July 2, 2019 News

The UK welcomed Eritrea’s increasing engagement with the Human Rights Council, but called for Eritrea to respect freedom of religion or belief & release all those in arbitrary detention.

flags UN Geneva

Thank you, Mr Vice-President,

The United Kingdom thanks Ms. Kravetz, for her report and her work over the past year. We are disappointed that the Government of Eritrea, as a member of this Council, has not engaged with the Special Rapporteur, or her predecessors.

We welcome Eritrea’s increasing engagement with the Human Rights Council and encourage the Government to strengthen its cooperation with the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in order to achieve improvements in the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Eritrea remains a priority country for the United Kingdom’s work on human rights. We renew calls for the Government of Eritrea to reform the national service system, implement the constitution, respect freedom of religion or belief, respect freedom of expression and release all those in arbitrary detention. We strongly support the Council’s continued focus on these issues.

The UK agrees with the Special Rapporteur’s report of 16 May. We agree with the areas the Special Repporteur identifies as being unaddressed and urge the Eritrean government to use the benchmarks as a tool for achieving meaningful and lasting progress on human rights.

Special Rapporteur,

We note the benchmarks you included in your report. How do you think these could be best used at an operational level, nationally and internationally?

Thank you, Mr Vice-President.

Liberty Magazine Issue No. 57

Wednesday, 03 July 2019 09:33 Written by

June 30, 2019 8:39 am

The Transitional Military Council (TMC) accepted the joint proposal made by the African Union and the Ethiopian envoys and called for talks to form the executive bodies.

The nine-page proposal provides to form a sovereign council composed of 15 members. Seven to be designated by the TMC and seven others by the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC).

The sides have to agree on an additional civilian member to ensure the principle of civilian majority in the council.

The Transitional government will be formed of technocrats selected by a prime minister who is designated by the FFC. The premier will select his ministers in consultation with the opposition, except for the defence and interior ministers who will be designated by the TMC.

The draft agreement says the parties once they endorsed the proposal they will engage in talks on the outstanding issues particularly the composition of the transitional legislative council.

In a short statement released by its spokesperson Shams al-Din Kabbashi, the TMC declared its acceptance of the joint proposal, after studying it for two days.

“A number of observations emerged, but in general, it is considered a viable proposal to negotiate a final agreement leading to the formation of transitional government institutions,” he said.

“The Military Council sincerely looks forward to the immediate start of a serious and sincere negotiation that ends with a national consensus,” he further added.

The FFC had accepted the Ethiopian proposal which was similar to this with the difference that 67% of the legislative council members will be appointed by the opposition groups.

After accepting to concede the majority at the Sovereign Council to the opposition forces, the military council said it would not accept that the FFC control the parliament and want to renegotiate its percentage of 33%.

The coalition of the opposition forces did not yet issue a joint statement on the joint proposal as many of its factions refuse to make further concessions to the military council.

However, the National Umma Party (NUP) of Sadiq al-Mahdi has issued a statement welcoming the joint proposal and vowed to work with its allies to adopt a common position.

“We appeal to Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, leader of the SPLM-North, and Abdel-Wahid Mohamed al-Nur, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, to respond to this initiative,” further said the statement.

Regarding the reservations made by some opposition groups towards the joint proposal, the NUP said it should be settled by the internal initiatives of the Sudanese mediators.

“We will make specific proposals to help fill those gaps,” further stressed the statement.

The opposition party, also, called on its partisans and supporters to take part in the first big demonstration the FFC plan to organize on 30 June.

source: Agencies

Source=http://smc.sd/en/military-council-accepts-au-ethiopian-proposal-to-settle-sudans-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=military-council-accepts-au-ethiopian-proposal-to-settle-sudans-crisis

 

UN expert urges Eritrea to allow religious institutions to operate freely and respect the right of freedom of religion

GENEVA (21 June 2019) ‑ The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea has expressed serious concern over the curtailment of Catholic Church activities in the country and the arbitrary arrest and detention of members of Orthodox and Christian congregations in recent weeks.

“These actions show that, despite the improved regional climate for peace and security, the human rights situation in Eritrea remains unchanged,” said Daniela Kravetz. “I urge Eritrea to live up to its international commitments as a member of the Human Rights Council and allow religious institutions to operate freely and all Eritreans to exercise their right to freedom of religion within the country.”

On 12 June 2019, the Eritrean authorities ordered the seizure of all health centres managed by the Catholic Church. According to the information received, in some instances, soldiers were posted outside the health facilities, patients were ordered to go home, and health staff threatened.

“The seizure of these health facilities will negatively impact the right to health of the affected populations, in particular those in remote rural areas. By curtailing the activities of the Catholic Church, the Eritrean authorities are restricting the right of their citizens to enjoy quality health care,” the UN expert said.

The Catholic Church manages some 40 hospitals and health centres in the country, mainly in rural areas, and some of these centres operate inside monasteries. Most provide free health services and many have operated since the 1990s.

The Special Rapporteur said the move by the authorities follows a call by the Catholic Church for genuine dialogue on peace and reconciliation in Eritrea. In a pastoral letter issued on 29 April, Eritrea’s four Catholic bishops had called on the authorities to adopt a comprehensive truth and reconciliation plan to promote dialogue and strengthen peacebuilding. The letter also urged the authorities to implement reforms so that Eritreans would stop fleeing their country.

