Eritrea: The State of the Nation

Saturday, 25 May 2019 23:48 Written by

May 25, 2019 News

INTRODUCTION

(1) Between December 2018 and May 2019, a diverse group of Eritrean professionals met in Nairobi, Kenya and online to evaluate developments since the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia (“ERITREAN THOUGHT LEADERS ON THE PRESENT DYNAMICS IN THE HORN OF AFRICA”). While we welcome the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace process and appreciate the Ethiopian leadership for embarking on such a bold, if long overdue, initiative, we are dismayed by the lack of progress towards normalizing governance within Eritrea and are alarmed by the rate of “peace-time” exodus, which we believe is directly related to the state of hopelessness the regime of Isaias Afwerki has engendered. Our conviction that this state of affairs will not change unless there are immediate and dramatic reforms in Eritrea is only matched by our persuasion that the regime is incapable, or unwilling, to do so. The inescapable conclusion is that the system over which Isaias Afwerki presides must go, and a mechanism for restoring popular sovereignty must begin in earnest immediately.


(2) While we welcome the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace treaty that was signed in Asmara in July 2018, the exodus out of the country has tripled. It is a phenomenon observed only in Eritrea: normally, peace treaties result in exiles returning to their home.


(3) During the first week of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border opening, almost ten thousand Eritreans registered in refugee camps in Tigray. They—including a shocking number of unaccompanied minors– continue to arrive, at a steady pace, in already resource-strained camps. The fact that so many Eritreans were eager to leave their country once they were provided a safe route highlights Eritrea’s desperate political and economic conditions at this time.


(4) Due to the command economy pursued by the State, the severe shortage of labor due to Eritrea’s exodus, the stranglehold of parastatal businesses, and Isaias Afwerki administration’s reckless foreign policy, Eritrea’s economy has been decimated. All sectors of the economy, agrarian and pastoral, fishers, farmland and entrepreneurship, have been severely downgraded. Most Eritrean entrepreneurs have been chased out of the country and the Eritrean economy remains dismal. In this vacuum created by the Asmara administration, unregulated Ethiopian businesspersons—including taxi-drivers and retailers—have crowded out what little remained of Eritrean businesses. This development, coupled with the secretive nature and dizzying pace of the peace treaty now consummated only at the head-of-government level, has led many to question the very nature of the peace agreement.


(5) The people of Eritrea have no say over how their national resources are exploited and ambiguous statements by both Eritrean and Ethiopian leaderships are creating serious uncertainty about Eritrea’s sovereignty. In short, Eritreans, both at home and abroad, are deeply concerned about their country’s future.


(6) At the foreign policy level, the triumphalist language of President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed lends credence to the view that the peace agreement is not necessarily one that will benefit all Eritreans and Ethiopians, but one that is directed to creating winners and losers in the two countries: a sure recipe for perpetual strife. Moreover, the Gulf countries that Eritrea and Ethiopia have chosen to be “bosom
buddies” with have a long history of abysmal human rights records.


(7) Genuine peace, harmony, security and prosperity can only be sustained by the people with their full participation in all the affairs of their respective nations. Only a reconciliatory environment will help Eritreans release their energies and harness their initiative, creativity, and power to hold their government accountable. Only a government with moral authority and political legitimacy can lead a reconciliation effort. This is the second reason we are convinced the Government of Isaias Afwerki must go: it has been at the forefront of all the factors that polarized our people and destroyed our country.


(8) This report reflects the substance and spirit of meetings we held over the last 5 months in hopes of identifying ways out of our current state of confusion. It is our hope that it will offer some direction towards peaceful and constructive change and rule of law in our country. It will describe Eritrea’s dire situation and will conclude with suggestions for Eritreans from around the world on change management with minimal
risk.

Full Report ERITREA – The State of The Nation – English

1. Andom Ghebreghiorgis, New York, New York, United States of America
2. Asia Abdulkadir, Nairobi, Kenya
3. Assefaw Tekeste, California, United States of America
4. Awet T. Weldemichael, Ontario, Canada
5. Bereket Berhane Woldeab, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
6. Habteab Yemane Oghubazgi, Bern, Switzerland
7. Khadeijah Ali Mohammed-Nur, London, United Kingdom
8. Meron Semedar, Bay Area, California, United States of America
9. Paulos Tesfagiorgis, Ontario, Canada
10. Sabine Mohamed, Göttingen, Germany
11. Saleh Younis, Palo Alto, California, United States of America
12. Samuel Emaha Tsegai, Ontario, Canada
13. Sarah Ogbay, Manchester, United Kingdom
14. Uoldelul Chelati Dirar, Macerata, Italy
15. Vanessa Tsehaye, London, United Kingdom
16. Wejdan Osman, Ottowa, Canada

May 25, 2019 News

Eritreans have peace, now they want freedom

On this year’s Independence Day, Eritreans are dreaming of a post-Afwerki Eritrea.

by
Source: al-Jazzera
  • See President Isaias’s Independence Day speech at the end of this article
Eritrean President Afwerki attends the country's Independence Day celebrations in Asmara on May 24, 2007 [File: Jack Kimball/Reuters]
Eritrean President Afwerki attends the country’s Independence Day celebrations in Asmara on May 24, 2007 [File: Jack Kimball/Reuters]

Today, Eritrea is celebrating its hard-won independence, a victory earned after 30 years of fierce and deadly armed struggle, followed by 20 years of deadlock with neighbouring Ethiopia, after the border conflict of 1998-2000.

