October 17, 2014
Written by: The COI-Eritrea Team
If one were to take a glance at the Eritrean history pages that desperately await an objective scribe and flip from the page of September 1st, 1961 to October 3rd, 2013, the vines of time that bind these two dates would surely appear as if poisoned by a tragic irony. Hamed Idris Awate’s first shot would have appeared as if it were released from the hand of a track inspector signaling the start of a mad race into exile – and October 3rd, 2013, would have been but a glimpse of an episode that earned its horrible notoriety for mercilessly daring to vandalize, with horrific features, what is otherwise a solemn picture of routine exodus. Context and all that remains untold in between these two dates are the only pieces that would spare this exercise of comparison from being a juxtaposition of sorts.
The question of “How did we get here?” is also best answered by history; unhurried in its glorious, detailed manifestation and unraveled with the stinging of brutally honest assessments from our historians and analysts. The pondering of how the people of what was once known as “The Land by the Sea” perished into the sea, divides its rich irony both for the pages of the historians and its poets. The question of “How did we get here?” doesn’t just don an inquisitive feature, but levels a serious suit against the apparent acts of injustices accrued over the years. And this question lingers, grows and chokes the conscience of all who have looked into and at the daunting reality of the human rights violations of Eritreans today.
As it pertains to the exodus of Eritrean citizens, it is often discussed as a neat equation of the push and pull phenomenon. The “push” argument is often understood as a cause that fashions itself as a crisis of the times. When a nation functions lawlessly, however, the “push” factor is not a phase but a consistent and systematic mechanism of rejection & ejection of the citizens by the State. And the decision of a citizen to live in exile, in this context, is an intersection waiting to be crossed and that intersection is not where one is introduced to a motive, but discovers an otherwise unnecessary opportunity to pursue a better life in exile. The Eritrean youth, a majority of those in exodus, is either born into or grows up in a system that, by its very nature of injustice, produces a perpetually uprooted state of being. When one waits for the day to escape lawlessness, that soul’s investment is in a just and peaceful future outside the homeland. If lawlessness compels the citizens of a nation to abandon their country, then the exodus of the citizens is as much of a quest for justice as it is an escape from injustice. Just as much, any aspect of injustice that perpetuates the exodus of its citizens is nothing less than a criminal act that, in essence, can be argued as a case of a masked deportation en masse. It may not be a legal phrase, but what adequately expresses this reality is “Kid aytbelo kemzkheid gbero”: a Tigrigna adage that conveys a deliberate action that executes its aim indirectly. In this case, the PFDJ regime’s action perpetuates the people’s exile.
Exodus is a label that must be unpacked and examined thoroughly; it is not merely people en route, but a set of tangible and abhorrently real testimonies of people with wounds, victims of and witnesses to gruesome violations. When citizens are stripped of their rights to due process, to free elections, to pursue a livelihood, to enjoy their basic liberties and the consequences of such deprivations are deliberate acts and policies of the State, then the consequences that befall on the citizens and what can be leveled against them is not purely circumstantial. But, of course, the mission here is clear: we are here to identify concrete stories of abominable violations of the human rights of Eritreans so that we can provide the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea (COI) what it requires to unequivocally indict those responsible. A sober, meticulous and careful work is what we must engage in and its success is critically dependent on the testimonies of courageous Eritreans everywhere.
The Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea was established because a number of Eritrean activists worked tirelessly over the years to expose the human rights violations of Eritreans to the international community and specifically the UN Human Rights Council. Human Rights Concern-Eritrea was instrumental in forming the necessary connections to ensure this historic decision was expedited, in light of the current human rights situation in Eritrea as well as the tragedies faced by those fleeing. It must be noted without any equivocation, however, that the COI on Eritrea is established as the result of every activist who raised awareness of the injustices and crimes of the regime; every journalist who sought credible news to report; every ordinary Eritrean who provided support and encouragement to these efforts and most importantly every victim and family member who spoke publicly about their personal suffering.
It takes courage to give testimony on behalf of oneself or on behalf of those whose rights were violated by PFDJ. And yes, there may be certain deterrents that discourage one from speaking out; the sense of shame or betrayal are examples of familiar cultural offenses. Nevertheless, the courage to speak out, in this case, is just as much a quest for justice on behalf of an entire nation as it is on behalf of oneself and other victims. To stand up for your rights and for those of your countrywomen and men, is to stand up for the future welfare of the nation that thousands have bled, died and sacrificed for.
