Omar Jaber: May His Soul Rest in Peace

Sunday, 21 December 2014 06:57 Written by

It was a few hours after my arrival in Sweden for a memorial service of another dear old friend that I learned the unexpected martyrdom of Comrade-in-Long-Stretched-Struggle Omar Jaber in the late evening of 19 December 2014. I have all the inconveniences with internet connection and time that one can encounter while on travel, and I will not be able to write a deserved obituary to this brilliant example of Eritrea’s memorable generation that is now in the process of passing away without fulfilling its noble mission.  Instead, I am sending for reposting my article about Omar that appeared in the internet a little over nine years ago following a visit to Australia with  another heroic freedom fighter, Seyoum Ogbamichael, who was martyred nine years ago this 17 December.

Deep sympathies and condolences to his widow, Dr. Melika Yassin Sheikh-a-Din, his children with the rest of the family and friends in struggle. May his soul rest in peace.

 

A Memorable Conversation with Omar Jabir In Melbourne 

By Woldeyesus Ammar (August 4, 2005)

To my viewpoint,  Omar Jabir Omar, a veteran ELF freedom fighter now in Australia, represents, in one go, a combination of many things in a contemporary Eritrean in exile - contemporary here mainly meaning the generations that bore the brunt of national awakening and struggle for Eritrea’s national independence.

First: Omar Jabir is a good representative of the passionately nationalist Eritrean youth of the 1960s and  the 1970s who studied in the Middle East and played a vital role in building the Eritrean national liberation struggle – but, alas, only to be betrayed wholesale in liberated Eritrea.

Second: He suitably symbolizes Eritrea’s leftist revolutionary generation that worked under nascent (now defunct) Eritrean parties of the left: LP or the Labour Party within the ELF,  and EPRP or the Eritrean People’s Revolutionary Party within the EPLF.

Third: Omar Jabir is a good example of independent Eritrea’s self-inflicted brain drain that unfolded as a result of a well designed social engineering of Isayas Afeworki’s exclusionist and evil policies commencing with his “Hashewiye Wudibat” of 20 June 1991 that eventually succeeded to keep at bay literally all of Eritrea’s intellectuals, especially those with advanced knowledge of and qualifications in the Arabic language.

Fourth: He symbolizes the failure of PFDJ’s Eritrea to reconcile even with those who were willing to go an extra mile to make reconciliation happen after 1991. (The listing of such symbolisms of Omar and his generation with the situation of contemporary Eritrea  would prove endless.)

During June 2005, I had the opportunity of meeting several times with Omar Jabir in Melbourne where he took residence with his family since 1995. He works for an employment agency while providing voluntary services as president of the 30,000-strong Horn of Africa Community in Australia (refer to a previous article in Nharnet, Awna, Alnahda and Farajat about  ‘Eritreans in Faraway Australia’.)

In our chitchats,  Omar and I talked on a variety of topics and events of the  past, the present and the future. In particular, we enjoyed our exchange of ‘ancient’ notes about Eritrean student militancy inside and outside the homeland. I noted to Omar that I may write down for the benefit of other readers some specified parts of our talk. And he, a trained journalist himself, had no objection to whatever I wished to select for writing and posting in Eritrean websites from the conversation that went on and on - well spiced by his command of linguistic nuances in Arabic, English, Tigre and Tigrinia. 

As many readers may recall, Omar Jabir has been a constant contributor of articles in Arabic and English to the Eritrean websites. His present-day stance regarding the regime in Asmara, his ideas on democratisation, national unity, reconciliation, and the basic requirements for coexistence and stable future in Eritrea are well known to many people. Therefore, I will not bore readers by trying to repeat them here. Instead, I will concentrate on a few historical events and experiences, some of them told in the form of anecdotes. But, first a few notes about the man.

Omar Jabir: A short profile

Born in 1945 in Ali Ghidir near Tessenei where he completed his elementary and middle school grades, Omar Jabir pursued his secondary school classes in a boarding school in Port Sudan, and one year in Khartoum. He completed grade 12 by 1962. During the later part of 1960s and early 1970s, he was a university student in Baghdad but could not obtain all of his medical credentials mainly because of his decision not to become a member of the Ba’ath Party in Iraq.  As indicated below, he was one of the key players in the student movement in the Middle East. In later years, he served as a senior cadre of the ELF during the entire 1970s in the fields of student and youth affairs, information and diplomacy. In 1982, he supported the ELF faction that staged  a coup d’etat (for others known as “an uprising”) within the organization. After liberation in 1991, he took another controversial decision by going back to Eritrea while it was under an exclusionist regime that banned all patriotic forces that took part in the liberation struggle.

***

 Interview with Omar Jabir

Question:  Omar, I assume you started politics early in your life. When was that and what particular events do you still remember?

