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


Eritrean Catholic cathedral

Eritrea's Roman Catholic Church has condemned the government in the one-party state for seizing and shutting all its health centres last week.

In a letter to the ministry of health, the Church said patients were ordered to go home, and soldiers were deployed to the centres to guard them.

The seizure of the buildings could not happen in a country where the rule of law existed, the letter added.

The government has not yet commented on the Church's claims.

Many analysts believe the government has closed down the health centres to retaliate against the Church for issuing a statement in April calling for reforms to stem the tide of migration to Europe, BBC Tigrinya's Teklemariam Bekit reports.

The Church ran 22 health centres, and their closure is likely to leave thousands of people, mostly mothers and their children in rural areas, without healthcare, our correspondent says.

The government also provides health services, but critics say they are less accessible and of a lower standard, he adds.

In the publicly released letter, the Church said the government's action was reminiscent of the former Marxist regime which used brute force in 1982 to bar access to convents, schools and health facilities.

Eritrea was part of Ethiopia at the time. It became an independent state in 1993, and has been under President Isaias Afwerki's rule ever since.

His critics accuse him of leading a repressive state, but his supporters deny this.

Unrecognised religions

In its letter, the Church said the social services it provided to Eritreans could not be construed as an act of "opposing the government".

"The government can say it doesn't want the services of the Church, but asking for the property is not right," the letter added.

Roman Catholics make up about 4% of Eritrea's population.

The Church is only one of four religious groups allowed to operate in Eritrea, along with the Eritrean Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran and Sunni Islam groups.

The government regards other religious groups as instruments of foreign governments.

In May, a UK-based rights group told the BBC that more than 30 Pentecostal Christians had been detained in Eritrea while they were praying in three different locations in the capital, Asmara.

"Security personnel continue to raid private homes where devotees of unrecognised religions meet for communal prayer. Repudiation of their religion is typically the price of release," campaign group Human Rights Watch said in a report released earlier this year.

Source=

Enough campaigners in the US

Thousands of Eritreans are waging a social media campaign - modelled in part along the lines of the viral ice bucket challenge - to force change in the one-party state.

They hope that the overthrow of neighbouring Sudan's long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir will give impetus to their efforts to oust President Isaias Afwerki.

The campaign - under the hashtag #Enough in Tigrinya, Arabic and other Eritrean languages - has been driven by young Eritreans living mostly in Europe and the US because of repression in their home country.

It has won the support of a cross range of people - from veterans of the struggle for independence to music stars like Robel Michel and Yohannes Tikabo, popularly known as Wedi Tikabo.

Wedi Tikabo
Wedi Tikabo
Enough to division, migration and horrendous journeys. Enough to putting people without due process in dungeons. Enough to living without a constitution"
Wedi Tikabo
Eritrean music star

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In a video in Tigrinya, Eritrea's main language, Tikabo, who fled his homeland in 2013, says: "Enough to division, migration and horrendous journeys.

"Enough to the political upheaval overshadowing our country. Enough to putting people without due process in dungeons. Enough to living without a constitution."

'We must stop hiding'

Washington DC resident Amanuel Dawa was among those who started the campaign, challenging people to break their fear by identifying themselves and speaking out against Africa's only one-party state.

Mr Isaias took power at independence in 1993, and the country has never held a national election - not even a sham poll like those seen in some other authoritarian states where the ruler is returned to power with nearly 100% of the vote.

Instead, the government has banned opposition parties and the private media, jailed critics (some of whom have never been heard of for years), and has enforced military conscription. This has forced tens of thousands of Eritreans to flee to Europe, but many perish during the treacherous journey through the Sahara desert and over the Mediterranean.

Some people have recalled on Twitter their time at the notorious Sawa military camp, where young people and high school students are sent to begin their military service, which can last indefinitely:

The leader of the youth wing of the ruling party in the UK, Sirak Bahlibi, has described it as probably the "worst smear campaign to be ever waged on social media", while the pro-government TesfaNews website has accused the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group of being behind the #Enough campaign - a charge denied by Mr Amanuel.

"Eritreans inside and abroad should not buy or believe the recent propaganda that is spreading.... The TPLF is doing anything and everything to destabilise Eritrea," TesfaNews wrote.