While it is important that victims obtain justice for the grave human rights violations they endured, the significance of the COI goes beyond those in the Diaspora able to share their stories. Those who died at the hands of the regime and those still languishing in prisons are obviously not able to come forward and testify. The responsibility to restore dignity to their lives and hold the responsible parties accountable lies with us. Victims should be encouraged to come forward and speak openly about their experience; victims’ families should share their suffering and the rest of us should commend their courage to represent the truth, regardless of a possible hostile reception. As Eritreans used to masking our fears in shame, we are obligated to support and encourage them to come forward and validate this new era of openness instead of clinging to destructive secrecy. It is within our power to influence what the outcome of the COI will be and with power comes responsibility; in this case, we are responsible to the victims of the current Eritrean government, both alive and deceased.
That the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea is a United Nations construct and thereby deemed untrustworthy may be a valid concern of some Eritreans on both sides of the political aisle. However, this notion can be challenged with vigilance and engagement by all of us, particularly the justice seeking community. What must be emphasized is that the findings and decisions of the COI depend solely on the testimonies and evidence provided by Eritreans. This effort to obtain justice for our victimized brothers and sisters may not conform to the self-reliant and anti-external intervention ideal Eritreans are attached to but it is currently the only legal platform afforded to these victims and their families. As the daily headlines remind us, our youth are fleeing the country to avoid being subjected to various human rights violations and our tragic reality is that this solution is neither safe nor sustainable. The COI will allow the voices of these youth and others to be heard and hopefully hold the criminal element of PFDJ accountable by exposing the abusers and bringing justice to the victims, with the hopes that collective healing and reconciliation are what follows.
We encourage you to visit our website: www.coi-eritrea.org, stay in touch, join us as we continue to work on behalf of those victimized.
The EPDP third regional Congress of North America was held at the backdrop of the unique Frankfurt Festival of Aug. 2014. Representatives of the congress began arriving in the City of Chicago via air and land from near and far corners of the United States and Canada not to mention some of our members who suffered waiting in airports due to unexpected flight cancellations. Though there was a delay, most of them made it to the congress.
On the morning of 9/27, after Kaleab Kiflegiorgis, a member of the preparatory committee gave a brief welcome speech and Woldu Negasi, chairman of the preparatory committee thanked the outgoing zoba committee and highlited the important role of Kaleab and Mahari Berhe in the preparatory committee, the official kick off of the congress began. According to the wishes of the preparatory committee, Alem Yohannes, member of the central committee and deputy of foreign affairs in the U.S. recognized by name the following individuals for their special contributions to our party like compatriots Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, who was imprisoned for seven years before independence by EPLF, and later member of EPDP central committee, now abducted by an unknown enemy whose whereabouts not yet known to us. At this point, Alem reminded the congress that until we find him efforts shall not stop. Dr. Gebremeskel, Antonio Tesfai, Zahaye Aria, Woldu Negasi, Tesfai Degiga, Girmai Temesgen(Kashi ) and Tesfai Kahsai.
Tesfamichael Yohannes, member of the executive committee and head of the organizational office praised the preparatory committee and the Chicago branch for their tireless work that enabled us to convene the congress.
Then Tesfai Degiga, member of the executive committee and head of economic office read a good wish message from the chairman of EPDP (Mengsteab Asmerom) to the congress. He also recounted the one year anniversary of the Lampadusa tragedy and the dire conditions of our people at home and abroad. Degiga reminded the congress and the reader about the continuous memoranda /petitions of EPDP to International Organizations and individual countries to provide aid towards training the Eritrean youth who are languishing in refugee camps in Sudan, Ethiopia, Israel and others without any skills or future. Tesfai Degiga concluded by wishing the congress success.
After that, brother Yosef Haile, now former chairman of NA, presented a frank report on the two - year experience of the committee. He put it briefly as follows:
· Challenges were experienced and some successes were registered.
· He revealed the weak and strong points of zoba and branhes.
· He set forward to the congress points that have to be improved through discussion and finding solutions for future use.
Teku Tesfai, then treasurer presented the North America congress his financial report as following:
· A total two – year membership fees.
· Monies collected through donations and other campaigns.
· And he depicted the general report of the finances and its management in a table.
The 3rd. congress selected a five - member committee to manage or lead the congress. They are: Alem Yohannes, Woini Woldeselassie, Girmai Temesgen (Kashi), Efrem Taffere and Twolde Mahari. Under the leadership of this committee the congress debated thoroughly on the reports presented by the respective individual zoba leadership. At last the reports were ratified by great majority.