The Special Rapporteur also received reports that, on 13 June, security forces arrested five Orthodox priests from the Debre Bizen monastery. The priests ‑ three over 70 years old ‑ were allegedly arrested for opposing the government’s interference in the affairs of the Church.

In addition, Kravetz received reports that, last month, the Eritrean authorities arrested Christians for practicing their faith. On 17 May, around 30 Pentecostal Christians were reportedly arrested during prayer meetings at different locations in Godeif, south of the capital Asmara. Around 10 May, security agents reportedly arrested around 141 Christians, including 104 women and 14 children, during a private gathering in the Mai Temenai district of Asmara. Some of those arrested were reportedly taken to Adi Abeito prison, while others were held by the police. Around 50 of these detainees have reportedly since been released, and the remaining individuals are said to still be in prison without charge.

Kravetz stressed that the arrest of individuals for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of religion and belief is a clear violation of Eritrea’s obligations under international human rights law. She recalled that freedom of religion is central to the ability of Eritreans to live together peacefully. “I urge the Government to allow the Eritrean people to exercise their right to freedom of religion and to release those who have been imprisoned for their religious beliefs.”

The Special Rapporteur will share her findings in relation to the situation of human rights in Eritrea during an interactive dialogue scheduled to take place on 2 July 2019 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

ENDS

Ms. Daniela Kravetz (Chile) was appointed in October 2018 as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. She is an attorney with extensive experience in human rights, accountability, gender-based violence and access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings. Her experience covers countries in Latin America, Africa, and the former Yugoslavia

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts. 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights

Source=https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24721&LangID=E

June 27, 2019 News

.- The head of the Eritrean Catholic Church has called for the Church’s faithful to observe the current fasting season in response to the government’s seizure and closing of 22 Church-run health clinics earlier this month.

Source: Catholic News Agency

Asmara Catholic Church

Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of the Eritrean Archeparchy of Asmara wrote in a June 22 letter that “only the Lord can console us and resolve our problems.”

The Eritrean Catholic Church observes the Apostles’ Fast – a fasting season between Pentecost and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul – this year from June 25 through July 11. The Church uses the Alexandrian rite and the Coptic calendar, on which the feast of Saints Peter and Paul is not celebrated until the Gregorian calendar’s July 12.

The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa has also condemned the clinics’ seizure.

 

Bishop Charles Kasonde of Solwezi, chair of AMECEA, wrote to the Eritrean bishops saying, “I hereby extend my heart-felt message of solidarity to you and the entire Catholic family in Eritrea over the confiscation of the health institutions owned by the Catholic Church.”

“May the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ nurture you with the hope and give you the necessary courage and stamina to stand strong in defence of the rights of the Church and God’s people in Eritrea,” he added.

In June, military forces arrived at the Church’s 22 clinics, telling patients to return to their homes, and subsequently guarding the buildings.

A letter from the Church to the health ministry after the seizure said that “the government can say it doesn’t want the services of the Church, but asking for the property is not right.” It added that the Church’s social services cannot be characterized as opposition to the government.

Eritrea is a one-party state whose human rights record has frequently been deplored.

According to the BBC, analysts believe the seizures were retaliatory, after the Church in April called for reforms to reduce emigration. The bishops had also called for national reconciliation.

Government seizure of Church property is not new, however.

 

A 1995 decree restricting social and welfare projects to the state has been used intermittently since then to seize or close ecclesial services.

In July 2018, an Eritrean Catholic priest helping immigrants and refugees in Italy told EWTN that authorities had recently shut down eight free Catholic-run medical clinics. He said authorities claimed the clinics were unnecessary because of the presence of state clinics.

Christian and Muslim schools have also been closed under the 1995 decree, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2019 annual report.

Eritrea has been designated a Country of Particular Concern since 2004 for its religious freedom abuses by the US Department of State.

Many Eritreans, especially youth, emigrate, due to a military conscription, and a lack of opportunities, freedom, education, and health care.

A July 2018 peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which ended a conflict over their mutual border, led to an open border which has allowed for easier emigration.

Source=https://eritreahub.org/eritrean-catholics-dedicate-apostles-fast-to-pray-over-clinics-closure

June 27, 2019 Amnesty International, News

27 June 2019, 03:01 UTC

Source: Amnesty International

As Eritrea chairs the UN Human Rights Council, government officials and supporters abroad are harassing and intimidating exiled human rights defenders and activists simply for criticizing the oppressive regime, shows a new Amnesty International briefing out today.

The briefing, Repression without borders found that human rights defenders are particularly at risk in Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, where Amnesty International documented attacks by Eritrean government officials and supporters on government critics, including an Eritrean Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Father Mussie Zerai, and former BBC Africa Editor Martin Plaut.

For many HRDs, fleeing Eritrea has not provided them with much respite from the repression many people die trying to escape.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

“For many HRDs, fleeing Eritrea has not provided them with much respite from the repression many people die trying to escape. They have to constantly look over their shoulders and watch every word they say, afraid of the long arm of the Eritrean government which evidently extends across borders,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Supporters of Eritrea’s ruling party and government officials use all manner of tactics to harass and intimidate critics of President Isaias Afwerki’s government and its human rights violations. These tactics include death threats, physical assault and spreading of lies.

They have to constantly look over their shoulders and watch every word they say, afraid of the long arm of the Eritrean government which evidently extends across borders.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

The briefing, which examines the period from 2011 to May 2019, also highlights the authorities’ use of the militant youth wing of the ruling party to “fight the country’s enemies” in Europe and the USA.

