The Associated Press

Posted: Oct. 12, 2018 3:56 pm
 
 

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Human rights groups and the United States said U.N. Human Rights Council elections Friday gave abusive countries a seat at a table where they should be called out, as nations including the Philippines and Eritrea won an uncontested election.

Eighteen countries, ranging from India to the Bahamas to Denmark, were chosen in a U.N. General Assembly vote.

With no competition, each candidate got well over the 97 needed votes, including the Philippines, widely condemned internationally for a deadly drug crackdown, and Eritrea, which has faced criticism from a commission set up by the council itself.

“Elevating states with records of gross human rights violations and abuses is a tremendous setback,” said Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director, Daniel Balson. “It puts them on the world stage, and moreover, it empowers them to fundamentally undermine notions of human rights that are accepted internationally.”

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the “lack of standards continues to undermine the organization and demonstrates again why the United States was right to withdraw from it” in June.

The U.N. missions for Eritrea and the Philippines didn’t immediately respond to inquiries about the vote and the criticism. Eritrea’s mission tweeted that the Horn of Africa nation “will work for enhanced dialogue and (an) effective” Human Rights Council.

U.N. officials, meanwhile, declined to opine on the vote results but suggested all council members should be open to scrutiny of their own handling of human rights.

“It’s clear that the world expects the members of international bodies to abide by a certain set of standards of behavior consistent with the bodies they have been elected to,” said Monica Grayley, a spokeswoman for General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces.

The 47-member Human Rights Council can spotlight abuses and has special monitors watching certain countries and issues. It also periodically reviews human rights in every U.N. member country.

Created in 2006 to replace a commission discredited because of some members’ sorry rights records, the new council soon came to face similar criticism. The U.S. left partly because it saw the group as a forum for hypocrisy about human rights, though also because Washington says the council is anti-Israel.

The Philippines will join at a time when President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has left more than 4,800 mostly poor suspects dead in clashes with police, by the government’s account; rights groups say the toll is much higher. Over 155,000 other people have been arrested in the two-year-old campaign, which has alarmed Western governments, U.N. groups and rights organizations.

Duterte has denied condoning unlawful police killings in the drug war, though he has repeatedly threatened death to drug dealers.

Eritrea hasn’t held a presidential election since independence in 1993, and rights groups have long accused the country of having a harsh system of military conscription that has spurred many citizens to flee. A U.N. commission of inquiry in recent years found widespread human rights abuses, including forced labor. The government said the allegations were unfounded and one-sided.

Eritrea recently reached a peace agreement with neighboring Ethiopia after decades of war and unease, but it remains to be seen whether the conscription system will change.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups also raised red flags about some other countries elected to the council Friday, including Bahrain and Cameroon.

Bahrain has been cracking down on dissent. In Cameroon, rights activists say civilians have been subjected to abuses amid fighting between English-speaking separatists and government security forces, and it is thought that thousands of people who fled the violence were unable to vote in Sunday’s presidential election.

Bahrain’s and Cameroon’s U.N. missions didn’t immediately respond to inquiries Friday.

The new members of the Geneva-based council also include Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Italy, Somalia, Togo and Uruguay.

Source=https://eritreahub.org/usa-and-rights-groups-say-un-rights-council-vote-lets-abusers-in

 

Since peace dawned in July, Eritrean refugees have flooded into Ethiopia. But the weight of new arrivals has left the region struggling to cope, raising fears the border could close again

People go about their business along the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia
People go about their business along the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which was opened on 11 September following a July peace deal between the two countries. Photograph: Michael Tewelde

Abraham and Binyam* had failed to escape before. The two Eritrean men, both in their early 20s and from the small town of Adi Keyh, are draft dodgers. Like hundreds of thousands of their compatriots over the past decade, they longed to cross the border into neighbouring Ethiopia to avoid a life of indefinite national service. Abraham attempted it in 2016, Binyam in February last year.

Both were arrested and imprisoned. Abraham was incarcerated for five months, during which he says he was beaten with batons and belts and fed only a few pieces of bread each day. Binyam was detained for a week, during which only one comfort break was allowed each day – out in a field, because the prison had no toilets. Both were then sent to the military, from which they absconded, returning to their hometown and a life in the shadows.

