Saturday, June 29, 2013

Independent Eritrea, a crumbling nation and a tragedy: 'The Architects of Destruction'

Ghirmay S. Yeibio

Scholars and historians with differing opinions and persuasions have extensively written about the Eritrean case.  Even though a significant number of the works produced are by proponents of secession and are mostly no more than propaganda material, there are also some very good and noteworthy works which are objective and balanced.  If you have the time and patience to peruse through them, there is enough material out there to help one understand the genesis of the past and current Eritrean problem.   The quagmire that Eritrea is in today is directly related to what transpired during the 40s, 50s and 60s and the ideological beliefs that the forefathers of the movement espoused.
ELF and EPLF historians have been telling us that the Eritrean Struggle for Independence was the result of 'Ethiopian colonization' of Eritrea.  Whereas, the problem was simply the creation of foreign powers particularly the British, Italians and the Arab world, executed through their local mercenaries.  The issue was also compounded by fear and hate of a historical, ethnic and religious nature.   Unfortunately, most Eritreans, without making any effort to understand the history of the land and people, particularly during the 1940s and 50s, regurgitate the "Ghedli" ELF/EPLF historians interpretation that Eritrea was colonized by Ethiopia by abrogating the UN-sponsored federation and annexing the Eritrean state.  As a result the Era of Union with Ethiopia is unfortunately described as Ethiopian colonization "Megzaeti Ethiopia" and the day that Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia is remembered as the day colonialism was abolished "Megzaeti tehaghigu ziwetsalu" by most Eritreans.
What is most of the time conveniently forgotten or presented in a different light by "Ghedli" ELF/EPLF historians is the fact that, under the leadership of the Unionist Party, the people of Eritrea freely voted through their elected representatives in the Eritrean Legislative Assembly to dissolve the federation and form a complete union with Ethiopia on 14 November 1962.   Even before the motion to dissolve the federation was tabled in the Eritrean Assembly 55 out of the 68 members of the parliament  i.e. 75% have already signed in support of the dissolution.   It was a process that took over a month and after the Chief Executive of Eritrea read the motion it was carried unanimously.
The legislative assembly then proceeded to ask the Emperor to ratify its decision.  "Now therefore, we hereby unanimously resolve that the Federation with all its significance and implications, be definitely abolished from this very moment; and from now on we live in a complete union with our motherland Ethiopia; and we pray His Imperial Majesty our August and beloved Sovereign, to ratify this resolution." [1]
But proponents of secession would like us to believe that the Eritrean Legislative Assembly under pressure from Ethiopia was forced to abolish the federation with Ethiopia, and voted to become an Ethiopian province at the point of a gun.
Bitweded Asfaha Woldemichael Chief Executive of Eritrea from 1955 - 1962 explains that "To begin with, Ethiopians and Eritreans never asked for nor expected a federation, let alone understand it. Largely for extraneous global political reasons that outside powers and the United Nations decided on Ethiopia-Eritrea federation as a compromise among various options. Under the circumstances, the Eritrean and the Ethiopian people accepted it reluctantly. Having accepted and tried the federal arrangement, the Eritrean people found it wanting and not viable. Consequently, the Eritrean people finally rejected it constitutionally and of their own volition. They then restored the age-old Ethio-Eritrean union, which the overwhelming majority of the Eritrean people had been fighting for all along. Any final responsibility for the transformation of the federation to union rests with us Eritreans and if you wish, with me personally, for shepherding the process to its ineluctable climax. [2]
A latter turn coat, Dr Amare Tekle, Chairman of the Eritrean Referendum Commission (1993), in his doctoral dissertation (University of Denver 1964), also agrees with Bitweded Asfaha.  He first explains his position that Eritrea is part of Ethiopia by saying "Was Eritrea part of Ethiopia? Those who argued that Eritrea was never part of Ethiopia are either ignorant of the history of the region or simply want to revise it or, even worse, were simply invoking a milder version of Signor Mussolini’s Fascist thesis about the nature of the Ethiopian state" and regarding the union with Ethiopia he further adds that "Ethiopia should not be criticized for actions related to the dissolution of the federation"[3]
The Italian defeat by the British in April 1941, and the subsequent custody of Eritrea by the British Military Administration heralded a new era in the history of the nation.  Eritreans who so far had no say in their affairs since their creation as a separate entity by Italy, began to actively participate in discussions to determine their future with the permission and encouragement of the British.   The first free and spontaneous expression of the wish of Eritreans was witnessed immediately after the liberation of Eritrea by the British.  Eritreans within a month from the fall of Asmara, on the very day Emperor Haile Selassie was raising the Ethiopian flag in Addis Ababa,  on May 5, 1941 GC (Miazia 27, 1933 EC) [4], made their intention clear by demonstrating in Asmara and called for the unification of Eritrea with Ethiopia. That same day they announced the formation of the Unionist Party. [5]