A Self - Assessment Centered Study Was Presented By the Task Force:
This document, the first of its kind in EPDP, was briefed to the congress by brothers, Dr. Gebremeskel and Laine Khasai. It was an in depth study of the activities/inactivities of our North America members.
PS: The task force was assigned by Zoba leadersip.
In turn sister Eritra Alazar, member of EPDP executive committee and head of Eritrean women’s office reminded the congress that are tasks carried on by responsible (interested) members both in the party and zoba levels.
Resolutions And Recommendations Of The Congress:
The 3rd. NA Congress emphasized on the Following:
· The Pastoral Letter of the four Catholic Bishops of Eritrea which the congress renewed its unconditional support.
· The Jan., 2014 heroic attempt of wedi Ali against the dictatorial system in Asmara.
· The 2014 issues raised in the Pretoria Conference, again repeated in Frankfurt and Bologna festivals were solidly supported by the congress.
The North America Congress also re-assured its solidarity with the group known as ”DELAITI FITHI,”
The main contents of the resolutions and recommendations will be posted separately.
With regard to the predicament faced by our refugees, the congress discussed ways and means for solutions however, the consensus reached was to replace the Isaias regime with a democratic system by searching ways of creating connections between the Diaspora and the home front movements in order to strengthen the struggle. Though this may seem a
far - fetched idea, it is the only lasting solution for the refugees and our people in general.
After two long days of discussions and spirited debates the Congress elected its leaders democratically and concluded its task. Members of the congress left the venue with their heads up and morally strong.
Svensk-eritreansk samarbetsorganisation för demokratiutveckling
Den 3 oktober är, 1 år sedan omkring 360 flyktingar från Eritrea som drunknade i medelhavet vid Italien - Lampedusakusten.
Svensk-eritreansk samarbetsorganisation för demokratiutveckling
Det var det största flyktingkatastrofen som dragit världs uppmärksamhet. Innan dess som inte hade uppmärksammats och efter denna tid också fortsätter flyktingar att drunkna många gånger vid deras flyktväg till Europa via Libyen och andra länder vid Medelhavet.
Manifestation, för minne på Ett Års Sorg - Lampedusa Katastrofen!
Den Svensk - Eritreansk Samarbetsorganisation för Mänskliga rättigheter i samarbete med många civila organisationer kommer att hålla minnes manifestation vid Sergelstorg lördagen den 27 september 2014. I Sverige finns flera flyktingar som har överlevt Lampedusa katastrofen Idag. Bland dem finns Adal som förlurade sin bror och han skriver bok om Lampedusa katastrofen. Vid manifestationen ska delta flera religiösa ledare och politiker samt de som överlevde katastrofen.
Vi ska tända ljus till minne av dem som miste livet i Lampedusa.
Vi skickar denna inbjudan till er att uppvakta minnesstund tillsammans
Datum: Lördagen den 27 september 2014
Tid: 18.30 - 21.30
Plats: Sergelstorg - T- Centralen
Kontakta: Alazar Hagos 070-7223289 - Yosief Yohannes 070-863 2965
Swedish-Eritrean organization for democracy On October 3, is 1 year since about 360 refugees from Eritrea who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea at the coast of Lampedusa
It was the largest refugee catastrophe which attracted worldwide attention. Prior to that which had not been recognized, and since then also continuing refugees drowning many times during their escape route to Europe via Libya and other Mediterranean countries.
Candlelight vigil for the memory of a year's Grief - Lampedusa disaster
The Swedish - Eritrean Cooperative Organization for Human Rights in cooperation with many civil organizations will hold commemorative evening at Sergel's Square on Saturday 27 September 2014 In Sweden there are many refugees who have survived the catastrophe of Lampedusa today. Among them is Adal who lost his beloved brother, and now he writes book on Lampedusa disaster. At the commemoration will attend several religious leaders and politicians, and those who survived the disaster.
We will light candles in memory of those who lost their lives in Lampedusa. We invite all concerned to participate in this commemoration Date: Saturday, September 27, 2014 Time: 18:30 to 21:30 Location: Sergelstorg - T Center
With best regards,
Today marks the 13th year since 11 of the members of the G-15, high ranking officials and prominent leaders of the EPLF were arbitrarily arrested after they called for the implementation of the 1997 ratified constitution. Their arrests were preceded and followed by the arrests of many innocent Eritreans including most of the editors and journalist of the fledgling private newspapers which also were closed. All of them have never been officially accused of any crime and have never been brought before any court of law. They have been denied any family visitation and they have never had any legal representation whatsoever. They are detained in remote area called Ela-Ero and other secrete prisons and usually put in solitary confinement. They are believed to be held in very degrading conditions including psychological and physical torture. They are denied medical treatment and most them had chronic medical conditions such as asthma, and diabetes.