It isn’t like it is now. Now everyone is crossing. But then it was life or death,” says Abraham at a housing estate on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.The opening of the border with Ethiopia on 11 September, following a historic peace agreement in July, has changed everything. Suddenly, without a word from the Eritrean government, border patrols have disappeared. For the first time in decades, Eritreans can leave the country without a passport, a permit or even a promise to return.

Abraham and Binyam, along with thousands of other Eritreans, made straight for the Ethiopian border town of Zalambessa. From there they took a bus to Addis Ababa, where they arrived on September 22nd. Neither has any plan to return.

“I was euphoric,” Abraham says. “I thought all my worries would be solved overnight.”

Since September 11th at least 15,000 Eritreans have crossed into Ethiopia, according to local authorities. Many have come to trade and to visit the friends and family from whom they were separated in 1998, when war broke out. On arriving in Ethiopia, Abraham was reunited with a half-sister he had not seen in more than 20 years. The border had been almost impermeable since Ethiopia’s failure to implement a UN peace deal signed in 2000.

Most dramatic, though, has been the swell of refugees. The number registering each day has multiplied sevenfold, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Between 12 September and 2 October nearly 10,000 arrived seeking asylum, mostly women and children hoping to reunite with family members who left illegally before the border opened.

Others, such as Even, who arrived in Addis Ababa from the Eritrean capital Asmara three weeks ago, have yet to register but plan to do so. The 25 year-old says he wants to join his family in Switzerland as soon as possible. His father and siblings left Eritrea four years ago, while he was still in prison for attempting to escape military service.

Eritreans along the Ethiopian border
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In the absence of border patrols, the number of Eritreans making for Ethiopia has risen sevenfold. Photograph: Michael Tewelde

In the regional capital of Mekele, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, buses are full of Eritreans en route to Addis Ababa. One middle-aged couple, in Ethiopia to visit a sister the wife last saw before the war, waited in a hotel for a week because tickets had sold out. The city is also crowded with Eritreans looking for jobs and rooms to rent. One Ethiopian tour guide in Mekele, who asked not to be named, said he met a group of 10 young Eritrean girls who came looking for work as waitresses and housemaids.

Some worry about the burden the influx of new arrivals is placing on the region. The same Mekele local said he found a group of five teenage Eritrean boys living in a room without enough food to eat. He took a 15-year-old called Daniel into his home after discovering the child arrived in the city on the back of a truck with only 40 nakfa (£2) in his pocket. He later paid for him to go home to Asmara.

Meanwhile the region’s refugee camps are struggling to cope with the sudden strain. Ethiopia now hosts more than 175,000 refugees from across the border.

Many of the new arrivals fear the frontier will close again. A common rumour is that it was supposed to open only for a week or so for Eritreans, though the government in Asmara has not said this. Reports of Eritrean officers hunting for defectors have heightened such fears. So too have incidents, confirmed by the Guardian, of Eritreans being denied passports and assistance at their new embassy in Addis Ababa in order to migrate further afield.

The UNHCR has said that Ethiopia remains firmly committed to the protection of refugees from Eritrea, but many – including those who arrived years before the peace agreement – remain doubtful. Even has yet to register, because he says he heard rumours he might be sent back to Eritrea if he does.

Details of the deals struck between Isaias Afwerki, Eritrea’s only president since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, and Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s new prime minister, have not been made public, which has also provoked suspicion.

“We are scared our status will be revoked,” says an Eritrean teacher who arrived in Ethiopia more than a year ago. “We don’t know what deal this government has made with ours.”

Not all intend to stay, even among those who make it as far as Addis Ababa. Even’s friend plans to return to Asmara in a couple of weeks, though he says he describes his decision as unusual. The 24-year-old says that, as a Pentecostal Christian, he came to take advantage of Ethiopia’s relative religious freedom. Pentecostalism is banned in Eritrea and his father has been in prison for eight years for his beliefs.

“I just came to worship freely and be blessed by the preachers,” he says. “But my mother needs me back home.”