 (Photo: Eritrean Supporters of Union with Ethiopia demonstrating in the 1940s ) 
The British who had other designs of their own for the disposal of the colony, began to connive to implement their own agenda.   Unfortunately, this British intrigue had a lasting effect on Eritrea and Eritreans.  In the coming years, they began encouraging the Muslims of Eritrea to make their voice heard.  They also started recruiting Eritreans who can be instruments for their design and plan.  The first such person to be recruited was Woldeab Woldemariam.  Others like Abdelqader Kebire and Ibrahim Sultan encouraged by the British and the new found freedom of speech and association, began forming parties to advance their aim and tried to influence the outcome of the disposal of the colony.  Woldeab Woldemariam along with other few highland Christians also formed a party.  These individuals had one thing in common, they all did not want unity with Ethiopia, but differ in their vision of the new Eritrea they wanted to form.
Initially, the Eritrean independence movement comprised of two distinct groups with different motives but who all agreed in their quest for secession.  The first group is the Muslims of Eritrea who for religious reasons did not want any type of association with Ethiopia led by the Christian Emperor Haile Selassie I.  The main actors in this group, amongst many others; were Abdelqader Kebire, Sheikh Ibrahim Sultan and Idris Mohammed Adem.  The Second group represents a few elites of the highlands who appeared to harbor resentment towards the Amhara led Abyssinian Empire.   The main actor in this group was Woldeab Woldemariam.  A third group of radicalized students with communist ideologies also joined the bandwagon of secession by the mid 1960s.  It was this latter addition to the equation which carried the movement to its declared objective i.e. secession.   The main actor in this group is the current head of the Asmara regime, Isayas Afeworki.
These are some of the most important actors who succeeded in creating a nationalism which is rooted in rivalry, historical grudges, old strife, resentment and outright white lie.  They manipulated history and wrote a new false national narrative.  In the tradition of the Nazis, they created big colossal lies  and repeated it over and over again until people believed them to be true. Hitler and his cronies orchestrated what they called "the big lie." This theory states that no matter how big the lie is "or more precisely, because it's so big", people will believe it if you repeat it enough. Everyone tells small lies, Hitler reasoned, but few have the guts to tell colossal lies. Because a big lie is so unlikely, people will come to accept it. [6]
Some of the colossal lies used by the forefathers of the struggle and which deserve honorable mention are :-
  • Eritrea was never a part of Ethiopia in its history and was colonized by Ethiopia;
  • Eritrea is a predominantly Muslim state and member of the Arab World;
  • Haile Selassie said that Ethiopia "wants the land and not the people of Eritrea";
  • the US, UN, the Western world are all enemies who are envious of Eritrea and hence want to destroy it;
  • The Amharas 'Adgi', (which is interchangeably used to mean Ethiopia) are the primary   enemies of Eritrea and Eritreans;
  • Eritreans are special people (Yikeallo) who are advanced and civilized capable of creating  economic and other miracles;
  • Eritrea is a developed and industrialized nation endowed with abundant natural resource.
A closer look into the bio and life of the most prominent actors in the Eritrean Secessionist movement might help us to understand the current calamity that has befallen Eritrea and its people.
Abdelqader Kebire
Abdelqader Kebire is a member of the Jeberti people from Eritrea.  He was born in early 1902 in Massawa and attended Quranic School and learned Arabic during childhood.  As a young man, he travelled to Egypt and later to Yemen as translator to the Italian Embassy in Hodeida, Yemen.
Even though, some of the Jeberti people have been in Eritrea for centuries but the majority of them immigrated to Eritrea after they were expelled from other parts of Ethiopia by Emperor Yohannes IV. The Jeberti had experienced severe religious persecution in Ethiopia. When Emperor Yohannes IV ascended to power in 1871 he gave Ethiopian Moslems an ultimatum, either to convert to Christianity or else face the consequence.  Emperor Yohannes was a deeply religious and devout Orthodox Christian. He was inflexible and very conservative when it comes to his religious views.  He embarked on an ambitious project of unifying religion in his domain and issued a decree compelling Muslims to convert to Christianity.
Many obeyed his decree and were baptized promptly.  Notable among them was Ras Mohammed Ali, the ranking Moslem leader in Wollo province, who was baptized as Ras Michael Ali (later king Michael Ali).  Those who defied the edict were massacred, others were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in safer areas such as Eritrea and the Sudan.  Those who fled to Eritrea, also known as the Jeberti, settled in Eritrean cities and rural areas mostly in Serayie and Akeleguzay provinces where they gained refuge and freedom to practice their religion.
Saleh AA Younis, member of the Jeberti himself, in an article on Dehai.org 2 Apr 1997 writing about the Jereberti says "When Atse Yohannes was on his "accept Christianity or Die" mission, a large number of Muslims migrated to Eritrea.  This group, led by "Sheikh Muzemil" originated from Wolkayit now part of Tigray.  This group became "Deki Arba" (40 year residents/naturalized) and were given a plot of land to farm, primarily in Serayie and Akeleguzay". [7]
Even though, the Jeberti were expelled from their habitual residence in Tigray and Wolkayit region, they found refuge in another part of Ethiopia, the Mereb Melash (current day Eritrea) which at that time was administered by none other than the founder of Asmara, Ras Alula Abanega; the viceroy of  the very Emperor who expelled them.  As such it was just an internal displacement.  Not only did they find refuge to practice their religion freely, they in fact engaged in trade and commerce and prospered.  They helped Ras Alula Abanega to conduct commerce with the Egyptians who were occupying Massawa and the Dahlak Islands at the time.
The memory of the various horrendous crimes that were perpetuated against Ethiopian Moslems by Yohannes IV was very fresh at the time of the birth of Abdelqader Kebire.  Hearing their parents recount the story of the persecution in their formative years created a consuming and deep rooted hatred and fear towards Christian Abyssinia,  which definitely shaped the future actions of Kebire and others.
During his travels to Egypt and Yemen, Abdel Kader Kebire was able to befriend many notable people from the Middle East. He was highly influenced by Egyptian and other Middle Eastern politicians.  An article on Farajat.com gives us an insight on Kebire and what influenced him in his early days and determined his course of action later in his life.
The article reads that "At the age of 18, Kebire left for Egypt where he witnessed the revolution of Saad Zaqlul against the British, an incident that left its mark on him and shaped his rebellious character".  The article further describes how Abdelqader Kebire became a respected socialitè around diplomatic circles in Yemen and made the acquaintances of notable politicians and intellectuals of the era, including a famous leader of Palestinian uprising; Sheikh Amin Al-Hussaini, a notable middle eastern writer Hashim Al-Atassi of Syria; and Prince Shakib Arselan of Lebanon.  Furthermore the article tells us that during his trips to Saudi Arabia, he met and befriended the Saudi Prince, later King, Faisal Bin Abdul-Aziz, who used to call him Al Messewe‘e (the one from Massawa).[8] It is obvious where Abdelqader Kebire got his inspiration from.
When the fate of Eritrea was being debated in the 1940s, Kebire and his group were hostile to and disapproved the mere thought of any association with Ethiopia and the Christian Imperial Government of Haile Selassie.  They saw it as going back to hell.   They were not willing to give up their new settlement without a fight.  As recent arrivals, they had not yet taken root solidly in Eritrea, and hence had to present themselves as ultra nationalists exhibiting excessive patriotism by advocating for independence.   They wanted to create an independent Eritrea in order to protect the rights of their own religious group,  with Arabic as one of its official language.
The British Military Administration also wanted the Muslims of Eritrea to form their own organisation. Thus influenced by his travels to Egypt and Yemen, motivated by hate and fear towards Christian Abyssinia,  with substantial encouragement from the British Military Administration, Abdel Kader Kebire became a staunch opponent of Union. His opposition to Union was based on personal grudge emanating from the religious persecution that the Jeberti faced during the reign of Emperor Yohannes IV.  By allying with the Moslems of lowland Eritrea, Kebire co-founded the Al-Rabita Al-Islamiya Al-Eritrea which "rallied Muslims under the banner of Islam, making religious identity an essential component of nationalist aspirations". [9] The Moslem League (Al-Rabita Al-Islamiya Al-Eritrea) was a political party that promoted Islam as a political movement, and was formed in Keren in December of 1946.
Kebire never espoused a nationalist agenda beneficial to the Eritrean people at large but rather a narrow agenda based on past grievances.   Fear and hate was what was driving Kebire.  He embarked on the road of eroding the age old identity of the land and people and creating of a new identity for Eritrea and Eritreans; a new Eritrea that fits his narrow interest; an Arabic speaking and Muslim Eritrea(ERISTAN)[10] closely aligned with the Arab world by language and religion.