Like previous years, the Eritrean authorities have made extensive preparations to mark the anniversary with a major festival in the streets of Asmara. But this year, the celebrations will also feature a new element: two mannequins representing Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who in a landmark move last year opened the common border for the first time in 20 years.

The regime clearly wants to celebrate the peace agreement and rapprochement with Ethiopia, still brandishing it as a major achievement. However, it will do so under tight security. While round-ups, patrols and checkpoints have been routine features of Independence Day security, they have reportedly been significantly boosted this year as a clear warning to the general population.

The Eritrean people, who initially also rejoiced at the peace agreement, hoping that the resolution of the cold conflict could bring them much-desired relief, are yet to see any change in their daily lives.

For two decades, they had been told that they have to live under a virtual state of emergency because Ethiopia is still posing an “existential threat” to their country and their freedom. All possible justifications for the continuing repression and austerity the regime could manufacture ended with the peace deal, the lifting of UN sanctions and the country’s admission to the UN Human Rights Council.

Today, Ethiopia is no longer a threat, given all the documents signed and all the official visits exchanged.

Yet the Eritrean president has clearly demonstrated that he will not relax the chokehold he has had the country in for so many years. As a result, little has changed for most Eritreans since last year.

After the border with Ethiopia was opened in September 2018, which allowed free movement of goods, the Eritrean market, which had suffered from an acute shortage of goods for years, briefly enjoyed stability and the sharp decline of prices.

But over the next eight months, Asmara gradually shut down all border crossings unilaterally without giving an official reason for doing so and put an end to the short-lived trade boom.

Having their hopes for economic opening and prosperity quashed, Eritreans have continued to flee the country, resorting to alternative routes to bypass the closed border crossings. Those who make it to neighbouring countries abroad are facing a precarious situation and the risk of having no valid documents, as some Eritrean consular offices have started rejecting requests for issuing passports to nationals who have left illegally after the peace deal with Ethiopia. 

Meanwhile, mandatory military conscription continues both for the regular army and the “popular army”. Conscripts to the latter, both men and women, are required to attend military drills, carry guns, and guard government buildings in night shifts after they are done with their regular government jobs.

After the peace deal and following Ethiopia’s announcement of amnesty for political prisoners, Eritreans were hopeful that their government would follow suit. But they were again disappointed. Repression continues against the population at large and specific targeted groups.

In May, around 140 followers of banned Christian denominations, including minors, were rounded up and taken into custody in Asmara. Since 2002, all religious groups that are not affiliated with the Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Lutheran Protestant churches or Sunni Islam have had to undergo mandatory registration, including giving up personal information of their members. Those who have failed to do so have been persecuted.

At the same time, the Eritrean president continues to keep not only the general population in the dark about the peace deal with Ethiopia but also members of his regime.

While the agreement was signed on July 9, 2018, in Asmara, Afwerki didn’t bother to conduct his first interview with local media until November 3, 2018. The president took 80 minutes to respond to a few preapproved questions and only addressed regional geopolitics and emphasised that Eritrea is still under threat from its many enemies. Yet neither he nor any regime officials ever addressed any of the domestic implications of the deal.

The most important issues for Eritrea’s general public remain unaddressed: when the indefinite national service will be suspended, the demarcation of border finalised, the rule of law restored and the ban on trade and construction lifted.

At the same time, the regime has sought to limit other sources of information Eritreans have been trying to access. In the past few months, the authorities have started trying to jam certain TV channels broadcast from abroadm, including opposition satellite TV Assenna.

Since early May, social media has also been blocked in Eritrea with the exception of selected officials and cadres, according to recent reports. Sources within the country have confirmed to me that certain websites are also being blocked, while most internet cafes – where a majority of Eritreans access the internet through a very slow connection (kept so intentionally) – instruct their customers to use proxy servers and VPN.

Having seen no improvements in their lives since the peace agreement was signed, Eritreans inside the country are growing increasingly frustrated. There may not have been protests – for those put down almost immediately by security forces – but public anger seems palpable. People who have visited the country recently have shared with me their impression that many citizens are openly voicing their criticism in public places. This was unheard of a year ago. “People are waiting for change more than ever,” a contact from inside Eritrea told me.

The revolution in neighbouring Sudan has certainly left its mark. Eritreans have watched carefully the events in Khartoum and have rejoiced at the show of solidarity by Sudanese protesters with their suffering.

Meanwhile, the diaspora has become increasingly active. In January, a social media campaign was launched under the hashtag #EnoughIsEnough which aimed to encourage Eritreans to talk openly about their post-peace-deal demands.

The campaign gradually spread across the world and recently resulted in various Eritrean communities holding official meetings to discuss how to bring lasting change to their motherland. Bigger public events in the United States and Canada have also been organised. In Washington, DC, for example, a two-day event is under way that includes public demonstration, seminars, and concerts.

Never have the Eritrean diaspora been so united. Until the recent past, regular meetings among the Eritrean opposition, let alone such festivals, were impossible. The turnout was always small, as many feared retaliation against family members back at home. Today, not only there is an unprecedented activity, but also an open conversation about a post-Afwerki Eritrea.

Up to now, the regime has ruled by fear, violence and endless excuses. Slowly but surely, all justifications for keeping the country in deliberate isolation and austerity are crumbling, while the population is growing increasingly bold in the face of extreme repression.

While it is impossible to guess how this anger will express itself, it seems certain now that political change is inevitable in Eritrea. Today, more than ever before, Eritreans are dreaming of celebrating their true liberation.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keynote Address by President Isaias Afwerki

Source: Shabait

  • Keynote Address by President Isaias Afwerki, 28th Independence Anniversary Asmara, 24 May 2019.