In the absence of domestic reform inside Eritrea, peace with Ethiopia will probably mean that many more people simply leave for good. Despite signs the government intends to limit indefinite national service, and downsize the army, there has been almost nothing concrete yet.

Meanwhile, a former finance minister was reportedly arrested in September for publicly criticising the president, and more Pentecostal Christians were arrested in August.

“I never want to go back,” says Abraham, “because I’m a deserter, and if you desert your country the government won’t ever let you go.”

Source=https://eritreahub.org/i-was-euphoric-eritreas-joy-becomes-ethiopias-burden-amid-huge-exodus

SMC-

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Kassala state has manged to abort the smuggling of a large quantities of consumer goods and building materials amounting to 5 billion which was on its way to a neighboring country.

This operations comes in the framework of border security with the neighboring countries.

A security source told SMC that the seizures included building materials (cement, zinc and linoleum), and consumer goods (sugar, flour and oil) in addition to cars spare parts and tires.

He confirmed that a number of smugglers were arrested in preparation for bringing them to trial.

Source=http://smc.sd/en/niss-abort-smuggling-attempt-in-kassala-state/

 

With their hopes dashed that peace with Ethiopia would bring an end to national service, young Eritreans must either accept a life of forced labour or flee

Dawit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A teenage boy in a dormitory for unaccompanied minors in Shagrab camp, Sudan. Tens of thousands of Eritreans live in the camps after escaping military service and repression at home. Photograph: Sally Hayden/Getty Images

Dawit was tiring, but he could not stop. An Eritrean schoolteacher on the run, he was crossing the border to Ethiopia alone at night, with only a stick to protect himself against the hyenas and the military squads who pick up runaways.

He was risking his life to get out so that he could take up a scholarship in the US. In Eritrea, one of the most isolated and repressive countries in the world, young people have no future. Their choice is to undertake compulsory national service, or try to flee.

Eritrea’s national service is harsh, pays a pittance and goes on indefinitely. Usually, conscripts go into the military. But Dawit had been doing his national service as a teacher for more than 13 years. The government would not let him go.

When Eritrea signed a peace deal with Ethiopia in July after a 20-year standoff, rumours began circulating that gave Eritrean families great hope. People whispered that political and religious prisoners were about to be freed, that the country’s most notorious jails would be closed, and that the indefinite conscription of anyone aged between 18 and 50 would end.

Many believed the historic reforms introduced by Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, were also bringing change to Eritrea, which has been ruled by former revolutionary fighter Isaias Afwerki since the country gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991.

In July, the Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia reopened, and the first commercial flight in two decades took off from Addis Ababa to Asmara, with champagne and roses handed out on board. Last month, the road border was reopened in two places. Reunited relatives embraced and soldiers in fatigues danced in celebration.

At one graduation ceremony, reportedly attended by Afwerki, a new batch of conscripts were told they would serve for no more than 18 months.

“All the mothers in Eritrea think their kids are coming back from the frontlines,” says Helen Kidan, from the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights.

National Symbol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A patriotic poster set on a window in Asmara. Eritrea has blamed external factors for its slow development. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

In fact, nothing has changed, say Eritrea watchers. They point to the recent arrest of the former finance minister and author of a book calling for a youth uprising against the president.

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The minister for labour and human welfare, Luul Gebreab, told Bloomberg recently that the government was studying the economic effects of demobilisation, but several officials said it would not happen yet.

Although the pretext for conscription no longer exists, the rumours that it will be phased out are probably false, says Fisseha Tekle, a human rights researcher on Eritrea and Ethiopia for Amnesty International. “For the last 15 years, they were blaming Ethiopia. That excuse is no longer there, so it is high time for them to stop this scheme.”

Eritrean activists and analysts say the indefinite national service is less about conflict with Ethiopia than a way to keep people weak and unable to mount resistance to the government. They suggest the authorities are unlikely to demobilise tens of thousands of militarily-trained men and women who bear a grudge against them, with no prospect of finding them alternative employment.

