ንሕና፡ ባይቶ ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ኮሎራዶ ንፍትሒ፡ ንሃገራዊ ስኒትና ዝዓናቕፉ ጉዳያት ክንፈትሕ፡ ቀጻሊ ሰሚናራት ከነካይድ ተበጊስና። ባይቶ ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ኮሎራዶ ኣካል ናይ`ተን ድሮ ብደረጃ ሰሜን ኣሜሪካ ተጠራኒፈን ዝነጥፋ ዘለዋ ዓሰርተ-ሰለስተ ከተማታት እያ። ዕላማና፡ ኤርትራ ካብ ጥፍኣት ድሒና፡ ቅዋማዊት ሃገር ንክትከውን ቀጻሊ ጻዕሪታት ምክያድ`ዩ።
ኤርትራውያን ተቐማጦ ኮሎራዶ፡ ሚያዝያ 26 2015 ኣብ ዝጅመር ሰሚናር፡ ኣብነታዊ መርኣያ ክኸውን ኩሉ ምድላዋት ክንገብር ኣገዳሲ ምዃኑ ኣሚና፡ ክሳብ ቅዋማዊት ኤርትራ እትህነጽ ጻዕሪታትና ቀጻሊ እዩ።
በዚ ኣጋጣሚ`ዚ፡ ኩለን ከተማታት ሰሜን ኣሜሪካ፡ ኣብ ከከተመአን ነዚ ንቕሎታት`ዚ ደጊፈን፡ ክብገሳን፡ ብደረጃ ሰሜን ኣሜሪካ ሰፊሕ ጎስጓስ ክግበራን ነተባብዕ።
ጸዋዒትና ንኩሎም ኤርትራውያን፡
- ኩሎም ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ሰሜን ኣሜሪካ፡ ተመሳሳሊ ተበግሶ ክወስዱ፣
- ብደረጃ ሰሜን ኣሜሪካ ብህጹጽ ንምግባእ፡ ኩሉ ዘድሊ ምስንዳኣት ክትግበር፣
መፍትሒ ሽግራትና ተጋቢእና ምልዛብ እዩ!
ኩሉ ኣብ ልዕሊ ህዝብናን ሃገርናን ዝወርድ ዘሎ ስቓይ ይኣክል!
ለውጢ፡ ብተሳትፎ ናይ ነፍሲ-ወከፍና እዩ ዝረጋገጽ!
መዓስ? ... ሕጂ!!!!
ባይቶ ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ኮሎራዶ ንፍትሒ
Eritrean Delegation to S. Africa Highlights Problems at Home; Obtains Pledges for African Solidarity & SupportThursday, 11 December 2014 20:37 Written by Member of Joint Eritrean Delegation
Executive Director of SADC-CNGOs of 15 countries, Mr. Abie Ditlhake, opening the solidarity workshop; Eritrean delegation was at hand to tell the sad story from inside Eritrea and in diaspora.
By Member of Joint Eritrean Delegation
It was a visit unique of its kind: this joint Eritrean delegation to Nelson Mandela’s South Africa just a year after the passing away of modern Africa’s topmost statesman. The delegation consisted not only of representatives of three political and civic organizations but also an independent activist Eritrean lady from the Arab Gulf states. When the 3 to 9 December 2014 mission of the delegation was wound up, its members were reassured that strenuous efforts will be underway very soon to put Eritrea on the African agenda.
Africa was not that good to Eritrea during its long struggle for national liberation. Now, the continent appears to be moving up from the bottom to see to it that Eritreans enjoy what they rightly deserved as of 1991: peace, democracy, human dignity and prosperity that eluded them for too long. This quick reportage will highlight
- The main issues raised and decided at the 3-4 December workshop of the Southern African Development Community’s Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (SADC-CNGO);
- The Eritrean delegation’s press conference and its live interview with the S. African Broadcasting Corporation; and
- The individual, limited and larger group meetings with important personalities, friends of Eritrea and Eritrean community members in Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria.
