ENCDC has to pursue a constructive productive and effective diplomacy in their struggle for change. Since its foundation in 2011 has failed to win the sympathy and support of foreign states.

ENCDC is now in its revival with a new spirit and mutual respect.

ENCDC have to make use of the diplomacy based on the know-how of the modus operandi of international relations which had been administering the world today, the interests of countries with national sovereignty, and international organizations attends to the interests of international security, regional organizations that sponsor the security and interests of the countries in the region, as well as non-governmental organizations that has become of great influence in international politics and overseas companies with a significant impact on the process of political decision-making.

Therefore any formulation of diplomatic action plan must be based the above mentioned backgrounds, it would be helpful to point out some important guideline here bellow:

  1. A diplomatic action built on positive interaction, that is to say, there are parties in the world who have their respective stakes in Eritrea, who need to be convinced that the opposition can be faithful to their interests as long as not inconsistent with the national interests of Eritrea, therefore countries which their interests have been damaged by the Eritrean Regime will cooperate with the opposition, but first, the opposition must confirm its credibility and seriousness
  2.  A diplomatic action built on negative interaction, and we mean that there are parties in the world that Eritrean Regime constitutes a source of concern for their respective national security, whether serious or minimal concern, such forces would be more than happy to watch the Eritrean Regime disappearing.

The recent relations with Ethiopia are only personal relations and are temporary. Most of the Horn of African countries have genuine interests in the disappearance of this Regime due to the keenness to their respective national security,  but these countries can not risk to establish relations with the opposition unless ascertained in the seriousness of the opposition, for fear that the establishment of such a relationship might deteriorate the internal affairs of their respective countries, the Eritrean Regime is notorious/warmongering in exploiting the internal contradictions of foreign countries, which constitute a threat to the security of those countries, the seriousness of the opposition/ ENCDC would be associated with its political discourse and its mechanisms.

3- A diplomatic action built on bilateral policy and attitudes, where some countries are in harmony with opposition/ ENCDC on their stance towards many issues, attitudes towards public issues is inconsistent with the positions of the Eritrean Regime, therefore compatibility with opposition or contradiction with the regime, is stimulus for diplomatic cooperation between the opposition and the foreign nations.

4- Diplomatic functioning based on lobbying through local communities, civic organizations and individual relationships, where every vote counts on the part of the Western countries in times of elections, the grouping of communities and activating civic organizations or take advantage of individual relationships can influence and stimulate the policies of Western states towards Eritrea.

5- Benefit from Non-governmental Organizations of certain areas of concern, such as human rights organizations, and organizations concerned with freedoms of religion or press, or transparency and those NGOs fighting corruption, and even the relief and health humanitarian organizations that the Eritrean Regime refused to give access to providing aid to the Eritrean people, all these factors could be valuable for the diplomatic advancement of the opposition if used properly.

The Eritrean opposition need to muster the factors that manipulate world politics through a specialized and skilful apparatus the make use of its political and administrative authority, and perhaps the most important aspect in this regard is appoint united-external-political unit. The following points might be useful in this respect.

  • Formation of diplomatic apparatus for the Eritrean National Council for Democratic change/ ENCDC to run the international relations with political and administrative competency and capabilities.
  • Consensus on the features of the external political discourse of the ENCDC.
  • Coordination of the foreign policies of the political organizations through a united committee consisted of the external relations officials of the ENCDC organizations. With the task of making ENCDCs’ foreign policy a non-partisan policy through the evaluation of external policy functioning, exchange of information and proposal of plans, and benefiting from the relationships of organizations and individuals in this area.
  • Coordination with the civic organizations that support the overall objectives of the opposition, especially in Europe, America and Australia, and take advantage of their relations, and to mandate the civic organizations to implement and illuminate the foreign policy of the Eritrean opposition.
  • To draw a maximum benefit from all partners struggling for freedom and change at regional and global level.
  • Improvement of ENCDC’s website so that it could be a reference to all the questions that may arise in the mind of any policy-maker or a diplomatic mission, as well as writing leaflets carefully prepared and in different languages.