Dear Participant and Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first convey my heartfelt congratulations to the Eritrean people inside the country and in the Diaspora.  I also wish to express our gratitude to all those who stood on the side of the Eritrean people, on the side of truth and justice, for their invaluable solidarity.  My thanks to the Commission of Culture and Sports and all compatriots and foreign institutions for their endeavours to imbue commensurate magnificence to this auspicious occasion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The theme of the 2019 Independence Anniversary is “Resilience for Higher Progress”!  Because this is a historical juncture in which the extraordinary resilience of the Eritrean people has been elevated and emerged triumphant once again.

The Eritrean people deserved to be independent, like other colonized peoples and even more so, in the immediate aftermath of the end of the Second World War.  But their inalienable national right was suppressed as the great powers of the time felt that “an independent Eritrea would not serve their strategic interests”.

For fifty years, the people of Eritrea had to overcome political subterfuges aimed at creating divisions and cleavages amongst them; challenge and triumph over annexation and occupation; and, conduct a thirty-year long armed struggle with unparalleled heroism and sacrifice to achieve independence on the basis of the supremacy of the rule of law.

In those fifty years, the Eritrean people confronted and vanquished the machinations of their external enemies.  They also secured their independence and sovereignty by combating internal divisive and toxic political tendencies, including a painful internecine war; by constantly strengthening their political cohesion.

To highlight a few of the principal values that underpin our resilience: Not to succumb and yield to force and intimidation!…. Not to cede to illicit and duplicitous machinations!  Not to compromise one’s dignity and values for cheap rewards and inducements! Not to be distressed under extreme duress!  Not to be disheartened by overwhelming challenges! Not to tire with hard work!  Not to spare one’s toil and blood, including one’s life!… Not to relent until objectives are achieved!

These firm convictions go beyond sheer beliefs and pledges.  They have been repeatedly demonstrated and have become the defining characteristics of the Eritrean people’s heritage.

How about in the last 28 years of independence and sovereignty?

As the Eritrean people embarked on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their nation liberated through heavy sacrifices, they faced relentless hostilities designed to subdue, weaken and hold them hostage.

To this end, senseless border disputes were concocted! Unwarranted sanctions imposed!  Naked military attacks launched!  Political ruses, economic subversion, human trafficking as well as psychological warfare and demonization aimed at isolating Eritrea were perpetrated.  One can say: “thwarting all these wrongs would have been unimaginable without the resilience of the Eritrean people”!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

And today?

Our considered approach – when it was deemed that “all past machinations” have ceased and until the illicit sanctions were lifted –  was based on recognition of the unfolding events and realities “as the beginnings of a new era”.  Naturally, these are times of jubilation, lofty aspirations and euphoria!  But these momentous events should not prompt us to underestimate the challenges the new era brings.

Before prematurely charting out new and permanent sustainable development programmes, it is imperative that we conduct extensive political, economic and security appraisals so as to properly diagnose the unfolding realities with requisite depth.   We cannot make hasty and emotional conclusions before we collect adequate information, analyze these data comprehensively with patience so as to have a clear picture.  Hence, our focus should be geared towards patient appraisal of the unfolding reality. Our tasks and priorities today as well as for the near future should be to guarantee a conducive climate and basis for the new era.  This precept emanates from our values that have crystallized over time.

In this new era and without departing from the fundamental principles of nation-building, our cardinal objectives consist of creating and augmenting national wealth through hard work and efficient productivity, and, ensuring equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.  Our principal aim is to transform the primordial subsistence economy to a modern and developed industrial economy to bring sustainable change in the quality of life to vast segments of the population; especially those deprived in the past.

In order to pursue our nation building endeavours with a steady pace by marshalling our resources, and to capitalize on the momentum for greater rapid growth, we need to rigorously review fundamental programmes that will buttress real economic growth through higher productivity and increased output.  These development programmes can be distilled as follows:

o    Water infrastructure and distribution: To further refine our programmes of water supply for household, agriculture, and industrial consumption with the utilization of modern technology and associated means.

o    Road, rail, cableway and oil pipelines:  The three phases of i) renovation of existing systems; ii) expansion to ensure higher efficiency; and iii) implementation of new schemes that we have been pursuing in all these categories should be pursued with greater efficiency and expeditious scale of implementation.

o    Ports and coastlines: To revive projects that were obstructed and interrupted, with upgraded plans and implement them within a wide framework of cooperation and partnership.

o    Power generation and electricity supply:  To replace the old and unreliable power generation system with a functional grid in the interim period and focus on the design and implementation of an expansive system that will adequately meet all long-term needs and requirements.

o    Efficient and effective modern domestic road; rail, sea and air transport:  To link these systems with regional networks within a revised plan.

o    Housing:  To implement  –  with revised plans, better technology and efficiency –  various housing projects that have not been successful so far as provision of housing remains one of the fundamental yardsticks for measuring the quality of  life.

o    Health and Education Services:  To modernize the health infrastructure to address wider category of health needs and services; to prioritize effective and all-rounded investment in education in order to improve access at all levels and thereby bolster our human capital which is critical for development and nation-building.

o    Industrial sector: To undertake comprehensive review – of each programme and each enterprise –  in order to formulate and implement a refined investment road-map.

o    Implementation: To polish existing implementation mechanism in all the Development Fronts for higher effectiveness and to especially expedite the review of programmes and modalities underway to match the decisive contributions of our citizens in the Diaspora.

o    Ensuring efficiency and effectiveness: to strengthen the relentless fight against corruption and speculation.

o    Regional partnership and stability: to actively create a conducive regional climate for mutual respect and genuine partnership that enhance domestic development programmes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The above listed programmes are not new.  Comprehensive revision of the detailed programmes and implementing them within the framework of the new era cannot be accomplished through simplistic solutions and short-cuts.  They will depend, as always, on the full participation of our people and their relentless toil and resilience.   This will not be difficult as the inherent values and traditions of resilience – encapsulated in the mantra of “Resilience through Resilience”  – is intact as ever.

