The 13th annual gathering of an organ in Europe serving the repressive regime in Eritrea was foiled by a joint voice and action of Eritreans in the Netherlands and the support of their compatriots across Europe. Among others, EPDP's condemnatory memo was already in the hands of Dutch authorities by the time the festival activities were about to be launched. This annual event of the so-called YPFDJ for (Youth wing of the ruling Popular Front for 'Democracy and Justice' in Asmara), scheduled for 13 and 17 April in Veldhoven, Holland, was ordered to shut down before it could be addressed by Yemane Ghebreab, the senior advisor of the Eritrean dictator, Isaias Afeworki.
The Mayor of Veldhoven and his council took the action on Friday, 14 April, fearing continued violence after the arrest of some 100 Eritrean protesters near the venue of the event. There were reports (Martin Plaut) that over 2,500 Eritreans from the rest of Europe were to join the protesters in Veldhonven by Saturday 15th April after learning that at hand was Yemane Ghebreab, suspected to be one of the potential culprits identified in the UN list of perpetrator of "crimes against humanity" in Eritrea during the past quarter of a century.
The Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP), which never failed in the past to urge Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy and even the Netherlands, was once against among other voices to ask Dutch authorities not to allow this propaganda outfit of the Eritrean regime to hold a gathering in order to brainwash young Eritreans. Addressed to Mr. Bert Koenders, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, EPDP's protest memorandum expressed "dismay and profound disappointment" that the YPDJ festival is allowed a venue in the Netherlands that it did not deserve.
The memo said: "We in the EPDP see the event as an affront to the past declarations of the Dutch Parliament, the ruling of a Dutch Court against the same group and the firm positions of the Dutch Government against the abuses of the dictatorial regime in Eritrea."
Printed below is the full text of the message:
Subject: Protest Memo Against YPFDJ's Jamboree in the Netherlands
To: H.E. Mr. Bert Koenders, Foreign Minister,
CC: Dutch Government and Concerned Authorities,
The Kindom of the Netherlands,
Dear Foreign Minister Koenders,
It is with dismay and profound disappointment that we, in the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), a mainstream organization struggling for democratic change in Eritrea, address to your esteemed Ministry this message concerning the holding in the Netherlands the 13th festival of the so-called Young PFDJ, an arm of the repressive regime in Eritrea. We see the event as an affront to the past declarations of the Dutch Parliament, the ruling of a Dutch Court against the same group and the firm positions of the Dutch Government against the abuses of the dictatorial regime in Eritrea.
This group is nothing but a propaganda and security outfit of the Asmara regime whose gatherings in Europe are addressed by the regime officials like Mr. Yemane Ghebreab, who brainwash and poison innocent European children of Eritrean origin with the regime's propaganda of hate and division. Sadly, it is learned that that same person is on his way to Holland to speak at the festival being held between 13 and 17 April, 2017. Mr. Ghebreab is highly likely to be one of those Eritrean officials tipped for legal prosecution for crimes against humanity as established by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea. The agents of YPFDJ did not deserve a venue in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for a propaganda event of the Asmara regime.
Your Excellency Mr. Koenders,
There is no doubt that the so-called Young-PFDJ is a carbon copy of the hated Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) of the last century. It is well known to you in the Netherlands that the Asmara regime uses the youth and their parents to intimidate those who openly talk against the repressive regime. It was one of the top leaders of this group that accused a Dutch professor, Mirjam van Reisen, not long ago on false claims of 'libel' with the intent of intimidating and stopping her from exposing the abuses of the Eritrean regime against its own people.
We feel that the YPFDJ festival being held in the Netherlands is not only a provocation to Dutch support to Eritrean refugees but also an insult to all Eritreans struggling for change and democracy in their country.
Those participants gathered for the festival come from several countries in Europe: parents and relatives of the young persons are hostages of the dictatorship in Eritrea. Therefore, to have a continued contact with the embassies in Europe and to safeguard their interests in Eritrea, the parents must send their sons and daughters to such festival. Even parents inside Eritrea are subjected to intimidation, psychological pressure and threats of vengeance if their sons and daughters in Europe dare fail to appear at the annual event.
Dear Foreign Minister,
We, members of EPDP and other Eritreans opposed to the regime in Asmara, trust you will agree that the envoys of the dictator should not be allowed to poison Eritrean youth and try to make them submit to the malicious propaganda of the regime that is known to be the worst abuser and violator of basic human rights in Africa if not in the entire world.
Hoping that your esteemed Ministry and the Dutch Government will never in the future allow the group to be active in the Netherlands, we remain, Sir,
For the Eritrean People's Democratic Party/EPDP/ in exile
(Wolde-Yesus Ammar, Head of Foreign Relations).