National service usually lasts between five and 10 years, but can last for up to 20. Conscripts often work 72-hour weeks in extremely harsh conditions with inadequate food and low pay. No one is legally entitled to take leave, which depends on the whim of commanding officers. Some conscripts have reported going for years without being allowed to visit home. If a conscript fails to return after taking leave, their parent may be jailed until they do.

Eritrean teenagers spend the last year of high school in a military camp before going straight into military service. If they get good enough grades, they might attend college and be given a civilian role. But the only way out is to leave the country.

Central Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The central market area in Asmara. Photograph: Jack Malipan/Alamy Stock Photo

Dawit’s midnight run to Ethiopia was the second time he’d tried to escape. About a year earlier, after being denied an exit visa to study in the US, he paid a trafficker to get him out. He was caught and jailed for seven months, moving between the country’s notorious, overcrowded prisons. Eventually, he was released and reassigned to a school in a remote area, with his small salary suspended for six months. “It’s just slavery,” he says. “You toil day and night and you get nothing.”

Every month, thousands of young people like Dawit sneak out of the country, ending up in Libya, Sudan, Europe, or dying along the way. Visitors to refugee camps on the Ethiopian side say more Eritreans have been crossing recently, amid warnings from traffickers that this could be their last chance to claim asylum elsewhere.

But false perceptions that things are improving in Eritrea could change other countries’ attitudes to taking them in. “In Europe, they’re using every excuse to deny entry, deny asylum applications,” says Tekle.

Eritrean officials have made empty promises about national service before. In 2015, Lord Avebury told the House of Lords the Eritrean ambassador had said conscription would be restricted to 18 months, but nothing changed.

For now, many Eritreans are surviving on rumours thattheir children may soon be allowed to come home, get a job, have a family life and a future.

“The mothers are expecting something. The 140,000 people doing their national service on the border are expecting something,” says Kiden. “The families of journalists and other political prisoners are expecting something. And I don’t see how these hopes will be fulfilled.”

Source=https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/11/its-just-slavery-eritrean-conscripts-wait-in-vain-for-freedom

 

The Eritrean people are angry and feeling disrespected in their own country

By Seid Ali Hijay

With the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, both countries opened their borders and allowed people-to-people movements and interactions. As the result of this opportunity, the Eritrean regime allowed the Ethiopian merchants to freely sell their goods inside Eritrea without any limitations.

An Eritrean who recently visited Asmara indicated that Ethiopian merchants are now moving freely in many parts of Eritrea, including Asmara, Keren, Massawa, Dekemhare, and other towns of Eritrea, where Eritreans are required to show they have permission to travel.

The visitor indicated that although this new opportunity helped reduced the prices of grains and goods, the Eritrean people are angry at President Isaias’s regime for giving privileges and priorities to the Ethiopians that he has denied to Eritreans. The visitor indicted that the regime has instructed the authorities, the police, Administrators to facilitate this trade and not interfere or stop the Ethiopian business men coming to Eritrea.

In one instance, an Ethiopian trader with a truck hit a young Eritrean woman in Asmara downtown. He was quickly surrounded by Eritreans, who tended the woman and watching over the Ethiopian driver, until the police comes. Once the police arrived and asked his driving license, the police realized that the driver was an Ethiopian with a TG truck tag plate. The police immediately returned his license and let him go. The onlookers was angry and shouted at the police for not arresting the driver or taking some action. To their surprise,  the police responded by saying that his hands are tied and can’t do anything about this, because they were given instructed by the regime to not touch or interfere with Ethiopian merchants.

In another incident at behind Enda-Selassie location, one of the areas reserved for the Ethiopian merchants to sell their goods, an Eritrean mother approached a Tigrian merchant to buy a white teff. He showed her the sample teff, but the mother was not convinced it was a white teff and further probed the Tigrian merchant by asking again are you sure this is a white teff and it doesn’t look like it to me. The Tigrian merchant responded   “ኣትን ኣደ ስቅ እልክን ዉሰዳ ብወዲዓከር ጨኒኽን ዝነበርክን” with contempt in his dialect language. [Translation: “old woman just take what I am selling, you people have been stinking eating Wedi Aker (sorghum)”]

The Eritrean mother was furious with his contemptuous response and clapped back by saying “እንታይ ኢልካ፦  ወዲ ዓከር በሊዖም ደይ ኮኑን ደቅና ስሬኻን ዕጥኻን ኣፍቲሖም ዘጛዬይኻ::” [Translation: “Our children who grew up eating chickpeas made you run out of the country without your weapons!”] While they were squabbling, some young Eritreans nearby heard them. They approached the merchant and threatened him to immediately leave or they’ll butcher and package him in his sacks. The merchant was so terrified and he immediately left with his truck and belonging without uttering a word.

