Thursday, May 29, 2014

Over 1000 Christians remain imprisoned as Eritrea turns 21


By: Gabriel Ruiz
Thursday, 29 May 2014, 15:14 (EST)
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Over 1000 Christians remain imprisoned as Eritrea turns 21

Senior Eritrean religious leaders in black and red garments holding crosses at the 20th year anniversary of Eritrea's independence, Volunteer Park, Seattle, Washington.

(Wonderlane via Flickr)
As the state of Eritrea celebrated its 21st birthday on May 24, the country's Independence Day, more than 1000 Christians are reported to continue to be held in detention.



According to Release Eritrea, persecution of Christians from 'unregistered churches' continues despite the country officially being called a secular that allows all its citizens to freely practice faith.



Underground churches have said that over 1000 Christians are imprisoned for periods ranging from a few months to over 10 years.



"Our church leaders who were taken to prison in 2003 to 2004 have been detained for over 10 years now," an underground church leader revealed, according to Asmarino. "Many continue to suffer health problems, although we praise God when we hear reports of their resolute faith and good spirit."



"We trust God to safeguard them, but times are tough for their families, their elderly parents are dying and the young children they left behind are now coming of age fatherless" he continued.



Dr Berhane Asmelash, Director of Release Eritrea stated: "It is hard to comprehend why the Eritrean government is persecuting Christians. This is so barbaric and unacceptable to keep innocent citizens in dungeons for over ten years, and should be strongly condemned by all justice and peace loving people. Please pray for prisoners as well as for the underground church workers."



In May 2002, the government of Eritrea banned all religious groups except Islam, and the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches, while enforcing requirements on minority religions to register and hand over information regarding members and finances, according to Amnesty International.



Since then all other churches that have refused to comply have been shut down in government crackdowns. Members and followers were then subjected to harassment, imprisonment and torture.



According to World Watch Monitor, the Eritrean regime under President Isaias Afewerki today does not tolerate dissent of any kind. His party, the People’s Front for Freedom and Democracy party, has reportedly not held a party conference for years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eritreans fleeing from forced labor draft: U.N. report | Reuters


GENEVA Tue May 27, 2014 9:41am EDT

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(Reuters) - Eritrea is running a forced labor program that is spawning human rights violations and fuelling a refugee exodus, according to a report that will be debated next month at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Sheila B. Keetharuth, an independent investigator who is the U.N. "special rapporteur" on human rights in Eritrea, wrote that torture, sexual violence and extra-judicial killings "continue unabated" in the Horn of Africa country.
Her report said that fear and experience of national service - an indefinite conscription thatamounts to forced labor - were prompting many people to flee the country.
"The military police carries out routine conscription round-ups, known as 'giffas', inhomes, workplaces, the street or other public places, with the aim of rounding up persons considered fit to serve, draft evaders and those who escaped from national service; including minors," the report said.
"Opposing such a round-up can lead to on-the-spot execution, as deadly force is permitted against those resisting or attempting to flee," it added. The Human Rights Council will debate the findings in Geneva on June 16.
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR estimates that 2,000 people of Eritrea's 6 million population are fleeing every month, the report said, and their relatives are forced to pay fines of 50,000 nafka (about $3,350) for each family member who has left.
Most Eritreans cannot afford such a sum, so a family member may be detained until the money is paid, or business licenses or property may be confiscated, the report said.
Eritreans are the most numerous among those attempting the risky crossing from North Africa to Europe by boat, a trip that has killed hundreds so far this year.
The government began its program of national service in 1995 but it has turned into an indefinite conscription, the report said. Many people are put to work in reforestation, soil and water conservation and reconstruction.
Eritrea dismisses charges of rights abuses and says it has indefinite military service due to a festering border dispute with Ethiopia.
Keetharuth's report said draft evaders and deserters "face heavy punishment, including lengthy periods of detention, torture and other forms of inhumane treatment." Many women who are drafted are raped by army commanders, or punished for resisting.