Strategic Media Development

In today's world, which is dubbed as the “age of information evolution”, though the media of the Eritrean opposition is not commensurate with the magnitude of the cause it is raising and the challenge it is facing, despite the progress that opposition media has registered in general, but that is not enough to deliver the message of opposition, especially when the regime it is opposing has an information outlets that are considered the most prominent strengths of the regime.

even the improvements that opposition’s media outlets have shown are due to efforts without any coordination which is not enough to deliver the message of the opposition , most of the oppositions media outlets lack professionalism, most of the ENCDC’s organizations have their own media outlets which lessen the effectiveness of the spirit needed for change, even the oppositions media outlets are often used to highlight the secondary political contradictions between ENCDC organizations , we could point out the following points in this respect: 

  • Formulation an information policy with clear goals and instructions to convey a convincing message through all available information means.
  • Tolerate secondary contradictions of political and civil forces, and focus on the overarching challenge of removing the dictatorial regime in Eritrea.
  • Coordination of work between media organizations and the signing of the Code of Conduct for the media outlets, so that the media war between the organizations, degradation or questioning of the principles, personal attack would be perceived as a red-line.
  • development of the radio through the creation of an independent radio with working-hours for as long as possible pursuing a dynamic approaches in conveying the opposition’s message to resist the Regime and to deliver ENCDC’s message in an intelligent way.
  • Diligences in founding a TV-channel to convey the goals of the opposition and reflect the suffering of the Eritrean people, and work to highlight the abuse of the regime against our people.Establishing ENCDC’ Satellite TV challenging the PFDJ’s ERITV.
  • Develop opposition websites on the web and make it more professional and more easily viewed, and more substantive and meaningful.
  • Pay much attention to the Internet to benefit from groups on facebook, Twitter and other tools that gains the attention of a large number of sympathizers.
  • The importance of training and the adoption of assigning media work according to individual competency and not organizational affiliation.
  • Opening up communication with TV channels, news agencies, global and regional newspapers and magazines and all that can contribute to delivering the message of the opposition.
  • Use the universal language in the media, in terms of focus on the concepts of human rights, democracy, transparency and good governance.
  • Documentation of the regime’s Violations, and reporting the evidences in figures and images because it makes the message of the opposition more credible and acceptable to the recipient.
  • adoption of mechanisms and means to evaluate the feedback such as surveys, questionnaires and others to determine the effect of the message on the recipient
  • Co-operate with global organizations that provide skills and Knowledge on democracy, human rights, rule of law , good governance and peace.


October 23, 2019 Ethiopia, News

Hundreds of Jawar Mohammed’s supporters gathered at his residence this morning

Ephream Silesh & Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, October 23/2019 –Protests erupted in several cities and towns across Oromia regional state and various spots surrounding Addis Abeba after Jawar Mohammed, executive director Oromo Media Network (OMN) and prominent activistposted information in his Facebook page that his security detail were told “to pack their stuff and leave the compound quietly without alerting me.”

Jawar has been posting several messages throughout the night including anaudio/video purportedly carrying a conversation between his security detail and a third person who Jawar said was a security official. In it, Jawar’s security can be heard saying they will not leave their post in the middle of the night without replacements.

The area where Jawar’s residence is located at, off Bole road, was quickly flooded by hundreds of his supporters. As of the publishing of this article, standoff continued between his supporters and the police who are trying to disperse the crowd, our reporter, Mahlet Fasil, said from the scene. Protesters are chanting “Jawar, Jawar” and “Down, Down Abiy.”

In a separate part of the city, in Kara Qore area in western Addis Abeba, a counter protest erupted when a group of youth began chanting “Jawar thief”. The Police quickly stepped in to disperse the standoff between his supporters and those protesting against him.

Protesters in Oromia carrying a banner that reads “Touching Jawar if touching our eyes.”

Elsewhere in Oromia, several spontaneous protests broke out including in Ambo, the hotbed of the four years’ Oromo protests prior to Prime Minister Abiy’s assent to power, Haramaya and Bale Robe, among other places. Roads in outskirt areas of the capital Addis Abeba were also blocked by the Oromo youth, Qeerroo.

Speaking a while ago, Endeshaw Tasew, Federal Police Commission Commissioner,denied the reportsthat there were attempts to remove Jawar’s security. “His message that the police were taking measures against him are false. Neither the government nor the police took any measure against him,” he said.

But he admitted that the government has assigned security details for activists and political leaders who returned home from abroad in order to guarantee their safety and security. However, recently, there has been measures to remove private security details based on evaluations and circumstances that indicate low threat levels and increasing stability, according Commissioner Endeshaw. He called for calm and an end to road closures in various places.

Earlier tension

Tension started simmering since yesterday afternoon following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s speech at the national parliament during a question and answer session with parliamentarians. An MP asked the prime Minister on what measures the government was planning to take to tame media organizations which are “fueling conflict.”

