This story, while tragic in itself, also warms my heart. I’ve been watching it from the sideline, from the first tweet, and now this: Five editors from Sweden’s largest newspapers are taking a break from their usual roles of competition, in an effort to inform the world of the situation for Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak, who is imprisoned in Eritrea with no trial nor charge.
On September 23, 2001 he was arrested and imprisoned in connection with the Eritrean government shutting down the country’s independent newspapers.
The regime in Eritrea has never formulated any allegations against Isaak, let alone a prosecution, a trial or a sentence. In total silence, he has for nearly eight years been locked up in Eritrea’s capital Asmara.
The idea is to put more light on this topic with cross-media coverage, as well as get the readers to sign a nationwide petition.
This whole thing started long ago, but it hasn’t been organized until recently. The Twitter boom in Sweden got journalists and editors to sign up, and apparently that opened the floodgates. When one of the newspapers involved made yet another push on their own campaign, including the petition that all now urge their readers to sign, another asked – on Twitter – if they shouldn’t collaborate. It was microblogging at its best if you ask me.
At the same time, microbloggers decided that the hashtag #Dawit should be used for any tweet about Dawit Isaak, and although this is mainly a Swedish issue, I truly urge you to use it in any tweet you might post about this story, or about Dawit Isaak. These tweets are also pulled onto dawit.se, which collects stories from Twitter, Bloggy (a Swedish microblogging service), and the media.
If you’re interested in this campaign, do visit the English version of FreeDawit.com and sign the petition there. And again, do tweet it, applying the hashtag #Dawit, to help spread the word.
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.