Keetharuth asked to visit Eritrea for her investigation, but was refused entry. She collected evidence from Eritrean refugees in four countries and plans to visit three more.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Scores of Eritrean refugees enter Ethiopia daily: UNHCR


Scores of Eritrean refugees enter Ethiopia daily: UNHCR

The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said that around 70 Eritrean refugees were currently entering Ethiopia on a daily basis.

World Bulletin/News Desk
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday that around 70 Eritrean refugees were currently entering Ethiopia on a daily basis.
"Eritrean refugees came to Ethiopia and continue to do so fleeing oppression and forced military service," Kisut Gebre Egziabher, a spokesman for the UNHCR's Ethiopia office, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
"As of the end of April, the total number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia reached 93,000," he added.
Eritrea and Ethiopia used to be a single country, but a 1993 referendum saw Eritreans vote for independence. Tension between Addis Ababa and Asmara and has persisted since a bloody two-year border war, in which tens of thousands were killed, ended in 2000.
Due to the historical relationship between the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Egziabher said, refugees from the latter were free to live outside the camp with their Ethiopian relatives.
According to Egziabher, the UNHCR has a way of making the lives of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia more permanent, because they can't return to their homeland due to safety concerns.
"Wherever refugees can return safely to their countries of origin, the UNHCR prefers reintegrating them – which is not the case concerning Eritrean refugees," he said.
"UNHCR thus has a special out-of-camp policy for Eritrean refugees that includes scholarships locally or third-country relocation that allows for asylum in Europe or in America," he added.
"This depends, however, on the willingness of the recipient countries," he went on to say. "Since 2006, most of the 6000 Eritrean refugees sheltered at Kebribeyah camp have left for the U.S. under an asylum privilege provided by that country."
-Different-
Egziabher pointed out that refugees arriving from Eritrea were different from those coming from Somalia or South Sudan, where conflicts have forced thousands of refugees into neighboring Ethiopia.
"Unlike refugees coming to Ethiopia from other countries, most Eritrean refugees are able-bodied young men," he explained. "They are educated as well."
"Refugees coming from other countries are mostly women and children," he said.
There are four refugee camps in northern Ethiopia's Tigray Regional State that cater to Eritrean refugees: Shimelba (set up in 2004), May Ayni (2008), Adiharush (2010) and Hitsats (2013).
Eritrean refugees have also sought shelter at two camps in the northeastern Afar Regional State: the Berhaile Camp and the Aysaitta Camp. There are also Eritrean refugees living in small villages in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, Egziabher puts the number of Somali refugees in Ethiopian refugee camps at some 240,300.
"They flee conflict and drought in their country at various times," he said.
There are currently eight refugee camps for Somali refugees in Ethiopia, the oldest being the 23-year-old Kebribeyah Camp, which accommodates refugees who fled strongman Siad Barre's rule.
The Awbere and Sheder refugee camps are also relatively old, having been set up in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
The Bekolmanya, Melkadida, Kobe, Hilawein and Buramino refugee camps, meanwhile, were all established in 2009. They accommodate refugees who fled the rules of the Council of Islamic Courts and Al-Shabaab and the intermittent droughts that have occurred in the region, said Egziabh