“The media wants to be free, but wanting to be free and managing to be free are different things’, the PM said, adding ethnic, religious and political entrepreneurs were to blame. He further said that the media, rather than trying to facilitate Ethiopia’s peace and democracy, have resorted to collecting funds from a people and ethnic groups they claim to represent and hinted at the broadcast authority to enforce the law without hindering the process of strengthening the media. “Owners of media who are foreign nationals, who do not have an Ethiopian passport, who can leave the country when things go south” should know that the government was practicing patience to broaden the space. “If [you] become a threat against Ethiopia’s peace and survival, whether or not you speak Amharic or Afaan Oromoo, it should be noted that we will take the necessary measures,” the PM said, adding, “we do not have another country we can flee to” and “those of you with [a second] country, if you are willing to help us with our peace, development and democracy then you are welcome”. In what many saw as an accusation directed at Jawar Mohammed, PM Abiy went on to warn that talk of democracy and freedom cannot be used to mask those that profit off of the media and that measures must be taken to control this.

A few minutes after the Prime Minister’s response at the parliament Jawar Mohammedwrote a direct response to PM Abiy, which was written in Afaan Oromo, and posted to his 1.7 million followers on Facebook.

He started off by saying he never fled the country, but left it to study and had to get a foreign passport because the government wouldn’t renew the one he had. “After Woyane was pushed out by the blood and bone of Qeerroo, you had elders to try and convince us not to come back. But we put our people above everything and came home to help you transition this country with the influence and knowledge we have,”he said. He reminded the PM of their meeting in Minnesota and then in Addis Abeba in which he said Oromia was his life and death from then on.

Speaking about his media,OMN, Jawar said they have always respected the laws of the countries in which they operated and kept on reporting the people’s protest despite the millions of dollars spent on lobbying and jamming the media. Respecting the laws and constitution of the country and putting into consideration the current situation of the people and nation would be what they will continue to do so, he further said.

In the last paragraph, Jawar countered the Prime Minister’s accusation saying he didn’t come home to run away when things go south, and he was “here to face all of it with my people” and signed off by saying his assurances were neither the government of Ethiopia nor an American passport, but God and the Oromo people.

Running for office?

On Saturday last week,a breaking news on The Finfinne Intercept, a Facebook page which quickly gained prominence for its inside information, said citing its sources that “activist and political analyst Jawar Mohammed has initiated the process to renounce his US citizenship.”It added that Jawar was “considering running for a seat in the regional or federal legislature in the upcoming election.” Ethiopian social media space was awash with subsequent speculations that he was indeed running for office, a claim he denied during several media interviews he gave in the past expressing his disinterest to participate in politics.

Jawar himself brushed thespeculation with humor: “The story about me running for office is just speculation. I am running to [lose] weight,” he tweeted. But reliable sources close to him toldAddis Standardthat he in fact was considering to run for office. “He sees the Prime Minister’s move to merge EPRDF and create a unified party as a dangerous move that could potentially tip the country into a civil war,” one source said.

In an interview he gave toLTV and was aired last night, Jawar severely criticized PM Abiy’s move and called it a plot to “extend individual’s power” and a recipe to “disintegrate the country”. He also criticized “Medemer”,the book written by PM Abiy Ahmed.

One of the pictures that emerged from today’s protests show a group ofpeople burning several copiesof “Ida’amuu”, the Afaan Oromo equivalent of “Medemer. “AS

20 October 2019

Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

Somalia is negotiating with Turkey and Eritrea for deployment of their military commanders and supply of equipment for the war against Al-Shabaab when the African peacekeepers under Amisom, finally withdraw in 2021.

But the deployment can only be bilateral with the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which despite ordering the phased withdrawal of peacekeepers is aware that Somalia's security forces lack the capacity to protect the whole country.

Turkey has been Somalia's leading donor and has invested billions of dollars in infrastructural projects--roads, hospitals, the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu and schools--while Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia have recently forged what is known as the Cushitic Alliance, to foster co-operation on economic and security issues among the Horn of Africa countries.


The Turkish ambassador to Kenya Ahmed Cemil Miroglo said he is not aware of such consultations and referred us to their embassy in Somalia and Eritrea.

Eritrea restored relations with Somalia last year, after nearly 15 years of animosity--with Mogadishu accusing Asmara of funnelling money to the Al-Shabaab.

If Turkey and Eritrea are to step in, it could be a win for Somali given that Amisom, with the help of donors, was supposed to train and equip 30,000 Somalia soldiers before exiting, but so far have only trained 10,000.