Answer: I started involvement in politics from my early teenage years. In fact I was born in politics. My family and the small Ali Ghidir community in general were among the strong cells of the Independence Bloc and later on of the Eritrean Liberation Movement (Haraka/ELM) and the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). I was with the Haraka cells by 1959-60 in Port Sudan where the movement was founded. I then switched to the ELF when it became operational. At the age of 20, I already was a member of the Revolutionary Command in Kassala when it was formed and took charge of security matters. In fact I was one of the ELF people in Kassala who arranged the fateful trip to Asmara for your classmates Seyoum Ogbamichael and Woldedawit Temesghen in August 1965. They were assigned to re-organize ELF cells in the Eritrean capital but, unfortunately, they were betrayed by Mulugeta Gherghis, one of us in Kassala who deserted soon after their departure and had them apprehended by the Ethiopian authorities.  By the end of that year [1965], I went to Baghdad for higher studies. I was there throughout the latter part of the 1960s and early 1970s as a student leader.

Question: We know that the student union in Baghdad that you chaired was instrumental in the formation in December 1968 of the General Union of Eritrean Students (GUES). Who else was with you in the leadership of GUES in the Middle East?

Answer: The student union in Baghdad was among the most dynamic groups in the Middle East. Among my colleagues in the leadership of the student movement from  Baghdad Osman Humed, Mohammed Ali Idris,  Mohammed Sheikh Abdu Jelil and Hassan Debesai. Union leaders from Cairo were Abdalla Omar Nasser, Siraj Mussa Abdu, Omar M. Suleiman and others. From Europe were Beshir Saeed, Woldu Kahsai, Idris Nur Hussein and others. It was with the student unions in Damascus, Cairo and in Europe that we formed the GUES.

Question: What roles did GUES play in the nationalist struggle?

Answer: GUES became a full-fledged member of the International Union of Students (IUS) in Prague and helped introduce the Eritrean cause to international organizations of the day. That was a very important achievement. The other role effectively played by us in GUES was the national service. We all were committed to spend one year serving in the field with the ELF before completing our studies. Besides learning more for themselves, the young service students carried with them knowledge, enlightenment and many modern ideas to the fighters and to the rural people inside Eritrea.  It was through that well thought national service that more and more new blood was injected in the liberation struggle. GUES’s national service programme was continued  till 1977.

Question: AndnaturallyGUES had its share of student martyrs.

Answer:  Yes, the first GUES martyr was my elder brother Yahya Jabir, a medical student from Europe who was martyred on 31 August 1973. That date was being annually marked as the Eritrean Student Martyrs’ Day by GUES. Other students from Europe who were martyred while on service  included  Fitsum Ghebreselassie, Aregai Habtu,  and Abdulgader Idris from Khartoum University. 

Question: Did the Arab regimes of the day create interferences in Eritrean student affairs during those years?

Answer:  There were many interferences. For example, I was barred for two years from entering Cairo by the authorities who listened to framed up ELF-PLF allegations against the mainstream GUES of the ELF (Revolutionary Council). The ELF-PLF headed by Osman Saleh Sabbe created their own GUES and gave us hard time although their union did not have any international dimension or weight.  In later years, the Baathists also formed their own Eritrean student union in Baghdad and planted many hurdles against our organization.

Question: Can you recall any memorable event(s) that you experienced during those student days?

Answer: Oh! yes, many interesting happenings, some of them shocking. One experience was an extremely embarrassing and shameful Munich meeting of Eritrean students and workers in Europe in the summer of 1970. I was on a visit to Germany that time and attended the meeting as observer. I vividly remember the poisoned atmosphere at the meeting in which a recorded speech of Woldeab Woldemariam was played. In it, Woldeab spoke against the General Command of the ELF (Kiyada Ama). I was forced to present my speech in  English because Arabic as language was banned at the meeting. Idris Badume [presently residing in Sweden] begged to speak in Arabic because his mother tongue, Kunama, had no single listener at the meeting and that he did not have strong command of any other language except Arabic. The majority of the meeting participants said no Arabic should be allowed at the meeting. He thus chose to walkout of the meeting.

Another more embarrassing and quite incredible incident at the same Munich meeting was the threat to kill. Some meeting participants looked  decided to kill Petros Kidane of Halhal!! The blunt language used was, “You are from Halhal who are with Kiyada Ama. Your people killed Kidane Kiflu and Woldai Ghidey in Kassala. We will kill you today, and there will not be any mercy!” We were afraid that he was in danger; his friends helped him escape back to Berlin within hours of the threat. I  believed that they meant to kill him. It was shameful. GUES members like Fitsum Ghebreselassie, who was chairing the meeting, Aregai Habtu, Habte Tesfamariam, Embaye ..... and a few others were insulted and attacked for being  “stooges of Kiyada Ama”. Herui Tedla Bairu also attended the Munich meeting that can still be a measure of show how low national awareness was among many Eritreans 30+ years ago. But frankly speaking some of the participants could have done better than what they actually did at that meeting of shame in Munich .The anti-ELF elements held their second meeting in Nuremberg in August 1971 and supported the split of PLF from the ELF.