Workshop of SADC-CNGO Solidarity Task Team
The workshop of the regional Civil Society Solidarity Task Team held in Johannesburg between 3 and 4 December 2014 was attended by the SADC-CNGO Executive Director himself and support staff, as well as senior representatives of umbrella organizations of member movements like the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC); South African Trade Unions (COSATU); Fellowships of Christian Councils in 12 Southern Africa states (FOCCISA) and the Botswana-based Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). Invited civil society and political activists from Eritrea and Swaziland were availed to give adequate updates on the political and human rights situations in their respective countries. Technical hiccups prevented the expected Palestinian delegation from taking part.
The workshop was an outcome of decisions taken by the 10th Civil Society Forum of SADC-CNGOs held last July in Harare, Zimbabwe. Eritrea was one of the four countries identified for support and solidarity by the SADC Council of NGOs from 15 African countries whose main objectives include support for democratization, conflict resolution and good governance. Regarding Eritrea, the July declaration partly stated as follows:
“We are deeply concerned with the political situation in Eritrea and the oppressive conditions facing the people as a result of absence of respect of human rights and democratic governance. We are alarmed by the widespread and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by the government of Eritrea against its own people. …. (10th SADC Civil Society Forum) is concerned especially about the continued implementation of unlimited military service under which the Eritrean youth are kept under slave-like conditions rendering them futureless; indeed, the policy is forcing tens of thousands of young Eritreans to leave their country in search of safety and better future risking inhuman treatment at the hands of unscrupulous human traffickers, death in the high seas and deserts, rape and illicit organ harvesting....”
It was based on this understanding that the Harare Forum mandated senior SADC-CNGO leaders to further explore the situation in Eritrea and other affected countries in a workshop and see what can be done in the near future.
The four Eritreans attending the workshop were given the opportunity to present in great detail the ever worsening situation in their country. They also listed what the Eritrean opposition forces would like SADC-CNGO do for Eritreans inside the country and those in diaspora.
The invited delegation members were, as noted earlier, Ms Salwa Nour, a woman activist from the UAE, Ambassador Andebrehan Weldegiorgis of the Eritrean Forum for National Dialogue (Medrek), Mr. Woldeyesus Ammar from the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), and Mr. Kulubrehan Abraham of the South Africa-based Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR). Dr. Adane Ghebremeskel, the SADC-CNGO programme advisor also at times joined his compatriots in telling the appalling situation in today’s Eritrea.
Eritrean delegation with senior representatives of SADC-CNGO, SATUCC, COSATU, FOCCISA, MISA and Swaziland NGOs
The Johannesburg workshop thus decided, among others things:
- To establish a solidarity body dedicated to follow up the situation in Eritrea and the other three affected countries singled out for increased solidarity and support of SADC-CNGO and others beyond the region;
- To take action towards putting Eritrea in the African agenda so that it could be reviewed at the upcoming summit conference of SADC member states in February 2015;
- Make approaches to civil society movements in eastern, western and northern Africa and promote solidarity for Eritreans struggling for peace and democratic governance;
- Cognizant of the fact that Eritreans being forced to leave their country are not economic refugees or migrants but genuine refugees, the workshop believed that they deserve to obtain appropriate documentation in South Africa and rest of the SADC region and beyond until Eritrea transits from dictatorship to democratic rule.
Press Conference and SABC Interview
On 5 December, the SADC-CNGO organized a press conference to give further opportunity to the Eritrean delegation further explain the ever worsening political and human rights situation in the country. The Executive Director of SADC Council of NGO formations in all the 15 southern African countries opened the press conference with comprehensive explanation of what was discussed and decided at the workshop regarding Eritrea, Swaziland, Palestine and Western Sahara.