The introduction of Arabic as a medium of education was the work of the British Administration in Eritrea.  As Dominique Jacquin writes "The adoption of Arabic by the British was done in preparation for Eritrea's projected dismantling and Western Eritrea's future incorporation into Sudan. Britain's plans of annexing these regions were indeed slowly, although secretly, being articulated".  She further explains that "Except for some nomadic Rashaida tribes along the coast near Massawa, Arabic had never been much more than a marketlingua franca. In response to enquiries about the number of Arabic-speaking Eritreans in 1943, Colonel S.F. Nadel, then Chief-Secretary in Asmara, highlighted the difficulty of estimating with any precision their number as "the knowledge of Arabic among Eritreans is mostly rather modest and of poor, colloquial standard." [11]
Even though Kebire was himself a member of the 'Tigrigna speaking' highland Muslim people of Jeberti, he nevertheless vigorously promoted the British agenda of adopting  Arabic as a national language in Eritrea.  He was shot by an assassin on March 27, 1949 and died in Asmara two days later.
Ibrahim Sultan
Ibrahim Sultan Ali from the Tigre tribe of Sahel in Northern Eritrea was born in 1909.  Attended Quran School as a child and later acquired technical training in Asmara.  He was employed by the Italians first at the Eritrean railway and later as translator of Arabic and Tigrigna both in Eritrea and Ethiopia.  He was also employed by the British in the Native affairs office before resigning to go into business for himself in Tessenei.  Ibrahim Sultan was the founding father of the Moslem League of Eritrea (Al Rabita Al Islamiya Al Eritrea) and served as its Secretary General.
The opposition of Ibrahim Sultan and other Eritrean Muslims of the lowlands was based on the fact that Ethiopian Muslims did not have religious freedom, and hence it would be disadvantageous for Eritrea to be united with Ethiopia, i.e. the fear of Christian domination.  Ibrahim Sultans motivation was primarily based on fear that Eritrean Muslims would lose the religious freedom which they were enjoying at the time.
E.R.J. Hussey Director of Education in Uganda and Nigeria, and Educational Adviser to the Emperor of Ethiopia, writes, "The Moslems were at first, I think, a little apprehensive of the possibility (of union), in view of the fact that the vast majority of Ethiopians, except those who are pagans, are now Christian, and they feared that in Ethiopia they might suffer some loss of status." [12]
A British document from the 1950s describes Ibrahim Sultan as "Extremely shrewd, knows what he wants and how to get it. Would not hesitate to double-cross anyone.  At present supports the Independence idea, and is playing along with the Italians.  One of the most able and dangerous men in the political field". [13]
He formed the Moslem League of Eritrea with Abdelqader Kebire after being coaxed by the British to do so.  "During the month of October 1946, Brigadier General Benoy, the military administrator, toured the country with the purpose of informing the Eritrean people that they should prepare themselves to make known their views to the Four Power Commission (FPC) of Enquiry. Since, however, both the Unionists and the Separatists were already active, the brigadier’s main task was to bring about a similar organization among Eritrean Moslems. According to the political intelligence reports, Brigadier General Benoy appeared to have made a strong impression and convinced Eritrean Moslems that, unless they are prepared to think for themselves, the Plateau Christians will do the thinking for them”.[14]
Ibrahim Sultan's vision was a Muslim/Arabic Eritrea (ERISTAN) led by his party the Moslem League.  He had also gone on record at a UN meeting in Lake Success in 1949 saying that 75% of the Eritrean people are Muslim.
"Between April 5 and May 13 UN hearings were given for some representatives of Eritrean political parties, the first time that Eritreans were allowed to express their grievances at the UN.  Ibrahim Sultan spoke on behalf of the Muslim League and stated that Eritrea was ready for independence and that in terms of religion, ethnicity, and economics, Eritrea did not have anything in common with Ethiopia.Furthermore, he argued that 75% of Eritreans were Muslim and rejected Union." [15]
His Party, the Muslim League "perceived Eritrea as a territory with a predominantly Muslim population demographically and geographically. It looked for inspiration in other movements of liberation in Asia and the Middle East which rallied people on the basis of a Muslim identity like The Moslem League in India". [16] The Moslem League of India is the predecessor to the Moslem League of Pakistan.  It was a political party which advocated the creation of a separate Muslim-majority nation (Pakistan).
The British had a design to unite the lowlands of Eritrea with the Sudan which it was administering at the time.  In a letter dated 14 August 1942 to R.C. Mayall, then Sudan Agent in London, Sir Douglas Newbold, Civil Secretary of the British Service in Sudan, wrote:"Nothing much to report about Eritrea, except that I am investigating at leisure the possibilities of Sudan taking over the areas north and west of Asmara after the war, if we are asked to do so"[17]
Ibrahim Sultan was ideally suited for the plans of the British and was encouraged to form the Muslim League "whose programme varied from independence to union with the Sudan".[18] His party's program also calls for the unification of Sudanese Bejas with Eritrea.  Ibrahim Sultan's agenda was narrow and sectarian based on religion and he never espoused a national agenda.
In 1949 he again availed himself to the service of another foreign government, this time to the Italians.  With the diplomatic and financial support of the Italians, he co-founded the independence bloc on July 25, 1949 consisting of 8 political parties and professional organisations.
"Soon after it became known that the UN had rejected the plan for the partition of Eritrea, the Italian government, set immediately into action the policy of campaigning for the complete and immediate independence of Eritrea. The representatives of the Eritrean Political Parties, namely, the Moslem League, the Liberal Progressive Party, the Pro-Italy, the Italo-Eritrean were brought together by Italian diplomats in New York where the idea of a coalition bloc was discussed". [19]
As the Moslem League and Liberal Progressive Party were the creation of the British, the independence block was the creation of the Italian government.  The British Chief Administrator for Eritrea,  Brigadier F. G. Drew, reporting to his government in London wrote  "In contrast to the Unionist Party the Independence Bloc appeared lifeless and artificial.  He believed that the Independent Bloc deputies were obviously got together by the Italians and half-castes and a noticeable thing was that Italian was the language used by the delegates.[20]
Thus the motive of Ibrahim Sultan was the fear and hatred of Christian King Haile Selassie I, whom he believed would erode the religious freedom of his people.  The conflict between the cross and the crescent provided the ideological bases for Ibrahim Sultan and his group to advocate for independence. He worked for the British and the Italians at different times, hoping to advance his anti union Agenda, and create a Muslim led Arabic speaking nation (ERISTAN) his whole life.  He never espoused a nationalist agenda beneficial to the Eritrean people in general.  He died in exile in 1987 without seeing the independence of Eritrea and was buried in Sudan.
Idris Mohammed Adem
Idris Mohammed Adem was born from the Tigre speaking Muslim Beni Amer tribe around 1920 in the town of Agordat.   He was educated in Gedaref Sudan at an Arabic Secondary School.  He returned to Eritrea in 1941 and was appointed as the official secretary of the Beni Amer.  He also wrote for the Arabic language edition of the Eritrea Weekly News. He originally supported the British design of partitioning Eritrea between Ethiopia and the Sudan.  The Tigre speaking  Beni Amer tribe of the western lowlands share kinship links across the border in the Sudan.
Thus Idris Mohammed Adem was in favour of the British design to incorporate lowland Eritrea with the Sudan and also believed that Eritrea was part of the Arab World.  He was an activist of the Muslim League led by Ibrahim Sultan, from whom he split later and supported the federal arrangement and got elected as President of the Eritrean Assembly.  He had a fall out with Bitweded Asfaha Woldemichael (Chief executive of Eritrea) and fled to the Sudan with his rival Ibrahim Sultan in 1959.
In 1960 he proceeded to Cairo and along with other exiled students he formed the ELF under his chairmanship, and personally asked Hamid Idris Awate, who belonged to the same ethnic group (on his mother's side) and was related to him, to launch the armed struggle.  He recruited fighters from the ranks of Eritreans who were soldiers of the Sudanese Army. [21] These guerillas were mostly from his ethnic group the Beni Amer, who served in the Sudanese army. The bond between them was either familial or tribal instead of ideological.   He led the ELF from 1961 - 1975 until he was replaced by Ahmed Nasser.
He is credited with developing the identity of Eritrea's Arabism and defined the Eritrean movement as part and parcel of the Pan Arab revolution. The fact that the ELF in its formative years was being supported by Egypt has contributed significantly to the Arabanization of the  Eritrean struggle.  One of his closest comrades in defining the "Eritrea is member of the Arab World" philosophy was Osman Saleh Sabbe (1932-87).