October 19, 2019 News

Meir Shamgar, former president of Israel’s Supreme Court, has died at the age of 94. He is one of the last members of the Jewish resistance movement that fought the British during World War Two – the Irgun. They were captured and taken to Eritrea where they were imprisoned for the duration of the conflict. Below is Justice Shamgar’s obituary and this is followed by the story I wrote for the BBC. Martin Plaut

October 18, 2019 11:35 am

Former Israeli Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar in 2008. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

(JTA) – Meir Shamgar, a former president of the Israeli Supreme Court who started his legal studies by correspondence in an Eritrean prison, has died. He was 94.

Shamgar, who was deported and jailed because of his activities with the Irgun paramilitary group, served as the head of Israel’s top court from 1983 to 1995. He had joined the court in 1975.

Among his most notable policy changes as president was to lift many limitations on who can petition the court, including nonprofit organizations. The move, which Shamgar’s allies and opponents agree laid the foundations for the court’s judicial activism approach, significantly empowered the court to intervene on government policy, making it a decider in Israeli society rather than merely an arbiter.

In a biography of Shamgar, the Supreme Court said he had been a “champion of free speech” throughout his years as a judge.

Shamgar also headed the committee of investigation that looked into the omissions exposed in the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

He “had an important role in shaping the foundation of Israeli jurisprudence, including legal policy in Judea and Samaria,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said about Shamgar in a statement Friday, using the biblical terms for the West Bank.

Born in 1925 in Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland, Shamgar moved to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1939.

Five years later he was arrested by the British for his role in the Irgun, or Etzel, and was sent to Eritrea. In prison there, Shamgar studied law by correspondence with the University of London and, following his release, later completed studies in history and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, appointed Shamgar chief judge advocate general in 1963 – an unusual nomination because in the days leading up to Israel’s creation, Shamgar’s Irgun had been a rival group to Ben-Gurion’s Haganah.

I wrote the story about the imprisonment of the Jewish fighters for the BBC in 2002.

Here it is: Britain’s ‘Guantanamo Bay’

Border patrol in Eritrea in 1944

The controversial detention of alleged al-Qaeda members by the United States at Guantanamo Bay is not the first time difficult prisoners have been held without charge for long periods of time.

Nearly 60 years ago, Britain detained members of the Jewish underground in a similar way.

In October 1944, with the Second World War drawing to a close in Europe, Zionist groups were determined to see the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine once the fighting ended.

But a minority was not prepared to wait that long.

Two groups in particular – the Irgun and the Stern gang – waged a violent campaign against British targets, and a large number were rounded up and detained.

However detention camps in Palestine were difficult to guard, and the authorities looked for somewhere to send their troublesome prisoners, where there would be no friends or family to aid their escape.

The answer the British hit on was Eritrea, which had been captured from the Italians.

On 14 October 1944, 251 of the toughest prisoners were put on planes bound for the capital, Asmara.

Among those who were deported was a man who later became prime minister of Israel: Yitzhak Shamir (of the Stern gang).

Once there, they were sent to Sembel camp, close to the airport, and about two kilometres north of the capital.

Escape attempts

But the prisoners were well motivated, disciplined and organised, and soon set about attempting to escape.

Within weeks the first breakout occurred. The man charged with getting them back was David Cracknell, then deputy commissioner of police.

Inspector Cracknell (centre) with Eritrean colleagues

Now in retirement in Dorset in Britain, he says that during the 20 months that they were in Eritrea, there were in all about 12 escape attempts involving 107 prisoners, of whom 106 were re-captured.

The most daring escape took place in June 1946, when about 50 prisoners broke out of the camp using a 75 metre long tunnel dug under the wire.

The first that Mr Cracknell knew of the escape was when a policeman told him that there had been two or three arrests of strangely dressed individuals, speaking no known language.

One groups of escapees tried to pass themselves off as a British military platoon, complete with fake regimental cap badges, a military policemen with a red cap and white webbing belt and wooden revolver, as well as a major in charge.

Intensive search

This group commandeered a bus and set off for the Ethiopian border.

After about 50 kilometres, the bus ran out of petrol, and the escapees handcuffed the driver and conductor to the steering wheel and set off on foot.

“We spread the news around by radio and runner, and as a result the whole lot were surrounded by villagers and handed over to the police,” Inspector Cracknell remembers.

The late David Cracknell

There still remained a dozen or so at large, and an intensive search was mounted for them.

The British received help from a Yemeni Jew – part of the small Yemeni Jewish population in Asmara.

“I put him on the task of infiltrating any pro-Zionist groups he came across,” says Mr Cracknell.

“He was in touch with me for several days, saying he was making progress, and then suddenly there was no more from him.