As it has been the case throughout our history, and more so in this present era, there are those who are exemplary in their selfless dedication; who give their all without any reward; and, who give us moral gratification.  I avail of this occasion to express our profound gratitude to all these exceptional people, who work the most and hardest, and to members and leaders of our Defense Forces”.

Resilience for Higher Progress!

Our Progress will continue with good rains!

And above all, Glory to our Martyrs!

Victory to the Masses!

May 24, 2019 News

Source: IMF

Eritrea: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff completes 2019 Article IV Mission

Eritrea is in a difficult economic situation following an extended period of international isolation and emergency measures to manage the economy

Eritrea farmingWASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, May 22, 2019/APO Group/ — 

The peace agreement with Ethiopia and lifting of international sanctions provide a welcome opportunity for Eritrea to build an impetus for economic development; Eritrea is in a difficult economic situation following an extended period of international isolation and emergency measures to manage the economy; the IMF stands ready to support economic reforms through policy advice, technical assistance and training to help achieve macroeconomic stability and inclusive growth.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Bhaswar Mukhopadhyay, held discussions in Asmara from May 13–22, 2019 on the Article IV Consultation with Eritrea, the first such discussions in 10 years. At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Mukhopadhyay issued the following statement:

“Eritrea has just emerged from twenty years of conflict with Ethiopia and a decade of sanctions imposed by the international community. The war and then international isolation deprived the country of vital investment, trading opportunities and external support, and have left the economy in a difficult situation. The peace agreement with Ethiopia and lifting of international sanctions provide a welcome opportunity to build an impetus for economic development and to begin implementing much needed reforms.

Eritrea’s economy is dominated by agriculture and mining and is highly vulnerable to shocks

“The information base of economic developments in Eritrea has deteriorated, and the conditions prevailing in the country have given rise to data and capacity constraints. Nonetheless, the mission received useful information to better understand the macroeconomic situation and capacity development needs in Eritrea.

“Eritrea’s economy is dominated by agriculture and mining and is highly vulnerable to shocks. Most of its population is engaged in rain-fed subsistence agriculture, which is exposed to repeated droughts. Data estimates show that GDP fell sharply in 2017, driven by the regional drought. Real GDP growth is expected to have recovered in 2018.

“In recent years, policies have tried to adapt to the difficult conditions prevailing in the country. A sustained period of high fiscal deficits—reversed over the past three years—has led to a heavy public debt burden, the banking sector is vulnerable and foreign exchange is scarce. Notwithstanding such economic pressures, the Eritrean authorities have made remarkable progress on some development goals, notably in the health and education sector, and prioritized public investment in the earlier years.

“Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for real GDP growth is challenging due to the tight fiscal situation and existing restrictions on economic activity. Over the medium-term prospects for a pick-up in growth are promising, including due to new mining projects coming on stream. Policies to restore the health of the fiscal and financial sectors will be central to ensuring macroeconomic stability and broader economic reforms will help to deliver inclusive development.

“The mission team expresses its gratitude to the authorities for their warm hospitality and the productive discussions. The IMF stands ready to assist the authorities in the implementation of their economic policies, including through the provision of technical assistance, and looks forward to continuing the policy dialogue.”

The mission met with the Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, Minister of Tourism, the Minister of National Development, the Minister of Agriculture, the Acting Central Bank Governor and other senior government officials as well as representatives of the banking sector and international partners.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

May 22, 2019 News

Petition presented to the European Commission

Source: Connections

(17.05.2019) In April 2019 we learned about a project of the European Union which focusses on the rehabilitation of the main arterial roads in Eritrea. It is known as „Reconnecting Eritrea and Ethiopia through rehabilitation of the main arterial roads in Eritrea“ (Projekt T05-EUTF-HOA-ER-66). (https://ec.europa.eu/trustfundforafrica/sites/euetfa/files/t05-eutf-hoa-er-66_-_eritrea_road_rehabilitation.pdf)

Through this project the European Union provides 20 million € for the project which should be run by the Red Sea Trading Corporation (RSTC), the Government’s central procurement authority. We are very concerned that conscripts of the National Service should be used for this project.

In the description it is stated: “The labour used by the construction companies will consist of three types of personnel: permanent Government professionals; those in national service; and those mobilised from the local community on a cash-for-work basis.”

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea of the United Nations described the national service as “slavery” and viewed the nature of military service as “crimes against humanity”. (https://en.connection-ev.org/pdfs/2018_Eritrea_ACountryUnderTheSwayOfADictatorship.pdf, page 14ff).

The European parliament has called it “forced labour” and “a form of slavery”.