The visitor also indicated the Ethiopian merchants are allowed to freely exchange their Nakfa to dollar in a black market in broad daylight in front of the authorities and policemen, without any repercussions. The exchange rates  goes as far as 1 dollar against 20 Nakfa, which is much better than the exchange rate set by the regime. As to remember this privilege is denied to Eritreans. In fact, any Eritrean caught exchanging  is punishable up to 2 years, including financial penalties.

Although these incidents seem to be trivial, but have deep ramifications for the Eritrean people. The regime is conducting widespread psychological assault against Eritreans in their own country by allowing to be disrespected by their arch rival south. Most importantly, the regime is denying and oppressing the Eritrean people to work, do businesses and accumulate wealth. This is a deliberate policy by the regime to psychological kill  the Eritrean people but also to transfer the wealth from Eritreans to the  people from the south, in the process creating weak, destitute and dependent Eritreans.

The above policy along with the forced exodus of Eritreans and new settlements by people from the south are going to lead to major social engineering down the road- where Eritreans will be dominated in numbers, wealth, culture, values, and beliefs to the extent that they’ll be hopeless and helpless to challenge and change their situations.

The competition between great powers has triggered a string of major political developments in East Africa.

by
3 hours ago
 
 
Eritrea's President, Isaias Afwerki receives a key from Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed during a ceremony marking the reopening of the Eritrean Embassy in Addis Ababa on July 16, 2018. [Reuters/Tiksa Negeri]
Eritrea's President, Isaias Afwerki receives a key from Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed during a ceremony marking the reopening of the Eritrean Embassy in Addis Ababa on July 16, 2018. [Reuters/Tiksa Negeri]

Over the past year, East Africa has seen an unprecedented flurry of political developments that are changing dramatically the political landscape in the region. 

Eritrea has emerged out of its diplomatic isolation, signing declarations of peace and cooperation with Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia and publicly calling for the lifting of international sanctions. After years of hostility over the building of the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, Ethiopia and Egypt have seen a significant improvement in relations. Sudan, too, has mended relations with its northern neighbour and has managed to get US sanctions lifted.

Many have welcomed these new political developments with euphoria, believing that they mark a new dawn for East African politics. The Horn of Africa is indeed set for a significant departure from the past, but it is important to note that there are external factors behind these changes.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) appear to be the sponsors of most of these diplomatic efforts, but their role too has been shaped by bigger players. The undercurrent to these changes is the major shift of US foreign and defence policy from the "war on terror" to strategic competition with other global powers, mainly Russia and China

Since the end of the Cold War, the "war on terror" has been at the centre of all US alliances in the world, including in the Horn of Africa. However, in recent years, the US has gradually come to perceive the rise of China and Russia, and not terrorism, as the biggest threat it is facing in Africa and elsewhere.

This policy shift has been outlined in the 2018 National Defence Strategy and articulated by a number of US officials, including US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who in a January speech said:

"Great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security. We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other... To those who threaten America's experiment in democracy, they must know if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day."

It is in this context that Washington has sought to forge alliances with African forces to support its antagonistic competition with these two great powers.

Eritrea in, Djibouti out

In March this year, General Thomas Waldhauser, AFRICOM Commander in Africa, warned the US Congress that China would threaten US interests globally and particularly in the Red Sea if it takes a key port in Djibouti.

The Doraleh Port had been operated by UAE-owned DP World since 2006 but the Djibouti government broke off its agreement with the Emirati company and nationalised the port in February this year.