Question: And what about left politics of students of that age? Weren’t you part of the leftist movement?

Answer:  Of course we were espousing leftist slogans of the day. Many of us were co-opted into the Labour Party of the ELF. The LP gradually took upper hand in Kiyada Ama and it was the party that organized the First ELF Congress in 1971 and formulated a national democratic programme. It is my conviction that everything good that had been done in the ELF was done by the LP. In its initial stage, the LP recruited and trained the best cadres for the liberation struggle. However, problems were created later on when the ELF leadership took power both in the front and in the party; power struggle between two ambitious politicians, Ibrahim Toteel and Abdalla Idris, flared up. This was disastrous. Azien Yassin, who was the LP Secretary  General in 1976 was replaced because of the power struggle in the front and this power struggle finally weakened the ELF and contributed to its demise as a military force.

Question: Many thanks, Omar, for your comments about the roles of GUES and LP in the growth of the ELF. Let me now ask you about two issues that pop up in discussions among old ELF comrades. These concern what we call the coup d’etat within the ELF in 1982 that you supported and then your return to Eritrea after liberation.  What are your comments?

Answer: First about the event at Rasai. Was that event in 1982 a coup d’etat? I say ‘YES’, it was a coup d’etat.  In fact, I wrote this opinion in the ELF’ magazine, ‘The Revolution’,immediately after that event took place. But was that coup d’etat anti-democratic and was it conducted against a democratically elected leadership? My response was and is ‘NO’ for the following contextual reasons that connect it with the facts on the ground at that period. In fact the coup d’etat was the last resort taken to curb a series of wrongdoings and accumulation of leadership errors that gradually suffocated the organization to its deathbed. The Executive Committee (EC) that was elected after the 1975 Second Congress of the ELF became an absolutely autocratic power that froze the roles of other institutions and bodies in the organization.  This particular EC refused [for three years] the holding of regular meetings of the Revolutionary Council. The EC controlled the mass organizations; created its own GUES and ignored the joint historic memorandum of  mass organizations that told  everything. Then came the collapse [in the hands of the EPLF/TPLF armies]  and we crossed the border to the Sudan – leadership divided and cadres pushing for change in the EC. But how?  Leading cadres were advocating the holding of an emergency military conference that would exclude civilians and ELF branches in the Middle East.  The final blow was the Sudanese action of confiscation of arms and then the threat of  taking everybody from Tahdai and Korokon to refugee camps.  The bottle was already broken – pieces left were just remainders of a legendary ELF that was targeted not only by EPLF and the Sudan but also betrayed by its leadership. I am not saying that the 25 March [1982 event] was a saving step for the whole organization but it was an initiative by one of those scattered pieces.

Question: And the second issue - do you regret having returned to Eritrea after 1991?

Answer: I never regret having gone to Asmara [after liberation]. To start with, I am an Eritrean citizen and going back home is a natural step. Secondly, I went with a vision, principles and values and came back with them all without any change! Thirdly, I learned new experience, new facts and tangible evidences about the theoretical concept I used to have about EPLF. The fourth reason that I do not regret having gone to Asmara is that I did not go to serve the regime but I went with the idea of living as an ordinary Eritrean. My real dream was to settle in my village of origin and work in the family farm or to have a library for the new generation.

Question: Now, let us envision about a future viable governing party in Eritrea in the post-PFDJ period that can give Eritrea last peace and stability. What forces can realize this hope?

Answer: I can say that the present opposition groups can play a role in shaping such a party. In addition, the outcome of the governing party (PFDJ) after the expected change will tell what sort of a political formula we might have for Eritrea. To sum, future developments and interaction between different forces will decide the shape and content of such a party.

Thanks a lot.

End

 (PS: At the last meeting with Omar, we encouraged each other to put in record the activities of the Eritrean student movement:  he for what took place in the Middle East and I for what was done inside Eritrea.  Each one of us said he would try.)

EPDP Information Office

In statement released this week, the UNHCR expressed “a number of concerns as regards the methodology” used by the recent report of the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) and its confusion of sources as well as its selective use of unverified facts from usually ill-identified interlocutors. The Danish report wished to portray that the situation in Eritrea is “not as bad as reported” by the rest of the world.

The DIS report refers to have met “a UN agency” in Asmara without saying which agency, and the UNHCR wished to confirm that that reference should not implicate it.

UNHCR also regretted that the report given to DIS by its Shire office could have been useful in helping DIS reach right conclusions. Instead, the relied on “on speculative statements” of other informants regarding nationality identification of UNHCR registered refugees in Shire.

The UNHCR also expressed its frustration with the report’s failure to make ample direct quotes from its sources and in its lumping together information provided it by various informants.

