By Petros Tesfagiorgis
When Peace was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea it was expected that all prisoners of conscience will be released, the regime will end the indefinite national service and other forms of human rights
By Petros Tesfagiorgis
When Peace was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea it was expected that all prisoners of conscience will be released, the regime will end the indefinite national service and other forms of human rights violations. But that did not happen. It has become crystal clear that the regime has no desire nor the guts to end the gross human violations in Eritrea. All these has presented a formidable challenge to the people of Eritrea and the International community.
Today, Eritreans in Diaspora are getting organised demanding the end of the repressive rule of President Isaias Afeworki by peaceful means. They also expressed it in melodious musical and poetry terms. The Eritrean Diaspora where ever they are in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Israel etc. are organising meetings to bring unity among themselves believing that the key to success is to form a strong united front.
A meeting in London took place on Sunday 7 April 2019. It was phenomenal. Such a large crowd has never been seen before. The hall was full to capacity.
There were moving speeches from the participants – expressing their willingness to be part of the change- unlocking the energy inside. A woman, Mrs. Selas Tekle, a veteran member of EPLF mass association during the struggle, spoke out eloquently and forcefully saying “Esaias has to go” detailing his crimes against the people and mismanagement of the economy. She was bold and assertive. Going back to history, the participation of the Eritrean women was one of the secrets behind the victory of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). Likewise, today we have seen the role of women in Sudan’s popular uprising. A woman – leading the protest was dubbed as the Nubian Queen. She did the anti-Bashir slogans with style, passion and grace to be repeated by the rest of the women protestors. The demonstrators persisted for three months claiming the demise of the dictator and give power to the people and it worked. President Omar al-Bashir is deposed. This is an inspiration for the Eritrean women and men who have been actively expressing solidarity with the people of Sudan.
Today the Eritrean youth are waking up to fulfil their historic duties. They are engaged in activates that will shape the destiny of democratic Eritrea. They are the change makers. I congratulate Eritreans for Unity and Justice (EUJ) UK for taking the responsibility to call this meeting in London.
Such meetings are taking place in Europe, USA, Canadas, Australia, Israel and in many other countries. There is also news from inside Eritrea of underground resistance groups. They distribute leaflets informing people of the need to stand up and protest for change. The Slogans “enough is enough” are posted on walls, electric poles and left in streets for people to pick them up and read.
However, the question of creating an institution and an umbrella leadership is yet to be resolved. It is only competent and committed leaders who can turn the recommendations and ideas from the discussions into action plan, work plan and implementation.
Such was an input by Amanuel Eyasu, the head of TV Assenna, during the London meeting. He spoke with seriousness saying it is not enough to say “enough is enough, we have to move into action” He suggested that a big meeting has to be arranged as soon as possible to choose competent leaders to do the task.
It is not enough to choose leaders from the activists only. The intellectuals or professionals must be included. They are the once who should draw the road map and craft a system of net-work to connect all the protesters in many countries. Their help and leadership is invaluable today more than ever.
The intellectuals are capable of packaging the objectives of the movement for change in a professional way and sell it to the media, the human rights organisations, foreign governments and multi-national organisation, who have a stake in the Horn, and peace and freedom loving people the world over. Even in human rights advocacy marketing the issues makes a difference. To do all these it is essential to build an institution with organisational chart –with various committees such as fund raising, public relations etc. It also has to be transparent and accountable.
In Eritrea the high school leaving year, 12th grade, is taken in Military camp in “Sawa” where academic freedom is absent. The military environment undermines intellectual work and critical thinking. Besides there is a history of undermining intellectuals by Isaias and his henchmen and women during the long years of the armed struggle. The story of democratic movement inside the EPLF in early seventies – the “Menka movement “is significant. They were the first group to call for accountability and democracy in the front. They were systematically eliminated. Thus our youth, under PFDJ, have poor educational achievements and they were subjected to mistreatment. So the Eritrean youth have a lot of learning to do in order to catch up with modernity. Because of all these shortages the intellectuals in Diaspora are invaluable.
Ultimately it is the people or the army in Eritrea that will depose Isaias Afeworki. However, the Diaspora have a pivotal role to play. They are the ambassadors and the voice of the people trapped in Eritrea. The Diaspora have free media. The TV Assena based in London is being monitored in Eritrea. It serves as a link between people in Eritrea and the Diaspora justice seekers. The Diaspora media including the radios such as the Paris based “ERENA” and many others in the West are making a big difference.
But the most powerful ammunition in the hands of the Diaspora protesters is the plight of refugees. The world knows that the Eritrean regime is most repressive and secretive regime in the world. However, because he made peace with Ethiopia – the Western Countries are keeping a blind eye to the violations. Instead they are blocking the ships in the Mediterranean Sea that rescue refugee.
Once the Diaspora are united – they can demonstrate and denounce the EU of these inhuman act.
On 11 March 2019. Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that despite “positive developments” in regional relations, “the Office of the High Commissioner had not seen any improvements in the actual situation of human rights”. The Diaspora can give support to UNHCR and make themselves visible. That will worry Governments in Europe and the movement “enough is enough” will be taken seriously.
From the Office and Communications Coordinator at EEPA :
Brussels, 1 April 2019 – The Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans, a Netherlands-based organization of exiled Eritreans, is taking legal action against the European Union. The EU is financing activities in Eritrea for which forced labour is used, as is stated in the EU’s project description: a project of 20 million euros.
Prof. van Reisen –Head of EEPA- is surprised that the EU has approved this project, while it has previously avoided using national service labour, which is clearly against its laws and principles. Van Reisen ended by saying: “There can only be one conclusion: this activity has to be stopped.”
The “Enough is enough movement “must support such powerful message.