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia vow to join armed struggle - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Thousands of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia on Wednesday vowed to take up arms and join opposition forces in the struggle to remove the government in Asmara.
The decision by the Eritrean refugees comes as Eritrea celebrates its 23rd independence day. The Red Sea nation gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after 30 years of struggle.
President Issaias Afeworki who has lead the country since independence turned the country into a one-party state which is considered as one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
In a joint communiqué extended to Sudan Tribune, the Eritrean refugees said the regime in Asmara has failed to bring democracy, human rights and freedom to its people and they don’t want to see the regime prolonging its grip on power.
Despite gaining independence, the refugees said the younger generation in Eritrea has during the past 23 years become the victim of executions, imprisonment, disappearances, harassment and intimidation.
"Eritrea was liberated but not its people" reads part of the statement adding that "tyrannical Eritrean regime is committed to further crimes and atrocities against innocent Eritreans” and it was time to take collective military action.
They said some hundreds of refugee at camps in Ethiopia have decided to join the armed struggle rather than remain as refugees in Ethiopia for an indefinite period of time.
"We don’t want to wait and see here for a miracle to happen that would bring a democratic system of governance in Eritrea."
Over the last ten years hundreds of thousands of Eritreans including members of the army and navy have fled their country to neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen.
In Ethiopia alone, there are 92,460 Eritrean refugees at end of April, Kisut Gebregzabiher a United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) representative in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Gebregzabiher said that an average of 2,000 Eritreans cross into Ethiopia every month fleeing political repression or to escape military service which is mandatory to all citizens aged between 18 and 50 and can last a lifetime.
International human rights organisations say that Eritrea stands amongst world’s top worst human rights and press freedom records. The regime is also accused of turning the country into a “giant prison”.
Reports indicate that there are up to 10,000 political prisoners languishing in the country’s harsh and secret detention centers, which are sometimes shipping containers.
The Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia further called up on those forces of change within the Eritrean ruling party, including the army to join them in the struggle to topple the regime so that democratic change is achieved.

Eritrea’s Soccer Team Flees Together, and Arrives in the Netherlands "A National Team Without a Country"- NYTimes.com







Photo


Eighteen players from Eritrea’s national team, shown in 2011, feared for their lives and disappeared after a tournament in Uganda in 2012. CreditJames Montague for The New York Times
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Continue reading the main story
GORINCHEM, the Netherlands — The 18 Eritrean refugees arrived in this picturesque, blue-collar Dutch city 20 miles east of Rotterdam earlier this month looking for safety, security and, finally, after 18 months of fear and uncertainty in two refugee camps on two continents, a home.
Refugees are not an uncommon sight in the Netherlands. More than 500 are granted legal status every year in the country’s municipalities, towns and cities, often in groups of two or three, though a huge number of economic migrants arrive, many illegally.
This group of 18 was different, though, and not only because they comprised the majority of the Eritrean men’s national soccer team, and the team’s doctor. They were unique because they arrived here in the same manner they had fled their homeland: together, as a squad. And their arrival caused a political stir felt far outside this sleepy city of canals and bridges and its population of 35,000.
“It was a romantic story where a group of young people are defecting from their country for all the best reasons,” said Gorinchem’s mayor, Anton Barske.


Photo


National team players, at a 2011 practice, have a rare opportunity to travel outside of the country, unlike most Eritreans. CreditJames Montague for The New York Times