The UNHCR statement added: “The (DIS) report does not include any reflections on the reliability of specific sources of information. No information is provided in the report about the regulatory framework for the media, NGOs, research institutes and other actors in Eritrea, nor does the report contain an assessment of the impact of these regulatory frameworks on the independence of certain sources and the reliability of information provided by these sources”.

Read full UNHCR Statement in this link:

http://www.ft.dk/samling/20141/almdel/uui/bilag/41/1435206/index.htm

EPDP Information Office

On 30 November and again on 13 December 2014, chairman of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party, Mr. Menghesteab Asmerom, and other party leadership members conducted public meetings in the UK cities of London and Birmingham in which burning national issues were raised.

Meetings in both cities were attended by a good number of national figures and prominent veterans of the much stretched and yet unfinished struggle of the Eritrean people for national liberation and democratic governance.

Accompanied in both meetings by EPDP executive committee member, Mr. Hamid Drar; Central Council member, Mr. Assefaw Berhe, and chairman of the UK branch, Mr. Goitom Mebrahtu, the party chairman took the opportunity to first highlight the ever deteriorating political, social, economic and human rights situation in Eritrea and the insurmountable problems being faced by Eritrean refugees scattered all over the globe.

UKMeetingbirmingam4In his comprehensive presentation made both in Arabic and Tigrinia, the EPDP chairman gave adequate outline on the party’s role in public mobilization, diplomacy, information and humanitarian spheres, and stressed that these contributions can be considered satisfactory inputs to the collective struggle being waged by forces opposed to the repressive regime in Eritrea.

Mr. Menghesteab Asmerom also expressed deep concern about the state of fragmentation prevailing in the opposition camp and believed that the only way out is to come together by narrowing down the existing points of difference. He also stressed the paramount importance of laying the ground to attract the full participation of the younger generation in the ongoing struggle for positive change in our country.

Both meetings were enriched by question and answer sessions in which lively discussions touched on all topics of high concern in the current struggle and the desirable political atmosphere in post-dictatorship Eritrea.

EPDP Information Office

In a strongly-worded memorandum addressed to the Foreign Ministry of Denmark, the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) criticized the recent report of the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) which, after a visit to Eritrea, said the situation in the country  is not “as bad as reported” and wrongly called Eritrean asylum seekers as “economic refugees”.

In the memorandum urging the branches of the Danish government to ignore the report, the EPDP believed that the Danish team’s report has “reached an utterly erroneous and dangerous conclusion that we see as a travesty of justice and an added insult to injury to the Eritrean pe

ople currently condemned to live under the worst repressive regime in the whole of Africa, if not the world.”

The EPDP regretted the wrong picture conveyed by the DIS report which intended to deny all world bodies including the UN Human Rights Rapporteur who has been denied entry to Eritrea while the likes of DIS are welcomed by the Asmara regime which is well aware of the wishes of the visiting team.

Below is the full text of the EPDP memorandum to Denmark.

******

To: H.E. Mr. Martin Lidegaard,  

The Foreign Minister of Denmark,

Copenhagen

  

Denmark1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Martin Ldegaard

 

Subject: Eritreans Fleeing All-Round Repression at Home Are Genuine Refugees

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      12 December 2014

 Dear Mr. Martin Lidegaard,  

We, in the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), one of the mainstream opposition organizations in exile struggling for change and democratization through people-power,  received with shock and dismay the recent report by the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) which reached an utterly erroneous and dangerous conclusion that we see as a travesty of justice and an added insult to injury to the Eritrean people currently condemned to live under the worst repressive regime in the whole of Africa, if not the world.

The DIS report wished to show that the political and human rights situation in Eritrea is not “as bad as reported” by many honorable bodies including the UN Human Rights Rapporteur and her two submissions endorsed by the UN Human Rights Commission, which in turn upgraded its concern about Eritrea by establishing a UN Commission of Inquiry on that regime’s excesses. The UN Human Rights Rapporteur was denied entry to Eritrea. The same fate could await the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea because their findings would not pre-drafted conclusions, as the case was with DIS’s report, which is already judged as a gross distortion by many sources including Professor Gaim Kibreab, the only Eritrean source the DIS fact finders approached. The report forces its readers to easily conclude that it is a shallow document apparently drafted by not-so-serious team of “fact finders” who could not even see why their mission was so welcome by the regime in Asmara. We are not surprised that they did not see any checkpoints on their pre-planned travel to two localities south of Asmara.

Dear Foreign Minister,

We are aware that Denmark is not the only country pressurized by domestic politics to find an excuse to call Eritrean asylum seekers as “economic refugees” which they are not. We recall that the Italian Government sent a high level mission to Eritrea last summer and expressed its wish to resume work with the regime in Asmara with which it had no relation for a long time. UK government team is now on visit to Eritrea. We hope that its conclusions are not pre-drafted.