In April this year, Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Gebre Meskel, the ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, and his counterpart in Kenya, Beyene Russom, took to Twitter and harassed, intimidated and disparaged organizers and participants of a conference in London on ‘Building Democracy in Eritrea’. In his tweet, Minister Gebre Meskel dismissed the organizers as “Eritrean quislings”.

Such Twitter tirades by government officials clearly show the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and criticism by anyone anywhere.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

“Such Twitter tirades by government officials clearly show the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and criticism by anyone anywhere, even at a time when the country is chairing the UN Human Rights Commission,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

Militant party supporters

Supporters of Eritrea’s ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), and notably its youth wing, the Young People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (YPFDJ), are at the forefront of these attacks on Eritrean human rights defenders and activists in Europe.

In deciding a defamation case in Amsterdam, a Dutch court in Feb 2016 ruled as follows:

“…YPFDJ receives instructions from the PFDJ, that the YPFDJ has (support of) the regime of Afewerki as its goal and that members of the YPFDJ are acting as informants for (the embassies of) the regime in Eritrea. The YPFDJ can thus, at this point, be called the extended arm of a dictatorial regime.”

Winta Yemane, born in Italy and eager to connect with her Eritrean roots, joined the youth wing while in high school, and participated in their 2011 annual conference held in Oslo, Norway. When she articulated her wishes for the country’s constitution, human rights and an independent judiciary, she quickly found herself on the wrong side of senior government officials in attendance.

The officials said that I am a victim of misinformation by the western propaganda and enemies of Eritrea.
Winta Yemane, Eritrean based in Italy

“The officials said that I am a victim of misinformation by the western propaganda and enemies of Eritrea. They also said that my comments do not have weight because I am a minor. Three of the organizers even threatened to throw me out of the conference,” Winta told Amnesty International.

Upon returning home to Milan, she was stalked for a couple of weeks, received threatening phone calls from unknown numbers and was the victim of a smear campaign on social media.

Several other Eritreans living in the diaspora including Daniel Mekonnen, Director of the association of Eritrean lawyers in exile and Father Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 for his work with migrants, also said they found themselves on the wrong side of the ruling party’s supporters and endured similar harassment and attacks.

Eritrea’s Ambassador to Japan Estifanos Afeworki praised the journalist’s attack on Twitter.

This treatment is, however, not reserved for Eritreans. Former BBC Africa Editor Martin Plaut on 30 November 2018 was lured into a meeting with an Eritrean “source” at the British Library in London and doused with a bucket of liquid for his journalistic work on human rights in the country, and called a “traitor”. Eritrea’s Ambassador to Japan Estifanos Afeworki praised the journalist’s attack on Twitter.

Nairobi: “Subversive, Terrorists”

In Nairobi in 2013, following an initiative to set up and register a diaspora civic organisation – the Eritrean Diaspora for East Africa (EDEA), the Eritrean Embassy revoked the Eritrean passport of Chairman and Co-founder Hussein Osman Said and had him arrested in South Sudan by alleging that he was a terrorist working to sabotage the Eritrean government.

EDEA officials told Amnesty International when they tried to launch the organisation in February 2015, two people who identified themselves as members of Kenya’s National Intelligence Service ordered them not to proceed with the event, alleging that they had intelligence that EDEA had been established to overthrow the Eritrean government.

Eritrea’s use of its embassies abroad to harass and repress its critics must not be allowed to continue.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

Such baseless claims against activities planned by Eritreans in Kenya continued in 2017, when the Eritrean Embassy wrote to the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) claiming some 13 guests invited for an art exhibition were “subversive”. UNON subsequently barred the 13 from entering the UN complex at Gigiri, where the exhibition was taking place.

“Eritrea’s use of its embassies abroad to harass and repress its critics must not be allowed to continue,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

 
 

“Ambachew had called a meeting to discuss ways of stopping General Asamnew from recruiting more people for his paramilitary forces. The meeting was also intended to discuss firing him.”

Source: The Economist

Mysterious unrest shines a spotlight on opposition to Abiy Ahmed, the reformist prime minister.

A YEAR AGO, on June 23rd 2018, Ethiopia’s newly-inaugurated prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, took to the podium wearing a bright green T-shirt. Smiling and waving he offered hope to the tens of thousands of people who had flocked to a rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, in support of his promise to bring democracy to a country that has seen precious little of it.

Almost to the day a year later he again addressed the nation, this time on national television wearing army uniform to declare, stony faced, that his government had just thwarted a coup. It was a sharp reminder of the fragility of his democratic revolution.

Abiy said that the putsch had originated in the northern region of Amhara, Ethiopia’s second-biggest by population, and was the work of General Asamnew Tsige, Amhara’s head of security. The prime minister’s office claimed that General Asamnew was responsible for an attack on government offices in the regional capital, Bahir Dar, on June 22nd in which the Amhara region’s president, Ambachew Mekonnen, and other senior officials were shot dead.

In a separate attack in Addis Ababa, the army’s chief of staff, Seare Mekonnen, was allegedly shot and killed in his home by a bodyguard. Also killed in this attack was a retired general who had been visiting. The government said both attacks were linked, and claimed the coup was an attempt “to scupper the hard won peace of the region”.