(Photo: A Map depicting Eritrea as part of the Arab World)
Jonathan Miran writes that  "The founding of the ELF in the Arab world’s foremost capital in the heyday of Nasser and Arab nationalism undoubtedly influenced to some extent the organization’s Arabist orientation and the ELF sought to build up support for its cause in the Arab world and drew ideological and organizational inspiration in its early years from the Algerian nationalist movement, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). The “Middle Eastern-ization” of the Eritrean struggle at that stage was epitomized by the person of Osman Saleh Sabbe (1932-87) who joined the ELF in late 1961.  Osman Saleh Sabbe was from then on the leading ideologue and activist promoting the inscription of the Eritrean struggle for liberation within a secular, pan-Arabist framework. Charged with the ELF’s external relations, Sabbe worked indefatigably throughout the decade in forming relationships and receiving logistical support from a host of Arab regimes and organizations both in the Red Sea area and beyond". [22]
John Franklin Campbell who was the US consul in Asmara in 1967-69 describing the ELF and the declared objective of the leaders says "Most visible of the ELF leadership is 'Secretary-general' Osman Saleh Sabbe, who has held press interviews in Beirut, Damascus, Amman, and Baghdad.  Sabbe and Radio Damascus stress that the 'independence' of an 'Arab Eritrea' is the Front's goal." [23]
Idris Mohammed Adem and his front the ELF was supported by the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser until 1963 by which time Nasser has mended fences with Emperor Haile Selassie at the formation of the OAU.
Egypt's policy with regards to Ethiopia was and still is associated with the Nile river.  85% of the waters of the Nile river comes from the Blue Nile which originates in the Ethiopian highlands.  Almost all of the Egyptian population lives near the banks of the Nile River.  Egypt's largest cities and towns, it's civilization and famous Pyramids are all situated on the banks of the river Nile. The Nile represents life itself to the people of both ancient and modern Egypt.
The Nile being the lifeline of the nation, Egyptians always wanted to either control or dominate Ethiopia.  The Swedish Adventurer Werner Muzinger(1832-1875) who was employed by the Egyptian government of Khedive Ismail(1863-1879) serving as governor of Keren and Massawa remarked that, "Ethiopia with a disciplined administration and army, and a friend of the European powers, is a danger for Egypt.  Egypt must either take over Ethiopia and Islamize it, or retain it in anarchy and misery." [24]
Egypt attempted to take over militarily the source of the Blue Nile during the 19th century in order to secure and control the uninterrupted flow of the life giving water of the Blue Nile.  As Professor Kindie  explains "Egypt should be strong enough either to dominate Ethiopia or to create the conditions to prevent the latter from building dams on the Blue Nile. With that end in mind, Egypt controlled the port of Massawa from 1865 to 1885, and occupied parts of present-day northwestern Eritrea from 1872-1884 with a view to using these areas as basis for military operations against the rest of Ethiopia. Egypt's military adventures were brought to a halt after its disastrous defeats at Gura and Gundet" by Emperor Yohannes IV and his gallant General Alula Aba Nega. [25]
Had it not been for the courageous forces of Emperor Yohannes IV and his brilliant General Ras Alula Aba Nega, a significant number of Eritrean highlanders would have faced the same fate of being converted to Islam like their fellow countrymen of Senhit (the Maria Tsaeda, Maria Tselam, Bet Asgede etc.,)  The names Woldemariam, Gebremariam and Letenegus would have been replaced by Jamal, Idris, Kedija etc. etc, The centuries old culture and religion of the highland region would have been changed and destroyed irretrievably for good.
Egypt has a long history of involvement in the internal affairs of Ethiopia and engaging in hostile action with the intent of destabilizing Ethiopia.  There was no shortage of mercenaries from Eritrea    to help Egypt in its mission during the 1950s and the 1960s.  Eritrean exiles and Eritrean Students of  Al-Azhar University living in Cairo were willing to avail themselves to the services of the Egyptian government.  The most important of them was Idris Mohammed Adem.  Woldeab Woldemariam was also in the payroll of Gamal Abdel Nasser and was transmitting radio broadcasts from Cairo beamed to Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Ambassador Shinn describing Egypt's actions writes  "Egypt opened near Alexandria in 1958 a small military training camp for Eritreans opposed to Ethiopian rule. Egypt also permitted Eritrean rebels to use Radio Cairo in an effort to undermine the Haile Selassie government. Egypt allowed the predominantly Muslim Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) to establish an office in Cairo. With Egyptian support, the Arab League in 1962 extended complete solidarity to the ELF.  Egypt saw this policy as useful in diverting Ethiopia's attention away from efforts to develop Nile water projects. [26]
After Egypt cut off its support to the ELF, Idris Mohammed Adem switched to Syria and Iraq and embraced the revolutionary Pan Arabism version of the Baath Party.  He directed the Eritrean armed struggle from Kassala, Damascus and Baghdad. [27]
Despite significant upheaval within the ELF and dramatic changes including the forming of the EPLF and the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I,  he was repeatedly voted as chairman of the front.  He was the chairman of the ELF for 14 years out of the 20 years of the existence of the front (1961-1975).   After losing the chairmanship of the ELF he moved to Saudi Arabia, dropped secular pan Arabism and embraced political Islam.
He was the single most important person which set in motion the armed struggle which engulfed Eritrea for three decades.  By forming and launching the ELF he unleashed the "Ghedli" machinery of carnage and destruction that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Eritreans and Ethiopians.
He was a dedicated adherent of Pan Arabism, who did not know the Eritrean people and had no clue whatsoever of the aspiration and identity of the Eritrean people.  His whole life he was in the pay of different Arab Nations working for foreign interests, and strived to incorporate Eritrea with the Arab world.  He died in 2004 in Mecca Saudi Arabia, without ever returning to Eritrea and without realizing his lifelong mission of creating an Arab-Eritrea (ERISTAN).
The stark similarity of the above individuals was that they all wanted to create an Arabic/Muslim Eritrea.  The other similarity is that they never succeeded in achieving their aim.   Another group of Eritreans i.e. The Christian highlanders like Woldeab Woldemariam and Isayas Afeworki had similar objective like the above individuals i.e. secession, but the type of Eritrea they wanted to create after independence was radically different.  Isayas assisted by a series of international circumstances and the general discontent in Ethiopia and the subsequent disintegration of the Ethiopian government, was finally able to establish present day Eritrea; his private serfdom.  Woldeab Woldemariam even though he was unable to realize his dream of creating a Tigray Tigrigni state, nevertheless was also able to see an independent Eritrea minus Tigray,  severed from Ethiopia.
In Part IV of Independent Eritrea, a crumbling nation and a tragedy, under the same title i.e. The Architects of Destruction, I shall try to explore the motives and objectives of  Woldeab Woldemariam, Isayas Afeworki and the Students who joined the movement in the 1960s.