“One morning as I got to the office a constable reported that a piece of paper was found fluttering from a window. It was from this missing informer.

“I buckled on my belt and revolver, drove to an Italian villa and went inside. One door was wedged. I put my shoulder to it and broke in.

“‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot’ came a voice from the darkness. I ordered the lights to be put on and there were eight Jews sitting there, with my informer in the corner, handcuffed and gagged.”

Slipping the net

During that time there were many escapes, and one man managed to get away – Eliyaju Lankin.

After five months he reached Djibouti via Addis Ababa, and finally sailed on a French boat to Marseilles and then on to Paris.

“His name is imprinted on my soul”, says Mr Cracknell.

Among those who attempted to get out was the future prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir.

Cracknell received a commendation for this work

The British were alerted that a further break-out had taken place when Shamir, Meridor and some other senior prisoners were said to have gone missing.

An earlier escapee – Rahamim Mizrahi – had managed to live at large in Asmara and was known to be in touch with Jerusalem by radio to co-ordinate their efforts.

Mr Cracknell sent an Italian police inspector to make links with the Italian underworld to try to discover the whereabouts of the escapees.

“Three weeks later I got a phone call. He was in the port of Masawa. They were in hiding, awaiting the arrival of a Lloyd Triestino boat bound for Italy.

“All I could do was to ensure that no one got on that boat. And so by putting a cordon around it, by floodlighting it, even having police in rowing boats around it, I ensured that no one got on board it.

“When it sailed, I knew that they would have to come back to Asmara.”

Escape route

The Italian inspector discovered that they had arrived in Masawa by water tanker, and so offered to send them back by the same route, for a fee of £60.

His phone call came saying they were leaving at midnight. David Cracknell set an ambush, at a point seven kilometres out of Asmara. At around three o’clock a diesel engine was heard rumbling up the hill.

“As it approached, the police lorry shot across the road. Headlights came on, and the tanker screamed to a halt.

“The terrified driver in the front was handcuffed and the head of criminal intelligence was told to get into the tanker and arrest the three.

“He was very sceptical about the whole exercise. His head popped out, and he said ‘no-one here’. I told him to look down through the baffle plates (at the bottom of the tanker), which are to stop the water surging.

“And sure enough, he caught the three. We grabbed them – including a short, fair-haired chap, who turned out to be Yitzhak Shamir. They were handcuffed and taken back to the camp,” Mr Cracknell said.

It was not long after that in March 1947 when they were packed up and sent off to Gilgil camp in Kenya, where most of them remained until the declaration of the state of Israel.

On the morning of 12 July 1948 the African exile of the members of the Jewish underground ended, as they reached Tel Aviv.

Libya: Refugee protests erupt against UNHCR

Friday, 18 October 2019 20:58 Written by

October 17, 2019 News

Today refugees in UNHCR Libya’s Gathering & Departure Facility (GDF) held a demonstration.

The centre, designed to be a 24-72 hour transit facility for evacuees, has been their home for the last 3 and a half months.

The reason? They came to the centre themselves asking for help.

When the prison where they were being held indefinitely was bombed on July 2, they were left on the street with no access to aid.

So they walked 14 hours on foot to Tripoli to knock on UNHCR’s door.

They were given temporary residence there but have been explicitly told that they will not be evacuated and will soon be sent back out into the streets.

These are people who were forced out of their homes due to war, political or religious persecution, and dictatorships.

Their request? A clear understanding of the vulnerability criteria UNHCR uses for evacuations, an explanation of why they don’t meet that criteria, and a chance to appeal.

To: His Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali

Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa.

Your Excellency,                     

We, the undersigned Eritrean Political Opposition Organizations and other justice seeking Eritreans in the Diaspora and at home, would like to submit this letter of unequivocal protest on your inaugural speech in the opening ceremony of the Unity Park in Addis Ababa 2019-10-10 pertaining to Eritrea.

We were deeply shocked and embarrassed to hear once again your explicit declaration of representing Eritrea in front of seven African heads of states and representatives of various international organizations, who all very well know that Eritrea is a sovereign country that achieved its independence after 30 years of protracted and costly liberation struggle and should have been represented, as customary, by one of its delegation including one of the two Eritrean ambassadors currently residing in Addis Ababa.

Your Excellency,

You formally announced that you were delegated to represent Eritrea by President Isaias Afwerki; underlined that Eritrea and Ethiopia are so intimately connected and that their relationship has reached such a level of representation, and congratulated the Ethiopian people and all for that achievement.