As you may very well know, Sir, we are talking about the most disquieting case in regard to gross violations of political, economic, social and human rights in Africa.  One would even dare say that the open-ended national service that has been turned into an illegal act of forced labour is by itself sufficient to inflict havoc to the life of an entire nation. But our country has many more worrisome causes that turned it into a hell on earth. Eritrea is, Sir, a country where:

  • No elections have been held for the past 23 years;
  • No constitution exists and no rule of law can be dreamt of; 
  • No freedom of  press and assembly is allowed;
  • No free worship by the faithful permitted;
  • No basic human rights respected;
  • No private entrepreneurship allowed to thrive;
  • No quality or higher education encouraged; the list of no’s is endless……..

These are among the key causes of refugee outflows in any part of the world. Becoming a refugee is not a choice, and only to reiterate: those Eritreans who are fleeing the country are doing so because they were deprived of all basic political and human rights under the repressive regime that made the country unlivable for the time being.

Mr. Lidegaard,

An increasing number of Eritreans inside the homeland and those in diaspora is currently engaged in an ever growing struggle to bring about a positive change in the country. But until then, people are forced to flee, and those who escape arrest or death while crossing the borders are bona fide refugees who deserve temporary protection until the situation is changed. At this moment in time, all Eritreans fleeing the regime in Asmara are genuine refugees and deserve your support and protection.

We, therefore, request your esteemed Ministry to share this message with the Danish Government, the Danish Parliament and the Danish Judiciary. We are asking Denmark and its people to ignore the shallow DIS report and instead continue to give Eritrean asylum seekers at least temporary but adequate protection until the situation in our country is changed to the better through the growing struggle of our people inside the homeland and those in the diaspora.  

Sincerely yours,

Wolde-Yesus Ammar,

Head, EPDP Foreign Relations Office

CC: Danish Government; the Danish Parliament, and the Danish Ministry of Justice.

Africa

 

 LIESL LOUW

Countries in the region should offer asylum to refugees who are fleeing the repressive state and dying at alarming rates in the Mediterranean Sea.

Child soldiers in Eritrea. The repression of citizens is causing them to flee the country. (AFP)

Stop Eritreans from dying on the high seas and grant them political asylum. 

This was the call by the Southern African Development Community Council of Nongovernmental Organisations (SADC-CNGOs) that met with representatives from Eritrea in Johannesburg last week.

 
 
 

Figures show that Eritreans make up the highest number of Africans who die while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in fateful attempts to flee the repressive regime in their county.

A study by the International Organisation for Migration, titled “Fatal Journeys: Tracking lives lost during migration”, estimates that more than 3 000 people have died this year trying to cross over the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Eritreans are the biggest group from Africa and second only to Syrians as a percentage of the total number of migrants dying in the sea.

Speaking at the end of a two-day workshop with representatives of the Eritrean diaspora, Abie Dithlake, executive director of the SADC-CNGOs, said countries in Southern Africa should reach out to support those suffering elsewhere on the continent.

Well-documented repression
SADC member states such as South Africa, which plays an important role in the African Union (AU), should also put pressure on the AU to adhere to sanctions against the Asmara regime. 

Repression in the Horn of Africa country has been well documented in numerous United Nations reports and those from human rights organisations.

Human Rights Watch, for example, states that “torture, arbitrary detention and severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and religious freedom remain routine in Eritrea”.

Eritrea has ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index for the past seven years.

“We are aware of resolutions by the AU, but leaders are not making the necessary efforts to enforce them,” said Dithlake.

He said NGOs should put pressure on governments to grant political asylum to Eritreans to enable them to organise in countries like South Africa.

Kuluberhan Abraham, a member of the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights, who lives in South Africa, says there are between 5 000 and 6 000 Eritreans living in South Africa, but only a small percentage of them have managed to obtain refugee status.

According to figures from the UN High Commission for Refugees, 821 Eritreans were granted refugees status in South Africa last year. This is compared with up to 24 000 Somalis with refugee status and 15 000 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the estimated figures.

Activists at the SADC-CNGOs meeting said Eritreans are increasingly being considered as “economic refugees” in the same category as those from poor African countries, but whose lives aren’t necessarily in danger back home. This is especially true in Europe where Eritreans have been arriving in large numbers.

Not economic refugees
Andebrhan Giorgis, a former Eritrean ambassador who now lives in Belgium and heads an NGO called Revival Africa Initiative, says this is a wrong perception of Eritreans. “They are not economic refugees but political refugees. As soon as the situation improves they will return home.”

One of the main issues that drives young Eritrean males out of the country is compulsory military service, which was initially restricted to 18 months, but has been gradually prolonged and “amounts to indentured labour”, says Giorgis.

Boys from the age of 15 and 16 are called up for this military duty and the final school year, grade 12, is completed in the military camps, according to a statement by the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights.

The organisation says there are many documented cases of Eritrean refugees who have fled to other countries but were sent back home from places such as Malta, Sudan or Libya. Upon their return they were held in harsh detention centres and mistreated.