In a message addressed to Mr. Stefan Loefven, chairman of the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP), the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) expressed satisfaction in the parliamentary election success scored by the fraternal Swedish party which is now in the process of forming a coalition government with parties of similar vision.
A group of three Eritrean Peoples’ Democratic Party’s youth prepared an inclusive and a very reach exhibition in the city of Oslo, Norway with the aim of providing to the Norwegian community and Authorities direct information about the ill condition in Eritrea. The exhibition was expanded for 9 days i.e. from 23 – 29 August 2014 in one of the famous public Norwegian libraries called ‘Deichmans Biblioteket’. In these exhibition visiting days, many library customers have got vast information about the current sad human condition in Eritrea. The project contained around 90 pictures representing devastating humanitarian, economic, political, cultural state in their homeland. Some of the pictures on the inhumanly treating of Eritrean youth by Bedewing and some Eritreans in their way to exile created an agony in the minds of the visitors.
The National programme of the Eritrean Peoples’ Democratic Party in its summarized form also was presented as a part of the exhibition so as to show there are national efforts to transfer the country into democratic and constitutional state if it is assisted by the world community.
In addition to the pictorial show the three exhibitors, Issaias Hagos, Yisias Gebremariam and Feven Temesgen gave brief oral explanation for all the visitors. These brave youth in their explanation illustrated that the only cause for the flooding of Eritreans to exile is the dictatorial regime in the power and its inhuman leadership. The three youth have got moral and courage from their visitors as a reward for their. This exhibition has been conducted for its second time in Norway. Some few months before, it was shown in the northern party of Norway, in the province of Finnmark, in the town of Vasså.
In a memorandum dated 10 September 2014, the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) paid gratitude to the Government of Norway for comprehensive response on the condition of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Norway, and encouraged Norwegian authorities to take appropriate measures against those Eritrean refugees who violate asylum conditions by establishing relations with the regime in Asmara and by visiting Eritrea soon after obtaining the permission to stay in Norway.
Responding to EPDP’s memo of 26 June, the Norwegian Government informed the EPDP in a letter dated 2 September 2014 that a Norwegian delegation visited Asmara on 13-14 June for a dialogue on “reasons for migration from Eritrea”. The letter also stated that Norway is considering with “grave seriousness” the visit to Eritrea by Eritrean refugees soon after obtaining political asylum in Norway.
The EPDP memo stated that taking measures against everyone who travels to countries neighboring Eritrea “will require caution” because many Eritrean refugees travel to the Sudan to meet their family members in the Sudan for many of those families in Eritrea come to the Sudan for medical services which are not available in Eritrea.
The EPDP memo noted that Norway and other countries can ask Eritrean opposition organizations to find out if the concerned persons travelling to the Sudan are members or not of the Eritrean organizations opposed to the regime in Asmara. The EPDP memo further asserted that sympathizers of the regime do not deserve political asylum and legal protection, and reassured the Norwegian authorities “full support in taking the intended measures to reveal those who violate conditions for their protection and then work with the regime in Asmara or travel to Eritrea using different routes”.
By Bologna Forum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Bologna, Italy – September 2, 2014) – Eritrean organizations, civic groups, and individual activists came together for a second time in the historic city of Bologna to accelerate the establishment of a united national front against the dictatorship and for democracy in Eritrea.
Held under the theme of Eritrean Solutions for Eritrean Problems, the Summit was endorsed by twelve organizations most which sent their representatives. These were:
· Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE)
· Eritreans For Action (E4A)
· Eritrean Forum for Change (EFC)
· Eritrean Independent Democratic Movement (EIDM)
· Eritrean Movement for Change (EMC)
· Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Right (EMDHR)
· Eritrean National Democratic Front (ENDF)
· Eritrean People Democratic Party (EPDP)
· Eritrean Youth Solidarity for change (EYSC)
· Forum for National Dialogue (FND) (Medrek)
During the four day summit that took place from August 29 – September 1, 2014 participants who came from all over the world worked diligently on a framework that will enable the progressive forces to deliver on their objectives and advance the cause for democratic Eritrea in concrete and measurable terms.