On their part, members of the Eritrean delegation expressed satisfaction with the historic solidarity and further pledges for support by the civil society in southern African countries and explained in more detail the distress facing Eritrea and its people under an extremely dictatorial regime. The outcome of the workshop was also disclosed to the attending members of the press, diplomats and civil society movements who came to the meeting in spite of the 5 December celebrations in Johannesburg marking the first anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela. Among the participants were diplomats from the Ethiopian embassy in South Africa.
Delegation members were also given the opportunity for a live radio interview with Channel Africa at the headquarters of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) which enjoys big audience all over Africa. Questions asked to and responded by two delegation members included the political, economic and human rights situation inside Eritrea, the plight of its refugees, the border issue, decisions of the UN Human Rights Commission and the Eritrean regime’s isolation from the rest of the world.
Meetings in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria
Ms Salwa Nour had to depart after the 5 December press conference, but the rest of the delegation members took the opportunity of meeting with Eritrean community members, mostly in smaller numbers, in three South African cities. Most of the estimated 5,000 Eritrean community members in South Africa have no valid residence permits and are held as literal hostages of the Eritrean embassy.
Many of them are self-employed (owning small shops) and are nowadays extremely busy to earn year’s income this Christmas/summer season. It was learned that many have distanced themselves from the regime but they cannot manifest this position by attending opposition meetings or, if they do attend, by letting their pictures taken in such occasions.
On 6 December, three members of the delegation held an extensive discussion with members of the Eritrean community in Durban. Problems explained by the delegation members and later raised for comprehensive discussion in the question and answer session included the situation inside the homeland, the changing attitude of external powers towards the regime in Asmara, the disquieting situation of Eritrean refugees in many parts of the world, the fragmentation of the forces opposed to the regime and new initiatives for dialogue and realigning of the struggling forces to create a viable alternative force or forces for change and democratization in the country.
On 7 December, a similar get-together was held with members of the Eritrean community in the Johannesburg region.
A memorial picture of the ‘willing’ in Johannesburg
Members of the delegation also took the opportunity of meeting old friends and acquaintances individually and/or in smaller groups for exchange of notes on how the mobilization of the silent majority can be tackled and the forces in the opposition coalesced in an effective manner.
EPDP Information Office
In the evening of Saturday, 29 November 2014, a good number of well appreciated and well known Eritrean democracy and human rights activists were gathered in Geneva. Ms Elsa Chyrum was there; also Meron Estefanos. And Selam Kidane. Also present among the invited guests was the UN Human Rights Rapporteur for Eritrea, Ms Sheila Keetharuth. EPDP’s Woldeyesus Ammar was also there.
For change, no political issues were raised. It was not a human rights meeting nor was it a consultation meeting on how to promote the works of the newly established UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea.
It was a happy social event: the wedding of another democracy and human rights activist – Dr. Daniel Rezene.
Harnnet.org believes readers need no introduction to Dr. Daniel Rezene and his guests at his wedding. The EPDP and its official website wish Dr. Daniel and his bride Wegahta a very Happy Wedding.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Eritrean people are on the path to defeating the wrong; they are on the way to achieving justice. Yes, because of the relentless fight by many brave Eritreans in the corridors of the UN and other international venues, finally the international community heard our voices and concerns, and this time they heard us right. In June of this year, the United Nations Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Eritrea to investigate the crimes being committed against Eritrean citizens by the PFDJ regime, pursuant to or as established in the “Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.” The “Rome Statue” is a treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has the power to indict and convict groups/individuals/head of states believed to have committed crimes against humanity. Eritrea is a signatory to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.
For the justice loving Eritrean people, the establishment of the COI is one step in our struggle towards establishing constitutional system, which among other things will enshrine both the protection and respect of human rights of Eritrean citizens in post PFDJ Eritrea. Not only is it a positive development in the struggle against the PFDJ regime, but also it opens a new front that would enable Eritrean Diaspora opposition to garner international support.