                                              By Fesseha Nair

What is a vision? What is a shared vision? Much has been written about the importance of shared vision and leadership in the Eritrean Opposition.

Vision is the image people has in common about how the work will look upon completion, how they will work together and how people accept the struggle for democracy. Simply vision means what do we want to create? It is not that all have the same vision but have similar image. Visions can be explained by a variety of ways and forms. They can be explained by slogans or vision statements. In this article I will discuss how we can create a shared vision in during the struggle against dictatorship and post- dictatorship Eritrea.

A shared vision is a vision uniting all the forces for democratic change with different backgrounds and agendas to a common aspirations. A shared vision motivates participants in the struggle for democratic change in Eritrea to subordinate their individual agendas and act what is best to save the Eritrean population suffering under brutal oppression. A shared vision provides priority to focus on major issues that unite the actors. It helps to communicate with mutual respect and recognition. A shared vision fosters harmony among democracy forces. A shared vision help establish a common framework for making decisions.

How can we create this shared vision in the Eritrean Opposition?

Most of the Eritrean Opposition-civic or political organizations say that they have visions after the fall of dictatorship but all this in the paper not in action. To build a shared vision one must have the knowledge of inspiring, communicating, and have strategic planning and be passionate with all forces for democratic change. Do the opposition have these properties of good inspiration, communication and strategy? Not at all. The opposition leadership and grass-roots lack these properties. All the past conferences of the opposition were lacking a shared vision and did not accept the importance of  building a shared vision. The Eritrean opposition forces have no shared vision how to get rid of the dictatorship in Eritrea and what kind of government will they form after the post-dictatorship.

A shared vision can be built by working together and building trust by solving the common problems facing you at this time and preparing for the future. An opposition without shared vision cannot gain people's trust and support. As it is ascertained by some Eritrean scholars in their studies that the post independence Eritrea led by PFDJ failed to address the past by rebuilding peaceful coexistence facilitating national reconciliation to move from  a divided history to a shared future.

Managing conflicts within the opposition was dysfunctional and was based on win/lose strategy instead of win/win strategy. It is natural that disagreements and conflicts emerge in any work in human lives. One of the most the Eritrean opposition lacks is  to be tolerant for critical debate. The opposition must have skills of listening and encourage critical opinions. The trend of the Eritrean opposition is similar with that of the dictator in Eritrea -creating yes- men and then the king goes without clothes meaning that a dictatorship will be born inside the organization and as a result the democratic struggle fails to succeed.

Re-energizing the forces for democratic change in Eritrea

The struggle from dictatorship to democracy needs commitment to the objectives of the shared vision or to swing to action and combine its efforts towards the salvation of the Eritrean people. The opposition must look towards its performance, behaviour and culture for the purpose of eliminating dysfunctional behaviours and strengthening functional ones. it must attempt to develop strategies improving its operations against the dictatorship instead of bickering and confrontations. One of the main failures of the Eritrean opposition- political and civic organizations is not of recognizing the working relationship between the various political and civic organizations. The Eritrean opposition lacks the will to scrutinize their own behaviour before they judge others. The Eritrean Opposition Political Organizations initiative for consultation that started in Ethiopia last summer was a positive initiative towards building a shared vision. This initiative have discussed alternatives  for action and development of the political organizations but because of minor issues did not continue, this can be perhaps because of lack of trust and ownership of the struggle for democratic change in Eritrea.

The other building of shared vision of the Eritrean opposition was that of the ENCDC /Eritrean National Council for Democratic change. This coalition of both political and civic organizations. The ENCDCs shared vision was only in their heads but not on performance. ENCDC has not pursued the resolutions adopted at the Awasa  Congress. They failed to build a good working relationships between them they instead managed their conflicts by dysfunctional methods and paralysed the entire system of partnership for democratic change.

The ENCDC or the Eritrean Political organizations Counsultation are both positive initiatives but need more to do to come to a common understanding how to get rid of the dictatorship and lay foundations for the future democratic, secular and constitutional government and build a state guarantying all citizens equality and justice.

Continues.......................... 

EPDP Information Office

After attending a fruitful  two-day workshop in Johannesburg on the political and human rights situations in Eritrea, Palestine, Swaziland and Western Sahara, the Eritrean delegation to the workshop held a press conference on 5 December in which it hailed as “historic” the establishment of Solidarity Task Team for Eritrea by the sub-continental organ representing all civil society formations in the 15 member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In welcoming the media, civil society activists, diplomats and other participants at the press conference, the Executive Director of the SADC - Council of non-governmental organizations, Mr.  Abie Ditlhake, expressed concern about the lack of sufficient commitment by African leaders to address difficulties facing the broad masses in Africa.

He described the current situation of repression and displacement in Eritrea as “a burning African problem” that requires the joint action of African democratic forces, including the civil society.  He added that the selflessness shown by all Africans during the struggle against foreign domination must be revitalized now “in order to save ourselves from facing the worst”.