References:-


[1] Speech by His Excellency the Chief Executive Bitweded Asfaha Woldemichael in the third legislature, Wednesday, 14th of November 1962.
[2] Professor Negussay Ayele - In Search of the Historical DNA of the Eritrean Problem.  Review Article on The Eritrean Affair (1941-1963) by Ambassador Zewde Retta.  http://www.ethiopians.com/NA_Review_EritreanAffair_ZR.htm
[3] Op cit  (For further reading on Dr. Amare Tekle's dissertation refer  “The Creation of the Ethio-Eritrean Federation: A Case Study in Post War International Relations 1945-1950” Ph. D. dissertation, University of Denver 1964)

[4] Miazia 27 EC i.e. May 5 GC is a historic day annually celebrated in Ethiopia as the day that Emperor Haile Selassie I triumphantly returned from exile to his Capital Addis Ababa.  Eritreans were celebrating that day with their Ethiopian brothers by demonstrating and asking for the immediate reunion of Eritrea with Ethiopia.
[5] Tekeste Negash - Eritrea and Ethiopia, The Federal Experience 1997 - pp 37
[6] For the full quote read  Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf. James Murphy, translator. London, New York, Melbourne: Hurst and Blackett Ltd; April 1942; page 134.
[7] SAL AA YOUNIS  - [DEHAI] The Jeberti -  2 Apr 97  http://www.ephrem.org/dehai_archive/1997/apr/0073.html
[8] Sheikh Abdul Kader Muhammad Saleh KEBIRE, The Father of Martyrs, Oct. 22, 2000 http://www.farajat.net/en/historical-figures/sheikh-abdul-kader-muhammad-saleh-kebire  -  The Article was originally posted by Awate.com, The Fertile womb.
[9] Miran, Jonathan - A Historical Overview of Islam in Eritrea  Bellingham, Wash. pp. 204
[10] I used Eristan as in Pakistan, Afghanistan, to mean Muslim dominated Eritrean nation
[11] Jacquin, Dominique - Nationalism and Secession in the Horn of Africa, A Critique of the Ethnic Interpretation, London School of Economics and Political Science ,University of London, 1999
[12] E.R.J. Hussey, C.M.G. "ERITREA SELF-GOVERNING" - African Affairs Vol. 53 – 213   Oct 1954
[13] British Archives "Leading Personalities in Eritrea" 1950.  Letter by the British administration in Eritrea to the government of the United Kingdom dated June 7, 1950 and acknowledged as received on June 10, 1950.  http://www.ehrea.org/leaders.php
[14] Tekeste Negash - Eritrea and Ethiopia, The Federal Experience 1997 pp. 44
[15] Saulsberry, Nicole Denise, The life and times of Woldeab Woldemariam (1905-1995) Sept. 2001 pp. 176
[16] Miran, Jonathan - A Historical Overview of Islam in Eritrea  Bellingham, Wash. pp. 204
[17] Jacquin, Dominique - Nationalism and Secession in the Horn of Africa, A Critique of the Ethnic Interpretation, London School of Economics and Political Science ,University of London, 1999
[18] Tekeste Negash - Eritrea and Ethiopia, The Federal Experience 1997 pp. 45
[19] Op cit  pp. 52
[20] Op Cit - FO371/73788,  Drew to the Foreign Office,  telegram no. 184, Asmara, 27.10.1949).
[21] Awet Tewolde Gebremariam, The Eritrean and East Timorese Liberation Movements: Toward a Comparative Study of Their Grand Strategies 2008  PP. 150
[22] Miran, Jonathan - A Historical Overview of Islam in Eritrea, Bellingham Wash.. pp. 209 -210
[23] Campbell, John Franklin :  Background to the Eritrean conflict, Deferred result of Colonial Map-Making, Geopolitics and Religion. - Africa Report May 1977 pp.19-20
[24] Rubenson, Sven - The Survival of Ethiopian Independence, Heinemann, London, 1976, pp. 200.
[25] Kendie, Daniel Professor, Egypt and the Hydro-Politics of the Blue Nile River
[26] Shinn, David - Ambassador - July 2006 - Nile Basin Relations: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia http://elliott.gwu.edu/news/speeches/shinn0706_nilebasin.cfm
[27] Encyclopedia Aetopica - Otto Harrasowitz Verlag
Bahrenegash.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Police Hunt For Eritrean Man As Body Found At Hostel In London's Whitechapel