'Bravely distributing leaflets'

The campaign on Facebook and Twitter has stood out for its ice bucket challenge format, with people nominating friends - and celebrities like Tikabo - to speak out against repression in Eritrea.

In Eritrea, the government has kept tight control over the internet - only 1.3% of the population use it, according to Internet World Stats. Activists in the country therefore took the brave step of surreptitiously distributing anti-government leaflets, with the hashtag #Enough, in a bid to popularise the campaign.

Woman at a protest in Washington DC on 24 May Image copyright Amanuel Dawa Image caption Many Eritreans have been forced to live in exile

"There are young people's movements within the country and they are the ones responsible for dispatching the #Enough leaflets," Mr Amanuel said.

He added that the campaign was also aimed at uniting government opponents.

"People are divided by their communities, their place of birth, their religion and many other segments of their lives. We want to stop these divisions and focus our energy towards one goal [to bring about multi-party democracy]," Mr Amanuel said.

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More on 'Africa's North Korea':

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Many Eritreans had hoped that following last July's peace deal with Ethiopia to officially end the border war between the two nations, the government would open up political space as there was no longer the fear of the country being "destabilised" by its neighbour.

But there has been no change, conscription continues and Mr Isaias remains as authoritarian as ever.

Panel discussion by #Enough campaigners Image copyright Amanuel Dawa Image caption The #Enough campaign is being waged primarily in the widely spoken Tigrinya and Arabic languages

He has convened only one meeting of his cabinet since the peace deal was signed as well as giving no sign of reform in a speech he delivered last month to mark the country's 26th year of independence from Ethiopia.

This has led to opposition activists saying that the country is not under one-party rule, but one-man rule.

Meanwhile, Mr Isaias has exploited improved relations with Ethiopia to his advantage by getting it to restrict the activities of exiled opposition groups - one of them was forced to shut its office in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, as Eritrea's embassy reopened after about 20 years.

'Poisonous roots'

In a further sign of the regime's pariah status ending, the UN Security Council has unanimously lifted sanctions - including an arms embargo and travel restrictions on senior government and military officials - imposed in December 2009 after it was accused of backing militant Islamists in neighbouring Somalia.

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Isais Afwerki - Eritrea's only leader

Isais Afwerki Image copyright AFP

  • Like all Tigrinyans, carries his father's name, Afwerki, which means "mouth of gold"
  • Went to China in 1967 for military training
  • Has "E" tattooed on his right shoulder to show his then-loyalty to the rebel Eritrean Liberation Front
  • Described as imposingly tall at 190.5cm (6ft 3in)
  • Married fellow rebel Saba Haile in 1981; the couple has three children
  • A few months before Eritrea's independence, went into a coma after getting cerebral malaria and was flown to Israel for treatment
  • Speaks fluent Arabic and has close ties with Saudi Arabia
  • Receives dignatories at his makeshift office on the site of his pet "Adi Halo" dam project

Source: Pro-government Madote news site, BBC Tigrinya

Read: Behind the smiles of Eritrea's president

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But activists say the tide appears to be turning against the government inside the country - a recent example being the fact that the country's Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter in which they lamented the "massive fleeing abroad" of Eritreans because living conditions had reached "critical levels".

"As long as the poisonous roots of this phenomenon is not eradicated, the escape to foreign countries is, we think, destined to last," the bishops said.

A group of more than 100 African writers, intellectuals and activists also wrote an open letter to Mr Afwerki this week, saying Eritrea was regarded as "the most-closed society on our continent" and the president needed to take steps to "restore" the country to its "rightful place in the family of African nations".

It is unclear whether he will agree or risk a popular uprising similar to the one seen in Sudan, which led to the military overthrowing Mr Bashir.

Although Sudan's revolution hangs in the balance following the brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, Eritrean activists continue to be inspired by the protest movement there.

"What is happening now in Sudan is really awful and I don't have words to describe it, but still Sudanese people are standing up and that is an inspiration to all Eritreans and to the world," says Meron Estefanos, a Sweden-based Eritrean journalist and human right activist.

"The Sudanese people chose the non-violent method and I hope that for my people. If the Sudanese can do it regardless of the brutality we can do it as well."

Source=https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48034365

 

 

Open Letter to the Eritrean Head of State

Tuesday, 11 June 2019 12:56 Written by

10 de June de 2019  

Your Excellency, President Isaias Aferwerki:

We write to convey our most sincere congratulations upon your country’s normalization of diplomatic relations with Ethiopia. This is a development much appreciated by all Africans of goodwill.