The SADC-CNGO Executive Director also reassured that his umbrella organization will do all what it can to make Eritrea an African agenda and help its people overcome the huge problems facing them. He summarized the decisions taken at the 3 to 4 December workshop which he said was an important step towards putting in action the July 2014 declarations on Eritrea, Palestine, Swaziland and Western Sahara by the 10th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum.  Mr. Ditlhake then invited the Eritrean delegation to deliver its message to the press conference.

Ambassador Andebrehan Weldegiorgis, member of the coordinating body of the Eritrean Forum for National Dialogue, introduced his colleagues in the delegation and read the press statement which hailed the SADC-CNGO for its firm solidarity with the Eritrean people. The statement urged for African and wider international support and  believed that “international and regional solidarity can make a significant contribution to positive change in Eritrea”.

The Eritrean delegation members, who included Mr. Woldeyesus Ammar, foreign relations head of the Eritrean People’s Party (EPDP); Mr. Kuluberhan Abraham, chairman of the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), and Ms Salwa Nour, an Eritrean human rights and democracy activist from the Gulf region, took part in further explaining the worsening situation in Eritrea and answered various questions raised at the press conference.

During the coming weekend, the Eritrean delegation is scheduled to hold public meetings for Eritreans in Durban and Johannesburg. (Reportage on the delegation mission to South Africa will follow soon).

Printed below is the text of the press statement read as introduction to the press conference on Eritrea.

   

PRESS STATEMENT

(For immediate release)

The dictatorial regime is destroying Eritrea and causing untold suffering on its people. The prevailing political, economic and social situation has created an appalling human condition. Arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, etc., have rendered the country unlivable for its people. The state of sever repression has caused mass exodus, particularly of the youth, at an alarming proportion. 

Change is coming and the demise of the regime is imminent. The responsibility of national salvation has fallen on the shoulders of the growing opposition at home and abroad.  The absence of an institutional mechanism for succession and the lack of freedoms of expression, assembly and association risk the creation of a political vacuum that poses the danger of implosion. The gathering momentum towards “Unity of Purpose” within the opposition augers well for the realization of the aspirations that inspired and sustained our long struggle for freedom, justice, democracy, peace and prosperity. There is thus a need to manage the process of change to ensure an orderly transition to democracy.   

We strongly believe that international and regional solidarity can make a significant contribution to positive change in Eritrea. In this regard, we hail the 10th Southern African Civil Society Forum’s firm declaration of solidarity with the Eritrean people and the establishment of a Regional Solidarity Task Team for Eritrea. 

The Eritrean delegation participating at the SADC Council of NGOs workshop just concluded here in Johannesburg, South Africa, would like to call upon:

-                      The South African Government to grant political asylum and the necessary legal documents to Eritrean refugees in South Africa to enable them to live in security and contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country;

-                      The Southern African civil society to enhance their solidarity with the struggle of the Eritrean people for democracy, dignity and justice.

-                      The African Union to play a facilitative role in accordance with its Constitutive Act;

-                      Eritrea’s neighbours in the Greater Horn of Africa to protect the rights and ensure the safety of Eritrean refugees in accordance with international conventions.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Johannesburg, South Africa

Eritrean Delegation Participating at the SADC-CNGO Workshop

The dictatorial regime is destroying Eritrea and causing untold suffering on its people. The prevailing political, economic and social situation has created an appalling human condition. Arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, etc., have rendered the country unlivable for its people. The state of sever repression has caused mass exodus, particularly of the youth, at an alarming proportion.  

 

Change is coming and the demise of the regime is imminent. The responsibility of national salvation has fallen on the shoulders of the growing opposition at home and abroad.  The absence of an institutional mechanism for succession and the lack of freedoms of expression, assembly and association risk the creation of a political vacuum that poses the danger of implosion. The gathering momentum towards “Unity of Purpose” within the opposition augers well for the realization of the aspirations that inspired and sustained our long struggle for freedom, justice, democracy, peace and prosperity. There is thus a need to manage the process of change to ensure an orderly transition to democracy. 

               

We strongly believe that international and regional solidarity can make a significant contribution to positive change in Eritrea. In this regard, we hail the 10th Southern African Civil Society Forum’s firm declaration of solidarity with the Eritrean people and the establishment of a Regional Solidarity Task Team for Eritrea.  

The Eritrean delegation participating at the SADC Council of NGOs workshop just concluded here in Johannesburg, South Africa, would like to call upon:

  • The South African Government to grant political asylum and the necessary legal documents to Eritrean refugees in South Africa to enable them to live in security and contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country;
  • The Southern African civil society to enhance their solidarity to the struggle of the Eritrean people for democracy, dignity and justice.
  • The African Union to play a facilitative role in accordance with its constitutive act;
  • Eritrea’s neighbours in the Greater Horn of Africa to protect the rights and ensure the safety of Eritrean refugees in accordance with international conventions.