Since then the government has shut off the internet and released few details of the plot. But, from what little information has emerged the incidents look more like an unplanned outbreak of violence than a calculated attempt to seize power.

General Asamnew was a former political prisoner sentenced in 2009 for his alleged role in another failed coup. He was released and appointed by Abiy last year in an attempt to reach out to the opposition and include it in positions of power. But General Asamnew provoked alarm with his strident ethnic nationalism and talk of defending Amhara territory against incursions by members of Ethiopia’s other ethnic groups. Underpinning such concerns has been a worrying spread of ethnic violence and nationalism across the country as Abiy has lifted the repressive hand of one-party rule.

Abiy’s ascent to power was fuelled by rising nationalism among his own ethnic group, the Oromo. They make up about one-third of the population and had felt dominated by the Tigrayans, a group that accounts for less than one-tenth of the population but that had largely called the shots in government since the toppling of a Marxist dictatorship, the Derg, in 1991. Rising Oromo nationalism has been mirrored in other groups, including the Tigrayans and the Amhara, who make up about one-quarter of Ethiopia’s population and had once ruled the roost under its last emperor, Haile Selassie, deposed in 1974.

General Asamnew raised further eyebrows when he began strengthening the region’s paramilitary forces, including a special police unit that answered directly to him. It was not just the federal government that seemingly wanted to clip his wings but also Ambachew, the region’s more moderate president. People familiar with the events on June 22nd say that Ambachew had called a meeting to discuss ways of stopping General Asamnew from recruiting more people for his paramilitary forces. The meeting was also intended to discuss firing him.

It seems that General Asamnew sent in men from his special police force to the meeting; there are also some suggestions that he may have been present outside the building at the time. It is not clear whether he intended for his men to open fire and kill the region’s president or the confrontation spiralled bloodily out of control. General Asamnew fled immediately afterwards—a further indication that this may not have been an organised putsch—but was tracked down and killed by the army in Amhara two days later, according to the government.

There are still many unanswered questions, including how events in Bahir Dar may have been connected to the killing of the head of the national army in his home in Addis Ababa. If the incidents were indeed linked, as the government claims, that would imply some degree of forethought by the plotters and point to the possibility of a wider conspiracy. If that is the case then it would suggest that Abiy faces a threat from elements of the national army.

The political ramifications may be far reaching in a country that hitherto stood out for offering hope of political and economic reform in Africa. Some now expect a campaign to suppress “nationalist” forces in Amhara, including youth groups and opposition movements. This in turn may stoke further resentment in the region, in which many young people are beginning to feel discriminated against by Abiy and his Oromo faction of the ruling coalition. Whatever the exact details of the events on June 22nd, the euphoria that greeted Abiy’s rise to power a year ago is beginning to seem a distant memory.

Source=https://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/the-economist-killings-and-claims-of-an-attempted-coup-rock-ethiopia/

June 23, 2019 News

This week has seen a remarkable gathering in the German city of Dortmund, where the Protestant churches considered a range of topics – including migration.

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The discussions took place against a terrible background: the rise of far-right violence that led to the murder of German politician Walter Lübcke. Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany must rigorously fight rightwing extremism. The chancellor, speaking at the Dortmund annual meeting of Protestant churches, said rightwing extremism must be fought “without any taboo”.

But the Dortmund gathering also looked beyond Europe. The meeting heard from Germany’s Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Niels Annen, as part of a panel on the subject of migration and refugees.

Below is the panel on which Mr Annen spoke and then the presentation by Professor Mirjam van Reisen, followed by an example of the tragic consequences of the EU’s attempts to keep African refugees from Europe’s shores.


African and European views on better migration Focus on migration, integration, recognition

  • What is better migration? Niels Annen, MP, minister of state, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin
  • What is the African view on the Khartoum Process? Dr. Mehari T. Maru, AU-IGAD Chief Strategist
  • The impact of EU migration policy on the local population in East Africa. Dr. Albaqir Alafif Mukhtar, director, Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment, Khartoum, Sudan
  • The Bankrupcy of the Khartoum Process. Prof. Dr. Mirjam van Reisen, International Relations, Innovation and Care, Tilburg, Netherlands
  • Panel discussion with the speakers Moderation: Marina Peter, Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service, Berlin
  • Spokespersons for the audience: Kirsten Mittmann, Bremen Christian Reiser, Berlin
  • Music: Sauti Ya Ushindi, Malula, Tanzania

Presentation Kirchentag 2019

Prof Dr Mirjam van Reisen

Tilburg/Leiden University

22 June 2019

On 3 October 2013 a terrible disaster happened. A boat caught fire, just before the coast of Lampedusa and sank. Many of the 600 people on the boat died, especially the women and children who had been sleeping below deck. There were terrible, terrible stories, among which the story of a young pregnant woman who delivered her baby as she drowned. Her husband, who had been on the deck, survived the tragedy and had to bury his wife and his newborn baby, after the bodies were rescued from the waters of the Mediterranean.

It soon appeared also that the vast majority of the people on the ship were from one single small country in the Horn: Eritrea. A country that rules its people with iron fist, holds in population in permanent forced labour and indefinite cruel and brutal national service. A country which haemorrhages its youth, as very young people, as young as ten years of age, flee the country in order to stay out of national service and forced labour. A country that is involved in the human trafficking of its own people. A human trafficking in which people are cruelly torture and forced to beg for ransom from family members, while they speak on the phone or send out videos to demonstrate their painful ordeal.