We write to you in our capacity as citizens of Africa to pledge our unequivocal solidarity with all the people of Eritrea. This includes the many Eritreans we see enduring all manner of risk and suffering in search of a better life outside their homeland. We acknowledge that we too hail from nations with varying governance and developmental challenges.  We write to you, in the spirit of Pan-African solidarity, to seek common solutions to our shared problems.

Africa’s many disparate nation states have undergone significant and diverse changes over the course of the last two decades.   [Today, many more Africans live in freedom than under repression].  Importantly, those African countries that have made the most progress – including attracting investment and tourism – over the last 25 years have been those whose citizens enjoy greater freedom of expression, press and movement, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and political pluralism. 

Sadly, in these critical areas, Eritrea has not kept pace with the changes seen elsewhere.  Over the past two decades Eritrea has been described as the most closed society on our continent, an unfortunate situation for a country with such rich human capital and potential, with so much to offer not only Africa but also the world.

We trust that by opening this channel of communication with Your Excellency, we may be afforded the opportunity to work with you to restore your country and the great people of Eritrea to their rightful place in the family of African nations.

Of particular concern to us is the fate of several journalists and activists who have been imprisoned for prolonged periods of time in Eritrea, many of whom have reportedly been denied regular visits from their families and loved ones.

Equally, we are disheartened by the plight of the many thousands of Africans, including some Eritreans, who feel compelled to flee their home countries in search of a better life for themselves and their families, risking life and limb and enduring inhumane deprivations and indignities across deserts and oceans.

Too many of these fellow Africans have found themselves in the rapacious hands of modern day slave traders and people traffickers even causing some to end up in slave markets in places such as Libya. Too many of these migrants and refugees have perished at sea in their quest for a better life. 

We Africans are blessed with too much in our home countries to have our citizens suffer and be devalued this way.  This gloomy picture needs to change, and it is in this spirit that we address this message of solidarity to you, Your Excellency.

We respectfully call upon Your Excellency to allow a delegation of the signatories hereunder to visit Eritrea, and to afford us the opportunity to meet with you and your government as well as with ordinary citizens, including journalists, writers, and other persons currently in prison.

As with the bold step you have taken to normalize relations with Ethiopia, we believe a gesture of this kind would go a long way towards ending Eritrea’s isolation from the larger African family and could help usher in a new era of prosperity and freedom for your people.

It would be an honour to furnish you with any additional information you might require of us and we eagerly await your response.