Without delving into the legal aspect of the COI, it should be realized that this investigation of crime against humanity is not an easy endeavor. But first is first: we must expose the human rights violation denialists of the PFDJ, with their continued deception and double talk, and the rest of their conspiracy theorists who believe human rights violations and abuses in Eritrea are simply western ploys to undermine Eritrea or to effect regime change in Eritrea. These are the PFDJ elites who have utterly failed on their intellectual and moral duty to defend the truth; intellectuals who failed to serve their own people with honesty and fidelity. And we know these PFDJ enablers will continue to sabotage any and all efforts that they think will bring justice and democracy to Eritrea. And this is the greatest crimes they are committing on their own citizens. Therefore, this is one front we must challenge during the investigation of the COI.
Second, it is clear that the formation of the COI is a big blow to the body politics of the PFDJ regime. And the opposition must capitalize on it, and that it should view the COI as a boost that will potentially help Eritrean people in their struggle to uproot dictatorship on one hand and an opportunity for the opposition to recast itself in the eyes of the Eritrean people on the other. One might even say we are halfway through to put the rope around the neck of the dictator and his cohorts, but this only becomes reality if we work more effectively and jointly than ever, and meticulously chart out a strategy on how to assist the COI.
Third, believing in its usual political ploy, which is making and remaking of falsehoods, PFDJwill continue to raise the national security, foreign enemies...etc in an effort to thwart the work of the COI even though we know the core problem of the country lies with the dictator. In the Diaspora, it will instruct its rogue elites to campaign and attack the COI as a threat to Eritrea. Inside the country, we will see PFDJ’s TV station and networks feeding a carefully crafted lies to the public about the COI. The aim is simply to cement a message that PFDJ believes resonates with the Eritrean people, and that is to show that the COI is against Eritrea’s sovereignty and independence, which we know is false. But the PFDJ will push on twisting facts in order to survive. Not only is PFDJ going to distort facts and plunge itself in its usual gross misrepresentation, but also it will brand all its victims as well as those who witnessed its crimes as criminals and money-grubbing souls in order to shift the debate, muzzle the innocent, and in the process stifle the work of the COI. But time is different now because the center of gravity in Eritrea is shifting to the opposition. PFDJ may not see it but the legitimacy once it had commanded is on the path of extinction.
EPDP strongly values the weight and contribution of the COI. But in the end, it is up to the opposition to make the job of the COI successful. Hence, our primary function must be to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward and testify in front of the COI. All said, however, the opposition must recognize the fear of victims and the possible reprisal against their family members back home by the PFDJ as a result of their testimony. This is the main element that the opposition in general and those Eritreans working closely with the COI in particular should address. Nevertheless, we must push that the victims have the duty to testify because it was during exercising their rights and their freedoms as citizens that they became victims of injustice like hundreds and thousands of Eritreans, and that they were imprisoned and tortured, and that they were forced to leave their country. For them, testifying would be the most historic national duty they have ever done to the country of 5 million people who are dying under the yoke of an absolute tyranny. Not testifying is not an option. The victims and witnesses know more than anybody else that Issais is not only a dictator, but a mad man and he needs to be stopped before he turns Eritrea into an uninhabitable and barren land. Again the point is that, the opposition must tighten its belt in assisting the COI. Meaning now is the time to act, and that we in the opposition must bear the onus of demonstrating the knowledge and responsibility of networking and assisting the COI in its tasks for which it is mandated to carry out – holding Issais regime accountable on the crimes it committed against the Eritrean people – that is crime against humanity. This is not the time to duck our heads.