Detectives are hunting an African man after a murder at a hostel.
Police want to speak to Mehretab Zemichael after a man's body was found at the building in central London.
Paramedics called police to the hostel in Code Street, Whitechapel, at 5.40pm yesterday and the man, in his 40s, was pronounced dead at the scene, Scotland Yard said.
Detectives have launched a murder investigation and want to speak to Zemichael, who was last seen at the hostel in the early hours of yesterday.
He is a 42-year-old from Eritrea, and police are warning people not to approach him but call 999.
Police believe they know the identity of the dead man but he has yet to be formally identified and his next of kin informed.
A post-mortem examination is to be arranged and no arrests have been made, the Metropolitan Police said.
Anyone with information should call police on 020 8345 1570 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Asylum seeker from Eritrea Jailed for 20 years today at Hull Crown Court- Mail Online

Asylum seeker from Eritrea imprisoned and raped a woman EIGHT YEARS after he dodged charges for similar sex attack due to lack of evidence

  • Ybrah Haylemaryam, 26, grabbed student off the street and raped her in his flat in 2004
  • Victim reported attack to police but prosecutors decided not to charge him
  • Eight years later he carried out similar attack on young mother in Hull
  • Jailed for 20 years today at Hull Crown Court
  • Judge says he is likely to be deported to South Africa after his sentence

'Dangerous': Ybrah Haylemaryam, who entered the country illegally from Eritrea in 2003, has been jailed for 20 years for two rapes
'Dangerous': Ybrah Haylemaryam, who entered the country illegally from Eritrea in 2003, has been jailed for 20 years for two rapes
An asylum seeker who escaped justice after he imprisoned and raped a 20-year-old student in his flat went on to commit another brutal sex attack eight years later.
Ybrah Haylemaryam, 26, who entered the country illegally from Eritrea in 2003, grabbed his first victim as she was walking home from a night out and forced her back to his home in Hull.
The desperate young woman eventually managed flee after he went to the bathroom.
But although the victim reported the rape in 2004, and Haylemaryam was interviewed, prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for him to be charged with the offence.
Eight years later he carried out another attack on a young mother who had been on a date with him after she spurned his advances.
Her baby was in the next room during the horrific three-hour ordeal.
The crime led to Haylemaryam's previous case being reopened and he was charged with four counts of rape, two counts of false imprisonment and three sexual assaults on the two victims.
Today, he was found guilty by a jury and jailed for 20 years at Hull Crown Court.
But police believe more women may have suffered at the hands of Haylemaryam in the intervening years and appealed for any potential victims to come forward.
His first victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said today: 'Although I’m really happy with the sentence, I’m angry that this has happened to someone else and he has been allowed to do that.
'I was upset at the time that it wasn’t taken any further but I could understand the reasons because it was my word against his.'
Now 29 and working in social care, the victim expressed her shock when she discovered during the trial that Haylemaryam was living near to her at the time of the attack.
She said: 'I can’t believe he lived just a few streets away from me, that really shocked me.
'I don’t know what I’d have done if I had seen him in the street in the years after my case. I would have probably froze in my steps.
'He pestered me and all of a sudden just flipped, and the other victim described to me exactly the same what he did to me to her. I thought he was going to kill me.
'I feel lucky that I did get out, and I have got to thank the specialist support and counselling I have had from everyone.
'I hope I get a bit of closure now, but it’s the fear of someone doing that to you again that never goes away.
Justice: Asylum seeker Ybrah Haylemaryam was jailed for 20 years at Hull Crown Court today

'If he was deported, then I won’t have to worry about him ever again. I’m hoping to now move on with my life, knowing he is behind bars.'
Judge Mark Bury called Haylemaryam a ‘dangerous offender’.
'You have been convicted by a jury of two sex attacks on two different women, eight years apart,' Judge Bury said.
'You pose a significant risk to members of the public, and you are a dangerous offender.
'(In the case of the first victim) you took full advantage of a vulnerable victim and you were a stranger to her.
'Once inside your flat, you were aggressive to her and raped her. She was terrified, and thankfully managed to run away.
'She was very distressed in the witness box after being shown photos of the flat where the rape took place, and the memories came flooding back to her.
'The second victim’s ordeal lasted three hours, and you forced her against her will.'
Judge Bury said it is unlikely that Haylemaryam will be returned to his home country of Eritrea upon his release, and could possibly be deported to South Africa.
Paul Genney, defending, said that Haylemaryam was on his way to coming to terms with both rapes, which he initially denied at trial.
Detective Inspector Alan Bentham said: 'Officers from Humberside Police’s public protection unit are appealing to any further women who may have been subjected to attacks from Ybrah Haylemaryam to contact them.
'Haylemaryam has been convicted of numerous rapes and sexual assaults against two women.
'We praise the victims in this case for having the courage to come forward, having been put through horrendous ordeals by Haylemaryam, who falsely imprisoned them and subjected them to violent, sexual attacks.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2345946/Asylum-seeker-Eritrea-imprisoned-raped-woman-EIGHT-YEARS-dodged-charges-similar-sex-attack-lack-evidence.html#ixzz2WyNEOJt1
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Monday, June 17, 2013

Old Habits Die Hard, Scrap Eritrea Tyrant's ConsulateOh Canada!