The Signatories,

  1. Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nigeria, Nobel Laureate
  2. Rafael Marques de Morais, Angola, leading anti-corruption campaigner and award winning investigative journalist
  3. John Githongo, Kenya, publisher, leading anti-corruption campaigner and award winning anti-corruption activist
  4. Kwasi H. Prempeh, Ghana, Executive Director of Center for Democratic Development
  5. Farida Nabourema, Togo, Executive Director of Togolese Civil League
  6. Leyla Hussein, Somalia, Women’s Rights & Health Campaigner, psychotherapist, writer and founder of the Dahlia Project
  7. Maina Kiai, Kenya, founder of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association
  8. Maaza Mengiste, Ethiopia, award-winning writer of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze
  9. Iva Cabral, Cape Verde, Chancellor of Lusófona [Lusophone] University and  daughter of Amílcar Cabral
  10. Belabbès Benkredda, Algeria, CEO and Founder of the Munathara Initiative, the Arab world’s largest online and television debate forum highlighting voices of youth, women and marginalized communities.
  11. Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Uganda, a leading LGBT rights activist, founder and executive director of the LGBT rights organization Freedom & Roam Uganda, 2011 recipient of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders
  12. Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, Uganda, musician, member of parliament and youth leader recognized throughout East Africa
  13. Tundu Lissu, Tanzania, lawyer, CHADEMA politician, member of parliament and former president of the Tanganyika Law Society
  14. Amr Waked, Egypt, award winning actor, best known for his role in Syriana
  15. José Eduardo Agualusa, Angola, award winning writer, finalist in the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for his seminal work A General Theory of Oblivion
  16. Nasser Weddady, Mauritania, leading civil rights activist, consultant and co-editor of Arab Spring Dreams.
  17. Chiké Frankie Edozien, Nigeria, writer and professor of journalism at New York University
  18. Emmanuel Iduma, Nigeria, author
  19. Mona Eltahawy, Egypt, author and journalist
  20. Mireille Tushiminina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gender & Equality advocate
  21. Felix Agbor Nkhongo, Cameroon, Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and leading human rights defender
  22. Boniface Mwangi, Kenya, democracy activist, Ukweli political party founder, photographer and artist
  23. Adeyanju Deji, Nigeria, leading democracy activist and human rights defender
  24. Alieu Bah, The Gambia, leading democracy activist and human rights defender
  25. Tutu Alicante, Equatorial Guinea, leading democracy activist and Executive Director of Equatorial Guinea Justice (EG Justice)
  26. Andrea Ngombet Malewa, Congo Republic, Global Coordinator of the Sassoufit Collective 
  27. Roukaya Kasenally, Mauritius, CEO of African Media Initiative
  28. Abdelrahman Mansour, Egypt, Executive Director of Open Transformation Lab, leading human rights defender and journalist
  29. Reem Abbas, Sudan, journalist and leading human rights defender
  30. Moussa Kondo, Mali, journalist, CEO and founder of the weekly L’Express de Bamako, anti-corruption crusader, Country Director of Accountability Lab Mali, 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow.
  31. Ericino de Salema, Mozambique, Director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), academic, lawyer and journalist
  32. Jestina Mukoko, Zimbabwe, leading human rights activist and Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Initiative
  33. William Amanzuru, Uganda, environmental rights defender, founder of Friends of Zoka, winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders’ Award 2019
  34. Miguel de Barros, Guinea-Bissau, sociologist and Executive Director of the environmental NGO Tiniguena
  35. Bheki Makhubu, e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland), Editor of the Nation Magazine and leading democracy defender
  36. Edson da Luz aka Azagaia, Mozambique, rapper and leading activist
  37. Charles Onyango-Obbo, Uganda, leading publisher and columnist
  38. Rodney Sieh, Liberia, leading newspaper editor of FrontPage Africa and democracy activist
  39. Oludotun Babayemi, Nigeria, democracy activist and monitoring and evaluation expert,
  40. Akin Olaniyan, Nigeria
  41. Chanda Chisala, Zambia, founder and president of Zambia Online
  42. Dany Ayida, Togo, Resident, Country Director, National Democratic Institute (DRC)
  43. George Sarpong, Ghana
  44. Rosemary Mwakitwange, Tanzania, Chief of Party, Freedom House
  45. James Smart, Kenya, leading journalist and news anchor
  46. Abdulrazaq Alkali, Nigeria, Executive Director Organisation for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) Nigeria 
  47. Mathatha Tsedu, South Africa, Adjunct professor of journalism, Wits University and Acting Executive Director of the National Editors Forum (SANEF)
  48. Brenda Zulu, Zambia, journalist and ICT specialist