The Eritrean people value their freedom as well as a good relationship with Ethiopia based on mutual trust and respect. We, the Eritrean Opposition organizations and justice seekers underscore that Eritrea´s fate is decided by its own people and not by a dictator in Asmara. We stand therefore, firm to defend our hard-won independence which we see being gradually eroded and our social fabric destroyed by the dictator in Eritrea. We note and alert all concerned that the patience of our people is wearing thin and they are getting angrier by the day.

Your Excellency,

The world knows the extremely disquieting political, social, economic and human rights situation in Eritrea. It is a country without constitution, no election or elected president, no rule of law and no free press - a country where people are denied to peruse a normal life. Ethiopia and Ethiopians are a living witness of the flooding of thousands of Eritrean refugees including unaccompanied underage children entering your country every day.

The denial of our people’s sovereign and inalienable rights to elect a representative government cannot continue for too long. Until that day, no foreign leader has the legal and moral right to speak on behalf of the Eritrean people.

As we continue to struggle to ameliorate the suffering of our people, we remain certain that the hurdles we as a people face today will be history tomorrow. Peace based on the will and the power of the people will flourish and be asserted. Taking side with the Eritrean people will always be the right path for healthy and good future relations. Those who aspire for a lasting peace in the region should avoid allying with evil forces of tyranny and destruction.

We, once again, express our gratitude to the people and Government of Ethiopia for hosting thousands of Eritrean refugees and the support rendered to them in this difficult time of our history. We call upon Your Excellency, today a Nobel Peace Prize laurate, to seriously reconsider your stance on Eritrea, increase your endeavors of support and solidarity with the Eritrean people and strive at creating lasting peace in the region based on legal framework and institutional relationship between our countries.

Sincerely yours,

  1. Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC)
  2. Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)
  3. United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ)
  4. Baito Yiakl North America

October 15, 2019

October 14, 2019



Chairman of Sovereignty Council, Lt. Gen, Abdul-Fattah Al-Burhan received message from the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, SUNA reported.

The message was handed to Lt. Gen. by the special consultant of Eritrean President, Yemane Gebrab.

The message dealt with the relations between two countries and the importance of pushing them to wider horizons.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Asma Mohamed Abdalla, revealed that a meeting of experts in two countries will meet to review the joint projects that were discussed during the recent visit of the Eritrean President to Sudan.

She Affirmed the keenness of Sudan for establish firm relations with the Eritrea and all the neighboring countries.

By David Kode 6 October 2019 


Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki (Photo: EPA-EFE / Stringer)                                                                                                                             


Sport is a major unifier among all nations and the plight of Eritrean athletes should be enough to force the international community, particularly states that now host many Eritreans, to exert pressure on President Isaias Afwerki to implement reforms, 26 years after taking power.

Not many people outside sporting circles were familiar with Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa or the plight of the Oromo people in Ethiopia before the 2016 Rio Olympic games in Brazil.

As Feyisa crossed the finish line in the men’s marathon on the final day of the Olympics, winning a silver medal, and fully aware of the glare of the international community and media, he lifted his hands over his head and crossed his wrists in a symbolic anti-government protest. He repeated the gesture as he received his silver medal – the gesticulation is a trademark sign of protest, often used by the Oromo from where Feyisa hails, against the violent repression of the government.

At the time Feyisa made this gesture the Oromo territories, home to more than a third of the population of Ethiopia, was under siege from the Ethiopian military. More than 400 Oromos had been killed and thousands arrested during protests by the Oromo in the space of several months when Feyisa demonstrated the plight of his people to the world. Feyisa knew full well that such open protest was dangerous and admitted that he could be killed if he returned home. Speaking to the media after the race, he said:

“The Ethiopian government is killing my people, taking their land and resources, so I stand with all protesters everywhere as Oromo is my tribe. My relations are in prison and if they talk about democratic rights, they are killed.”


The intersection between sport and human rights highlighted above brings me to the main issue of this article – how Eritrean sportsmen and women indirectly reveal the state of human rights at home, but how very few people are taking notice.

A few days ago, five players from the Eritrean under 20 football team absconded from their hotel in Jinja, Uganda in the middle of the Council of East and Central African Football Associations Challenge Cup. The players are likely to seek asylum in Uganda and turn their backs on Eritrea for good if the political situation remains the same.

While there is a long history of African athletes abdicating from national sports teams while representing their nations at international sporting events, the peculiarities that force many Eritreans to do so are quite different.

Many of the sportsmen and women from other African countries who leave their camps during international sporting events target mainly countries in the global north with buoyant economies and sometimes better policies on asylum seekers. They do so mostly to seek green pastures and better economic opportunities. Admittedly, some also do so to escape conflicts and civil war. Eritreans for their part have used sporting events as a means to escape from compulsory military service that has been described by some as a form of slavery.