Nearly two weeks ago, Canada dominated international news headlines for dealing Eritrea tyrant, Esayas Afareki, deserved major diplomatic blow for taking the extraordinary and one of its kind step of literally booting out Eritrea tyrant's head consul and declaring him pesona non grata for engaging in levying and collecting extortion tax despite and in spite of the consul's prior pledge and Canada's warning to end this criminal practice. Why did the consul do it again knowing he risks disgraceful expulsion? Because old habits die hard! The Consul did what he did because he can't live without it even if it meant violating international, Canadian laws, and disgraceful expulsion!

    


Eritrea tyrant has been assaulting Canadian laws on two fronts: One: Eritrea tyrant abusing consular offices to levy extortion tax, and two: Eritrea tyrant's lackeys and agents, Eritrean Canadians' abuse and brazen violation of Canadian Asylum protection laws by financing the tyrant against whom they have requested and have been granted asylum protection/citizenship, hence earned legal basis for a stay in Canada. In doing so, the said Eritrean Canadians forfeit their legal bases to stay in Canada.

Next, Canada must rein in those Eritrean Canadian lackeys and agents of Eritrea tyrant and call them to task in a court of law for violation of the said Canadian asylum protection rights and laws.
Speaking of laws, there are neither laws nor taxes in Eritrea, it is all brazen diktat of the barrel of the gun. There is no Law of the land but brutal diktat of the Barrel of the gun in Eritrea.
Common sense has it that: Where there are taxes there are laws, where there are laws there is a legislative body/parliament, and where there is a parliament there are elections, where there are elections there is a government, and where there is a government there is constitutional governance. None, absolutely none of the above exists in Eritrea that Eritrea tyrant Isias Afareki has turned into a Gangland!

Absent that, nothing but the barrel of the gun legitimizes or gives Eritrea tyrant the right to levy taxes from the people of Eritrea anywhere in the world. And that is broad daylight banditry, extortion par excellence, and extra-judicial means the tyrant may pursue only in his own backyard that he controls by the barrel of the gun. That alone, in and of itself, is more than enough grounds, not to speak of the incriminating findings of the UN Monitoring Group, to stop Eritrea tyrant from pursuing his criminal activities of exacting money under the guise of exile tax from citizens of Canada, The Netherlands, USA and anywhere else in the world.

Taxes are mandated by laws; laws that are enacted by a duly elected and constitutionally authorized legislative body. As stated above, that is not the case in Eritrea. There, the barrel of the gun mandates whatever money Eritrea tyrant levies under the guise of taxes. And that is plane banditry and robbery to say the least.

Where laws mandate taxes, it is every citizen's duty to pay taxes for evasion has severe legal consequences. It is not duty but extortion when citizens are asked/compelled to pay money mandated by the barrel of the gun.

Let it be clear, no one is talking about fees paid for consular services rendered by any consulate. That is legit for there is no free service. But what has people's salaries and taxes to do with that? Raising those issues is nothing but intimidation and threats to deny the services!

Expulsion of Eritrea tyrant's one consul and replacing him with another is not going to stop the tyrant from his old habit of collecting money by bullying for he needs it for life. The tyrant will always find means and ways to circumvent Canadian laws, for example under the guise of  so-called Eritrean Community Centers and individuals agents across Canada.

Therefore, it behooves Canada to scrap the tyrant's consulate entirely, hunt down his agents, and keeping very close eye on the so-called Eritrean Canadian communities in order to protect its laws- Old habits die hard! 
- See more at: http://www.eritreadaily.net/News2013/article201306111.htm#sthash.LNLAPEZa.dpuf

Eritrea: Madate of UN expert extended · Article 19

image
ARTICLE 19 welcomes the decision to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. 39 countries supported the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to give Sheila Keetharuth another year to investigate the country.
It is absolutely right this important mandate has been extended. The international community must really push now to encourage Eritrea to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the country. The people of Eritrea must not be forgotten” said Henry Maina Article 19 Eastern Africa Director.
Ms Keetharuth was initially appointed to the role of Special Rapporteur in 2012. She is an independent expert who has been commissioned by the UNHRC to investigate the human rights situation inside Eritrea and reporting her findings to the Human Rights Council. A lawyer from Mauritius, she has extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocacy, training and litigation in Africa.
During the 23rd session of the HRC (earlier this month) the Special Rapporteur presented her report on Eritrea, in which she highlighted a series of human rights violations and the failure of the government to enforce and respect the rule of law. She made clear that freedom of expression and opinion, and freedom of assembly and association are severely curtailed, describing a climate of fear that is fuelled by rumours, propaganda and suspicion.
ARTICLE 19 calls on the government of Eritrea to extend an official invitation for Sheila Keetharuth to visit the country.
ARTICLE 19 urges the international community to step up their efforts in pressing Eritrea to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the country. In particular, ARTICLE 19 encourages African members of the UNHRC to help build momentum to within the international community to raise the situation of human rights in Eritrea as a priority for the region.
- See more at: http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37108/en/eritrea:-madate-of-un-expert-extended#sthash.N0faNzy5.dpuf

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Eritrea opposition says 8 members held in Sudan | Capital News

Map of Sudan/FILE
Map of Sudan/FILE
KHARTOUM, Jun 12 – Eight members of an Eritrean opposition movement have been arrested in Sudan’s border region, a leader of the exile group said on Wednesday.
They were detained on Saturday around Kassala town, said a leader of the Eritrean Islamic Reform Movement, who asked not to be named.
He said all the detainees are members of the group’s military wing and include its chief, Abu Abbas.
Sudanese state security agents surrounded their homes and took them away, the activist said.
“Since then there has been no contact with their families. We are worried about them,” he said.
A United Nations expert said last week that the “dire” human rights situation in Eritrea is leaving its citizens no option but to flee.
Sheila Keetharuth told reporters in Geneva that thousands have escaped despite a shoot-to-kill policy for those trying to cross into neighbouring Ethiopia or Sudan.
Eastern Sudan is home to tens of thousands of ethnic Eritreans.
Opposition parties are banned under the regime of Issaias Afeworki, who has ruled the Horn of Africa nation since its independence in 1993.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eritrea: UN Human Rights Council - Report of the Special Rapporteur On Eritrea Confirms Patterns of Abuses