March 28, 2019 the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations wrote in the “Concluding observations on Eritrea in the absence of its initial report”: “The Committee is concerned that the length of the national service, which, initially stipulated by the National Service Proclamation No. 82/1995 for the period of 18 months, has been extended by a mandatory national service programme called the ‘Warsai Yikealo Development Campaign’ for an indefinite period. (…) It is also concerned about allegations that national service conscripts are deployed for labour in various posts, including mining and construction plants owned by private companies, while receiving no or very little salary.” (https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/ERI/INT_CCPR_COC_ERI_34490_E.pdf)

The note in the project description that „the (Eritrean) Government has indicated that reforms to the National Service will start to take place when jobs have been created, so allowing incremental demobilisation“, can’t be accepted as a justification for the use of conscripts as part of this project. In fact, despite repeated hints to implement changes, the Eritrean government has taken no action to demobilize soldiers, some of whom have been in service for over 10 years.

In Eritrea, military service, still referred to as national service, is an unlimited service. Men and women are usually not dismissed from the military, but used in government or military owned companies. They are still under military control und receive a very little pay. In the military, superiors have absolute authority, which they exercise with arbitrariness and torture. Women are often exposed to sexual assault, including rape. (www.fluechtlingshilfe.ch/assets/herkunftslaender/afrika/eritrea/170630-eri-nationaldienst.pdf) The Global Slavery Index indicates for 2018 that 451,000 persons in Eritrea are subject of these conditions, nearly 10% of the population. (https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/regional-analysis/africa/)

In response to a parliamentary enquiry the Federal Government of Germany stated April 25, 2019: „In general, the Federal Government conveys the clear expectation that German companies in their economic activities abroad comply with the standards of good corporate governance, as described in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as well as in the National Action Plan Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This includes, in particular, the prohibition of forced labour, as laid down in the International Labour Organisation Convention No 29 from 1930 about forced or compulsory labour and the additional Protocol of 2014.” (http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/19/098/1909806.pdf) The very fact the European Commission is deviating from this standard is completely incomprehensible to us.

On the occasion of the International Day of Conscientious Objection, which since 1985 has been highlighting the fate of men and women who in various countries are subjects to repression, detention and torture owing to their conscientious objection, this year we are focussing on the situation in Eritrea.

We therefore call on the European Commission to stop the project T05-EUTF-HOA-ER-66 immediately. The aid subsidizes a dictatorial regime, as the EU funds go directly to the Government’s central procurement authority. Conscripts are meant to be used whose employment can only be described as slavery. There are no assurances on behalf of the Eritrean government to comply with human rights.

We call on the European Commission to stop collaborating with the Eritrean regime under the circumstances. Eritrea is a state without the rule
of law and without respect of human rights. The 1997 constitution is not in force. There is a lack of independence of judiciary, no parliament, no elections. All of this was stated in the above mentioned Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations in March 2019. So far, the Eritrean regime under Isayas Afeworki has made no commitments to improve to comply with human rights standards nor to implement constitutional standards to guarantee democracy.

We call on the European Commission to ensure that Eritrean refugees have unrestricted access to asylum procedures in order to claim the necessary refugee protection. This also includes ending the walls-up policy against refugees, which is causing thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean sea.

We call on the European Commission to make an unequivocal statement to the Eritrean government to respect the human rights. This includes the release of conscientious objectors and political prisoners. This includes effective and sustainable measures to guarantee democracy and human rights.

We also call on the European Commission to support organizations and initiatives of the European diaspora who in various ways are working to promote human rights and democracy and their implementation in Eritrea. This would also send a clear political signal to the Eritrean government.

For further questions please be free to contact us at office(at)Connection-eV.org or +49 69 82 37 55 34

Sincerely

Connection e.V. (Rudi Friedrich, 069 82 37 55 34, www.Connection-eV.org)

Eritreischer Verein für Demokratie, Kultur und voneinander Lernen e.V. (Dr. Kessete Awet, +49 152 34 191 202 as well as Temelso Ghebreyesus Melese and Tewodros Tsige)

United4Eritrea

Pax Christi Bonn (Armin Lauven, +49 228 31 42 87)

German Peace Society – United War Resisters‘ (DFG-VK) Bonn-Rhein-Sieg and Northrhine-Westfalia (Joachim Schramm, +49 231 81 80 32)

Petition of Connection e.V., Eritreischer Verein für Demokratie, Kultur und voneinander Lernen e.V., United4Eritrea, Pax Christi Gruppe Bonn und German Peace Society – United War Resisters (DFG-VK) Gruppe Bonn-Rhein-Sieg und Landesverband Nordrhein-Westfalen, presented to the representatives of the European Commission in Germany May 17, 2019

Keywords:    ⇒ Civil Society   ⇒ Eritrea   ⇒ Eritrea   ⇒ Europa   ⇒ Europe   ⇒ Human Rights

Read More

(18.05.2019) Stop the Slavery in Eritrea – Demo in Bonn (external link) – Youtube-Bericht
…more

(17.05.2019) Eritrea: Keine Beihilfe für ein diktatorisches Regime und Sklaverei – Petition an die Europäische Kommission
…more

(17.05.2019) Stop the Slavery in Eritrea – Aktion zum Internationalen Tag der Kriegsdienstverweigerung

Foto: © Jürgen Tauras

…more

(17.05.2019) Stop the Slavery in Eritrea – Action to the International Day of Conscientious Objection

Photo: © Jürgen Tauras

…more

(14.05.2019) Europäische Union finanziert Sklavenarbeit in Eritrea – Petition zum Internationalen Tag der Kriegsdienstverweigerung
…more

(02.05.2019) Stop the Slavery in Eritrea – Aktion zum Internationalen Tag der Kriegsdienstverweigerung
…more