In December 2012, the entire Eritrea national team disappeared after playing an international tournament in Uganda. The players resurfaced a few hours later at the compound of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations’ refugee agency, in Kampala, where they claimed political asylum. After six months in a refugee compound, the majority of the group moved to an emergency transit camp, a clearinghouse for high-risk refugees, in the western Romanian city of Timisoara. The team was deemed to be in danger given its high profile; they were the latest of more than 50 soccer players who had fled the country since a national squad failed to return from a tournament in Kenya in 2009.
From Romania, the team traveled to the Netherlands and, finally, to Gorinchem. Barske, who belongs to the progressive Green Left party, welcomed them with open arms.
“They are a national soccer team, and we are a very hospitable country and city here,” he said. “So we never hesitated in welcoming them.”
Not everybody has been as happy to see the team.
Shortly after the team’s arrival this month, the country’s populist, far-right political party — the Party of Freedom (PVV) — lodged a question with the Dutch parliament asking why the Eritrea players had been allowed to enter the country and been given housing and cash ahead of Dutch citizens. Elections to the parliament of the European Union were approaching, and parties like the PVV and the UK Independence Party were expected to make huge gains across the continent largely on an anti-immigration ticket.
“Of course people are angered by this,” Geert Wilders, the PVV’s firebrand parliamentary leader, said in an email interview. “This is a perversion of the asylum right, because these Eritreans had already received asylum elsewhere and were living in safety in Romania.”
He added, “It is a scandal that our people are taxed dry.”
The team’s arrival in the Netherlands, he said, was irresponsible and sent the wrong message to refugees from Africa. “It is no wonder that thousands of Eritreans now seem to think that they are welcome in the Netherlands and that welfare benefits are waiting here for them,” he said.
After gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993 following a bloody civil war, Eritrea rapidly disintegrated into one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights, according to reports by Human Rights Watch and U.N. investigators. There was no democracy, and little or no freedom of speech or movement. Torture remained routine, and young people were kept in a continual state of army conscription. Human Rights Watch estimated in 2011 that 50,000 Eritreans lived in refugee camps in Ethiopia and that thousands try to flee from Eritrea every week despite troops at the border having orders to shoot to kill.
Yet soccer offered a lucky few the rare chance for foreign travel, a right denied to all but the highest-ranked politicians and officials. Foreign travel meant the possibility of escape. When players from the national team first disappeared after the tournament in Kenya in 2009, they were also given refugee, this time in a camp in Nairobi, before eventually being resettled in Australia.
“The government decided that all players should go on national service, too,” Ermias Haile, a midfielder for that team, recalled in an interview in his home in 2011.
He made it to Adelaide, where he shared a house with four former teammates, working in a switchboard factory by day and playing semipro soccer at night. “I learned that when life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, life gives you a hundred reasons to laugh,” he said of his escape and subsequent resettlement.
But it is not every day that a crop of unattached international players arrives in a country, and several of those who settled in Australia went on to play in the A-League, the country’s top league. Likewise, in Gorinchem, the city’s five soccer clubs have been covetously watching the new arrivals.
On the outskirts of the town, next to the highway and a wooden windmill, sits the small but well-kept stadium of SVW. The club plays in the fifth tier of Dutch soccer, and this season has not gone well: the club could be relegated if late-season results go badly. Their crowds, some wearing the team’s red-and-white striped jerseys, can be counted in the hundreds rather than thousands.
“It is a bit surreal; we are small town and suddenly you get a complete national team turn up,” said the club’s spokesman, Ronald Tukker. “Then you think, maybe they can play with us, maybe we’ll get promotion.”
The players have to integrate, Tukker said, and he thought there was no better way of doing that than by playing for a soccer team. “Most people are proud they are here,” he said. “We are all a bit excited about it.”
On the opposite side of the road sits Unitas soccer club. It also wears red and white stripes, but they are horizontal, unlike SVW’s vertical stripes. “My first thought about their arrival was feeling pity for them that they left their country and left families behind,” said Bert Walhain, Unitas’s chairman.
With a 116-year history, Unitas is one of oldest clubs in the Netherlands. It has been more proactive than SVW, Walhain said, sending scouts to watch the Eritreans practice in a local park. “That decision has to be made by the boys,” Walhain said when asked why the Eritreans should choose Unitas over SVW.
“It is a feeling you get when you enter a club,” he added. “We have said, you are welcome, all the players, and that we are there for you.”
The 18 Eritreans have declined all interview requests since their arrival. According to the Dutch Council for Refugees, an independent organization, the players still fear for their lives and the lives of the family members they left behind in Eritrea.
Berketeab Tesfai knows well the fear for those left behind. Tesfai, a 47-year-old high school math teacher and human rights activist, fled Eritrea two decades ago. He is now helping the players to learn Dutch and settle into their new lives.
“The human rights situation in Eritrea is horrible,” he said, speaking in a cafe in Rotterdam. “If you stand up for your life, you would be jailed, killed, humiliated. What can you do? This opportunity was too good for the national soccer team to escape. At this moment, Eritrea is not safe for its own people.”
But it is the people left behind that often bear the weight of escape. “They punish the families by pushing them to pay around 5,000 euros,” Tesfai said, a sum of about $6,800, “and for those that have 65-year-old mothers with no money, those mothers are jailed for three or four months.”
Eventually the Eritreans will be incorporated into the community, play in the city’s teams and work in the city’s factories, most in Gorinchem agree. Its manufacturing sector is thriving.
One of the city’s biggest businesses is bridge building. They are manufactured here, shipped to Rotterdam and then sent to the rest of the world.
“We welcome people who are on the run from all over the world because there are conflicts creating huge number of refugees, and you can’t shut your eyes to that,” said Barske, the mayor, even if he was unsure just how much benefit the local soccer teams, or even, further afield, the Dutch national team will receive. Barske noted that Eritrea was 200th, out of 207 national teams, in the FIFA world rankings.
“I guess it is probably not necessary,” he said, laughing, “to have a quick naturalization program to get them to the World Cup in Brazil.”