The Summit reinforced the importance of 1) Emboldening pro-democracy forces inside Eritrea; 2) Mobilizing the silent majority; and 3) Bringing the younger generation and women into leadership positions. It also stressed the immediate need for a national vision for development, national reconciliation, and international cooperation and solidarity.
To facilitate these and other important priorities, the Summit established a Task Force to immediately start working on 1) Building a United National Movement; 2) National Dialogue and Reconciliation; 3) Building a Formidable Media; 4) Responding to Refugee Crisis; 5) Mass Mobilization; 6) Building International Solidarity 7) Involving Creative Artists. The Summit also adapted the resolutions of Bologna 2013 and the Pretoria Summit Declaration.
With the contribution of its many participants, the Bologna Forum succeeded in putting in place a solid foundation for formation of a United National Movement that is able to mobilizing and harnessing resources, skills, and capacities of Eritreans to advance towards a democratic transition driven from within Eritrea.
Sverige har beordrat förstesekreteraren vid diktaturen Eritreas ambassad att lämna landet, erfar TT.
– Ett väldigt, väldigt bra beslut, säger riksdagsledamoten Arhe Hamednaca (S) och hävdar att mannen styrt flyktingspionage.
Diplomaten fick 48 timmar på sig att lämna landet.
– Jag kan bekräfta att en utländsk diplomat har blivit ombedd att lämna landet, men jag kan inte gå in på anledningen, säger UD:s kommunikationschef Charlotta Ozaki Macías.
UD har också som policy att inte säga vilket land en utvisad diplomat kommer ifrån.
TT har flera av varandra oberoende källor som bekräftar att det rör sig om den eritreanske förstesekreteraren.
– Det har varit på gång länge att en eritreansk diplomat skulle utvisas, säger en källa mot löfte om att vara anonym.
Förstesekreteraren är enligt samstämmiga uppgifter till TT den som i praktiken leder ambassaden.
Den svensk-eritreanske riksdagsledamoten Arhe Hamednaca (S) välkomnar utvisningen.
– Jag gläder mig åt det här. Det är ett väldigt, väldigt bra beslut, säger han.
Han pekar ut diplomaten som en nyckelperson på ambassaden som ytterst ansvarat för flyktingspionage i hela Norden.
Enligt Arhe Hamednaca är Eritreas beskickning ingen ambassad i egentlig mening, utan ett verktyg för att terrorisera demokratiska krafter.
– Och för att samla in pengar på olika sätt för att regimen ska överleva. Det här är en tydlig signal att Sverige inte är en plattform för en tyranni, tillägger han.
Utvisningen av en enskild diplomat är en av de skarpaste markeringarna som den svenska regeringen kan använda sig av och det är väldigt ovanligt, enligt Jan Hallenberg, professor i statsvetenskap vid Försvarshögskolan.
– Den svenska regeringen signalerar att relationerna till Eritrea är ansträngda och att denne diplomat eller någon annan diplomat har betett sig på ett sätt som inte är acceptabelt enligt svenska normer, säger Jan Hallenberg.
– Steg ett är att utvisa en diplomat, steg två att utvisa flera, steg tre utvisa hela ambassaden och steg fyra att säga upp de diplomatiska förbindelser. Men de här sista stegen, då är det förberedelser för krig och det kan det ju inte vara frågan om.
Han menar att det antagligen har någon form av koppling till den fängslade svensk-eritreanske journalisten Dawit Isaak.
– Min gissning är de på något sätt spionerat eller motverkat andra eritreaner som finns i Sverige eller möjligt vid den här Free Dawit Isaak-gruppen. Men det är ju bara en gissning.
FP:s utrikespolitiske talesperson Fredrik Malm är engagerad i frågor som rör Eritrea.
– Det är välkommet att Sverige vidtar åtgärder mot Eritrea. Detta bör vara ett första steg. Målet måste vara att den ekonomiska indrivning Eritrea ägnar sig åt i Sverige upphör.
Många svensk-eritreaner vittnar om hur ambassaden pressar dem att betala en särskild exilskatt på två procent av inkomsten - annars får de inte ID-handlingar, deras anhöriga i hemlandet råkar illa ut, hävdar de.
TT har sökt företrädare för den eritreanska ambassaden i Sverige för en kommentar, men inte lyckats nå någon.
The new EU High Representative Mogherini with the outgoing Lady Ashton
In a congratulatory message sent to former Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini for becoming the new High Representative for the European Union, the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) asked the EU to give “appropriate attention to the ever worsening situation in Eritrea” and help Eritreans to stop their country’s ongoing slide o the worst.