  49. Emanuel Saffa Abdulai, Sierra Leone, Executive Director of Society for Democracy Initiatives
  50. Zecharias Berhe, Ethiopia, Senior Fellow, African Good Governance Network
  51. Sylvia Amiani, Kenya, counseling and psychosocial practitioner focused on refugees in Germany
  52. Lamii Kpargoi, Liberia, journalist, democracy activist and lawyer
  53. Dr. George Ayittey, Ghana, economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation, Washington DC
  54. Evan Mawarire, Zimbabwe, pastor and democracy activist, founder of #ThisFlag movement
  55. Zineb El Rhazoui, Morocco, journalist and human rights advocate
  56. Marc Ona Essangui, Gabon, environmentalist, Executive Secretary of Brainforest
  57. Fred Bauma, Democratic Republic of Congo, democracy and youth activist, leader of the Lucha Social Movement
  58. Dr. Justin Pearce, South Africa, Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University
  59. Asma Khalifa, Libya, activist, cofounder of Tamazight Women Movement
  60. Violet Gonda, Zimbabwe, journalist and President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT)
  61. Fatoumata Camara, The Gambia, journalist, CEO/Founder  of the Fatu Network
  62. Jelili Atiku, Nigeria, human rights artist
  63. Fred Muvunyi, Rwanda, editor at Deutsche Welle, Op-Ed contributor for Washington Post and a consultant for Freedom House
  64. Aimable Manikrakiza, Burundi, CEO of the Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes
  65. Houssem Aoudi, Tunisia, CEO/Founder of Wasabi and Cogite – co-working Space, entrepeneur and activist
  66. Chouchou Namegabe, Democratic Republic of Congo, journalist and human rights activist, CEO & Founder Anzafrika
  67. Thulani Maseko, e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland), leading human rights lawyer
  68. Samba Dialimpa Badji, Senegal, journalist
  69. Mariama Camara, Guinea, fashion designer and humanitarian, Founder/President of Mariama Fashion Production and the There is No Limit Foundation
  70. Olívio Diogo, São Tomé, sociologist and media commentator, coordinator of the Civil Society Network
  71. Adeola Fayehun, Nigeria, journalist/producer, Keeping it Real with Adeola
  72. Mohamed Soltan, Egypt, Executive Director, the Freedom Initiative
  73. Memory Banda, Malawi, children’s rights activist
  74. Ali Amar, Morocco, veteran journalist, co-founder and director of online news outlet Le Desk
  75. Mohamed Keita, Mali,  Pan African rights advocate
  76. Norman Tjombe, Namibia, human rights lawyer and activist
  77. Uyapo Ndadi, Botswana, human rights lawyer, activist, and founder of the Ndadi Law Firm
  78. Phil ya Nangoloh, Namibia, human rights activist, monitor and Executive Director of NamRights Inc
  79. Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad, prominent award-winning lawyer and human rights activist
  80. Rosmon Zokoue, Central African Republic, journalist, blogger and activist
  81. Ahmed Gatnash, Libya, co-founder & VP of Operations, Kawaakibi Foundation
  82. Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Ghana, Africa’s leading investigative journalist and private investigator
  83. Boubacar Diallo, Niger, Editor, Liberation newspaper
  84. Abdourahman Waberi, Djibouti, acclaimed novelist, essayist, academic and short story writer, human rights activist, professor of literature at George Washington University
  85. Doudou Dia, Senegal, Executive Director, Goree Institute, Center for Democracy, Development and Culture in Africa
  86. Alain Mabanckou, Congo, novelist, journalist, poet and academic
  87. Francis Kpatindé, Benin, journalist, former editor-in-chief of the newsweekly Jeune Afrique and former spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
  88. Mustafa Haji Abdinur, Somalia, award-winning journalist
  89. Thembo Kash, Democratic Republic of Congo, award-winning cartoonist
  90. Damien Glez, Burkina Faso, award-winning editorial cartoonist
  91. Ahmed Abdallah, Comoros, journalist
  92. Anton Harber, South Africa, former journalist with the Rand Daily Mail until its closure by the apartheid government, co-founder and editor of the Weekly Mail (now The Mail & Guardian) and Professor of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand
  93. John-Allan Namu, Kenya, award-winning investigative journalist, co-founder of Africa Uncensored, 2017 Desmond Tutu Fellow
  94. Alice Nkom, Cameroon, leading human rights lawyer, defender of rights of the LGBT community
  95. Mouctar Bah, Guinea, veteran journalist
  96.  Andrew Feinstein, South Africa, former ANC MP, Executive Director of Corruption Watch UK, author of The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade
  97. William Rasoanaivo, Madagascar, award-winning political cartoonist
  98. Claudia Gastrow, South Africa, anthropologist, Univeristy of Johannesburg
  99.  Motlatsi Thabane, Lesotho, professor of History, University of e-Swatini
  100. Cyriac Gbogou, Ivory Coast, blogger, co-founder of O’Village and key actor in the new technology sector in the country
  101. Canon Clement Hilary Janda, South Sudan, Pan African Ecumenist
  102. Ola Diab, Sudan, journalist and activist

