SADC Council of NGOs (SADC-CNGO) cordially invites members of media to the media briefing on the political and human rights situation in Eritrea.
In May 1991 the Eritrean people gained their independence after a thirty-year war of liberation. The independence brought heightened the possibility of realizing the people’s aspiration for freedom, human dignity, democracy and social justice. Nascent processes of laying democratic foundation and socioeconomic reconstruction has shown promising results in the early stage of independence and gave indication of a better future.
However, under the pretext of the eruption of the border war with Ethiopia in 1998, President Issaias Afwerki refused to implement the constitution and declared a state of emergency under which the democratization and reconstruction processes were put on hold. In 2001, the government security arrested top reformist military and government officials; and clumped down on the fledgling national independent media and arrested journalists. In the last thirteen years the government never instituted any officially charges against these individuals in a court of justice. The human rights atrocities by the security agencies are widespread. It is believed that there are more than ten thousand political prisoners held for years, if not decades, under inhuman circumstances in secret prisons cross the country.
The government closed the only university in the country committing students and the youth to an open-ended military service robbing them of their future. Consequently, the Eritrean youth are leaving the country in their numbers crossing the borders to the neighbouring countries. In their search for safe places the youth have become victims of human trafficking, organ harvesting, rape and torcher as well as drowning in high seas.
The government is under United Nations sanction that was initiated by the African Union for its destabilizing policies in the region, especially in Somalia and Djibouti. The UN Human Rights Commission has also established a Commission of Enquiry on Eritrea to investigate the gross human rights violation perpetrated by the government.
Due to restrictive policies, Eritreans inside the country have not been able to openly organize themselves to air out their opposition, lest they risk their lives. However, the mobilization among Eritreans in diaspora has been growing. The main objective has been to effect a peaceful political transition to a democratic dispensation.
On the basis of its fundamental principles the 10th Southern African Civil Society Forum held between 27th and 31st of July 2014 in Harare, Zimbabwe, declared its solidarity with the struggle of the Eritrean people for human dignity and democracy. The Forum said “We remain guided by the necessity today to revitalise the pan-African and international peoples solidarity movement to advance and protect social-economic, political and human rights, democracy and justice.” Under no circumstances shall it be people are denied of their rights and dignity. Indeed, the political situation in Eritrea created by the act of the government is a looming threat to the peace and security of the Horn of Africa.
Therefore, SADC-CNGO is hosting the media briefing.
1. Amb. Andebrhan Weldegiorgis, Coordinator of the Eritrean Forum for National Dialogues; former Eritrean Ambassador to the EU; former Governor of the Central Bank of Eritrea; former member of the Central Committee of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and author of the book “Eritrea at a Crossroad: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope”.
2. Ms Salwa Nour – Women and Human Rights Activist.
3. Mr. Woldesus Amar – Head of Foreign Relations – Eritrean People’s Democratic Party; Former Chairman of the EPDP; Veteran Freedom Fighter, Former Member of the Revolutionary Council of ELF.
VENUE: RANDLORDS, 22nd Floor South Point Towers, 41 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, 2017, Johannesburg.
TIME: 09h00 to 11h00 DATE: 05th December 2014
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