Since that tragic day, the EU realized that it needed to establish a policy that would prevent the cruelty of migration and human trafficking that brings people in such terrible jeopardy. Since this event, the European Union and its member states have externalised migration policy. In 2014 it established the Khartoum process – the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative established which provided a new framework for such cooperation. Under this initiative an Emergency Trust Fund of over 4 billion euro was established to support actions under this policy.

Unfortunately, the actions under this policy and the Emergency Trust fund have taken a wrong direction. The Fund sought cooperation through direct and indirect cooperation with regimes and militia forces. Regimes and militia that appeared to be entirely unaccountable. As the Khartoum Process took shape, organisations therefore raised concerns about this policy. They have argued that the European Union failed to achieve its objectives by collaborating with these actors and even worse, seemed to become complicit with systematic and severe human rights abuses conducted by such ‘partners’. Moreover, critics lamented the lack of transparency of the cooperation agreements, the lack of involvement of the European Parliament in approval of the programmes and the lack of civil society and democratic movements in the projects and dialogues.

As part of this policy, both the European Union and individual member states have indirectly relied on external security forces. It has indirectly funded initiatives to train militia security forces to be trained as border guards in Sudan. These policies have directly benefitted and emboldened militia such as Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the former Janjaweed, by their own admission, whilst the RSF continues to commit war crimes in Darfur. This has not been without further consequence. The RSF have allegedly committed systematic and gross human rights violations against the peaceful democratic movement in Sudan, and raped and murdered hundreds of protesters in recent months. Last week alone, protest crackdowns led to over a hundred deaths at the hands of the emboldened RSF as part of the Militia Council. In doing so they have indirectly strengthened their capacities, which has now tragically led to systematic and widespread cruelties including rape and killings to suppress the democratic movement in Sudan.

The European Union has hidden behind the execution of such programmes by third parties. It can no longer do so. The collaboration with various militia in Libya to block migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea has similarly emboldened the exploitation and extortion of refugees. The European Union supports a policy where refugees are blocked to find protection. Last week, I heard it was not possible to visit Libya for a fact-finding mission because of lack of safety. Meanwhile, refugees are deported back with European support to Libya, where no safety is available to them. They are held in captivity under inhumane conditions, lacking food, water, access to health care. I have seen so many pictures of refugees dying in captivity in these terrible filthy camps which offer no protection. If Libya is not safe for us, to look at the situation of refugees, how can it be safe for refugees themselves? We hear terrible stories of the funding being abused in corrupt ways, people being starved, as those who are guarding them take the money and no food is available for refugees held captive in the guarded camps. Libya lacks a rule of law and any funding there is spent without any oversight and accountability.

While the support also sought to solve problems in countries that are at the source of many refugees, such as Eritrea, the fund also took a wrong turn. The Emergency Trust Fund approved a 20 million programme to support the Eritrean regime to building roads, with forced labour, as informed by the European Commission in its ‘Action Fiche’. This is a most flagrant violation of basic human rights. Not only is this morally and legally entirely wrong, it has not worked. Increasing numbers of youth refugees have continued to flee the country trying to escape the indefinite national service built on cruelty and inhumane treatment. By entering into a partnership with third parties and regimes that have been found to commit crimes against humanity and who hold no regards to good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights, the EU is violating its basic legal requirements, and it is undermining its basic values whilst undermining international law.

So where are we now?

The approach of the European Union’s external policy on migration-push-back through the Khartoum process has led to a slew of legal cases which hold that the policy actions are in violation of the laws and regulations of the European Union, its constitutional values and rights, and its international obligations. These include the disregard for the obligation to protect. These include legal actions against:

1) Funding of the notorious Libyan Detention Centres;

2) Support to Libyan Coast Guards;

3) Blocking of rescue efforts in the Mediterranean Sea;

4) Funding of a project using Forced Labour in Eritrea under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa; and

5) General crimes committed by the EU as part of its migration pushback.

The legal initiatives demonstrate a widespread and deep concern that the EU has itself become complicit with the alleged crimes committed by third parties, as a result of the policies supported by the Khartoum process. This is counterproductive in so many ways, and most importantly, is undermining safety and contributing to the flow of refugees and migrants, seeking protection. Larger numbers of people, including many minors, are now fleeing persecution and inhumane treatment in countries such as Eritrea and Sudan and these refugees and migrants are tortured, exploited and extorted after having been pushed back to Libya from the Mediterranean Sea.

Through instruments such as the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, development aid has shifted for the purpose of migration control with little regard for the dynamics at play, within the countries concerned. The Khartoum Process has failed in strengthening European values abroad, and, instead, has strengthened unaccountable militias and regimes, whilst seriously undermining rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and the role of civil society. Moreover, the instrument lacks parliamentary oversight and scrutiny. The European Parliament has remarked that its limited role in oversight over the use of this financial assistance has left Europe with a “democratic deficit”.

Article 21(1) of the Treaties of the European Union state that all international action of the EU will be based on the EU’s core principles, “democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law”. These constitutional values must be at the core of a renewed effort of the EU to play its international role.

Is there an alternative?

Yes there is.