ውርይቲ ተጣባቒት ሰብአዊ መሰላት ኤልሳ ጭሩም መቐጸልታ ናይቲ አብ ሰሜን አሜሪካ ማለት አብ ቦስቶን፡ አብ ኒው ዮርክ፡ አብ ዋሽንግቶን ዲሲ፡ አብ ዴንቨር ዘካየደቶ ዑደት እያ ናብ ከተማ ኦክላንድ መጺአ ብዛዕባ መርማሪት ኮሚሽን ውድብ ሕቡራት ሃገራት ንአፍልጦ ዝሕግዝን ሓበሬታ ዘስንቕን ህዝባዊ ሰሚናር ዘካየደት። አብ አስተምህሮአ ወ/ሮ ኤልሳ ጭሩም እዚ ኮሚሽን ከመይ ከምዝቖመን ክንደይ ጻዕርታት ከምዝሓተተን ብዝርዝር አብሪሃ። ዕድመ መርማሪት ኮሚሽን ስጋብ ዝመጽእ ግንቦት 2015 ዓ.ም ኮይኑ ከም አድላይነቱ ስጋብ ሹዱሽተ ዓመት ከም ዝቕጽል ሓቢራ። አብ ዓለም እዚ ኮሚሽን መርማሪት ዝተበየነለን አብ ሓድሕዳዊ ኵናት ዘየለዋ ሃገራት ኤርትራን ሰሜን ኮርያን እየን ድሕሪ ምባላ፡ ወ/ሮ ኤልሳ ነዚ ዕድል ምርካብና አዝዩ ጽቡቕ ዕድል ምዃኑን፡ ነቲ ዕድል ድማ ክንጥቀመሉን ብዋዛ ካብ ኢድና ከይነውጽኦን ተማሕጺና። ስርዓት ህግደፍ ንመርማሪት ኮሚሽን ንከተዓናቕፍን ከነአእስን ዝገብሮ ዘሎ ኩሉ ሽርሕታት አቃሊዓ። አብ መደረአ ወ/ሮ ኤልሳ ንሕና ኤርትራውያን አብ ልዕሌና ብስርዓት ህግደፍ ዝወርድ ዘሎ ገበን አዝዩ አሰቃቒ ክንሱ ከም ንቡር ጌርና ንወስዶ ምህላውና አዝዩ ከምዘተሓሳሰባ ገሊጻ። ህዝቢ ድማ አብ ነብሱ ኮነ አብ ቤተሰቡ ንዝወረዱ ግፍዕታት ኮነ ገበናት ብትብዓት ክሕብርን ቃል ምስክርነቱ ክህብን ተላብያ። እዚ አብ ህዝብና ዝወርድ ዘሎ ግፍዕታት ደው ስጋብ ዝብል ድማ ቃልሳ ደው ከምዘይተብል እታ ዋዕሮ አንጻር ኩሉ ተጻብኦታት ደው ኢላ ብትብዓት እትምክት ካብ ዓረ ዝተርር ሞራላዊ ሕልና ዘለዋ ኤልሳ ቃል አትያ። ካብ ህዝቢ ቤይ ኤርያ ድማ ናይ አጆኺ አብ ጎድንኺ አለና ዝብል ሞራላዊ ድጋፍ ተዋሂብዋ። አብቲ አኼባ አዝዮም አገደስቲ ነጥብታት ከም ሕቶን ለበዋን ክቐርቡ ከለው፡ እቲ አኼባ ብዓይነቱ ፍልይ ዝበለ ፖለቲካዊ ብቕዓትን ብስለትን ተሳተፍቲ ዝተራእየሉ፡ ሓድሕዳዊ ምክብባርን ርዝነትን ዝዓሰሎ ምንባሩ ከይተጠቐስኩ ክሓልፍ አይደልይን። አብ እዋን ሰሚናር ሓደ ካብ ወለንተኛታት መርማሪት ኮሚሽን መንእሰይ አሰናይ ሙሴ ብዛዕባ እቶም ወለንተኛትት ዘካይድዎ ዘለዉ ስርሓትን፡ ህዝቢ ከመይ ጌሩ ነቲ ወብ ሳይት ክጥቀመሉ ይኽእልን ብዝርዝር አረዲኡ። አብቲ ወብሳይት ካብ ህዝቢ ኽቐርቡ ንዝኽእሉ ሕቶታትን መልስታቶምን፡ ከምይ ጌርካ ሓበሬታኻ ክትህብ ከም እትኽእልን አካል ናይዛ ወለንተኛ ጉጅለ ትኸውንን ብፕሮጀክቶር አሰንዩ ናብ ህዝቢ አቕሪብዎ። አብ ሓጺር ሰሙን ዘይመልእ ጊዜ ንዝተዳለወ ሰሚናር ክንድዚ ዝአኽሉ ደቂ አንስትዮ ዝርከብኦም ተሳተፍቲ ምርካቦምን እቲ ሰሚናር ውጺኢታዊ ብምንባሩ፡ ንኹሉ ጉዳያቶም አወንዚፎም ዝተሳተፉ ደቂ ሃገር ክምስገኑ ይግባእ። ድሕሪ ሰሚናር ነበርቲ ቤይ ኤርያ ንኤልሳ ጭሩም ናይ ድራር ግብጃ ጌይሮምላ፡ ብዝከአሎም አብ ጎድኒ መርማሪት ኮሚሽን ደው ኢሎም ዝግብኦም ከም ዝፍጽሙ ብሓደ ድምጺ አረጋጊጾም።
ኦክላንድ - ካሊፎርንያ
11 ሕዳር 2015 ዓ.ም
EPDP Information Office
According to a Swiss daily, centre-right parties in Switzerland are extremely angry with the recent decision of the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) which created the precedent that European countries will no more be allowed to send refugees to country of first entry without making sure that the returned refugee will be treated humanely.
Tribute de Genève of November 4 reported that the European court decided in favour of Afghan family members in Switzerland who were asked to return to Italy where they the first entered and carry finger prints justifying that fact. However, the ECHR said Switzerland cannot send the family back to Italy before Switzerland first asks Italy if it is going to treat the family in good condition because no refugee should be returned to live under “inhumane and degrading” condition. The case of the family was brought to the court by a Swiss NGO.
The decision is a big blow to the Dublin accord which until now allowed European countries to send back refugees to the first point of entry in Europe, which is usually Italy.