(02.04.2019) Rudi Friedrich: Eritrea nach dem Friedensabkommen mit Äthiopien – Hoffnung auf ein Ende der Unterdrückung ist trügerisch
…more

(02.04.2019) Rudi Friedrich: Inhaftierte Kriegsdienstverweiger*innen weltweit
…more

(01.04.2019) Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans: Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans Summons EU to Stop Supporting Use of Forced Labour in Eritrean Project
…more

(01.04.2019) Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans: Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans fordert EU auf, Unterstützung für Zwangsarbeit in Eritrea zu stoppen
…more

 
ExtendExtend

May 18, 2019 News

Source: Defend Defencers

In a paper released today, DefendDefenders calls on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure follow-up to its action on the human rights situation in Eritrea to date. We outline reasons why a resolution on the country is needed and elements that should be part of a resolution at the Council’s 41st session (HRC41, 24 June-12 July 2019).

Since the signing of a peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, no progress in Eritrea’s domestic human rights situation has been reported. Impunity for past and ongoing human rights violations remain widespread, and grave violations, including arbitrary and incommunicado detentions, violations of the right to a fair trial, lack of information on the fate of disappeared persons, the use of indefinite national service, and severe restrictions on civil and political rights and civic space, continue unabated.

The situation, which remains one of the most serious on the African continent and has been addressed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) as well as the UN, calls for a high level of attention.

Eritrea became a member of the Human Rights Council in January 2019. In line with Council membership standards, the government has an obligation to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms with a view to improving its human rights record. The Council should urge the government to do so, and states should join efforts to ensure both that avenues are open for dialogue and cooperation with Eritrea – the onus being on the Government to change course and engage – and that scrutiny of the country’s situation remains high.

Read the paper.

May 16, 2019 News

Eritrea blocks social media, reportedly to curb planned protests

Eritrea

Eritreans are unable to access social media networks as at today (May 15), the BBC’s Tigrinya Service reports.

People have thus been forced to turn to Virtual Private Networks, VPN, to exchange messages. In Eritrea, the internet cannot be accessed via mobile phones, the report added.

The government is said to have taken the measure to avert an intended protest as the country gears up for its 26th Independence Day celebrations on May 24.

Asmara has yet to officially respond to the development. Communication like media is strictly under government control in the country considered to be a one-party state.

President Isaias Afwerki is the sole president since 1993, there is no opposition in the country. Eritrea has serially been accused of violently crashing on dissent and muzzling the media – which is currently non-existent.

Internet World statistics indicate that Eritrea has by far the lowest internet penetration on the continent. As at 2018, it had only 71,000 internet users, estimated to be 1.3% of the population.The last time a protest was staged in the country was in November 2017 when gunshots were used to disperse a group of students demonstrating against state interference in the running of schools.

It turned out to be also be the last known time that internet was cut amid swoops that led to the arrest of dozens, reports stated at the time.

The incident led to the issuance of security alert especially for the capital Asmara by the united States embassy. The information minister at the time dismissed the incident as a “small demonstration by one school,” adding that it was “dispersed without any casualty.”

May 14, 2019 News

This is most peculiar. Why did the Qatar National Bank go to a London court to try to win back $250 million from Eritrea?

The details are sketchy, but come from an authoritative source: Law 360 – which supplies information to business.

Below is as much as I can see at present.

Service Row Delays Qatari Bank’s $250M Eritrean Loan Fight

Law360, London (May 10, 2019, 6:23 PM BST) — A London judge Friday opted not to decide if Qatar National Bank can give Eritrea notice of a $250 million lawsuit over an unpaid loan outside of normal diplomatic channels until…

So what could be behind this?
On the one hand there has been speculation that Eritrea is running out of money and finding it hard to repay loans.
On the other hand we know that relations between Eritrea and Qatar were excellent at one time.
There was even a story that the Emir of Qatar was building a luxury resort on the Eritrean island of Kebir in the Red Sea. Images of the resort appears on the internet.
dahlak development - Eritrea 2
But relations between Qatar and Eritrea have been frozen since 2015, when Eritrea decided to change sides and move to back the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen.
The rift had wide implications.
This is what Statfor (a global security intelligence firm advising business and government) said.
“In the case of Eritrea, when the UAE military was ejected from Djibouti at the beginning of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015, Abu Dhabi quickly engagedwith the government in Asmara over access to its port of Assab. Until then, Eritrea had been close to Iran, receiving aid and allowing the Iranian navy use of Assab. Eritrea also had good relations with Qatar, which had kept a contingent of troops along a disputed Djibouti-Eritrea border until Eritrea sided with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in their dispute with Qatar. Eritrea cut ties with Iran and agreed to allow the UAE to build up military facilities just across the Bab el-Mandeb from Yemen’s southwest coast. The bases there have played a crucial role in the UAE’s ability to conduct military operations in southern Yemen, including the amphibious assault to retake Aden from Houthi forces in August 2015. In exchange, according to experts, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have helped modernize Eritrea’s power grid and have given in-kind assistance of oil, among other aid. According to the U.N. panel of experts on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions, Eritrea deployed around 400 troops to Yemen as part of the coalition forces. Eritrea’s budding ties to the UAE and Saudi Arabia – an apparent lifeline offering relief from its international isolation – triggered an alarmed response in Addis Ababa.”
Ever since, Qatar and its media house, al-Jazeera, have taken a much tougher line with Eritrea.
Al-Jazeera now regularly carries hard-hitting exposes about Eritrea and the fate of Eritreans.
All of which leads us back to the London court case. We will have to see how this develops, but the Eritrean state keeps much of its finance off-shore and squabbles with its hosts in foreign lands are hardly surprising.
What was the loan taken out for? And why, as the report states was it “an unpaid loan outside of normal diplomatic channels”. We await further developments.
 