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Eritrean News - Tigrinya - 16th May 2014 - Eri-TV

Stealing Africa - Why Poverty? - YouTube

Search for missing Eritrean man in Norway, Eritrea | capitaleritrea news

Search for missing Eritrean man in Norway

Daniel Abraham Hagos: Missing since April 25, 2014
Daniel Abraham Hagos: Missing since April 25, 2014
May 17, 2014 (Svelvik) – Eritreans living in Norway, police and the local press are searching for a 35-year-old man who went missing since April 25.
Family and friends are growing increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of Daniel Abraham Hagos who is from Eritrea and was last seen at his residence in the small town of Svelvik in the southeast of Norway.
“We are very concerned for Daniel’s wellbeing, we’ve talked to family and friends, and no one has heard or seen him since the night of April 25.”, said Daniel’s friend Senait Tesfaye.
The local Red Cross has searched the area near his residence but, failed to find any trace of the 35-year-old Eritrean who is 165 cm in hight,  Svelvik’s local newspaper reported on Thursday.
Svelvik’s police department is currently on the lookout for clues leading to Daniel’s whereabouts and is asking for the public’s help.
Concerned about his welfare as he hasn’t been seen for 21 days, Eritreans in Norway are supporting the search via Facebook and other social media. 
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts or sightings of Daniel Abraham Hagos should contact directly Norwegian Police under +47 337 83 900, any other police station or capitaleritrea at questions@capitaleritrea.com.

South Boulder Mines appoints project co-ordinator for Colluli Potash Project in Eritrea - Proactiveinvestors (AU)

 Proactive Investors



South Boulder Mines appoints project co-ordinator for Colluli Potash Project

South Boulder Mines appoints project co-ordinator for Colluli Potash Project
South Boulder Mines (ASX:STB) is pushing ahead with economic assessments and project planning studies for its Colluli Potash Project in Eritrea and has appointed of James Durrant as project co-ordinator.



Durrant, an experienced operations engineer, joins the company from BHP Billiton Iron Ore (ASX:BHP), where he has held several senior leadership and operational roles.



He carries tertiary qualifications in both mining and mechanical engineering, key skills which will add to the project knowledge base, as well as substantial experience in large-scale open cut mining operations including mine planning, load and haul and drill and blast.



His appointment comes as South Boulder implements its revised development strategy for Colluli with key metallurgical test work underway.



South Boulder recently appointed Saskatchewan Research Council and Global Potash Solutions consultant, Don Larmour on the process design to confirm that combining of three types of potassium-bearing salts at Colluli can be processed to produce potash.



The results are considered pivotal because this approach has the potential to deliver a significant boost to Colluli’s economics, including a considerably lower strip ratio and therefore reduced costs.



It could also result in the production of the superior potash product potassium sulphate, which carries a $300-a-tonne premium to the more common potash product, potassium chloride.



“James has extensive experience in the areas which are now central to our development strategy,” managing director Paul Donaldson said.



“His appointment will help ensure our studies are conducted in a thorough and time-efficient manner, maximising our ability to demonstrate that the project is both technically and financially robust,”



Colluli



South Boulder is conducting economic assessments and project planning for Colluli and will resume social an environmental impact work in the coming weeks.



Donaldson added that mining studies had also resumed following the pre-feasibility-level analysis conducted last year. This analysis supported South Boulder’s revised approach of processing all the three salt types at the same time.



Colluli is located in the Danakil Depression region of Eritrea, and is just 65 kilometres from the coast comprising around 400 square kilometres. It is positioned favourably relative to the key growth markets for potassium fertiliser.  



The JORC/NI43-101 Resource for Colluli stands at 1.08 billion tonnes at 18% KCl for 194 million tonnes of contained potash.




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