* This article has been updated 10 June 2019, 10.27 p.m.

Source=https://www.makaangola.org/2019/06/open-letter-to-the-eritrean-head-of-state/

June 11, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Former U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth will be appointed as Special Adviser on Sudan to Tibor Nagy the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, reported The Foreign Policy Magazine on Monday evening.

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U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth, speaks at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, on April 28, 2016 (ST Photo)

The move comes as over 70 U.S. lawmakers last May urged the State Department to put pressure on the military council to ensure rapid power transfer to a civilian-led government in Sudan.

Also, the US House of Representatives is set to endorse a resolution on Sudan urging “the United States Government to continue efforts to convene and work with the international community in support of a civilian-led government in Sudan”

However, US officials admitted that the lack of a clear policy towards the Sudanese crisis can explain the absence of strong action to bring the Sudanese junta to hand over power to the peaceful protesters in Sudan.

“There’s no leadership on this issue in State (Department) or the White House,” said a U.S. official involved in deliberations, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Foreign Policy.

Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton had to tweet twice on Sudan to express his support for the power transfer to civilians.

Also, Nagy kept posting several tweets related to the situation in Sudan to show that the State Department has been following with concern the dramatic developments in the east African nation.

Further, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale had to speak with Saudi and Emirati officials to encourage them to put pressure on the military junta which has been suddenly under international focus after the bloody raid on the main protest site killing over hundred people.

U.S. top diplomat for Africa will visit Sudan in the coming days as part of a tour in the African continent from 12 to 23 June. He is expected to meet the military council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC).

The ruling junta, according to opposition sources, has finally admitted giving the chairmanship of the Sovereign Council and the majority of the 15-member presidential body to the opposition.

If implemented, this means that Booth will be tasked with the follow-up of the implementation of democratic reforms and the peace process which should take place during the transitional period.

(ST)

Source=http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article67633

May 30, 2019 News

After a long period of clustered preparation in many US cities, the Eritreans activists’ campaign culminated in a large meeting in Washington DC between May 23 until May 25.

The Eritrean movement was initially inspired by the Arab Spring in 2012.

In late 2010 Mohammed Bouazizi, a frustrated young street vendor set himself on fire in protest against the injustices in Tunisia. Bouazizi’s sacrifice inspired Tunisians to protest against their government and forced the Tunisian dictator, Zen Al-Abedeen Bin Ali to flee the country in January 2011, after ruling it for 23 years. He fled to Saudi Arabia where he sought refuge and where he is still living.

The Bouazizi type of protest reached Egypt where a man set himself alight. Weeks of popular protest ensued and by February 2011, the Egyptian protest intensified forcing Hosni Mubarak to step down ending his 30-year rule.

In October 2011, a similar uprising in Libya resulted in the killing of Muammar Al Gathafi who had ruled Libya for 42 years.

Meanwhile, the uprisings that spread to many Arab countries is either continuing with great human and material cost, or has attracted foreign interests that complicated the situation leaving several countries in abysmal conditions.

The Syrian uprising that started in March 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring has resulted in worse conditions and incited Russia, the USA, the Gulf Arab countries, and Turkey to get involved. So far, the situation in Syria has transformed into a civil war producing about 7 million internally displaced people as well as about 5 million refugees who left the country.

By 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS) had controlled large territories in Syria with an estimated 8 million population under its mercy.

In Yemen, the Arab spring started in January 2011 just after the Tunisian uprising, and by 2012, after a failed assassination attempt, Ali Saleh who ruled Yemen for 22 years was forced to resign. And though Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi was elected as his replacement, Ali Saleh continued to play political role and allied himself with the Houthi movement. However, in December 2017 his alliance with the Houthis came to an end and he was killed while fleeing from his palace.

Soon, the Yemeni uprisings and protests turned into a full-fledged civil war, and finally with the involvement of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it became a wider regional conflict. Since then, the two countries have been bombing Yemen turning its cities into rubble and causing a widespread disease, hunger, and a collapse of most of the vital civil services. 

In addition to the above countries, Sudan and Algeria have been continuing the protests since the spread of the Arab Spring though both protests were on and off for different reasons. Currently, both countries have reached decisive moments in their attempt to usher a post-dictatorship era. However, observers believe the two countries risk ending up with another dictatorship as evidenced in Egypt the chain of events finally brought General Abdulfatah Al Sisi to power.

Eritrean #Enough Campaign

The Kifaya movement had its origin in 2004 when the Egyptian Movement for Change (EMFC) made it its rallying cry in protesting against the regime of Husni Mubarak.  It survived in a relatively low profile until 2011 when it joined the Arab Spring protests when many social-media savvy young Egyptians became part of the movement. Thus, the Kifaya slogan was popularized and became synonymous with the Arab Spring.