The Eritrean government remains among the worst human rights violators in the world. The report of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea confirms the patterns of abuses that Human Rights Watch and other independent observers have documented over the past 15 years. As the Rapporteur noted, there is a "blatant disrespect for human rights in Eritrea" that requires "fundamental reform."
Eritrea will receive its Universal Periodic Review this year and, sadly, the concerns raised in 2009 remain all too relevant. No effort has been made by the government of Eritrea to address the concerns raised by states during the last UPR. International humanitarian and human rights organizations have almost no access to Eritrea and the country has no independent media or civil society. In this context, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is essential to document the widespread violations affecting the Eritrean population, give a voice to the victims, and highlight the gravity of the situation at the UN Human Rights Council.
There are no institutional restraints on the Eritrean government's abuse of power. The constitution has never been implemented, no parliament exists, and no national elections have been held. Courts have little authority and no independence. The private press was abolished in 2001; its journalists languish in incommunicado detention or have died in captivity. No civil society organization is allowed to exist; all are state or ruling party appendages.
Eritrea's citizens are denied fundamental rights in virtually every sphere. The most pervasive instrument of control is Eritrea's national service system. Initially intended to provide military training and service for two years, men are conscripted, some as young as 15 years old, for indefinite and involuntary service. They are used as forced labor, including for private enterprises and civilian projects, with long hours, inadequate pay, scant rations,and unsafe housing. Conscripts are subject to indefinite imprisonment, beatings, and torture if they question authority or commit even minor infractions.
Each month about 4000 Eritreans flee the country, most of them to avoid the oppression of indefinite national service.
National service members are not the only victims. Citizens are routinely arbitrarily arrested, detained for weeks, months, or years, sometimes without explanation, sometimes for espousing religious views that are not sanctioned by the government. There is little or no judicial review, appeal, or restraint. Eritrea's jails, including the use of cargo containers, are severely overcrowded and conditions often amount to cruel and inhuman treatment. Torture and other ill-treatment are routine; enforced disappearances and custodial deaths are far too common.
Human Rights Watch supports the recommendations in the Special Rapporteur's report and urges the government of Eritrea to implement them without delay. The scope of the abuses outlined in the Special Rapporteur's report also demonstrates why a Special Rapporteur for Eritrea remains essential. We strongly urge the Council to renew the Rapporteur's mandate so that she can continue to highlight this deeply troubling human rights situation and signal to Eritrea's citizens that their plight has not been forgotten.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eritrea: Letter Regarding the Renewal of the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea | Human Rights Watch


To Permanent Representatives to the UN Human Rights Council, on Behalf of 15 NGOs
MAY 31, 2013
Excellencies,
We are writing to call on members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) to take action during the current 23rdsession of the HRC to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, in response to the continued appalling situation of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Eritrea and the lack of cooperation demonstrated by the Eritrean government towards international and regional human rights mechanisms.
We noted with appreciation the adoption by consensus of resolution A/HRC/RES/20/20, presented by Djibouti, Nigeria and Somalia, on the human rights situation in Eritrea at the 20thsession of the UN Human Rights Council in July 2012. The UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, whose mandate was established by the July 2012 resolution, will present a report highlighting the human rights situation in Eritrea to the 23rdsession of the Council in June 2013.
In her report, the Special Rapporteur denounced “the appalling human rights situation in Eritrea, which in one way or another touches the life of almost every family” and stated that “real change would require a fundamental reform process transforming the current culture of rights denial into one anchored in the rule of law and in respect for and the realization of all human rights and human dignity.” She expressed her concerns on extrajudicial killings; the shoot-to-kill policy; enforced disappearances and incommunicado detention; arbitrary arrests and detentions; widespread torture, both physical and psychological, during interrogation by the police, military and security forces; inhumane prison conditions; compulsory national service of an unspecified and extended duration; no respect for civil liberties, including the freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly, association, religious belief and movement; discrimination against women, and sexual and gender-based violence; violation of child rights, including conscription, and its profound impact on education; and precarious living conditions. The Special Rapporteur also noted that these violations were “cited as reasons pushing a constant stream of Eritreans to cross the borders”.
Many hundreds of political prisoners have been arbitrarily detained without charge or trial for over a decade; hundreds have been arbitrarily detained for nearly 20 years. The government officials and independent journalists arbitrarily arrested in September 2001 remain either in incommunicado detention or have since died. Thousands of Eritreans have been arrested and imprisoned without charge or trial for years upon end merely for being critical of the government, practicing a religion not recognized by the state, or refusing to comply with the system of indefinite national service imposed on all Eritreans over the age of 18 years. National service is compulsory, and is frequently extended indefinitely, a system which amounts to forced labour. Children are forced to undertake their final year of schooling in a military training camp, a system that effectively constitutes the conscription of children into the military. Thousands of Eritreans have been detained for trying to evade or desert national service, including by attempting to flee the country.  The use of torture is widespread. Further detention conditions are appalling and in themselves amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No independent civil society organizations have permission to operate inside Eritrea, and since 2001 there has been no independent domestic media.
At the regional level, the case of Eritrea has been raised repeatedly at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which adopted a resolution in 2005 condemning human rights violations in Eritrea. In two separate decisions in 2003 and 2007, the Commission also found the government to be in violation of fundamental rights contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and requested the release of the government officials held incommunicado since September 2001 (250/02 Liesbeth Zegveld and Mussie Ephrem vs. Eritrea) and for at least 18 journalists also held incommunicado to be given access to their lawyers (275/03 Article 19 vs. Eritrea). Although these decisions have been adopted by the African Union, to date Eritrea has not provided any concrete response or acted to implement them.
Excellencies,
We therefore call on your delegation to support the adoption by the HRC of a resolution that:
  • Condemns abuses documented by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and urges the Government of Eritrea to implement the recommendations contained in her report;
  • Renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur;
  • Urges the Government of Eritrea to allow access to the country for the special mechanisms of UN Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
We thank you for your attention to these concerns. We remain available to provide further information as may be useful.
Sincerely,
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
Amnesty International
Article 19
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
CIVICUS
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
Human Rights House Foundation
Human Rights Watch
International Service for Human Rights
Reporters Without Borders
Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa
West African Human Rights Defenders Network