According to Waldhauser, Djibouti has assured the US that it would not hand the port over to the Chinese, who set up their first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017, but he warned that if it does, this would cut off supplies to the US military base in the country and restrict the movements of US Navy ships in the area.

He further concluded that the US will "never outspend the Chinese in Africa" and he was in "the process of rewriting US military strategy in the region with China in mind." Given the heavy economic and military presence of China in Djibouti, US interests shifted towards its neighbour, Eritrea, which could - in the future - host a new US military base and provide the US with access to its ports.

For this to happen, Eritrea first had to emerge from its diplomatic isolation, especially by normalising relations with Ethiopia. To achieve that, the US launched a quiet campaign last year involving church officials and US diplomats lobbying the two sides to come together and resolve their differences.

Soon after US senior diplomats and senators voiced official calls for normalisation of relations between Eritrea and all neighbouring countries. US allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE also played an important role.

While the US diplomatic offensive succeeded in pulling Eritrea out of isolation, it left Djibouti out of the grand rapprochement it engineered.

US' shifting policies

The shift in US priorities in East Africa has also introduced a number of other major changes in the region. First, it has further diminished the importance the US gives to supporting the armies of countries in the Horn of Africa, particularly that of Ethiopia. This means that the Ethiopian army's role in regional security and foreign policy will diminish, with the exception of UN peace-keeping missions. 

Second, it has strengthened US support for the alliance between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, at the expense of Qatari and Turkish interest in the region.

This shift has also favoured the Egyptian army. In September, the US reinstated $195m in military aid to Egypt which was frozen last year over country's dismal human rights record and relations with North Korea. 

The US has also given its blessing for a new role of the Egyptian military in the Horn of Africa. In January this year, Cairo dispatched Egyptian troops to Eritrea, stationing them at the border with Sudan, provoking speculations that it is seeking to establish a military base there.

Third, this shift has also meant that the US government is putting more effort on the economic front, which could have diplomatic and economic implications. While the US realises that it cannot match the scale of Chinese investment in Africa, it is still looking to curb Chinese economic influence in the region.

Part of its strategy is to encourage US companies to invest more in East Africa. In Ethiopia, this trend is already visible: while in the past US officials from the Department of Defense and the White House used to visit Addis Ababa, now it is officials of the Department of Commerce with entourages of US businessmen.

Fearing reproach from Washington, some East African countries may scale down their ties with China and revise their public procurement procedures. Seeing this trend, China has already announced its decision to cut down investment in Ethiopia until its current debt payment is restructured. 

The US government is also looking to set up a special agency to invest up to $60bn to counter Chinese interests in the developing world, including East Africa.  

In his March address to the African Union, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: "We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa. But it is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty."

This signals that just as the US is pushing on the geopolitical front in East Africa, it might start doing so on the economic one as well. While the region needs to address its rising debt and dependence on China, the economic policies that the US would press for might not be in its best interest either.

East Africa will need all the assistance it can get, be it from developed liberal states, from Gulf monarchies or Asian economic powerhouses. But as the competition between China and the US intensifies, it increasingly looks like this financial support will come with conditions.

Therefore, countries in the region and the continent as a whole should resist unwarranted interferences in their internal policy decisions and insist on their sovereignty being upheld. If they succeed in this, they will be able to reap the benefits of the emerging economically competitive multipolar world order.

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

Inside Story

Is Ethiopia on a path to inclusive democracy?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eritrean Afar elders call for their rights

%PM, %09 %596 %2018 %15:%Oct Written by

DECLARATION OF THE ERITREAN AFAR TRADITIONAL ELDERS
OCTOBER 7TH, 2018

Source: Eritrean Afar National Congress

WE are Traditional Afar Elders of Eritrea. We have fled our beloved country, the territory of Dankalia, our homes, and properties due to violence and persecution including mass murder, torture, rape, disappearances,communal displacement, destruction of our culture and indigenous way of life.

Since the normalization of relations has started between Ethiopia-Eritrea there have been numerous attempts by agents of Eritrean regime to intimidate and influence leading Afar Elders decisions and coerce our exiled community to return without any guarantees to their lives, safety and security and restorations of their rights and properties in Eritrea.