Eritrean activists adopted the #Kifaya slogan inspired by the Arab Spring. And by November 2011, Eritrean activists fully adopted the slogan and launched the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC), a Facebook movement that brought together several other groups under one umbrella. However, by 2013, the group ceased to exist.

Last year, the #Kifaya movement was resurrected again (#Enough in English and #Yiakl in Tigrinya) and it soon gained wide acceptance. Following an extensive campaign, the #Enough movement established affiliates in 35 cities across the USA and an overwhelming number of Diaspora Eritreans joined it.

Finally, in coincidence with the Eritrean Independence Day (May 24), the movement called for a  countrywide conference in Washington, DC. Eighty-one elected representatives from 35 cities, and hundreds of people attended the conference.

The movement carried out a popular rally in Washington, DC, where a large number of Eritreans participated.

In its first conference, the movement formed a congress composed of the representatives of the cities and elected a 35-member central council. It also delegated the seven-member organizing committee to act as an executive body for a month after which it is expected to elect a permanent committee.

The members of the transitional executive members are:

  1. Weyni Beyene, Dr (Miami, FL)
  2. Tekie Tewelde (Cincinnati, OH)
  3. Mahfuz Ibrahim (Washington, DC)
  4. Aklil Hailu (Denver, CA)
  5. Tirhas Berhe (Indianapolis, IN)
    .Substitutes:
  6. Tesfahiwet Kidane (Houston, TX)
  7. Tesfay Kibrom, (Phoenix AZ)
Eritrea Detains Christians, Attacks Protest
By Stefan J. Bos -
26th May 2019
 
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

ASMARA/LONDON (BosNewsLife)– Investigators say dozens of devoted Christians have been detained near Eritrea’s capital Asmara as part of an official crackdown on Christian believers while in London Eritrean government supporters interrupted a vigil of rights activists and attacked a journalist.
Roughly 30 Christians were arrested May 17 as they gathered at two locations in Godaif, a region south of Asmara, rights investigators told BosNewsLife. “This follows reports of the arrest of 141 Christians, including 14 minors, in the Maitemenai district of Asmara, on or around May 10,” said rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The Christians were reportedly transported to separate detention centers according to their gender. About 50 of these detainees were released, but others remain behind bars, activists said.

The news emerged after a significant crowd of government protesters tried to interrupt a peaceful protest vigil Thursday, May 23, outside the Eritrean Embassy in London where advocates commemorated the closure of churches in Eritrea, BosNewsLife established.

The protest vigil has been held every May for 16 years by organizations such as CSW, the Eritrean Orthodox Church in Britain, and advocacy groups Church in Chains, Human Rights Concern Eritrea and Release Eritrea.

REMEMBERING ANNIVERSARY

It marks the anniversary of the Eritrean government’s outlawing of religious practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam in May 2002. Even within the established churches devoted Christians face difficulties as the officials regard them as a threat to the power base of autocratic President Isaias Afwerki and his allies, BosNewsLife learned.

Thousands of Christians have been detained and jailed over the years, some of whom held for well over a decade, according to activists and local believers. Eritrea is the home of the Eritrean Orthodox Church whose Christian history is defined by the Orthodox Church, experts say. “Therefore, other denominations—in particular, Pentecostal churches—are not regarded as legitimate. This exclusion leads to persecution on many fronts for non-traditional believers,” said Open Doors, a well-informed advocacy group.

At Thursday’s rally in London activists also recalled the “ensuing and ongoing campaign of arrests” of thousands of Christians in the autocratically ruled African nation. At its peak, the government crackdown saw at least “3000 Christians of all denominations detained arbitrarily,” CSW said.

Video footage obtained by BosNewsLife confirmed that counter-protesters had spread out across the area where the London vigil occurs typically. They reportedly notified local police of their “all-day event” on the previous evening.

Several men who approached the organizers told them to “leave this area because there are many more of us than you,” CSW witnesses said. Another allegedly asked: “where is Martin Plaut?” referring to a British journalist who was reportedly lured to a café near the British library and assaulted.

Plaut was reportedly attacked by a man who produced a large plastic box full of a white liquid and flung its contents at the journalist, screaming that he was a “traitor” to Eritrea. Plaut’s clothes and bag were soaked by the liquid, which appeared to have been a mixture of milk, flour, and eggs.