The Swiss newspaper reported that Switzerland sent back to Italy last year 2,527 asylum seekers to Italy because they had finger prints. This figure represented 84% of all refugees returned to Italy in 2013. Most affected were Eritreans.
The paper further stated that asylum seekers are not given support in Italy which has place only for 8,000 asylum seekers/migrants. Currently, there are 64,000 asylum seekers/migrants in Italy and most of them are not provided with shelter or other support.
The right-wing parties in Switzerland are now threatening to ignore the ECHR decision.
The ECHR is a supranational or international institution based in Strasbourg, France, and established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It receives applications from individuals or groups of individuals alleging that a contracting state has breached human rights provisions in the European convention.
Radio Erena: 05 November 2014
10 መነኮሳት ገዳማት ኤርትራ ኣብ ኢትዮጵያ ዑቕባ ከምዝሓተቱ ተዋህዶ ዶት ኦርግ ሓቢሩ።
ብመሰረት እቲ ሓበሬታ፣ እቶም 10 መነኮሳት ገዳማት ኤርትራ፣ ምስቲ ኣቐዲሙ ብመራሕቲ ገዳማት ኤርትራ ንምትእትታው ልኡኻት መንግስቲ ንምውጋዝ ዝተዘርግሐ ደብዳቤ ብዝተሓሓዝ፣ ንስኻትኩም ኢኹም ኣለዓዒልኩሞ ብዝብል ምኽንያት መንግስቲ ኤርትራ ንኽኣስሮም ይደናደን ከምዘሎ ምስ ኣረጋገጹ’ዮም ዝሓለፈ ሰሙን ናብ ኢትዮጵያ ሰጊምሮም።
እቶም 10 መነኮሳት፣ ሰለስተ ካብ ገዳም ጻዕዳ እምባ፣ ሰለስተ ካብ ገዳም ኣቡነ ሊባኖስ ሃም፣ ክልተ ካብ ገዳም ኣብራንዮስ፣ ሓደ ካብ ገዳም ኣቡነ ብሩኽ፣ ሓደ ኸኣ ካብ ገዳም ኣቡነ ዮናስ ምዃኖም’ውን እቲ ሓበሬታ ብተወሳኺ የረድእ።
ሽዱሽተ ገዳማት ኤርትራ፣ ንምትእትታው ልኡኻት መንግስቲ ኤርትራ ኣብ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ኤርትራ ዝውግዝ ውግዓዊ ደብዳቤ ከምዝዘርግሑ ዝፍለጥ’ዩ።
By Mattathias Schwartz (from The New Yorker of 3 October)
The West’s long history of sluggish responses to refugee crises turned especially ugly one year ago today, when a boat from Africa sank within sight of the Italian island of Lampedusa. More than three hundred people drowned, mostly immigrants fleeing the troubled East African country of Eritrea. They had made a difficult crossing through the Sahara and Libya by car and on foot, only to pay several times the price of a plane ticket to be packed shoulder to shoulder on a boat too small and too old for their numbers. In April, I wrote about their journey for the magazine, and about a Catholic priest, Mussie Zerai, whose phone many Eritreans have called from kidnappers’ prisons. Eritreans carry Zerai’s number with them during sea crossings, and it often falls to him to notify rescuers when their boats begin to sink or run out of fuel.
368 coffins of Lampedusa on 3 October 2013.
This week, Zerai and some of the survivors will commemorate the disaster on Lampedusa, along with the Comitato Tre Ottobre, a coalition seeking to make October 3rd an official day of remembrance under Italian law. The Comitato says that it will release three hundred and sixty-eight lanterns and organize an urban flash mob with three hundred and sixty-eight activists wearing white sheets. Earlier this week, a group of survivors met with Pope Francis. “I feel things that I can’t tell you, because I can’t find the words to say them,” he reportedly said. “I ask all the men and women of Europe to open the doors of the heart!”
