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Solomon Abera, who voiced end of Eritrean free press, dies

Solomon Abera was once a presenter for state television ERI-TV. (Solomon Abera)

The name Solomon Abera will forever be etched in the collective memory of Eritrea's press corps. On September 18, 2001, as the world focused its attention on the terrorist attacks on the United States, the government of Eritrea borrowed Abera's voice to sound the death knell, on state-controlled airwaves, of the Red Sea nation's independent press. Shortly after Abera read the announcement, the government rounded up leading independent newspaper editors and a dozen ruling-party dissidents calling for democratic reform -- all of whom have disappeared in custody.

Ten years to the day after being handed one of the most chilling news items he ever read on Dimtsi Hafash radio during his 14 years as a reporter, presenter, producer, and commentator, Abera reflected on the experience on our blog.

Today, we learned that Solomon Abera, who lived in exile in Germany after fleeing government censorship and intimidation in 2005, is no more.

Sweden-based blogger and activist Meron Estefanos broke the news to me via email: Abera, who had been ill, died quietly at a hospital in Frankfurt on Thursday morning. He was born in 1968. He left a wife and two children who had not been able to join him in exile, Estefanos said.

Though he lived in exile, Abera continued to report on affairs in his homeland. He was a contributor to Eritrean diaspora websites critical of the authoritarian government in power since independence in 1991. Abera was among a group of Eritrean journalists in exile who met Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Eritrea's neighbor and archrival, in part to lobby for the release of two colleagues held incommunicado there since 2007.

The news is beginning to spread through the Eritrean diaspora. Friends have been posting comments on Abera's Facebook wall. "It's really sad news to hear that one great man passed! He did a great job and was doing it for the voiceless! R.I.P Solomon Abera!" tweeted one Germany-based user known as @firnash.

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Rest in Peace Solomon. This is very shocking news. I've known Solomon for many years; and worked together for about 10 years in Ministry of Information. He is a master of Radio journalism and left many unforgettable moments in his radio career.

Most important, he joined the voice of voiceless in the last more than five years and put his name in the golden book of Eritreans yearning for freedom.

He will be missed by his listeners forever. God bless his soul.

RIP

Abel Medhanie Gebreyesus

Rest in peace and thank you for standing out.

I worked with Solomon for five years at the Ministry of information in Eritrea. He was a very talented, hardworking and fair reporter who had a great passion for his job and I have learned a great deal from him. I was saddened to hear Solomon’s death and My deepest sympathy to his family.

Eritrea have lost such a talented and a dedicated journalist, who will be remembered for ever. Abera was one of Eritrea's leading radio journalist, and his death comes as a big shock for all of us, whom we have been expecting more from him. We will miss him. RIP:

Thank you Mohamed for bringing this news into a wider audience.

Very sad news in deed. We will remember him as one of the icons of free press.

RIP Solomon, sadly this is the price most of us journalist from the horn of Africa are forced to pay because of our psychopathic tyrants who unturned every stone to muzzle us and stay on the helm for life. I hope Meles will go so that I can see my country, family and friends before I die) but who knows:(((never say never
Theodros Arega
Ex Ethiopian TV Reporter/Producer
Stockholm, Sweden

One less traitor down, a few more to go.

What a tragedy! It is extremely shocking to learn the death of the famous journalist Solomon Abera.

I know Solomon only through his work while he was working as a sport reporter. I was always impressed with his elegant report. It was informative, sensational and very stylish. I can see how he was ahead of his time when I came to the western world. He was indeed one of the best Eritrean journalists. I really felt something is broken inside me.

He never stopped fighting the regime that made him exile. He did his best to be the voice of the voiceless people.

Sadly he passed away before he reunited with his children and wife.

He will be missed!

May God rest his soul and console his family.

The death marks a sad end to a journalist who fought so hard for press freedom. Rest in peace.

Gone to soon! What a great lose to our strugle against the dictater Isias Afeworki. RIp brother Solomon.

RIP Solomon, sadly this is the price most of us journalist from the horn of Africa are forced to pay because of our psychopathic tyrants who unturned every stone to muzzle us and stay on the helm for life. I hope Meles will go so that I can see my country, family and friends before I die) but who knows:(((never say never
Theodros Arega
Ex Ethiopian TV Reporter/Producer
Stockholm, Sweden

Although it is not good to wish ill for a dead person in our culture, I think he was just another person who had an overblown sense of himself. Unfortunately, journalists in Eritrea and rest of Africa are being used as a tool to destabilise the whole continent and leaves journalists with shallow understanding of world politics to look at themselves as more important than all other professions. Solomon Abera was one of those journalists and it is not a loss to journalism in Eritrea. may he RIP.

I wish that real journalists with deep sense of nationalism and sense of responsibility can grow in Eritrea and rest of Africa who would not be manipulated by greed, fame and wrong image of their profession.

May his soul rest in peace! I worked with Solomon for over 10 years in the Eritrean media. Solomon was a talented and hard working journalist. His voice was an icon of Dimtsi Hafash Radio. I dont have words to express the sadness I felt when I learned the news of his death. I want to pass my heatfelt condolence to his family and friends on the loss of your beloved.

RIP buddy, we lost the best all-rounded eritrean journalist ever. we will miss him. my thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers.

RIP.
May God prevent such tragedies! Tragedy at home, tragedy outside.

We have lost a Great Eritrean Journalis, RIP Solomon and my condolences to your family and friends.

I started to admire Solomon when I heard him reading a book on the Eritrean radio. He had this beautiful voice and high command of Tigrigna. When I heard he had been exiled to Germany; I hoped he would be working for the voice of America Tigrigna program as he was the best Tigrigna reporter with golden voice.

let God recive his soul. Eritreans specially the young learn from yongs death. if u want to support isyas support him and will be killed u soon.
see u on demeonstration sweden malmo
we need also few eritrean youngsters to be killed soon.

Eritrea has lost a journalist.A journalist who dedicated his life.Let him rest in peace.