isaak Prize in 2013 and was nominated for Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award in 2016.

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