Abba Mussie Zerai
The shame of last October 3rd gave Zerai and many other activists a rallying point, and provoked some action. The Italian government launched a program called Mare Nostrum to patrol the Mediterranean, which it says has saved more than a hundred thousand lives to date. But the program is winding down, and its replacement, organized by Frontex, the European border-control group, will likely be much diminished in budget and scale. Yesterday, Cecilia Malmström, the E.U. home-affairs commissioner, pointed out the disparate rates at which E.U. states take in refugees. Sweden led the way last year, giving protected status to more than twenty-six thousand immigrants. In many Eastern European countries, the number was less than fifty.
Citizenship is evolving from a marker of identity into a commodity. Malta sells passports for around one and a half million dollars. Multiple Caribbean citizenships are going for a few hundred thousand dollars each. Even the United States releases special EB-5 visas for people who make million-dollar investments that create ten or more jobs. Meanwhile, thousands of people who can’t afford to pay these prices continue to drown in the Mediterranean each year. Last month, human traffickers intentionally drowned more than five hundred immigrants, mostly Syrians, Egyptians, and Palestinians, who refused to switch to a smaller boat in the middle of the sea. Like the Eritreans, many were not economic migrants but asylum seekers fleeing violence, famine, and repressive governments.
The current asylum system is part of what’s enabled human traffickers to thrive; demand for their services would be much reduced if immigrants could apply without first reaching European or American soil. This week, President Obama announced that Central American children with parents in the U.S. will be able to seek processing in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The parents must be “lawfully present” in the U.S., a term that encompasses citizens, green-card holders, refugees, and others with official protected status. There were more than four hundred thousand U.S. deportations last year, most of them to Mexico and Central America. The total number of refugee admissions designated for Latin America and the Caribbean is four thousand.
Last month, I spoke with Zerai on a train from Zurich to St. Gallen, where he performed the Mass. As before, he was juggling pastoral duties with pleas for help coming in by phone, e-mail, and Facebook. “Young people look at the Internet and he see opportunities in other countries,” he told me. “We are not in the Middle Ages. He wants freedom … that is the ambition of every human being.”