In October 2015, 10 players from the Eritrean soccer team the Red Sea Camels defected after playing in a World Cup qualifying match against the Botswana national team.

Military service is compulsory for all Eritreans at 18 years old and above. While the policy governing this stipulates military service will be done for 18 months, in practice the military service is indefinite.

For example, since the practice was made official by the government in 1994, no Eritrean has been officially released from military service. Conscripts receive meagre monthly wages (approximately $60 on average) that do not cover basic living expenses and others are not paid. Many spend months at the infamous Sawa military camp with limited food and water, often in very high temperatures. Those who violate even the most basic instructions are subjected to harsh punishment. Others work in mines and construction sites and females are often forced to do domestic work and sometimes subjected to abuse and ill-treatment.

Eritreans, therefore, face two options – undertake military service or flee. Until recently, the Eritrean government often cited the existential military threat from its neighbour Ethiopia as the main reason it continued the policy, but even after the two countries signed a joint declaration of peace, friendship and comprehensive co-operation in July 2018, forced conscription continues.

The compulsory military service and the abuse that comes with it should not be viewed in isolation and must be seen within the context of the nature of the Eritrean state.

Eritrea became a closed state in 2001 when the government shut down all independent newspapers, arrested journalists and government representatives that called for democratic reforms and who were critical of the government of President Isaias Afwerki. The whereabouts of most of those arrested in 2001 are not known and many have not been in touch with relatives since. There has been no election since independence from Ethiopia in 1991, the rule of law is absent, the state is heavily militarised and a constitution approved in 1997 has never been implemented.

Forced conscription is the main driving force pushing Eritrean sportsmen and women to abdicate and not return to Eritrea, but the propaganda of the Eritrean government and the conflict “fatigue” experienced by the United Nations and African Union often preoccupies the international community and limits discussions on actions against the Eritrean state that will force it to implement reforms.

After all, they argue, it is a sovereign state and not at war, so other countries engulfed in intra-state conflict should be prioritised. The closed nature of the Eritrean state and the absolute control of the media by the government means up-to-date information on the state of human rights is mostly obtained from Eritreans who have fled from home.

Eritrean authorities have used diplomacy and coercion to force governments of countries where Eritreans have abdicated, to force them to return home. The Eritrean government has also adopted some stringent measures to ensure Eritrea’s presence at major sporting events by recruiting Eritrean athletes who hold dual nationality into its national teams. It has also now imposed compulsory financial bonds on Eritrean professional soccer players who intend to represent Eritrea in international sporting events to deter sportsmen from abdicating and to guarantee they return after sporting events.

Sport is a major unifier among all nations and the plight of Eritrean athletes should be enough to force the international community, particularly states that now host many Eritreans, to exert pressure on President Afwerki to implement reforms, 26 years after taking power.

As a first step, all states should respect the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and provide Eritreans with the administrative, social, and psychological support they need to enable them to settle when they abdicate. Family members of those who abdicate sometimes face the wrath of the Afwerki regime. Anyone who may be forcefully repatriated after they abdicate may never be seen or heard from again once they arrive in Eritrea.

The long-term solution is for other African states, the African Union and the United Nations to stop treating Eritrea like a normal state because it is not. The joint declaration of peace, friendship and comprehensive cooperation signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea last year seems like a missed opportunity for the international community to hold President Afwerki accountable for his human rights record.

Many Eritreans will continue to flee as long as the status quo remains the same but where politics has not been enough to jerk the international community into action against Eritrea, perhaps sports can. DM

David E Kode, advocacy and campaigns lead, Civicus.


Ethiopia gets tough with Egypt over Nile dam

Sunday, 06 October 2019 20:30 Written by

Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa, Uncategorized

In a rare show of anger, the Ethiopian government has told the Egyptians that they will insist on scientific evidence over the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam [GERD].
5 Oct 2019
The Government of Ethiopia affirms its position to advance the trilateral technical dialogue concerning the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The Water Affairs Ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met in Khartoum on 04 and 05 October 2019. Prior to the Ministers’ meeting, the National Independent Scientific Research Group of the three countries met in Khartoum on 30 September – 03 October 2019.