The people of Sudan have demonstrated that civil society is capable of pursuing peaceful processes for transition into democratic governance. This requires support from the European Union to finish the transformation aimed at establishing a democratic civil government that can serve its people. The people in Eritrea are making strides with the movement “Enough is enough”, demanding the end of indefinite national service, which captures people in unending forced labour and slavery. The European Union should support this, as it will solve the root cause of why young minors are leaving that country. International and humanitarian organisations are working diligently to end the plight of people captured by militias and criminal human trafficking that have been emboldened over the past few years to extort and exploit refugees who are seeking safety. The European Union should support these actions that further the values it holds dear and stop push back to Libya given that the conditions for protection are not available.

The Khartoum process was established to address the root causes of migration. The reality is that it has emboldened the criminal exploitation and extortion of refugees and migrants, increased the capacities of unaccountable militia to act with impunity and give increased legitimacy to governments who repress their people and drive them out of their countries. This does not provide a basis for an external policy that strengthens European values, and it will lead to increase the problems in the region and beyond, including those of human trafficking, migration and refugees.

The policy under the Khartoum process is morally bankrupt, it is ineffective in curbing the root causes of migration and it is also undermines the European identity and its soft power abroad.

We are now planning the direction of the European Union in the next period. We look at Germany to play a steadfast role. We urge, Hon. Minister, that you respond to the serious concerns expressed over the impact of ongoing actions of the EU and its member states to fund and cooperate with external actors accused of systematic and severe human rights violations. Failure to do so will not only undermine the fundamental principles and values of the Union but fail to achieve the intended objectives. We therefore ask that the EU retracts the activities under the Khartoum Process and its Trust Fund, established under a seriously flawed policy.

Europe felt the horror and shame when hundreds of people died close to the European coast on 3rd of October 2013.  To prevent this from ever happening again, it will be imperative to set the protection of refugees above all others. To remember the humanity of the father, hoping to meet his child and to congratulate the mother on delivering this new life, but instead mourning their death in the Mediterranean Sea. The future of this father is the future of us all. We must choose life over death. As Europeans we, therefore, must believe that we can develop a policy that protects the humanity, democracy and human rights and rule of law in our continent, our neighbourhood and beyond.

Thank you.

Prof Dr Mirjam van Reisen

In this presentation, I am supported by the following leaders and organizations.

Fr. Mussie Zerai            Prof. Dr. Mirjam van Reisen       Reem Abbas      Koert Debeuf

Nobel-prize Nominee   Tilburg University                     Journalist         Director

Chair Agenzia                Leiden University                                             Tahrir Institute for

Habeshia                      Secretary General EEPA                                                 Middle East Policy Europe 

Signed by:

Majid Maali, exiled Sudanese human rights lawyer

Act for Sudan

Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment (KACE)

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

Connection e.V.

Darfur Bar Association

Eritrea Democratica

Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)

Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)

Europe External Programme with Africa

Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans

Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum (HoACS)

Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)

Ibn Rushd Fund e.V.

Investors Against Genocide

Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur

Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS)

Skills for Nuba MOUNTAINS

Stop Genocide Now (SGN)

Sudanese Community and Information Centre – London

Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG)

Sudan Revolution Support Network – Sweden

June 21, 2019 Eritrea Focus

OPEN LETTER

                                                                                                                        20 June 2019

The closure of the Roman Catholic health centres on 12 June 2019 endangers Eritrean lives

Africa news and the BBC, amongst other news outlets, reported the closure of the health facilities run by the Catholic Church in Eritrea. The Eritrean Government is yet to respond to the stern criticism by the Roman Catholic Church protesting the forced closure of its health facilities in Eritrea.

The Catholic Church in Eritrea issued a strongly worded letter in which it accuses the government of being lawless. The letter bemoaned the forced dismissal of patients and the intimidation of health workers by the soldiers who subsequently took possession of the centres.

By closing the health centres, Isaias has yet again showed the world his total disregard for the wellbeing of the Eritrean people, the rule of law and international norms. Eritrea has become a wild west where the life and death of its citizens is in the hands of one man, Isaias.

Eritrea Focus encourages and supports a world-wide demonstration against this unwarranted and unprovoked attack by the government that endangers the wellbeing of the Eritrean people. This cowedly act proves beyond doubt that Isaias and his clique do not care for the lives of those who are most in need – children, mothers, the elderly and the sick who desperately need medical help. This irresponsible action has yet again exposed Isaias’s thuggery in a profound way.

Eritrea Focus pleads with the Vatican, the International Red Cross and the UN to take action as matter of urgency and demand the government to reverse its decision. The demand should be followed by a visit to Eritrea to ensure the government has reversed its decision.  Huge number of Eritrean lives are at stake by this cowardly act. The international community has the responsibility to act and must act swiftly.

If the government of Eritrean does not reverse its flawed act, friendly countries and human rights organisations should demand the UN to impose economic sanctions on Eritrea. To achieve this, members of the diaspora need to work proactively with the Vatican, friendly countries and partner human rights organisations. We must hit the regime in Asmara where it hurts most because that’s the only thing a mafia regime understands.

It is time for Eritrean diaspora wherever they may be to rise up against this senseless act by the regime – our people’s lives are at stake, and we cannot and must not ignore it. This is the time when the powerful voices of Eritreans in diaspora should reverberate across the world.  The campaigners of “enough is enough” must come out to the streets and raise their voice in solidarity with the Catholic Church.

Eritrea Focus is in contact with governments and international bodies to ensure they are kept informed of the unfolding abusive behaviour of the Eritrean regime and pleading with them (the international community) to act in order to save lives. We encourage other humanitarian organisations to do the same.