______________________________________________________________________

Friday, 5 December 2014

Johannesburg, South Africa

Eritrean Delegation Participating at the SADC-CNGO Workshop

EMDHR News Alert

 

Pretoria, South Africa- Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in collaboration with the EMDHR provided a seminar for the Eritrean community in South Africa on Friday 21 November 2014 in Pretoria. The Seminar was attended by Eritreans who live in Johannesburg, Johannesburg, and other towns in South Africa.

It was the first seminar the LHR offered to the Eritrean community in South Africa apart from the day to day individual basis legal assistance and consultations. The Seminar focused, among other issues, around the the following issues:

  • General refugee rights in relation to the South African laws and the international refugee conventions;
  • Refugee recognition procedures and the work of LHR in relation to the process;
  • Government services /grants that refugees are entitled to;
  • Counselling in relation to mental health problems, and access to health care;
  • The importance of the new anti-torture legislation;
  • LHR assistance in relation to Refugee Appeal Board rejection and the cases of those who are waiting for a decision for years and years;
  • The prospect of resettlement in a third country; 
  • Support in relation to corruption and access problems.
  • Assistance in the process of refugee ID and permanent residence applications and other relevant documentation needs of the Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers  

In the interactive discussions, the participants told the LHR experts the challenges they often face include the rejection by Refugee Status Determination Officers (RSDO) of the Department of Home Affairs. The LHR experts in turn expressed their surprise despite gross human right abuses in Eritrea. In this regard, they reaffirmed their readiness to help the Eritrean community to alleviate the challenges the Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers are facing including assistance to facilitating the permanent residence applications.

LHR-Seminar-2LHR further recommended that the Eritrean refugees should collectively lobby the South African government and UNHCR in order to be heard and solve their challenges. The participants also informed LHR experts that there are some agents of the Eritrean regime who are living as a refugees and asylum seekers who often threaten and disrupt the Eritrean refugees efforts to establish their own refugee community that can assist them to lobby for their rights. LHR experts said they also appreciate for sharing such information as it assist them to understand the Eritrean refugees problems and find solutions. 

Finally, LHR experts stated their commitment to provide similar educational seminar frequently to the Eritrean refugees in collaboration with the EMDHR. They also reiterated their commitment to litigate cases of the Eritrean asylum seekers and refugee in order to minimize the large number of rejections. In this regard, the EMDHR expressed its readiness to provide all the necessary support and information to LHR and other stakeholders who are willing to provide support to Eritreans in South Africa. The Eritrean refugees  and asylum  seekers expressed their appreciation for the support they have been provided by LHR. Similarly, the EMDHR would like to express its immense gratitude to the experts and the LHR at large for their unrelenting efforts to help asylum seekers and refugees and their collaboration with the EMDHR.

Lawyers for Human Rights are an independent human rights organization with a 30-year track record of human rights activism and public interest litigation in South Africa. LHR uses the law as a positive instrument for change and to deepen the democratization of South African society. To this end, it provides free legal services to vulnerable, marginalized and indigent individuals and communities, both non-national and South African, who are victims of unlawful infringements of their constitutional rights.

 

EMDHR Refugee Protection Office

Pretoria, South Africa

05 December 2014

German Police Arrest 11 Eritrean Human Traffickers

Thursday, 04 December 2014 04:13 Written by

 

CONTRIBUTOR: SENAIT B/ DECEMBER 3, 2014

German Police Arrest 11 Human Trafficking Gangs

International investigators have arrested an alleged smuggling gang. The eleven men to be responsible for the deaths of about 300 boat people. Police also shows the ruthlessness of the gang ring.

Tilmann Kleinjung, ARD Radio Studio Rome |www.tagesschau.de| December 3, 2014

The men are fromEritreaand should be part of a major smuggling ring brings the refugees from Africa to Europe. Half of all sailing from Libyan coasts to Italy organized by criminal network, not always with a happy ending: the eleven arrested smugglers are also responsible for the death of about 300 boat people, accused of two accidents in May and June last year before the Libyan migrant drowning.

The smuggling activity is not only to transport in overloaded, barely ocean-going vessels. The traffickers are active in various African and European countries and organize according to the police and the further transport of refugees after landing in Italy.

A suspect – apparently a leading figure in the smuggling ring – was arrested in Germany. He shall be responsible under the Federal Police for a crossing where in June this year killed up to 244 Africans.

Another discovery of police shows the ruthlessness of smuggling ring: In a shed at Catania in Sicily nine Somalis were found, eight of them were minors. They were detained there until relatives have money transferred for further transport.       

Police Pick smuggling ring of
T. Kleinjung, ARD Rome 
03/12/2014 16:05 clock

- See more at: http://eastafro.com/Post/2014/12/03/german-police-arrest-11-eritrean-human-traffickers/#sthash.8ndItK1J.dpuf