The Government of Ethiopia is of the conviction that the technical consultation must continue, as it presents the only option for resolution of differences among the three countries with respect to filling and operation of the GERD. Although the unilateral proposal on technical aspects of filling and operation of the GERD by the Government of Egypt side-steps the working procedure of the NISRG and disrupted the ongoing process, the Water Affairs Ministers in their meeting in Cairo on 15 and 16 September 2019 instructed the NISRG to discuss and analyze the filling and operation plan of Ethiopia and the submissions of Egypt and Sudan on technical aspects of filling and operation.

Based on the direction given by the Water Affairs Ministers meeting in Cairo, the NISRG considered Ethiopia’s filling and operation plan of the GERD, and the proposals of Egypt and the Sudan. The deliberation of the Scientific Research Group was based on an outline adopted by consensus between the three country teams. The Group reached an agreement on some points while some other issues remain outstanding. These points of divergence could be resolved through further deliberation by the NISRG.

The filling plan of Ethiopia that is set to be completed in stages that will take four to seven years based on the hydrology is considerate of the interests of the downstream countries of the Nile. Furthermore, Ethiopia and Sudan followed a constructive and inclusive approach for the discussion of the NISRG. Whereas, the Egyptian Side persisted on its position of having all its proposals accepted without which it was not willing to have the NISRG conduct its analysis.

This approach by the Government of Egypt is not new. Rather, it is yet another instance of a disruptive tactic it applied to halt the hydrology, environmental and social impact assessment on the GERD. Ethiopia maintains its stand on the possibility of resolving the issues based on trilateral technical consultation and the invocation of principle X of the DOP is premature.
Despite the tireless efforts of the Ministers of Water Affairs, during their two days meeting to consider the progress of the work of the NISRG, they did not manage to put a direction on the way forward due to the predetermined plan of the delegation of Egypt to make the process fail.

The proposal by the Government of Egypt to invite third party in the discussions is an unwarranted denial of the progress in the trilateral technical dialogue and violates the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries on 23 March 2015. It also goes against the consent and wishes of Ethiopia and the Sudan; it negatively affects the sustainable cooperation between the Parties; undermines the ample opportunity for technical dialogue between the three countries; and disrupts the positive spirit of cooperation.

Additionally, the proposal to subject the discussion on filling and operation of the GERD to a political forum is unjustified by the nature of the outstanding technical issues. It also contravenes the direction given by the leaders of the three countries given to the Water Affairs Ministers to resolve the technical issues related to filling and operation of the Dam, it will also not allow attainment of a successful resolution of the technical issues.

The Government of Ethiopia believes the existing mechanisms of cooperation will allow resolution of differences and reminds the need to refrain from negative media and other campaigns that will have no other effect than eroding the confidence among the three countries.

The Government of Ethiopia will reinforce its efforts to realize development of its water resource to meet the present and future needs of its people that deserve development and adequate standard of living.

Ethiopia upholds the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and the causing of no significant harm on any other riparian country in the use of the waters of the Nile. Furthermore, the Government of Ethiopia will continue to follow an approach that will not result in direct or indirect recognition of any preexisting water allocation treaty, which has no applicability whatsoever on Ethiopia.

October 5, 2019 Eritrea, Research & information

This research – provided by the European Asylum Support Office [EASO] – forms the background for EU countries, when drawing up policy on refugee and asylum cases. Below is their introduction and a link to the full report.

EASO publishes a Country of Origin Information (COI) report on Eritrea

  • 30th September 2019

Today, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) report on Eritrea. The report provides updated information on selected topics (national service, exit from Eritrea, and treatment of returnees), relevant for international protection status determination. Between August 2018 and July 2019, more than 14 475 Eritrean applications were registered in the EU+ countries.1

This EASO COI report on Eritrea was drafted by the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Division Analysis. The report updates and expands on the EASO COI report on national service and illegal exit (in Eritrea) from 2016. It provides a brief overview of Eritrea’s latest political developments, in the period 2016-2019, including the rapprochement with Ethiopia, the legal framework in force, and the relevant human rights issues. For the same reference period, the report then focuses on three main topics: (1) structure and functioning of the national service; (2) legal and illegal exit from the country; (3) voluntary and forced return. Transversally to the above mentioned subjects, the report details forms of punishment and treatment of deserters, draft evaders, persons illegally exiting the country, and returnees. Besides relevant public and governmental sources, the report relies extensively on interviews with key informants and experts, which were mostly carried out in the period May-July 2019.

The report was peer reviewed by EASO and other COI researchers from the following national asylum authorities: Germany, Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), Country Analysis; and Sweden, Swedish Migration Agency, Section for Information Analysis. The report was drafted and reviewed in accordance with EASO’s COI Report Methodology.

The report can be downloaded from the EASO COI portal.