The Catholic Church has said the manner in which the health centres were closed down is illegal.  Eritrea Focus will play its part in collaboration with others to take legal action against the Eritrean government in the event of any death as a result of the health centre closures. We see the government action as a crime on innocent and defenceless people. We cannot let this thuggish behaviour to continue unchallenged.

Eritreans in diaspora should seize this moment to condemn the government in the strongest terms. Time to remain silent is long gone – our people’s lives matter!

 

The people of Eritrea will prevail and their suffering must end soon.


Encl.

Bishop’s letter in a rough translation from Tigrinya to English

ጉባኤ ካቶሊካውያን ጳጳሳት ኤርትራ

Council of Catholic Hierarchs – Eritrea

Date: 13.6.2019

Ref. No. 12.06/085/2019

To:

Mrs Amna Nurhussein

Minister of Health

State of Eritrea

Asmara

RE: Institutions of Health Owned by the Catholic Church

Dear Minister,

God’s Peace Be Upon You!

It can be recalled, since 1995, the Catholic Church of Eritrea has informed the Government in writing clarifying its objective and mission about its spiritual and social services activities. As this Church’s life is associated to services, it has never stopped serving the people and has a duty of care to perform its spiritual and material mission. It has the obligation and the right to contribute its share towards the development and building the society of the nation, to practice duty of love and nurture human beings. Its entire work is to serve the people and it is not against the government or the state. The Church wishes neither to compete with the government nor to replace the services provided by it.

It is a fact, verified by history, that in 1982, the Derg regime nationalised by force the Catholic Church centres which provided social services. This was instigated by the spirit of hate, malice, evil-grudge and anti-faith principles that it followed. As the regime was a colonial ruler, we did not expect a good intention from the Derg. We were saddened by the action taken then but we did not lose hope as we had our brothers and sisters struggling for the liberation of our country.

After Independence, as evidenced by Church documents, we made repeated requests to the Eritrean government to return the illegally confiscated Church properties by the Derg regime.

It really saddening us that yesterday, Wednesday, 12.06.2019 government agents (military branch, administration, police, medics) demanded we handover the Catholic Church health institutions located all over our country. We could not comprehend the spirit or intent of this sudden and unexpected action by the government. In some areas, staff deployed by the Church were threatened; in-patients were forcefully dismissed, centres sealed and convents witnessed being guarded by soldiers. How could such a thing happen in a nation where law and order prevails? Is this a proper way for the government to close down Catholic Church health institutions that have served the people for many years?

It would be a different issue if the government says it does not require the Church services and asked us to close them down which would have been unacceptable but nevertheless within its powers. However, demanding the handover Church’s own properties cannot be right nor legal.

The majority of our service centres are based inside our convents. It is not possible for our convents to continue unaffected having the government taken over our service centres. Confiscating Church properties in this way is affecting the very existence of the Church. It also exposes the Church, the clergy, staff and ministers to exile.

We are saddened by the confiscation of our health institutions and wish to make it clear none of our property have been handed over to the government willingly and with our permission but taken from us by force. We fear if the situation continues in the manner it has started in violation of the Church’s rights, the outcome could be grave for all of us. The consequence of confiscating the centres by force is provocative and we wish to inform the government that the Church will not bear responsibility for what may follow.

Finally, now as ever, the Catholic Church is ready for negotiation and mutual understanding. However, everything should be done according to the rule of law and implemented in a dignified manner with respect to all concerned. We therefore appeal to the government that the Church properties are not altered or changed in any way as the legal ownership remains with us, not the government.

God Bless our Nation!

  • The Most Reverend Mengisteab Tesfamariam, Archbishop of Asmara Eparchy – signed
  • The Most Reverend Thomas Osman, Bishop of Barentu Eparchy –signed
  • The Most Reverend Kidane Yebio, Bishop of Keren Eparchy – signed
  • The Most Reverend Fikremariam Hagos, Bishop of Segheneyti Eparchy- signed

CC:

  • Office of PFDJ
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Office of National Security
  • Eritrean Regional Administrators + Sub-Regional Administrators
  • Commissioner of National Eritrean Police + Regional Police
  • Ministry of Religious Affairs

Note: The above is a rough translation of the Eritrean Bishops’ letter from Tigrinya to English

20.06.2019

Source=https://eritreahub.org/eritrea-focus-statement-concerning-the-closure-of-health-facilities-run-by-the-catholic-church-in-eritrea

June 19, 2019 EU, News

His Excellency Donald Tusk, President of the European Council Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 175

B-1048 Bruxelles/Brussel

Belgique/België

By email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cc:

President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani

High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini

Concerning: Appeal for an EU external policy framework based on European values

Brussels, 18 June 2019

Dear Mr. President,

We write to convey our congratulations to your contribution to the European project, as Europeans at heart and African people of goodwill, deeply committed to the brotherhood and long history between our two continents.

During your term as President of the European Council, the European Union and its member states have externalised migration policy through direct and indirect cooperation with regimes and militia forces that are entirely unaccountable.

Processes such as the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative established in 2014, better known as the Khartoum Process, have provided the framework for such cooperation. Since the start of the Khartoum Process, organisations have therefore raised concerns about this policy and the European Union’s complicity with systematic and severe human rights abuses conducted by such ‘partners’, the lack of transparency of the cooperation agreements and the lack of civil society participation in the projects and dialogues.