WE CONDEMN these actions of intimidation and coercion by Eritrean government and call on all of our people to remain steadfast and united under these circumstances.
WE, THEREFORE, The Eritrean Afar people, the Traditional Afar Elders, including Afar refugees, women and youth assembled together in the City of Logya, Ethiopia declare to the World the solemn will of the Eritrean Afar Nation as follows:

1. The Eritrean Afar people must be compensated for the loss of lives, properties, their indigenous way of life and must be compensated for other crimes against humanity committed during the past 27 years in Eritrea.

2. The Eritrean Afar people must have the right to political autonomy in Dankalia within its traditional territories of the coast of Bori to Rahayta.

3. The Eritrean Afar people must have the right to own and control their lands, fisheries and natural resources including a percentage of payment on the use of the Port of ASSAB and other industrial infrastructureswithin its territories and must enjoy the profits therefrom under conditions established by law.

4. The Eritrean Afar refugees who have fled Eritrea shall have the right of return to their homes and properties in Eritrea under the supervision and the assistance of the United Nations, and must be compensated for the persecution and for all other losses that they may have suffered in Eritrea.

WE, by our names, signatures, and marks pledge our commitment and resolve to the above solemn principles and pledge to contribute to restorations of rights to all Eritreans and contribute to sustainable peace and inclusive economic prosperity and relations between regional governments.

Eritrea

%PM, %05 %463 %2018 %12:%Oct Written by

Human Rights Watch, HRW, has accused the Eritrean government of continuing to repress opposing voices citing the recent arrest of a former finance minister, Abrehe Kidane Berhane.

According to the international rights group, contrary to hopes that peace with Ethiopia after decades of enmity was going to birth a new air of freedom, Asmara was going on with business as usual.

“There was hope that change would come for Eritrea’s many political prisoners after Eritrea and Ethiopia made peace this year, ending three decades of enmity,” said Maria Burnett, East Africa director at HRW.

“But, Berhane’s arrest shows nothing has changed. Jailing critics in Eritrea remains the norm,” she added.

The former government official’s arrest in September was as a result of a two-pronged criticism of the president Isaias Afwerki. Berhane posted a video on YouTube and published a two-volume book calling for an end to what he said was Isaias’ dictatorship.

He demanded that the president steps down and transfers power to a younger generation. The video has since September 6, 2018 till date raked close to 20,000 views. His book is titled, Eritrea Haragey (Eritrea, My Country).

In his book and video, Berhane says that Eritrea’s “struggle for independence was never to install dictatorship. We need ideas and principles to guide us – not individuals with absolute power.” 

He is on record to have demanded that the president reconvenes the National Assembly, which sat in over 16 years. He opines that in the absence of elections, it is the legislature that will be able to replace Afwerki.

Berhane warned, “if there is any force that wants to derail the process, he would have to face the Eritrean youth.” The Eritrean government has not officially commented on his arrest or the views he has advanced.

HRW and other rights groups have repeatedly called on the government to release political prisonsers and other people – media and religious faithful – being held in detention centers across the country.

Government has justified an indefinite military national service scheme with the threat of violence by Ethiopia. In the wake of June 2018 peace deal, there has been indications that the program was set for review.

Young Ethiopians are among the majority of persons from the region trying to escape conditions back home by making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Government has repeatedly rejected claims that local policies was to blame for the exodus.

https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/1047705182677557248

Source=http://www.africanews.com/2018/10/04/diplomatic-reset-same-old-repression-hrw-jabs-eritrean-govt/

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and The America Team for Displaced Eritreans has issued the urgent appeal below.

Appeal

They:

  • Call upon UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations, donor countries and the international community to ensure that all available resources be deployed to move these vulnerable individuals to safety – including by airlifting them to safe countries – and to otherwise administer aid and protection as soon as possible.
  • Call upon the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration to monitor the overall situation more effectively, to promote comprehensive solutions for the thousands of refugees, migrants and trafficking victims warehoused in Libya, and to end their enslavement immediately.
Their appeal is issued on behalf of 54 other organisations including churches, NGOs and other groups working on the issue in the USA.