AGGRESSIVE DISPLAYS
They also began videotaping the Eritrean organizers.
(Story continues below. Video footage shows protesters being interrupted by Eritrean government supporters).
 
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas suggested to BosNewsLife that this was the first time the vigil was interrupted by government-linked people and supporters. “We have been protesting peacefully outside the Eritrean Embassy every year for the past 16 years, and the fact that the Eritrean authorities organized a counter-protest this year means we are making an impact.”

However, he said, “We were not intimidated by any aggressive displays, and will continue our yearly vigil at that venue until every prisoner of conscience is free.”

The protest vigil eventually shifted to an area on the opposite side of the road close to the Embassy, and it continued as planned, despite loud music, singing, dancing, chants, and gesticulations from counter-protesters.

Speaking at the new location outside the Eritrean Embassy, Berhane Asmelash of Release Eritrea noted that every year, “thousands of Eritreans are perishing in the Mediterranean Sea, trying to flee from the government.”

He added: “In 2001, the government arrested journalists and some who asked for reform, and until now they are in prison, and in 2002 the Eritrean government shut all churches, and until now none of them have been opened, and a lot of officials are still in prison, hundreds of them. Even last week, some Christians were arrested. In Eritrea, it is bad for everybody.”

NOTHING CHANGING
Other speakers included Priest Shenouda of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and Elsa Chyrum of Human Rights Concern Eritrea, who said: “Nothing has changed in Eritrea since the rapprochement with Ethiopia” following years of conflict. He said Christians and others are “fleeing from imprisonment without trial, torture, persecution, and above all, the lifetime national service for every young man or woman over 18 years of age.”

CSW’s Thomas said that his group remains concerned “for those who were arrested recently merely for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.” He stressed that the crackdown violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed by Eritrea, and the country’s own “ratified constitution, which the government has failed to implement since May 1997.”

Thomas complained that these “grave violations” are continuing “even as Eritrea occupies a seat on the Human Rights Council (HRC)” of the United Nations. “We, therefore, urge member states [of the HRC] to facilitate the renewal of the special rapporteur’s mandate during the upcoming HRC session.”

The CSW leader stressed these measures are crucial to ensure “continued human rights monitoring” and to “assist in advancing accountability for atrocity crimes” in Eritrea as mentioned in a 2016 report of the HRC’s Commission of Inquiry. It is also important to set “time-bound benchmarks for improvements in human rights” in the country, he added.
The latest developments come amid pressure on President Afwerki to improve human rights in the nation that he has ruled since it became independent in 1993. His People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) is the sole political party. Presidential elections planned for 1997 never happened in the country of nearly 5.6 million people, most of them Muslims.

‘BRUTAL REGIME`

Thousands flee “regime of Eritrean President” President Isaias Afwerki according to activists.

The government has consistently denied wrongdoing and says people are free to worship within the laws of the land. In reality, Afwerki has overseen a “brutal regime” that rests on massive human rights violations, argued Open Doors, an influential Christian aid, and advocacy group. It placed Eritrea number 7 on its annual World Watch List what was it says are the 50 countries with the worst rights abuses of Christians.

Open Doors noted in its List for 2019 that government security forces conducted many house-to-house raids and imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions,
including small shipping containers in the scorching heat. “Protestants, in particular, face serious problems in accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the State.”

Additionally “Christians are being forced to join the armed forces, and Protestants, in particular, face serious problems with accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the state,” Open Doors said in an assessment. “Individuals from non-traditional church groups, such as evangelicals, face the harshest persecution forms of Christian persecution. Both converts from a Muslim background and cross-denominational converts from an Orthodox background encounter harsh mistreatment from their families and communities.”

In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end to hostility with both nearby Ethiopia and Somalia, but Open Doors said it remains to be seen whether this will have a positive impact on Christians. “This extreme pressure and state-sanctioned violence are forcing some Christians to flee Eritrea–often called “Africa’s North Korea”–and seek asylum.”
 
 

May 26, 2019 News

 

Eritreans from Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide attended the demonstration.
 
Letters were sent to the Australian government, the UNHCR, the EU as welll as other ambassadors.
 
The letter sent to the Australian government was read to public during the demonstration session in front of the Parliament house. [See below] Photos at end.