As part of this policy, both the European Union and individual member states have indirectly relied on external security forces and funded initiatives to train border guards, among others in Sudan and indirectly strengthened capacities to fulfil this role. The European Union has hidden behind the execution of such programmes by third parties.

These policies have directly benefitted and emboldened militia such as Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the former Janjaweed, by their own admission, whilst the RSF continues to commit war crimes in Darfur. This has not been without further consequence. The RSF have allegedly raped and murdered hundreds of protesters in recent months.

Last week alone, protest crackdowns led to over a hundred deaths at the hands of the RSF as part of the Militia Council. The collaboration with various militia in Libya to block migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea has similarly emboldened the exploitation and extortion of refugees, undermining their protection. The support to the Eritrean regime to building roads with forced labour, as informed by the European Commission in its ‘Action Fiche’, is a flagrant violation of basic human rights. Increasing numbers of youth refugees have continued to flee the country trying to escape the indefinite national service built on cruelty and inhumane treatment.

By entering into a partnership with third parties and regimes that have been found to commit crimes against humanity and who hold no regards to good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights, the EU is violating its basic legal requirements, and it is undermining its basic values whilst undermining international law.

The approach of the European Union’s external policy on migration push-back through the Khartoum Process has led to a slew of legal cases which hold that the policy actions are in violation of the laws and regulations of the European Union, its constitutional values and rights, and its international obligations. These include the disregard for the obligation to protect.

These include legal actions against:

1) Funding of the notorious Libyan Detention Centres;

2) Support to Libyan Coast Guards;

3) Blocking of rescue efforts in the Mediterranean Sea;

4) Funding of a project using Forced Labour in Eritrea under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa; and 5) General crimes committed by the EU as part of its migration pushback.

The legal initiatives demonstrate a widespread and deep concern that the EU has itself become complicit with the alleged crimes committed by third parties, as a result of the policies supported by the Khartoum process.

This is counterproductive in so many ways, and most importantly, it is undermining safety and contributing to the flow of refugees and migrants that are seeking protection. Larger numbers of people, including many minors, are now fleeing persecution and inhumane treatment in countries such as Eritrea and Sudan and these refugees and migrants are tortured, exploited and extorted after having been pushed back to Libya from the Mediterranean Sea.

Through instruments such as the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, development aid has been shifted for the purpose of migration control with little regard for the dynamics at play within the countries concerned. The Khartoum Process has failed in strengthening European values abroad, and, instead, has strengthened unaccountable militias and regimes, whilst seriously undermining rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and the role of civil society.

Moreover, the instrument lacks parliamentary oversight and scrutiny. The European Parliament has remarked that its limited role in oversight over the use of this financial assistance has left Europe with a “democratic deficit”.

Article 21(1) of the Treaties of the European Union state that all international action of the EU will be based on the EU’s core principles, “democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law”. These constitutional values must be at the core of a renewed effort of the EU to play its international role.

The people of Sudan have demonstrated that civil society is capable of pursuing peaceful processes for transition into democratic governance. This requires support from the European Union to finish the transformation aimed at establishing a democratic civil government that can serve its people.

The people in Eritrea are making strides with the movement “Enough is enough”, demanding the end of indefinite national service, which captures people in unending forced labour and slavery. The European Union should support this objective, as it will solve the root cause of why young minors are leaving Eritrea. International and humanitarian organisations are working diligently to end the plight of people captured by militias and criminal human trafficking that have been emboldened over the past few years to extort and exploit refugees who are seeking safety.

The European Union should support these actions that further the values it holds dear and stop push back to Libya given that the conditions for protection are not available.

The Khartoum process was established to address the root causes of migration. The reality has emboldened the criminal exploitation and extortion of refugees and migrants, increased the capacities of unaccountable militia to act with impunity and give increased legitimacy to governments who repress their people and drive them out of their countries. This does not provide a basis for an external policy that strengthens European values, and it will lead to increase the problems in the region and beyond, including those of human trafficking, migration and refugees.

In planning the direction of the European Union in the next period, we urge that you respond to the serious concerns expressed over the impact of ongoing actions of the EU and its member states to fund and cooperate with external actors accused of systematic and severe human rights violations. Failure to do so will not only undermine the fundamental principles and values of the Union, but fail to achieve the intended objectives. We therefore ask that the EU retracts the activities under the Khartoum Process and its Trust Fund, established under a seriously flawed policy.

On behalf of all of the undersigned organisations,

Fr. Mussie Zerai Nobel-prize Nominee Chair Agenzia Habeshia

Signed by:

Prof. Dr. Mirjam van Reisen Tilburg University

Leiden University

Secretary General EEPA

Reem Abbas Koert Debeuf Journalist Director

Majid Maali, exiled Sudanese human rights lawyer

Act for Sudan

Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment (KACE)

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

Connection e.V.

Darfur Bar Association

Eritrea Democratica

Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)

Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) Europe External Programme with Africa

Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans

Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum (HoACS)

Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)

Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy Europe

Ibn Rushd Fund e.V.

Investors Against Genocide

Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur

Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS) Skills for Nuba MOUNTAINS

Stop Genocide Now (SGN)

Sudanese Community and Information Centre – London

Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG)

Sudan Revolution Support Network – Sweden

Source=https://eritreahub.org/open-appeal-to-the-eus-donald-tusk-over-eritrea-and-sudan

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