 
Saturday, May 11, 2019 5:12PM
As the U.S. remains locked in a debate over asylum seekers from Central America, lawyers and advocacy groups say they are seeing an alarming uptick in deportations to the African nation of Eritrea -- a country that President Donald Trump's government acknowledges arbitrarily imprisons and tortures its own citizens.

The plight of Eritrean refugees, while relatively small, strikes at the heart of the ongoing dispute in America over who is entitled to seek refuge within its borders, and what to do with people who are already here.

Eritreans in the U.S. whose bids for asylum have been denied say they fear that deportations are akin to a death sentence, immigration attorneys told ABC News.

Zeresenay Ermias Testfatsion, a 34-year-old Eritrean whose asylum claim was rejected, was found dead last year in a shower area at a detention holding area during a layover at Cairo's international airport en route to East Africa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said his death was an "apparent suicide."

"He explained to the U.S. government, if he gets deported, the Eritrean government will imprison him and torture him, all that kind of stuff," his close friend in the Washington area, Tesfom Debesai, told ABC News. "If he went back to this country, something was going to happen to him."

President Trump has primarily focused on migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America, which advocates say deflect attention from the plight of Africans and others seeking refuge in the United States.

"I think certainly on the ground, we see all the communities in our state and folks who we serve across the board ... impacted by administration policies," Tim Warden-Hertz, an attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, told ABC News

Eritrea's authoritarian government tortures, forcibly disappears, and indefinitely detains its citizens, who lack an array of civil rights and freedoms, according to the State Department's 2018 report on human rights in the country. Human rights groups say it also uses extortion and threats of violence to compel its nationals residing abroad to pay a 2% income tax before they can obtain basic services.

Nearly half a million Eritreans have fled in recent years, with many of them escaping indefinite military service that the United Nations has said amounts to mass enslavement, and tight restrictions on leaving. Some have made their way to ports of entry on the United States' southern border with Mexico and claimed asylum -- only to have American immigration courts deny them refuge.

Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan in the Horn of Africa, has for years refused to provide U.S. immigration authorities with the documents needed to repatriate Eritreans, and those who are denied asylum can end up in a state of limbo.

To force Eritrea's hand, in September 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would stop issuing a wide range of U.S. visas to Eritreans. Since then, the number of Eritreans deported has spiked by over 50%, an increase ICE has attributed to the heightened pressure.

The U.S. deported about 62 Eritreans in the year since the sanctions announcement, and an ICE spokesperson told ABC News that at least a dozen more people have been deported since October.

The America Team for Displaced Eritreans, an advocacy group, told ABC News that, over the years, it had tracked scores of cases of Eritreans fighting to stay in the United States. As of last month, there were 936 Eritreans in the U.S. who had been ordered deported but who were not detained, including 147 convicted criminals, according to an ICE official.

As the United States pushes to accelerate deportations, several immigration attorneys who work with Eritreans told ABC News that individuals who go before U.S. immigration judges without a legal assistance might struggle to counter claims that the human rights situation in their home country has improved. There is no guarantee to a lawyer in U.S. immigration courts.

"That is the climate that we are living in, especially under the Trump administration," said one immigration attorney, who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisal from Eritrea. "I'm seeing just the craziest arguments being made -- decisions, rulings that place people's lives in danger."

The Eritrean embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and the State Department referred questions about Eritrea's cooperation with the U.S. to ICE. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, also referred questions to the agency.

The brother of one Eritrean man facing deportation, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation by Eritrean and American authorities, told ABC News that he worries that if his brother is forced to return home, he will never see him again.

His brother had been conscripted into the country's notorious "national service" and was tortured repeatedly after refusing an order to shoot at someone who was trying to escape. He escaped across the border to Sudan and eventually made his way to a port of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border in 2016, but his asylum claim was later denied. He is now being held in ICE detention.

"In the past, he was going in and out... of the prison. And got tortured, got beaten up," he said of his brother. "But this time, he will not make it out [of Eritrea] alive."
 
 

Enough is Enough ....... ያኣክል

Friday, 10 May 2019 21:33 Written by

እዚ "ብያኣክል" ዝብል ህዝባዊ ምልዕዓል መታን ክዕወት ዓሚቁን ሰፊሕን መጽናዕቲ ዝሓትት ስለዝኾነ መራሕቱ  ኣብ ዘዘለውዎ ሃገር ምስተን ዓለምለኸ ትካላት ክተሓባበሩን ትምህርታዊ ዝኾነ ፍልጠት ንክቀስሙ ክጓየዩ ኣለዎም።እቲ ቅድሚ ሕጂ ሒዝናዮ ዝጸንሓና ልምዲ ናይ ወጋሕ ትበል ለይቲ ተሪፋ ፣ትምህርታዊ ዓውደ መጽናዕትታት፣ ኮርሳት ኢዩ እቲ ንኣፍልጦኻ ዘዕቢ፣ፍልጠት ድማ ንክትምዕብል ይሕግዘካ። ዘመን ከበሮ ተሪፋ ዘመን ምንባብን ምምርማርን ይኹን፡፤

Eritrean fourth democratic wave towards Inclusive political   participation and representation

The struggle from dictatorship to democracy depends on its ownership expressed through its meaningful participation to affirm this it needs democratic institutions and campaign strategy and grand strategy. The goal of the struggle from dictatorship to democracy is clear to remove the dictatorship from its deep roots and system and lay foundations for democratic system and democratic society.

