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Eritrean poet and journalist Amanuel Asrat, imprisoned in 2001

To mark International Translation Day, PEN members from around the world have translated a poem by Eritrean poet and journalist Amanuel Asrat, to demonstrate the significant role translation can play in furthering freedom of expression by highlighting the ongoing plight of journalists in Eritrea. 

 

 

Read the poem in Afrikaans, Bangla, Catalan, Croatian, Dutch,  English,  Hungarian, Lithuanian, OccitanPortugueseRussian, Slovenian, Spanish, Tamazight and Tigrinya.

Translation and translators are fundamental part of PEN’s freedom of expression and literary work. PEN’s Girona Manifesto specifically underlines the importance of translation in protecting and advancing linguistic rights:

‘The translation of texts, especially the great works of various cultures represents a very important element in the necessary process of greater understanding and respect among human beings.’

Later this month, the PEN general assembly is expected to adopt the ‘Québec City Declaration on Translators and Translation’, at the 81st PEN International congress, which will be held in Quebec City, Canada. The declaration will continue to build on PEN’s work on linguistic diversity and rights.

Amanuel Asrat is an award-winning Eritrean poet, critic and editor-in-chief of the leading newspaper ዘመን (Zemen, meaning The Times).   On 18 September 2001, in a climate of mounting repression, 15 members of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice wrote an open letter denouncing President Isaias Afwerki’s iron grip on power, calling his actions “illegal and unconstitutional”. For this they were quickly jailed.

On the same day, Afwerki cracked down on all dissent, banning private newspapers. Eleven journalists were taken into custody, and remain in undisclosed locations. Asrat was arrested at his home on the morning of 23 September 2001, when the editors of all the country’s private newspapers were rounded up.

Fourteen years later the country remains in the iron grip of Afwerki.  Freedom of expression continues to be severely repressed. Current estimates suggest there are at least 23 journalists in prison without due process. It is widely believed that between four and nine of the 11 journalists detained in September 2001 have since died. From the limited information available, Asrat is believed to be among the few surviving journalists, detained in the maximum security prison, Eiraeiro, north of Asmara.

ኣበሳ ኵናት

ሓደ ነገር ጓዚሙ
ሓደ ነገር ተዳህዩ
ንህድኣት በሲዑ
ሓደ ነገር ኣቃሊሑ።
ኣብታ ክልተ ኣሕዋት ዝተሓላለፉላ
ኣብታ ክልተ ኣሕዋት ዝራኸቡላ
ኣብታ ክልተ ኣሕዋት ዝዋሰቡላ
ኣብ ቅርዓት ሂወትን ሞትን
ኣብ ወሽመጥ ጥፍኣትን ልምዓትን
ኣብ ስንጭሮ ሻቕሎትን ሰላምን
….ተቐርቒሩ
ሓደ ነገር ተዳህዩ።
ሽዑ ሓንቲ ፍረ ዘርኢ….
ጭዓን ሰራውን እናተታፍአ
መሸላን ብልቱግን እናተጎናንአ
ዝእክቦ ስኢኑ ሓድሕዱ እናተበላልዐ
ብሰርቢ ንብዓት ተሰጕዳ
ካብ ነብሳ ጎሚዳ ነብሳ ተጎሚዳ
ካብ ነብሳ ነብሳ ዘሪኣ።
ኣብቲ ዛጊት ዘይተፈርሽሐ
ኣብቲ ኣየናይ ናይ መን ዘይፍለ
ዋሕዚ ደምን ማይን
….ተተኺላ
እታ ዘርኢ ግን…
ብቐዛሒት ጸሓይ
ብዘይሰክን ሰርቢ
ብፋሕሸዋይ በርቂ
ብዘንድድ ዝናብ…ተዓጂባ፣
ጋዕ-ገልጠም ሓጺነ-መጺን ሰሊዃ
መልኣከ ሞት ተጊራ
ምኹን ሂወት ሓንጊራ
እነሆ ኣርኪባ ኣብ ኣዝመራ።
እታ ዘርኢ…
ካብቲ ዘይተፈርሽሐ ደምን ማይን
ናይ መን ናብ መን ዘይጠለለ
ማይኮዖኡ ዘይለለ
ባዕላ ኢያ በጺሓ
ኣብቲ ኣዝመራ ክትፍለ
ኣብቲ ኣዝመራ ግን…
የማና እንተማዕደወት
ንሱ ሰብኣይ ንሳ ጭሕሚ
ጸጋማ እንተማዕደወት
ንሱ መሬት ንሳ ተኽሊ
ደንጺዋ… ግራሞት ተዓንጊላ
ተደናዲና… ዝርያ ኸኣ ዘይኣመላ
ምስ መንያ ክትጽጋዕ ኣበይ ከተድቢ
ናበይ እያ ከተድምዕ ናበይ’ያ ክትድርቢ
እቲ ኣዝመራ ግን ሕማቑ እቲ ዘይምጽባቑ
ብኣፍ ጥይት ሓሪሱ
ካዕቦ ሂወት ኣፍሲሱ
ሕልፈት ካብ ትንፋስ ጎልጕሉ

ንሞት ብሞት ዓጺዱ
ኣብ ዝባን ውሉድ ኣኺዱ
ኣማስያኡ ነታ ፍረ ኣብ ስግኣት ጠፍሊቑ።
እታ ፍረ….
መዓልትን ለይትን ሓደ እዩ ኮይኑዋ
ሻቕሎትን ሩፍታን ተሓዋዊሱዋ
ዓለም ኣብ ውሽጢ ዓለም
ኵናት ኣብ ውሽጢ ሰላም
እምነት ኣብ ሕጓ ዘለ ጥልመት
ምስ ረኣየት ደንጺዋ።
ዘየደንጹ ድዩ’ሞ?

ኣዝመራ ኵናት እቲ ኣበሳነቱ
ንብዓት ኣደ ንውላዳ
ንብዓት እንዳ ነታ ርስታ
ንብዓት መሬት ንመሬታ
ውሒዙ ውሒዙ ምስ ዛረየ
ባይታ ምስ ጨቀወ ምስ ጠልቀየ
ናውቲ ሸሚሙ
ንኹሉ ሰሊሙ… ምስ ራሰየ
ኣሻቡ ፈርዩ ባዴላ ኣፍራዛ
ኣሻቡ ፈልፊሉ መግነዚ ቃሬዛ
የግዳስ…
ኣሻቡ ድማ ይሃልኽ ኩሉ ይሻመዎ
ኩልና ንደልዮ ኩልና ንውንኖ

ነገር ኵናት እቲ ክፋኡ…
ኣዝመራኡ ከይደለኻዮ ምስ ዝበጽሕ
ፈንጤጋር መቓልሑ ማዕጾኻ ምስ ዝኹሕኩሕ
ሽዑ እዩ ኣበሳ ኵናት ኣበሳ ዘገማድሕ
ግና…
ከይፈተኻ ተሳስዮ
ከይደለኻ ተሳልዮ
ኣርሒቑ ክሃጥም ግን ኣ…ቤት ትጽልዮ!

ኣማኑኤል ኣስራት

(ተዓዋቲት ፍሉይ ሽልማት ሃገራዊ ኣወሃሃዲ ሽማግለ በዓላት 1999)

Related

Girona Manifesto on Linguistic Rights
Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee
PEN Celebrates International Translation Day

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