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Monday, 20 August, 2001, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Students die in Eritrea detention camp
Traffic in Asmara
Students at the University of Asmara are defiant
A second student held in a desert detention camp in Eritrea for refusing to comply with the government's holiday work programme has died.

The president of Asmara University, Woldeab Issak, said the student, Yemane Tekee, died at the Halibet hospital on Sunday morning where he had been receiving medical treatment for heat stroke.


Please, I beg you to transfer them out of that please. Why did you have to send them to the hottest place on earth?

Anxious parent

Last Thursday, the French news agency AFP reported the death, also from sun stroke, of another student in the camp.

The dead students were among those taken to the site at Wia, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the port city of Massawa.

Arrested

Massawa is known for its scorching temperatures sometimes reaching as high as 49C (120F) at this time of year.

The agency says some students, released to write their exams, said about 2,000 of them were being held with very little food and in poor accommodation.

They were arrested a week ago in dormitories and at the High Court where they had expected to see the appearance in court of their student union president.

The student leader, Semere Kesete, was arrested in July for making a speech attacking the compulsory work scheme, government's interference in the university's affairs and inadequate support for the institution.

students in Asmara
Students in Asmara are keen on education

Defiant

In a defiant gesture, the students said they would only comply with the holiday work programme when their leader is either released or taken to court.

One of the 300 parents who gathered at the gates of the university pleaded with the authorities for leniency:

"Please I beg you to transfer them out of that place. Why did you send them to the hottest place on earth?" one said.

See also:

14 Nov 00 | Africa
Eritrea goes slowly online
30 Oct 00 | Africa
Eritrea confronts the future
13 Feb 01 | Africa
Eritrean brain drain row
17 Apr 01 | Africa
Eritrea pulls out of buffer zone
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Eritrea
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