Looking to the Eritrean Movements struggling against dictatorship in Diaspora the main challenge was to unify the Movements under a grand strategy including all political, civic and individuals.

The struggle from dictatorship to democracy is not similar like the struggle for national liberation from colonialism and occupation.

In the past 20 we have seen many national dialogues and conferences held by political and civic organizations but all were not sustainable and successful. This article will try to provide an overview of the process pursued in the past 20 years

During these 20 years of struggle for democratic change in Eritrea the Eritrean Opposition in Diaspora couldn't achieve structured participation but encountered multiple challenges internally ( lack of strategic partnership) and externally( foreign intervention-Ethiopian Government) but still there is hope that one day they will come together and achieve more in the coming future. To achieve this the opposition forces require along-term commitment from all its members in order to guarantee the sustainability of the struggle of all forces regardless of their political affiliations.

The Eritrean Opposition in Diaspora campaign strategy has been against each other for the past 20 years being aware of this failed strategy the opposition must direct their campaign strategy( win- win strategy) against the dictatorship, strengthening participation by all forces for democratic change, through greater participation we can win our peoples' legitimacy.

Through such campaign strategies the opposition can gain a keener understanding of the struggle from dictatorship to democracy and enhance their cooperation providing them more precise and unified message to the Eritrean people inside Eritrea. Let us promise not to campaign against each other, for example, the social media has been an instrument for defamation and blackmailing against each other let us stop this and direct the campaign strategy against it.

The Eritrean Forces for democratic change in Diaspora have tried gradually to build up alliances and coalitions but all were not sustainable and successful. We have learned many lessons during this time why these alliances and coalitions were not successful.

Building alliances and coalitions are democratic instruments in the struggle for democratic change but the Eritrean Opposition still need to learn the importance of these instruments.

The Eritrean Opposition in Diaspora have not succeeded to lay a grand strategy ( See, Gene Sharpe's research studies) winning the dictatorship in Eritrea and laying foundations( What form of Government- State Structure/Federalism/ Unitary) for democratic change inside Eritrea.

Laying grand strategy is the most important instrument to be established to remove the dictatorship and lay foundations for democratic change.

If the call of , " Enough is Enough" for national united platform is out of shared lessons learned they must first assess the past experiences of unity attempts inside themselves and with other compatriots for democratic change. Building national united platform needs a long-term commitment from all the parties involved and I hope the youth will take this initiative and revitalise the method of struggle from dictatorship to democracy.

References

  1. Einstein Institute Branch in Sweden
  2. IDEA, International Institute For Democracy and Electoral Assistance
  1. Expert Group- UD Sweden
Wed 10 Jun 2015 Last modified on Wed 29 Nov 2017
President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea

President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, who ‘rules through fear’. Photograph: Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images

Europe’s response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean has rightly – if belatedly – focused on saving lives. Not a week goes by now without thousands of Africans, Asians and refugees from the Middle East being rescued off the coast of Italy by European ships. That is the welcome result of a humanitarian effort decided in late April, after a series of tragedies at sea had pushed EU leaders to act at last. But it would be dangerous to suppose that the deeper problem has been addressed. Europe deals only with the symptoms of migration, not its root causes. Eritrea is a striking case in point.

This east African nation of 6 million people is now one of the biggest sources of migrants who take the perilous journey into Sudan and then across Libya before finally setting out to sea towards Europe’s shores. There is no civil war in Eritrea, nor has there been an international military intervention. What Eritreans desperately try to escape is a dictatorship that sounds close to being Africa’s equivalent of North Korea. The UN’s inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, in a damning report published earlier this week, found what it called “a pervasive control system used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety”. It describes torture, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, indefinite military conscription, forced labour. It is a comprehensive description of how President Isaias Afwerki, in power for 23 years, rules through fear.

In the face of the systematic inhumanity of his regime, Europe has turned a blind eye. Even worse, the EU has in recent months decided on a new development aid package to Eritrea, worth over €300m. The argument is that financial support will help stem the flow of asylum seekers pouring out of the country. But it is not likely to work like that. Rather, the aid will first feed the cynicism of a dictatorial system only too happy to feel vindicated in its twisted assertion that Eritreans are migrating for predominantly economic reasons, not political ones. Second, such a policy does nothing to relieve those who so desperately need urgent help. Europe is not only compromising its own values by turning a blind eye to tyranny, it is rewarding a regime with aid instead of thinking strategically.

Any reading of the UN report should tear down this convenient myth. The EU must base its action not on wishful thinking but on the report’s core conclusion, which is that crimes against humanity may be being committed in Eritrea. This means that European governments, including the UK’s, that have tried to cast Eritreans as economic migrants, must seriously consider changing course. If Eritreans are fleeing persecution, Europe’s obligation is to be open to them, not to retreat behind false representations. If aid is to be delivered, it must come with strict obligations attached. There may be no easy solution to Eritrea’s domestic situation, but the very least one should expect from Europe is to recognise the facts: it is a totalitarian state whose refugees are not, or not only, in search of work but who are fleeing a very real terror.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting our independent, investigative reporting than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

Every contribution we receive from readers like you, big or small, goes directly into funding our journalism. This support enables us to keep working as we do – but we must maintain and build on it for every year to come. Support The Guardian from as little as €1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Source=https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/10/guardian-view-eritrea-regime-of-terror-migration

EPDP Magazines